Walt Longmire's experience in Denver has finally caught up with him, and at the end of this episode the sheriff finally loses his temper. In a fit of rage, Walt tears apart his office. It was an intense scene, but the mood on set was significantly lighter that it appears on the screen. Director of Photography Cameron Duncan says:
"Robert had a blast, and it was obvious that he was looking forward to destroying a set that we spend so much time in. It also gave us the opportunity to destroy a few props that always bugged us."
That office didn't stand a chance.
Rampaging through a set is an exhausting scene to shoot, but Duncan says the entire team was on their game. "By the way, we filmed most of that work in two takes. Robert and my camera operators were flawless."
Destroying TV show sets can be good therapy.
Another physically challenging moment happens at the end of the episode when Walt finds Branch shot near the funeral pyre. Walt hurls his deputy over his shoulder and carries him to safety. So how was this shot achieved? Duncan says they did it the old fashioned way.
"Rob was insistent that he could carry Bailey. It was a technically challenging shot. The environment was a mix of volcanic rock and loose dirt. We used a Technocrane on an ATV, which we never do. It's a bit out of our aesthetic. To get a lot of those shots we generally utilize a job on our show, which requires the grips to lay track. However, the terrain was so gnarly, we would've killed our day constantly laying track on volcanic rock."
Robert Taylor makes carrying Bailey Chase across loose, volcanic gravel look easy.
The location where they shot this scene was a tough spot to find. Duncan describes the search:
"This became the most challenging location to find. Luckily, most of our locations for this episode had already been established, so we made the time to find the right place. We looked and looked and looked. Finally, Michael Offer got a vibe about an area that he'd scene from a distance. As we approached the location, we came upon a cow's head. There was definitely a trippy vibe to the place. After revisiting a few days later, we knew it was the spot."
Sometimes a cow head is a good sign, apparently.
In this episode, Branch and Walt track down David Ridges, the man responsible for Cady's accident. They investigate his home, only to find a video of Ridges, played by David Midthunder, shooting himself in the head. Duncan tells us that the scene was easier to shoot than it appears. "It wasn't challenging at all. Dave Midthunder plays the Ridges character. He has a background in stunts and is a total pro. It was an intense scene to film, but also quite a lot of fun."
David Midthunder as David Ridges in full Dog Soldier attire.
In the show, Ridges talks about traveling back in time to make things right. Time travel may seem like an unusual subject for a Western, but Duncan says the time travel concept came from a source close to the show. "It's actually based on a comment from Dave Midthunder. He was speaking with [Executive Producer and Writer] John Coveny and mentioned the myth of his people time traveling to right a wrong."
David Midthunder leaps into action as the camera crew follows.
There's a number of interesting makeup effects happening in this episode, but not all of them may have been obvious. Special Makeup Effects Artist and Designer Steve LaPorte tells us about one makeup job that you might have missed.
"One thing probably not evident is that the character of Hector is a full prosthetic makeup. As the original description of him called for a big scar on his cheek, I further enhanced his look by altering his cheekbones and adding a pitted skin texture to his cheeks. He also wears a broken nosepiece and a forehead scar. All of these are made of encapsulated silicone."
This is how you make a tough-looking actor (Jeffrey De Serrano) look even tougher.
A more obvious makeup effect was that of Ed Gorski's brutally beaten face. LaPorte describes the steps taken to make actor Lee Tergesen look like he had a truly rough night.
"Ed Gorski wears a silicone eye/cheek piece in the hospital, multiple scars and a set of false upper teeth to depict swelling and a broken tooth. Once I made the teeth and prosthetics and tested them, the makeup was applied by fellow makeup artist, Trent Cotner. Trent also devised and executed the mysterious Dog Soldier body and face makeup on David Ridges."
Gorski (Lee Tergensen) has definitely seen better days.
Walt's horse makes a reappearance in this episode, and the sheriff looks like a old hand when it comes to riding. Cameron Duncan says, "We filmed this on a fantastic day at the Valle Caldera. The morning light was epic and we'd never seen the caldera so green. Rob rode the horse like a pro. It was quite spectacular to finally see our hero on horseback."
Walt wasn't the only character taking to horseback in this episode. Lou Diamond Philips (Henry) also has a big moment on a horse when he stops Walt and Hector on their way to another county by parking his horse in the middle of the road. Duncan describes shooting the scene, saying, "Lou is a total pro and has tons of experience on a horse. The only logistical issue was shutting down the road. It's a great scene that again displays our world in epic fashion."
Walt's horse gets a break from carrying people around in this pivotal scene from the episode.
On a serious note, shooting in the Valles Caldera National Preserve can be a challenge. Earlier this year, the Caldera was threatened by massive wildfires. Duncan says, "The fires in and around Santa Fe had a direct impact on our production. Over the course of three weeks there were three fires raging, some at the same time."
This episode ends with a special credit thanking the members of the Prescott Fire Department's Granite Mountain Hotshots, who assisted in stopping the fires from destroying the beautiful location where Walt's house is filmed, as well as the surrounding preserve. In late June, just a fews weeks after fighting the flames in Valles Caldera, nineteen members of the Hotshots lost their lives battling an enormous wildfire in Arizona. The cast and crew wanted to make sure that the Hotshots help would not be forgotten. They say:
"We were truly saddened by their tragic passing and will never forget their valiant efforts in helping to protect Walt's house."
Learn how you can help the Prescott Firefighter's Charities at http://www.prescottffcharities.org.
Learn more about the Prescott Fire Department's Granite Mountain Hotshots and their work in the Valles Caldera National Preserve with this excellent article written by photographer Kristen Honig.
Photos and production notes courtesy of Cameron Duncan, Steve LaPorte, Randy Moore, and Emily Thomas.