Dark Winds debuted to a surprisingly warm reception in 2022. The new TV series generated strong viewership and was mostly received well by critics. In fact, the first season of Dark Winds became the highest watched TV series ever on AMC+.
The first season introduces audiences to Navajo tribal officers Joe Leaphorn (Zahn McClarnon), Jim Chee (Kiowa Gordon), and Bernadette Manuelito (Jessica Matten). The trio is tasked with solving a mysterious murder while confronting a larger scandal taking place on the reservation.
While the first season of Dark Winds maintained interest with a convincing story and terrific performance from the actors, there is at least one plot hole that, admittedly, doesn't make any sense.
The Buffalo Society, if audiences recall (spoilers ahead), plays a pivotal role in season one of Dark Winds. The terrorist group is committing a series of crimes in addition to its recent armored truck heist in New Mexico.
For this reason, the Buffalo Society creates a scam in which cheap paintings are sold at a local gift shop on the reservation. While the products in the store are generally reserved for tourists, the Buffalo Society uses the paintings to launder money for Devoted Dan (Rainn Wilson).
At face value, the money-laundering scheme seems brilliant. It's an intricate and tactical method to move money without attracting the attention of authorities (namely, Joe Leaphorn and the rest of the Navajo Tribal Police). However, when you examine the scheme in more detail, it actually makes no sense.
For starters, audiences witness in the first season what happens when the plan goes wrong. One of the paintings is purchased, unsuspectingly, by a Mormon family stopping through on their way back to Utah. Of course, this mistake reveals precisely why the money-laundering scheme is so stupid. There is a substantial risk that the cash will end up in the wrong hands.
Secondly, the risk of sneaking dirty money through the gift shop is not necessary. As the first season demonstrates, the store's owner – Lester (Jonathan Adams) – is unaware of the illegal activity despite his Native American wife painting the amateur sketches. Regardless, running the front through his business sets up the possibility of Lester suspecting something fishy. After all, wouldn't he eventually notice the same customers coming repeatedly to purchase the same painting?
The same is true of Devoted Dan. The character makes a limited appearance in season one of Dark Winds yet comes across as the master orchestrator, along with Hoski (Jeremiah Bitsui) of the plan. In hindsight, it would have made more sense if Devoted Dan had the cash sent directly to his car dealership from a member of The Buffalo Society. Or, they met at a remote location in the open landscape of Navajo Nation. Surely, Devoted Dan would have been wise enough to avoid moving the cash through the gift shop altogether.
It's a major plot hole and one of the reasons fans were disappointed with the season finale of Dark Winds that failed to connect other details of the story. The good news, however, is that a second season is already in the works and hopefully the writers will avoid some of the mistakes that plagued season one.