A lone fisherman stands knee deep in the water reeling in his line. No fish. He pulls back his rod and casts again. The fisherman tugs at the line, but it's stuck. He wades through the water and finds the lure is hooked on the end of a rope floating out from under a submerged tree branch. The fisherman jerks the rope and a bloated shape bobs to the surface. He leans in, then staggers back in horror with a terrified shout. It's two dead bodies tied together face to face. Scrambling backwards, the fisherman falls into the creek.
A loud grunt echoes through the pines. Strong arms in a faded blue work shirt drag the two bodies out of the river inch by inch. Another grunt escapes Sheriff Walt Longmire as he strains at the task. Deputies Victoria "Vic" Moretti and "the Ferg" Ferguson jump out of their cars and hurry over to help Walt. Together they heave the bodies up onto the bank.
Walt uses his knife to cut the rope and the bloated bodies roll apart onto their backs. Vic clicks away with a camera. Since the gunshot wounds are in the chest and there are exit wounds in the back, it's likely the slugs won't be found. Walt observes that the bodies are still well preserved; they can't have been in the water for long. A pick-up truck pulls up to the scene and the Ferg looks worried. He stammers apologies to Walt. Since Custer National Forest is just across the stream he called in the Ranger. Ferg swears that he didn't reveal any information, but Walt cuts him short. It's ok, he was doing his job. It's rare praise for the Ferg.
Walt greets the square-jawed young Forest Ranger, Eli Cross, as he joins the group. He's taken aback to see the corpses on the ground and wonders aloud who they are. Vic searches their pockets for IDs, but comes up with nothing. Walt knows the creek flows from the Flat Lip River, but wonders what else is nearby. The Ferg eagerly jumps in: Swiftwater Creek is just five "clicks," or miles, north. Walt raises an eyebrow at the Ferg's use of the term. Eli corrects the Ferg, explaining that it's Army jargon for kilometers. Walt tells the Ferg he watches too many war movies. It occurs to Vic that the Flat Lip runs through the "Rez." A shadow crosses Walt's face, the dead men could be Cheyenne.
Vic finds a hotel key-card on one of the bodies. There's no name on it, but it's a start. Walt cuts small branches of sagebrush growing on the riverbank and carefully places one on each dead man's chest. The Ferg covers the bodies with blankets. Walt wonders who owns the land between the forest and the Reservation.
Walt and Vic pull up in front of an expansive estate with a log mansion. Mexican laborers working on the property eye them warily.
On the porch, a petite blonde flings open the door, and seeing Walt, exclaims with obvious pleasure that he's so TALL! Walt introduces himself and Vic, and the woman hurries to explain that she just got back in town, is there trouble with her contractor's permit? She invites them in while she looks for it, and gives her name: Lizzie Ambrose. Walt clarifies that they're investigating something worse than a permit, two men were found dead in the creek on Lizzie's property. Hoping she might identify them, Walt shows her a picture of one of the victims. Lizzie gasps and faints into his arms.
A bit later, Walt and Lizzie sit on her deck with Vic looming over them like an armed chaperone. Walt wants to be sure Lizzie doesn't recognize either of the victims. Maybe they were part of the crew working on her property? Vic asks her to obtain a complete list of workers from her contractor. Lizzie looks deeply into Walt's eyes and asks if one of her workers could be the murderer. Walt reassures her, but suggests that it might be a good idea to send the workers home for now. Lizzie leans close to Walt and puts her hand on his arm. Would he do that for her? Vic looks like she's going to throw up. Walt promises to see that the men leave Lizzie in peace. Lizzie's voice drips honey as she thanks him.
Outside, heading for their trucks, Walt is all business, instructing Vic to follow up on the list from the contractor and to try to match the key card to a hotel. They need to identify the victims. Vic can't resist pointing out that Lizzie was flirting with Walt. He shrugs it off, but Vic urges him to ask Lizzie out. He growls at her to drop it and drives off.
The Bronco drives up the dusty road to Walt's house where his friend Henry Standing Bear is up on a ladder fixing the roof. Walt went looking for Henry at his bar, the Red Pony, and to his surprise was directed home. Why is Henry wrecking his house? Henry insists he's fixing the house because somebody has to. Walt argues that he was going to get to it, but Henry knows he was not. In any case, Walt needs a favor.
