“Dark Winds” is set in Navajo Nation, the U.S., in 1971. Tribal police lieutenant Joe Leaphorn and newly-joined deputy Jim Chee are thrown into the middle of a series of crimes that seem to be unusually connected. Murder, history, and supernatural, all three aspects come together to hide something horrifying that looms within Navajo.
Episode 1: Recap
“Dark Winds” Episode 1 opens with three people attacking an armored vehicle while it is transferring money from one bank to another. They arrive in a helicopter, bomb the vehicle, kill two cops, steal the money, and escape in the helicopter before any reinforcements arrive.
Three weeks later, on a rainy night, Hosteen Tso is let in by 19-year-old Anna Atcitty inside a room at the Big Rock motel. He had come there for healing from Anna’s grandmother, Margaret Cigaret, who is blind. He hands over “the token,” which is a pair of black glasses, which, along with some other objects kept over a “single cloth” kept on the table, will be used for the healing ritual. According to Tso, his sickness began after he saw a mechanical bird with no wings or beauty.
Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn arrives at the Big Rock Motel, where Tso and Anna have been discovered dead. Tso has his throat slit and eyes gouged out, but Anna doesn’t have any marks on her. The killers left old Margaret, probably because she was blind and wouldn’t be able to offer any evidence to the police. The next day, Joe drops Margaret at her home where she lives with Anna’s parents, Guy and Helen. The news of their daughter’s death breaks them down completely. Guy calls Joe a traitor, which means that there is a past between them. Joe, too, is saddened and leaves without a word.
Back at the station, Jim Chee arrives as the new deputy. Joe introduces him to Sergeant Bernadette Manuelito, Joe’s “number two.” As Joe goes through Anna’s belongings, a preacher enters who introduces himself as Benjamin Tso, grandson of deceased Hosteen Tso. He has come to find out about his dead grandfather and check if the police have been able to get any leads. Joe assures him that he will notify him. Benjamin takes his leave.
Joe and Jim then arrive at the morgue, where the bodies of Tso and Anna are kept. Two federal agents are already waiting: Agent Whitover and his assistant, Springer. The morgue also has a shop attached to it that sells home décor and paraphernalia and is run by a man named Lester. The killer took Tso’s liver and eyes. Anna’s cause of death is still unknown. But it is clear that Tso was at the motel, along with Anna and Margaret, for a sing, i.e., to get healing. Jim notices from the photographs of the scene, that “the token” [Tso’s black pair of glasses] is missing from all the objects on the sing cloth. Outside the morgue, Whitover tells Joe about the armored car robbery in Gallup and that witnesses say that the helicopter was headed into Navajo country.
Emma, Joe’s wife, who is a nurse at the local hospital, comes across a young pregnant woman, Sally Growing Thunder. She denies telling Emma about the baby’s father, and it seems that the man has left her. Back home, she gives Joe the address of the girl and wants him to check on her and make sure she isn’t in any kind of trouble.
Joe and Jim pay a visit to Anna’s place to check on Margaret. However, she is still in shock and hasn’t spoken a word since the incident. There is a man by her side who is singing incantations, probably to wade off dark forces. Helen gives Joe a photograph of Anna with a guy, telling him to keep it. Joe tells Jim to wait there, and that Sergeant Manuelito will pick him up while he himself leaves. The man who was singing incantations tells Jim that it is a “witch” that is killing Margaret. Manuelito arrives, and she and Jim go and check Sally Growing Thunder’s address that Joe’s wife had given him .
