Zahn McClarnon’s leading man moment was long overdue by the time Dark Winds premiered on AMC in 2022. Now, he’s back with the second season of Dark Winds, a neo-noir Western set in the Navajo Nation during the height of the American Indian Movement in the 1970s. Based on Tony Hillerman’s “Leaphorn and Chee” series of mystery novels, McClarnon plays Joe Leaphorn, a lieutenant in the tribal police. Kiowa Gordon plays Jim Chee, a former FBI agent, and Jessica Matten is returning for season two as Bernadette Manuelito, a sergeant who works with Leaphorn in the tribal police.
The trailer for the second season is here and it’s as moody and tense as can be expected from a series that had a moody, tense first season. Dark Winds is great at the neo-noir vibes, it’s a solid show from a storytelling standpoint, but it’s really good on a purely aesthetic level, too. Just going by the trailer, it looks like they got a little more money for the second season, too, and could go in on some bigger action beats and supernatural elements.
A new killer is in town, and Leaphorn is on the case, bringing Chee and Manuelito with him, and maybe he’ll finally get some answers about the death of his son. I really enjoyed Dark Winds’ first season—now streaming all six episodes on AMC+—and I look forward to season two, I just hate that it’s going up against Justified: City Primeval. Both shows are about complicated lawmen dealing with their own ghosts while trying to take down brutal killers, both star leading men I enjoy watching tremendously, I just wish there was some separation between the two series. But City Primeval drops on July 18, and Dark Winds arrives on AMC+ on July 27, with the first episode of season two airing on regular AMC on July 30. Not a lot of breathing room there.
You should make time for Dark Winds, though. Zahn McClarnon is giving a tremendous performance as Leaphorn, and the show features a lot of Native talent ranging from stalwart character actors who have never gotten the recognition they deserve (A Martinez, Eugene Brave Rock, Ryan Begay, Jeremiah Bitsui), to exciting up-and-coming talent like Gordon, Bratten, and Natalie Benally. It’s really a great ensemble to watch. In fact, as someone who missed Justified and its style and dialogue desperately after the original series concluded in 2015, Dark Winds has been punching that “stylish crime drama with excellent dialogue” button. I can’t wait for season two.