Walt drops open the Bronco tailgate and reveals the two dead men. Henry recognizes one of them, and it hurts. He was a promising student named Freddy White Hawk, one of the few kids from the Rez with hope of a bright future. Henry had caught him dealing pot at the Red Pony and banned him. Now he wishes he had helped him instead. With tears in his eyes, Henry requests to be the one to notify Freddy's grandmother of his death. Walt agrees.
On the balcony of a motel, Vic is going from door to door trying out the key card as a sleazy motel manager breathes down her neck about a search warrant. Without stopping, Vic complains that she's tried six motels already and each one demanded a warrant. Doesn't anyone want to help the police anymore? She slides the key into another door and the green light beeps - finally! But the manager blocks the door. Now Vic really needs a warrant.
Walt arrives sooner than expected with the warrant in hand. Luckily, the judge was drinking at the Red Pony. Walt silently signals to the manager to leave as he and Vic pull out their guns. There is an odor coming through the door that Walt says smells like church.
Walt and Vic barge into the hotel room whipping their guns from corner to corner. It's dark, but they can see the room is empty. Walt and Vic start tearing the room apart. The first thing they find is a small statue of a Latino man with a moustache surrounded by candles. Then under the bed Vic pulls out two suitcases: a large one stuffed with 100 dollar bills wrapped in bundles, and a slim metal case holding ammunition for a .38 caliber pistol.
At the sheriff's station, Walt pins photos of the victims on the bulletin board. Deputy Branch Connally rolls in looking slick in a leather jacket and jeans. Seeing the photos he realizes that there really was a double homicide, and Walt isn't just trying to ruin his weekend. Walt, too busy to bicker, thanks Branch for cutting his trip short. Branch doesn't mind since he and his travel companion weren't getting along. Vic is curious who that was, but Branch distracts her by asking about the statue on her desk. Vic explains it was found in one of the victim's hotel rooms along with $280,000 in cash, and a "sh**load of ammo." Branch wonders how a kid from the Rez could be involved. Walt points out that there was another victim with Freddy who checked into the motel under the name Octavio Mora, with a California driver's license, paying in cash. From the L.A. map found in the hotel room, they think Octavio rented a car from LAX. Vic is trying to find out, but getting nowhere.
In another part of the office, the Ferg is glued to the computer. He jumps up to tell Walt the statue is of Jesus Malverde, the patron saint of smugglers and a big deal with members of the Mexican drug cartel. Walt wonders what the hell a Mexican drug cartel is doing in Absaroka Country, and the Ferg admits his own curiosity as to how a kid from the Rez ended up dead in a river tied to cartel crony. Branch pipes in that drugs usually mean gangs. Was Freddy in a gang? Walt knows who might have the answer.
At the Red Pony, Walt finds Henry doing some serious drinking. Telling Freddy's grandmother about the boy's death was rough. Walt knows all too well how that feels. Alma wants all of Freddy's things returned to her, especially his St. Christopher's medal. Walt says no medal was found, but agrees to take a second look.
Henry leads Walt into his office where Mathias, a tribal police officer, is watching a wrestling match on TV. Mathias' eyes remain glued to the tube until Walt opens a folder with the photo of Freddy's corpse. Mathias recognizes Freddy and wants to know what happened. Walt explains he was found shot through the heart and tied to a member of the Mexican drug cartel. He asks Mathias if Freddy was in a gang. Mathias is caustic, refusing to give Walt a straight answer until Henry angrily points out that Mathias should get over his beef with Walt for Alma's sake. Mathias begrudgingly reveals that Freddy wasn't in a gang, but a month ago he discovered the Mexican drug cartel had been growing 10,000 marijuana plants on the Reservation. The tribal police raided the "grow" and arrested some of the Mexican migrant workers involved, but the Feds never came to take custody of them because they're so focused on the border. The workers were released.
