Dark Winds, AMC’s neo-noir thriller set in the 1970s American Southwest, premiered its first season in June 2022 to positive reviews. With its complex characters, gritty storyline, and immersive setting, the show has garnered a dedicated fanbase eager for more episodes.
However, AMC has not yet renewed Dark Winds for a third season. Here is an in-depth look at the likelihood of a season 3 renewal and what fans can expect from the story in the future.
1. What are the renewal chances of the show?
As of September 2023, AMC has not renewed Dark Winds for season 3 or announced any cancellation plans. However, the show’s strong reviews and solid viewership make a third season likely.
Dark Winds premiered to 1.7 million viewers across AMC and AMC+, above average for a new AMC series. It maintained a steady audience throughout its 6-episode run and was a top 5 cable drama among adults between 25-54 during summer 2022.
Critically, Dark Winds sits at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and an impressive 81 on Metacritic. Critics praised the show’s cinematic visuals, strong acting, and ability to tackle timely themes about Indigenous identity through an absorbing crime drama lens. These reviews help attract new viewers through streaming and word-of-mouth.
AMC also has a record of giving its prestige dramas time to find an audience. Better Call Saul, for instance, didn’t become ratings hit until season 3 or 4.
Network president Dan McDermott expressed confidence that Dark Winds can follow this trajectory, saying it’s “the start of a multi-year franchise.” The show is also one of the network’s most diverse productions yet, helping AMC appeal to wider audiences.
Given these factors, a third season appears likely unless viewership drops substantially when episodic ratings are finalized. AMC will want to keep such a critically acclaimed series with franchise potential on the air.
2. The Story So Far
Dark Winds is based on the Leaphorn & Chee book series by Tony Hillerman and focuses on two Navajo police officers, Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn and Officer Jim Chee. Season 1 introduced the characters and their efforts to solve a double homicide case plaguing their community. Leaphorn is a seasoned veteran nearing retirement, while Chee is a young idealist hoping to help his people.
The case proves more complex than expected, involving a psychopathic killer, buried secrets, and mysticism. Leaphorn and Chee receive help from Chee’s mentor, Cowboy Dashee, but their investigation puts them in the crosshairs of dangerous criminals.
By the season finale, they’ve stopped the killer, but not without personal costs. Leaphorn’s principles are tested when Chee loses a loved one.
The bittersweet conclusion wraps up the season’s central mystery but leaves character threads and the show’s themes of tradition versus modernity unresolved. This open-endedness primes Dark Winds for a second season.
3. What to Expect in Season 3?
If renewed, Dark Winds season 3 will likely pick up where Season 1 left off and continue developing the show’s core themes.
One of the main focuses would be further evolving the relationship between Leaphorn and Chee. In season 1, they start wary of each other but ultimately develop a bond rooted in their shared heritage. Season 3 can deepen their partnership as they confront new mysteries. However, their different worldviews may also cause friction.
More of Chee’s backstory and his role among the tribal police could also come into focus. His idealism is challenged in season 1, so season 3 may show him becoming jaded or further cementing his principles. The fallout of the traumatic season 1 event would also impact his character.
Additionally, season 3 can delve deeper into the tensions between spirituality and corruption plaguing the Navajo community. Mysticism and ritual play a crucial part in Dark Winds, so more exploration of Navajo beliefs juxtaposed with criminal elements could drive future mysteries.
In terms of plot, new murder cases for Leaphorn and Chee to investigate would likely form the core of season 3. There are still 17 Hillerman books to draw inspiration from, providing plenty of source material. The show would further interweave important themes like discrimination and loss of cultural identity into the crimes.
AMC also set up some plot threads on which season 3 could pick up. For instance, the sinister Washington insider pulling strings in season 1 is still at large, providing an overarching villain. Corruption on the Navajo Tribal Council could also be a source of future conflict. And Chee’s budding romance, left uncertain by season 1’s end, would presumably play a role in his character development in the future.
4. What are the fan theories regarding Season 3?
Fans speculate the story’s directions until season 3 gets a green light. Many theorize Leaphorn will retire, passing the torch entirely to Chee as the series lead. But Leaphorn could stick around as a streetwise mentor to Chee, allowing their partnership to remain integral.
Another popular theory is that the Washington power broker will return as the show’s big bad, orchestrating chaos on the reservation for their agenda. Chee and Leaphorn would have to band together to take down this influential antagonist over multiple seasons.
Some also think Deputy Sheriff Bernadette Manuelito could be introduced from the books as a potential love interest for Chee. But Chee getting back together with his ex-girlfriend Mary seems just as likely. Their season 1 breakup was left unresolved, so fans are debating if this relationship is truly over.
While just theories for now, these ideas reflect the enthusiasm among viewers for more time in the gritty, cinematic world of Dark Winds.
Dark Winds ends on a cliffhanger, leaving significant character and story avenues unexplored hinting AMC ordering a third installment. The show’s strong reviews and solid initial viewership make another season feasible.
Fans eager for the next chapter in the lives of Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee can remain cautiously optimistic as they await word on season 3. If AMC wants a flagship franchise that appeals to critics and average viewers, Dark Winds seems positioned to fit that bill.
Whether the network gives the show another year will become apparent in the coming months. But for now, all signs indicate fans will experience more of Dark Winds’ gripping drama and immersive spiritual mystery soon.
5. About Dark Winds
Dark Winds is an American psychological thriller television series created by Graham Roland based on the Leaphorn & Chee novel series by Tony Hillerman. It premiered on AMC and AMC+ on June 12, 2022, with the first season consisting of six episodes. After its premiere, the series was renewed for a six-episode second season, which premiered on July 30, 2023.
The series follows two Navajo police officers, Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee, in the 1970s Southwest. The first season is primarily based on Listening Woman (1978) and elements of People of Darkness (1980). The second season adapts People of Darkness