Leaphorn is joined by a new deputy, the ambitious Jim Chee (Kiowa Gordon), who is ominously told by a colleague, Bernadette (Jessica Matten), “Out here, sometimes your best protection isn’t your .38.”
Created by Graham Roland and adapted from Tony Hillerman’s novels about Navajo detectives, the slightly convoluted plot involves a tourist family that buys the wrong painting, and an unsolved bank heist that left behind unfound loot and still commands the interest of an FBI agent (“The Americans'” Noah Emmerich) operating in the area.
Leaphorn and his wife (Deanna Allison), meanwhile, are recovering from a personal tragedy, with McClarnon’s pained expressions every time his family history comes up doing a lot of work in conveying the mileage that the character carries.
As noted, “Dark Winds” is distinguished more by its introduction to a particular place and time than the central mystery, a moment far enough back where references to magic feel more plausible. There are also pointed reminders of past transgressions against this community, such as a pregnant woman being warned about forced sterilization if she has her baby in the hospital.
“Dark Winds” premieres June 12 at 9 p.m. ET on AMC, with advance access on AMC+.