Henry is stunned. Mathias points out that it's good business to plant the supply close to the customer and cut down on transportation costs. Walt is furious that Mathias never informed him of the raid. Mathias promises next time he'll send Walt a smoke signal. Ignoring the barb, Walt points out the photo of the other dead man, Octavio Mora. Was he one of the workers they released? Mathias says no, but then notices the picture of the Jesus Malverde statue. There was a little shrine around an identical statue in the tent at the marijuana grow. Mathias theorizes that Freddy was a scout for the cartel and, after the spot he picked to hide the marijuana was raided, they killed him. When Cheyenne get into business with outsiders, it never ends well.
That night, Walt waits on a dark highway. A pizza delivery car pulls up, and Jamie Debell, balding and grizzly, brings Walt a pizza. Jamie tells Walt he's sorry about his wife. Walt awkwardly thanks Jamie for helping her when she was sick. Jamie is humble; it's his business. That's what Walt wants to talk to him about. Did Jamie know Freddy White Hawk? Jamie freaks out when he realizes Freddy is dead. After confirming he still has his "old deal" with Walt that information stays just between them, Jamie confesses he bought marijuana from Freddy. The kid was like "Weed-Mart," making serious coin and selling fine pot that Jamie describes with relish. Walt cuts him off to ask about the Mexican drug cartel. Jamie is horrified that they're in Wyoming. Doesn't Walt watch CNN? Those guys chop dudes' heads off! He's so screwed!!! Walt orders Jamie to think, did Freddy ever mention any Mexican names? Jamie stammers there was one: El Lupo.
Suddenly shots are fired and Jamie dives behind the Bronco screaming. Walt whips out his gun and aims down the highway, but instead of a gunman, a silver wolf races across and disappears into the shadows. A hunter decked out in camouflage and night vision goggles steps into the light in pursuit of the wolf. When he sees Walt pointing a gun at him, he raises his hands. Walt wonders what the hell is happening to his county.
A dog lopes across a road in the center of town in broad daylight as Branch and the Ferg wait in a patrol car outside the county store debating why they didn't know the Mexican cartel was growing pot right under their nose. Branch blames Walt for missing it. The Ferg defends the Sheriff; it's not his fault the Rez police didn't clue him in. Branch praises the Ferg for finding the information about the statue that led them to the cartel; another proud moment for the Ferg.
Just then, two teenagers from the Rez emerge from the store carrying beer. Branch and the Ferg jump out of the car to confront them. Branch grabs their beer and starts pouring one out, threatening arrest if they don't provide information. The Ferg shows them the photo of Freddy White Hawk's corpse and asks if he was in their gang. The boys deny having a gang, and any knowledge about Freddy dealing drugs. He was an honor student! When Branch realizes the boys do not recognize the name "El Lupo," he returns their beer and advises them how to get cooler ones next time. The Ferg's mouth drops open. What kind of lawman is this?
Back at the sheriff's office, Walt is disgusted that Mathias used gang members to raid the marijuana grow. Branch likens it to Iraq where bad guys are paid to fight even worse guys. Walt and his team brainstorm what could have happened. Was Freddy a bad scout who was executed? Or did he and Octavio double-cross the cartel? Or maybe Mathias is running drugs himself, competing with the cartel, which would explain why he never told them about the raid. Freddy was working with someone, maybe even "El Lupo."
A honeyed voice asks who is El Lupo? All heads turn to the door. It's Lizzie Ambrose. Everyone stops and stares until Walt finally asks how they can help her. Lizzie brought the list of workers they had requested. Walt suggests that next time she could just fax it over. Lizzie leans in and whispers that she's got something else for him, does he have an office where they could speak privately? Vic's smirk stretches from ear to ear.
Inside Walt's office, Lizzie mentions that she recognizes Branch from his campaign posters as Walt's rival for sheriff, but she's so impressed with how Walt handled himself yesterday she wants to donate to his campaign. Walt demurs, but Lizzie insists on writing a check. She suggests they go out for a drink or dinner so she can "stay informed about the issues." Again Walt is tongue-tied, grinning like a bashful teenager before guiding Lizzie out his private door. The second it closes behind her he hollers for Vic.
In the cramped hallway outside his office Walt reams Vic for telling Lizzie to come by and trying to set him up on a date. She protests, but he cuts her off. Drop it means drop it! Vic's phone starts ringing, but Walt isn't through. He sneers that Vic thinks the whole world is flirting, but maybe it's just her! Now Vic is furious too. She stomps off to answer the phone.
