Spoilers Ahead: Here's How 'Dark Winds' Ends
The dynamic season finale of 'Dark Winds' left audiences salivating for more as six episodes was simply not enough. The concise first season of 'Dark Winds' culminated in a dramatic, thrilling final episode.
The final episode, titled "HózhóoNaasháa" (S1, E6) begins in anticipation of the dramatic conclusion to S1, E5 "Ha'íínlni". The divisive fifth episode leaves Chee needing to make a choice between the FBI and his people, as well as Lt. Leaphorn preparing to ambush Hoski and Frank Nakai in the rocks near their hideout.
For this reason, when episode six opened, fans were eager for an outcome. Nevertheless, the anticipation would have to wait as the season finale begins five weeks before the heist (and approximately the same timeline as S1, E4 "Hooghandi"). Audiences get more background regarding Hoski and his motivations for creating the Buffalo Society. Then, cutting a deal with FBI Special Agent Leland Whitover after he's got him cornered.
In the present day, Chee is onto Whitover and radios Bernadette in a desperate attempt to get her attention. She's still peeved over the revelation that Chee was working undercover for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) yet willing to assist since Joe went missing. Leaphorn is in a predicament since following Hoski and Nakai into the hideout. There, he learns that the Buffalo Society intends to release their Mormon hostages, but not before Hoski safely escapes over the border.
While the Buffalo Society works on a diversion, Bernadette takes Agent Whitover by surprise and extracts information. Chee, who's been on a desperate quest, locates Whitover shortly later and draws his weapon. Tragically, Whitover is faster and blasts Chee in the shoulder, dropping him to the ground. The situation appears even more bleak as Frank Nakai and Hoski utilize smoke to suffocate Leaphorn out of the rocks.
One of the major surprises of the episode was the role Guy Atcitty (Ryan Begay) would have in the season finale. Guy appears periodically throughout the season holding a serious grudge against his brother-in-law, Joe Leaphorn. Regardless, he comes to the rescue during the sixth episode and unravels any plan to use the Mormons as leverage. Guy sends the elder Smith to the hospital while turning back toward the hideout to save the rest of his captive family.
Back at the hideout, Leaphorn finds a clever (yet fortunate) method to get out of a tight situation. Bernadette stumbles upon the rest of the Smith clan and frees them with the assistance of Chee, who resurrects from the shoulder wound. Leaphorn hurries to slash the tires on the escape vehicle which leads Nakai and Hoski trapped. Next, Agent Whitover arrives to mop up the crime scene and make arrests yet flips on an unsuspecting Leaphorn. He drops the tribal lieutenant with a round before turning the barrel on Nakai and pulling the trigger again.
Hoski (who was in on the scheme) escapes with Whitover and the money. Yet once Whitover exits the cave he is met by a waiting Bernadette and Chee. Bernadette leaves to check on Leaphorn while Whitover attempts to get into Chee's head. It's unsuccessful, as Guy (concealed with a rifle) finishes the deed, shooting Whitover dead.
The standoff offers Hoski enough time to escape, prompting Leaphorn to follow after the fugitive. He instructs Chee and Bernadette to bury Whitover's body next to Nakai to conceal the murder. During this cover-up, the two officers bury the money with the bodies. The subtle detail becomes important later in the episode when the cash disappears.
Leaphorn follows Hoski back to his grandfather's property which played an important part throughout the first season. This time, it's Hoski who gets the upper hand and neutralizes Leaphorn. Even so, the leader of the Buffalo Society heist declines to finish the job and shares a heartfelt conversation with Leaphorn. The Lieutenant discovers that intentions of Hoski's were honorable and reminds him it's not too late to make a positive change. The wisdom is not considered as Hoski laments over the childhood abuse he suffered because of the church and turns the gun on his head.
The suicide concludes the pursuit of James Hoski and the Buffalo Society in regards to their association with the heist. Leaphorn and Guy finally make amends and spend time with the families mourning the losses of their children. Later, Leaphorn pays Chee a visit where he discovers Chee left the FBI. He offers him a job back with the tribal force.
The final episode finishes with a shocking conclusion. The camera returns to the caves where authorities investigate the crime scene. It becomes revealed that only one body was found and zero cash. It appears Frank Nakai is still alive and escaped with the money.
The cliffhanger conclusion of season one 'Dark Winds ' immediately left fans desiring for more answers. The shocking revelation that Frank Nakai is not dead leads many to believe he'll also play a role in season two of 'Dark Winds'. Moreover, now that Chee is returning to the tribal police (and done with the FBI for good), how will his relationship with Bernadette evolve?
The ending to 'Dark Winds' season one was quite a bit different from the book series. In the books by Tony Hillerman, Chee and Leaphorn experience several adventures solving crime. Thus, it's hard to find a direct connection between the ending of the TV and book series. Despite this, the 'Dark Winds' TV series borrowed several elements (including the character Bernadette Manuelito) from the Anne Hillerman series of novels.