The house seems empty as no one answers Manuelito’s knock. Meanwhile, Jim checks the area around the house and finds a dead coyote. From inside a warehouse behind him, a pair of eyes follows Jim. A man with a gun is waiting to kill him. Finally, after a handful of knocks, a lady, clad in black, opens the door. She introduces herself as Sally’s mother, but she is clearly not interested in answering Manuelito’s questions. However, after a little intimidation, she allows Manuelito to talk to Sally, who too doesn’t reveal much other than the fact that the baby’s father doesn’t live with them. She is scared of revealing too much. Just then, Manuelito hears a sound from inside the house. Sally’s mother tells Sally to get inside but stops Manuelito before she tries to enter as well. She feels a force acting upon her, courtesy of Sally’s mother, who is apparently using some kind of dark magic. When Jim is just about to open the door of the warehouse, only to get shot at, he is saved by Manuelito, who calls out to him and tells him that they are leaving. On the way back, she stops midway, performs a ritual of some kind, and tells Joe to get himself a medicine bundle that will protect him from things that cannot be shot at. Jim arrives at a restaurant where Whitover is waiting for him. It is then revealed that it is Whitover who sent Jim to Navajo to find the helicopter, after which they can “write our own ticket out of here.” Jim works for the FBI.
Joe goes to pay a visit to Benjamin Tso, who lives by the Many Ruins Canyon. The house is empty, so Joe decides to check the area. There is a water body nearby. He dips his finger in the water and smells it. Something is not right. As Joe stares into the body of water, we are then taken under it, which reveals the demolished helicopter along with an acronym “C.W.” on it.
Episode 2: Recap
“Dark Winds” Episode 2 shows events from the present as well as the past. The past is set 3 years before the armed car robbery. We see Guy, Lester, and another guy, Dillion Charley, who, along with many others, are about to take part in a ceremony at the Native American church. After the ceremony, Dillion tells Guy to not go to work at the drill site and to tell the others to not go as well. He “saw something last night.” That day, as Joe is leaving the drill site in his police car, a huge explosion occurs, and a lot of commotion can be heard. Joe gets out of his car and rushes towards the explosion.
Handful of days later, Joe arrives at Lester’s store, where Lester tells him about how Dillion Charley had a vision and warned Guy Atcitty about the explosion at the drilling site. Lester is clearly freaked out about the whole thing.
Joe visits Guy’s home to clarify what Lester told him. He asks Guy why he wasn’t at the drilling site on the day of the explosion. Guy says that he was sick, but Joe knows that he was lying. Just then, Anna and Emma come out, and Joe notices Anna wearing his son’s jacket. He tells Guy that she should not be wearing it and that it should be buried. Guy tells Joe that Joe has no one else to blame for his son’s death (but himself), but Joe replies, “except you and her [Anna].” This enrages Guy, who punches Joe in the face. The fight ends with Joe putting a bullet in Guy’s right leg, which gave him his life-long limp.
Joe, his wife, and their son, Joe Jr., are having dinner together. When the topic of college arises, Joe Jr. says that he doesn’t want to go to college but wants to stay back in his hometown and make some money. But Emma clearly states that he will go to college. Joe Jr. leaves the table without finishing his dinner.
In the present timeline, Joe arrives the second time at Father Benjamin Tso’s place and fills a jar with the water from the water body nearby. Once back at the station, he finds out that Margaret Cigaret is talking again, and so he takes Jim along to get her statement. But before leaving, he tells Sergeant Manuelito to follow up on Sally Growing Thunder. She reveals her experience to Joe and that she felt a dark spirit.
Before meeting Margaret, Joe and Jim find Benjamin there, who says that he was in Gallup delivering the last rites for a man named Jack Wilson when Jim went to his house in Many Ruins Canyon. Margaret reveals that Tso was holding a secret and that he was unable to share it was what was killing him. They were about to begin the song when “they” arrived. Anna tried to protect Tso and Margaret but was unable to secure her medicine. Margaret doesn’t know who “they” are or where the token is. She survived because she had her medicine. As Jim is leaving, Margaret calls him back and whispers in his ears that there are those among them “who are not what they seem.”