Vic's anger melts when she realizes it's finally the car rental company calling with the information she's been waiting for. Vic listens, scribbling notes, then asks in her sweetest voice if the car came with a GPS. It did?
At the National Forest, Walt and Vic approach an abandoned, white rental car. There is a palpable chill between them. Mathias pulls up in his car claiming he heard them on the police radio. Is "Philly" lost? Vic spits back she's not lost, just curious why Octavio Mora's rental car is parked so close to the Rez. After bickering about geography, Mathias goes to look for evidence in the bushes and trashcans while Walt and Vic take the car. Neither is able to jimmy the lock, so Vic smashes the back window and opens the door for Walt.
While searching the car, Vic informs Walt she doesn't like to be falsely accused; she never told Lizzie to come to the station. Walt is forming an apology when Vic adds Walt wouldn't have gotten so mad if there wasn't some kind of attraction between him and Lizzie. Before Walt can respond, Vic finds a set of car keys with a dangling St. Christopher's medal. Walt knows it belongs to Freddy, proving he was in the rental car with Octavio. Vic wonders if they were scouting a new spot to grow marijuana. Walt directs Vic to call in the Forest Service to do a search for signs of farming in new areas. Then Walt discovers a folder under the floor mat holding surveillance photos of people on the Rez including Freddy and Mathias. It's a target list.
Mathias returns and notices Walt's dark expression. He demands to know what's going on. Walt wonders, if the cartel was seeking vengeance as Mathias suggests, why is he still alive? Mathias crows that he stood up to the cartel so they're afraid to mess with him. Walt points out that it was the gang members who stood up to the cartel. Touche! Then Walt wants to know what Mathias did with all the pot he seized in the raid. Mathias snarls. Is Walt accusing him of dealing drugs? Walt retorts that it looks like that's what the cartel thinks. Vic shows Mathias his picture in the folder. Busted! Or is he?
Later that night at the Red Pony, Walt and Henry share a beer in the empty bar. Walt wonders if Mathias is involved with the murders. Henry hopes not, but comments that everyone is capable of killing under the right circumstances. Walt is depressed to think he used to be able to count the number of murders in his county on one hand. Now there's a multi-billion dollar drug cartel in his back yard. Henry wryly toasts to progress. Walt likens it to cancer; by the time you find it, it's often too late.
Across town, a Latino man with a savage face checks into the motor inn. He carries a long slender bag and the clerk asks if he is a fisherman. His "yes" is cold as ice. The clerk is nervous, but asks for his name and credit card. The man slaps down a driver's license and peels a hundred dollar bill from a fat wad of cash. His name is Octavio Mora.
Lights flashing, Walt's Bronco races up the road winding into the forest with Branch's white sports car right behind.
Ranger Eli Cross is waiting with a worried expression as Walt, Vic, Branch and the Ferg approach. He was off-trail and heard music playing. At first he thought it was hikers, but then he smelled pot so he called Walt. The group follows Eli, and the smell, into the woods.
Everyone on the team has a gun out as they creep through thickets of trees. Even the Ferg is on alert clutching a gun.
Suddenly they come to a ridge and Walt looks down to see a field of marijuana stalks, chest high. A thread of Mexican music rises from two tents in the middle of the field. Eli silently signals them to follow as he heads down.
The team winds through the marijuana plants, adrenaline pumping. They break into a run as they get closer to the encampment. Walt, Vic, and Eli rush one tent; Branch and the Ferg tackle the other. Walt shouts, "Sheriff's Department" as he barges in pointing his gun.
There are bunks, blankets, dishes and a cooler, but no people.
The tent Ferg and Branch rip open is full of large white sacks.
Walt looks around; something isn't right. Eli assumes whoever was there before must have heard him and taken off. He knocks the top off the cooler and finds ammo inside for an AK-47. Eli complains that he came home from Afghanistan to get away from crap like secret camps and machine guns.
