'Longmire' Season 3 finale: Is Branch dead, as Walt's wife's murderer is revealed?

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longmire-season-3-finale-henry-walt.jpgIn the penultimate "Longmire" Season 3 episode, Walt went after the then-alive David Ridges, only to be forced to kill him when Ridges attacked. But in the finale, "Ashes to Ashes," Ridges' crow feather-laden headdress and an unusual search warrant for the Red Pony finally put Walt on the right track to solve his wife's murder.

It turns out Miller Beck's body was also found with a crow feather inside, the same as with Branch's gunshot wound in the Season 3 premiere. Walt and Henry dig up Miller's body so they can prove it, because the feather is still there, lodged in his throat. They also have evidence from Ridges' car that links him to Beck. Longmire, Cady and Henry bring the new evidence to ADA Sloan, and he drops the charges against Henry. But that doesn't quite solve the murder of Walt's wife.

You see, Ridges killed Beck to tie up loose ends after Beck killed Walt's wife. But Ridges wasn't acting independently. He was acting under Jacob Nighthorse's orders. Walt thinks that's where the buck stops, so he vows to go after Jacob as he scatters his wife's ashes.

However, Branch, who is on suspension from the force and seemingly takes a job with his father, discovers that dear old dad was the one really pulling the strings. Barlow Connelly paid one of Jacob's shell corporations $50,000 to have Walt's wife killed so that his son could be sheriff.

As Walt prepares to go after Nighthorse, Branch confronts his father and, in a jaw-dropping turn of events, Barlow seemingly shoots his own son with a shotgun. Barlow certainly appears willing to take that step, but is that what really happened?

Is this the second finale in a row where Branch ends up shot? We don't think so. We think Branch got the drop on his father, and it's Barlow who is dead. But what will that mean for Branch in Season 4?

As an aside -- how great was the scene where Walt and Henry were digging up Beck's body? This show interjects a surprising amount of humor, particularly when Robert Taylor and Lou Diamond Phillips are together. Terrific.

What did you think of the "Longmire" Season 3 finale?
Photo/Video credit: A&E