When it comes to original series, September is going to be a largely quiet month for Max. But the good news for subscribers is that AMC is lending out several original shows to Max for the months of September and October. And that deal has already paid off with three of those AMC shows landing on the inaugural list of the 10 most popular shows on Max.
One of those series, Dark Winds, is our pick for the best show to watch on Max in September. It’s a superb adaptation of Tony Hillerman’s Leaphorn & Chee novels that already has two seasons under its belt, although only the first season is currently on Max. Regardless, Distant Winds hasn’t become the breakout hit that it deserves to be on AMC, where it is often overshadowed by series like The Walking Dead or Interview with the Vampire. And that’s why we’re throwing the spotlight on it now to hopefully put Dark Winds on a path toward a larger audience. So here are three reasons why you should watch Dark Winds on Max while you still can.
Following his strong turn in Fargo season 2, Zahn McClarnon went on to have a recurring role on HBO’s Westworld as Akecheta, which led to his amazing performance in the eighth episode of season 2 where McClarnon commanded the screen while relating the heartbreaking story of Akecheta’s life in the Lakota language for almost the entire runtime. This made it clear that McClarnon deserved a show of his own, and Dark Winds is the perfect vehicle for his talent.
McClarnon’s performance as Joe Leaphorn is even more of a revelation because this show largely revolves around him. He brings gravitas and dimension to Leaphorn’s actions and conveys his inner thoughts and conflicts simply through his expressions and body language. This may be the role of a lifetime for McClarnon, but it’s also the perfect combination of an actor and a character. If McClarnon was the only thing that Dark Winds had going for it, it would still be a good show. Fortunately, there’s a lot more to it.
Another reason why Dark Winds feels so unique in the TV landscape is that the vast majority of its cast and characters are Native American. Kiowa Gordon more than holds his own as Jim Chee, Leaphorn’s new deputy. Chee may be an undercover FBI agent, but he can’t help feeling loyalty towards Leaphorn as they work together towards a common goal. Jessica Matten’s Bernadette Manuelito is essentially the female lead as another one of Leaphorn’s deputies. Bernadette is so close to Leaphorn that she’s practically a member of his family.
Behind the scenes, the entire writer’s room is made up of Native American screenwriters. This show is also a fascinating glimpse into Navajo culture that has rarely been explored before in either film or TV. The series presents a compelling world filled with interesting characters that has been skillfully made. There’s no other show on television like it.
There are two mysteries at the heart of this series at the beginning of season 1. The disappearance of armored truck robbers somewhere in Navajo County, and an unsolved pair of murders in a local hotel room. Ostensibly, Chee was supposed to be undercover to find the robbers while using the murder investigation as a ploy to join the tribal police. But Leaphorn convinces Chee to redirect some of the FBI’s resources to actually solving the murders, while in turn assisting on the larger investigation as well.
It shouldn’t be too surprising that the twin mysteries are connected to each other, but there are still plenty of intriguing twists and turns along the way. And Dark Winds doesn’t make you wait long for answers. The first season runs only six episodes, and it reaches a firm conclusion before a new story unfolds in season 2. Dark Winds is the perfect binge-watch for anyone who loves a good mystery. But keep in mind that you can only watch season 1 on Max. You’ll need to head to AMC+ if you want to watch the recently concluded second season.
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