Outside the tent, the Ferg drops one of the white sacks at Walt's feet. It's fertilizer, and the tent is full of it. Walt tears off the label and reads "ammonium nitrate," good for growing weed, and making bombs. Walt is breathless from running, but manages to give orders to Vic to call all the big farm supply stores in Absaroka county and find out who is buying fertilizer in bulk.
As they head out, Walt tears a stalk of marijuana out by its roots. But there are so many more. The cancer is spreading.
That evening, at the Red Pony, Walt helps Henry get the bar ready to open. A pizza delivery guy arrives, but it's not Jamie. Walt is worried to learn Jamie never showed up for work.
Later, in Henry's office, Walt leaves another message for Jamie that he better call back or Walt won't be able to help him. Walt hopes Jamie is just hiding and not already dead at the hands of the cartel or Mathias. Henry is at the computer with the marijuana plant on his desk. He finds something about the plant on the internet. Walt is sarcastic: according to the internet the moon landing was faked. Henry is annoyed. He's just trying to help. Walt apologizes and Henry continues his report. Apparently, it would take three months for a marijuana plant to grow as tall as the one on his desk. That means the new grow was planted before Mathias raided the pot farm. Henry wants to take the plant to the agricultural school in Sheridan to be examined. He didn't help Freddy before, but at least he can do something now. Walt points out it's illegal to walk around with a pot plant. Henry asks to be deputized.
Heading back to his office, Walt bumps into Vic and Branch on their way out. None of the fertilizer stores have a record of a large bulk sale, but they ALL report a series of small sales, just under the Homeland Security limit, to a local worker named Nomar Vargas. Vic shows Walt a picture of Nomar taken from a security camera at one of the stores. She teases Walt that he should recognize him since he works for Walt's girlfriend. Walt scowls and Vic apologizes. But it's true that the man's name appears on Lizzie's list of workers. Walt assigns Branch to tracking down Jamie, and heads out with Vic.
At Lizzie's house, Walt's all business as he interrogates Nomar about the fertilizer. Walt drops the name "El Lupo," and Nomar knows he's busted. He confesses that Freddy would bring him the cash to buy the fertilizer and he'd do it. But that's it. He never met El Lupo; he would just drop off the bags. Walt demands to see exactly where on a map.
The Bronco pulls up to the base of a steep, pine covered hill and Vic and Walt get out with Nomar's map. This is the spot.
They are both out of breath by the time they reach the top of the hill. At first they see nothing but the towering Wyoming pines, but then Walt spots it: a heap of branches clearly hiding something.
Walt and Vic tear them away and find a tent. Inside is a mound of fertilizer bags and more tools and irrigation pipes. Apparently El Lupo is expanding his operation. Walt points out that the forest covers 1.2 million acres so they better start looking, and call Eli!
As the Sheriff's group starts walking through the forest, someone watches them through binoculars from above.
Walt, Vic, and Eli follow the irrigation pipes snaking through the underbrush. Eli explains he tracked the pipes from the pot farm they discovered hoping it would lead him to others. They come to a fork in the pipe where it splits off in two different directions. Walt tells Vic to go with Eli one way, and he'll go the other way. Vic retorts they're too slow for her and goes off on her own. Eli grins at her sass and wants to know if she's single. Walt chuckles but doesn't reply.
As Walt and Eli follow the pipe on their side, Eli's cell phone rings. It's for Walt. It's Henry.
Henry is calling from the agricultural school campus where he is carrying the marijuana plant, drawing stares from students. His friend at the school identified the pot. It's a rare strain the Mexican cartels probably wouldn't bother with called Khyber Kush. It grows in high altitudes and originated in the foothills of Southern Afghanistan.
Walt thanks Henry and hangs up, staring at Eli walking up ahead of him. Eli asks if everything is good. Walt says yes, but means no. Eli complains that the Mexican cartels finished screwing up their country and are now screwing up the U.S. Walt carefully replies that he's pretty sure the grow they raided was not the work of the Mexican cartel. Eli says it must have been the gangs on the Rez. He goes to "hit the head" at a nearby tree while Walt quietly responds. Nope, not the gangs. They'd want to keep the pot on the Rez if they were growing it, wouldn't they?