On the way back in the car, Joe tells Jim to take the jar of water to the lab at the Flagstaff federal building and get it analyzed. When Jim tries to hide his identity and asks Joe if the tribal police can make use of federal services, Joe reveals that he knows that Jim is with the FBI. If Jim can get the autopsy reports for Anna and Hosteen Tso as well as get the water sample analyzed, Joe won’t tell Whitover about Jim’s inability to keep his cover for a single day. As expected, Jim agrees. He takes the sample for analysis and tells the doctor to give the results by the end of the day.
Jim then contacts Whitover, and they meet at the same restaurant where they met last time. He uses the excuse of solving the double homicide case on his own, which will get both of them out of Navajo as soon as possible, to get the autopsy reports from the federal office, not doing which would make Joe open up to Whitover about him.
A guy with a mustache arrives at Lester’s store and asks for a cactus painting that Lester was supposed to be holding for him. Lester replies that he just sold it to a family that is probably on their way back to Utah. The guy rushes outside to his car, radios a person, and tells him about what has happened. The guy on the other side of the radio is the same man who was hiding inside the warehouse at Sally Growing Thunder’s residence.
Mormon family, consisting of a husband, wife, and their two young girls, is driving back to Utah in their new green car. Suddenly, a black car hits them from the back, overtakes them, and goes ahead. After some time, a huge scream from the wife reveals the guy, from the warehouse, standing at a distance in the front with a gun pointed at them, with the same black car behind him. The husband stops his car; the wife and the girls are scared to death. The guy with the gun asks the husband to open the trunk. He then takes the cactus painting and shuts the trunk.
Joe pays a visit to Sally Growing Thunder’s home, but apparently, there is no one inside. He finds weird objects and strands of hair. There is also a picture of Sally’s parents. A hand on his shoulder reveals that it is Sally. Joe tells her that the nurse she met at the hospital is his wife. He checked at the school, but there was no record of her attendance. Sally reveals that her mother used to hide her when she was a child. Joe asks her if she would like to live in a women’s shelter in Gallup, but she says that she has accepted her life as it is.
Sergeant Manuelito finds a deserted green car in the middle of the desert. She requests another officer on her radio. Joe arrives within half an hour, and they come to the conclusion that there is nothing wrong with the car. But something surely isn’t right either. Joe tells her to run the number plate and the VIN in their database while he checks out the area. He later finds tire tracks that lead into the desert. After returning to the station, Joe finds Sally sitting there. He brings her to his home, where his wife settles her down in their son’s room. Their son is no more. Jim returns to the federal police station to get the autopsy. Anna’s reports suggest that she died of cardiac arrest. According to the doctor, she was “scared to death.”
‘Dark Winds’ Episode 2: Ending Explained- Is the Robbery and Anna’s Death Connected?
It is nighttime; Sergeant Manuelito is outdoors at her stable with her horses when she feels someone’s presence. But there is no one around. She walks further towards the bushes when suddenly the mother of Sally Growing Thunder appears in front of her for a few seconds and vanishes in the dark. Manuelito is left shaken to her core.
The same night, Joe calls Jim in front of the fateful drilling site and tells him about his son, who too died in the explosion. He shows Jim the picture that Guy’s wife Helen gave him; Joe Jr. was Anna’s boyfriend. That is why people close to Joe are worried that he is “too close to this case.” Jim then tells him about Anna’s cardiac arrest and that the water sample had hydraulic fluid in it. However, Jim hasn’t told the feds about it.
Somewhere else, in a cave, we see the guy from the warehouse along with Benjamin Tso. The guy tears the backside of the cactus painting off, revealing the multiple bundles of cash taped inside. Tso tells him to “stick to the plan.”
There has to be a connection between this warehouse guy and Anna Growing Thunder because he was hiding in their warehouse. Is he the father? Furthermore, the guy with a mustache who went to Lester’s store to get the painting is the same guy who disguised himself as a policeman in the Gallup robbery. Also, it remains to be seen how Anna was really killed and if Sally Growing Thunder’s mother had anything to do with it. Probably Sally can tell something about that.
See More: ‘Dark Winds’ Episode 3: Recap And Ending, Explained – Does Joe Find Anything In The Water?