Eli, back turned to Walt, tenses at the shift in conversation. Walt continues real casual-like. The pot they raided wasn't from around here. It was from Southern Afghanistan, a part of the world Eli knows since he served over there, right? Right. Four deployments. Eli slowly zips up his fly. The showdown is on and both men know it. Walt keeps talking. Did Eli run into any grows over there? Khyber Kush? El Lupo?
Walt ducks just as Eli whips around with his gun drawn, then pops up and clocks Eli in the jaw, hard. The ranger drops to the ground. Walt picks up Eli's gun and cuffs him, pointing out that staging a raid to throw off the search was smart. Eli still denies it, but Walt pulls the Ranger to his feet and leans him against a tree. Walt knew by the abundance of fertilizer there were tons more pot growing in these hills, so Eli could afford to sacrifice one grow, but he forgot to put in the Jesus Malverde statue.
Eli finally relents. Ok, these grows are his. After four tours wandering around pot farms in Kandahar, he knew where and how to do it, but Freddy was his friend and partner. Eli didn't kill him, the cartel did.
Two days ago, Freddy brought a Mexican cartel guy to one of their grows hoping he'd be a partner. Instead the Mexican tried to buy the business. When Eli said no, the bastard shot Freddy in the chest. The cartel guy might have thought Eli would just sh** his pants and sell, but Eli just reacted the way he'd been trained to and killed the son of a bitch. No way he was going to let that guy live after he had executed Freddy. BLAM! BLAM! Suddenly, shots shatter the bark on the tree by Eli. In one fluid motion, the two men dive behind a fallen log.
The shots continue echoing through the woods. Vic looks up at the hill where they're coming from. Walt! She races up the hill with the power of an athlete.
The shots keep coming, taking more chunks out of the log where Walt and Eli are pinned. It's war. Eli begs Walt to free him from the cuffs and return his sidearm. Their only chance is to split up and take out the gunman. Walt knows he's right.
Vic is a force of nature plowing through the trees.
Walt unlocks Eli's cuffs. He's got enough regrets in his life; he hopes this won't be another to add to the list. Walt hands over the gun and the Ranger takes off towards the trees up one side of the trail, while Walt races up the other side, bullets spraying around them.
Vic sees an irrigation hose leading up the hill and grasps it to haul herself up like a mountain climber on speed.
Walt dives behind a tree stump and spots Eli running behind trees towards the gunman, Octavio Mora, who aims his AK-47 at Eli. Walt fires off a round at the gunman who spins around to fire back. Eli sneaks up behind Octavio, but the cartel gunman whips around and fires. Eli is hit and falls back. The AK-47 is out of ammo. Octavio drops it and pulls out a .38 to finish Eli off, but Walt is right behind him and orders him not to move. Still aiming at Eli, Octavio asks if Walt is going to shoot him in the back. Walt declares he has every right to. The gunman twists around to fire, but Walt shoots first, hitting Octavio square in the chest. The gunman flips backwards and rolls down the hill to where Eli is crouched behind a tree.
Walt approaches the gunman and flips his body over with his boot. He's dead. But Eli isn't. He's pointing his gun at Walt and warns that the cartel is going to keep coming, they're not going to give up. Neither will Walt. Vic shouts to Eli to drop his gun. She's out of breath, but her aim is rock steady. Eli knows it's over. The young Ranger crumples, wounded and beaten, as he hands over his gun. Walt looks at Vic. Nobody wins this one.
Walt's Bronco pulls up in front of his house where Henry is on the porch receiving a pizza delivery from Jamie. Walt admits he's glad to see Jamie; "people" were worried. But now the crime is solved and Freddy's killer is dead. Branch had already filled Jamie in about all that. Walt winces, asking what else Branch said. He asked how Jamie and Walt knew each other. Jamie told him they used to play in the same band. Walt grins. That's a good one.
As Jaime pulls out, Henry shows Walt a note taped to the pizza box. It's from Lizzie saying now Walt owes her dinner. Henry raises his eyebrows, who is Lizzie? Walt replies she's a registered voter and leaves it at that. Walt pops a beer and gives Henry the St. Christopher medal to return to Freddy's grandmother. Henry nods. He has finally helped the boy. The two men sip their beers in silhouette against the Wyoming sky.