With no “big bad” to focus on, this fourth season of Justified gets to dig deeper into the tangled web that is the relationships of the core characters to each other. Some viewers seem to be finding this a bit boring; personally, I think it’s a mark of the show’s excellence that it can ignore the usual formula for crime dramas and still keep us glued to our seats each week. Snake in the face, fugitive on a 3o-year bunk, fighting chickens, runaway whores and Boyd & Raylan”¦ what’s not to love?
Speaking of Boyd and Raylan”¦YES! Finally, our favorite bromance is sparking again. So just how did the two of them end up locked in a shed together? I’m so glad you asked!
Drew Thompson, our runaway fugitive, is turning out to be quite the popular person. The marshals want him bad enough to make a deal with Raylan’s father Arlo; in exchange for ratting out Thompson’s whereabouts, the government is willing to let Arlo walk for the crime of killing Trooper Tom last season. Thompson, it seems, has the goods to bring down Theo Tonin, the Detroit crime boss, and in the world of Criminal Whackamole, Tonin is worth more than Arlo. Using the crooked suicidal FBI agent from Episode 3 as justification, the marshals get all of the FBI files on that case handed over, which makes Agent Barkley (whom we met in S3 when he tried to prove Raylan was a dirty cop) very unhappy. The thought of Arlo getting out of jail makes Raylan unhappy so he decides to find Thompson himself – which shouldn’t be too difficult, right? I mean, Raylan has 24 hours to find a guy who’s been hiding for 30 years. Piece of cake! First stop: Harlan County.
Constable Bob (Patton Oswalt is back as one of a shitload of guest stars in this episode – clearly Justified‘s casting budget is a healthy one) picks up Roz, one of the kids who broke into Arlo’s house in the first episode. She tells Raylan that her stepfather, Josiah (Gerald McRaney), sent her on that mission. Raylan then pays him a visit and after a bit of encouragement (i.e., Raylan handcuffs him to the car door and makes the old man him run alongside while he drives), Josiah tells him that Drew Thompson broke his legs when he jumped out of that plane 30 years ago and that Arlo and Bo (Boyd’s father) sent him to stay with a family in the hills until he healed up, in exchange for the cocaine Thompson had stolen from Theo Tonin. Josiah also tells Raylan that Thompson didn’t heal properly and never left the hill. Armed with this information and an old photo (you’ll want to remember that), Raylan heads up the hill himself.
But the marshals aren’t the only ones after Drew Thompson. Theo Tonin sends his second-in-command Nick Augustine (Mike O’Malley – see what I mean about the guest star list?) to meet with Wynn Duffy and his eyebrows and, as it turns out, Agent Barkley, who is an old childhood friend of Nick and who has been covering up for Theo Tonin behind the scenes at the FBI. Barkley objects to Nick’s instructions to capture Drew Thompson alive, tries to shake $250K out of him and for his trouble, gets shot in the head. Blood and brains splatter the blinds of Wynn Duffy’s Winnebago (which by now needs its own line in the credits), but Wynn Duffy’s eyebrows are unfazed and happy to join the search for Thompson.
And how will Duffy find our fugitive? By calling on”¦ wait for it”¦ Boyd Crowder and promising him a cut of the Harlan drug trade in exchange for his help. In a moment we don’t get to see, Boyd also pays a visit to Josiah and is told the same tale about the whereabouts of Drew Thompson. But even though we don’t get to see it, we know that moment happened because when Raylan takes his own trip up the hill only to be captured and thrown in a shed, Boyd is already there waiting for him. Josiah, it turns out, called to warn the Hill People that Raylan and Boyd were coming and to suggest that killing them both might be a good idea. Before Dan’el (Christopher Reed) can finish his chorus of “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms,” Raylan pulls out that old photo he brought with him, claims kinship to the Hill People through his mother and saves his and, just barely, Boyd’s asses. Then, just because he’s Raylan and Boyd is Boyd, Raylan leaves Boyd in the woods with his arms handcuffed around a tree. Those crazy kids. Don’t you just love ’em?
Raylan pays Josiah another visit (I’m guessing he wanted to scold the old man for sending him on a wild goose chase) and discovers that Josiah, who was under court supervision by means of an ankle monitor, has left the ankle monitor behind, along with the foot of the leg it was on, and disappeared into the night. “Well, my goodness,” says Raylan. Indeed.
If that’s not enough for you, Wynn Duffy promises Johnny that he’s free to kill Boyd once Drew Thompson is found. Yeah, right. Johnny killing Boyd? That’s not happening.
Oh, and Ellen May? She’ll be fine, I’m sure. Sheriff Shelby is hiding her so he can use what she knows to bring down Boyd. I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that tactic will not end well. For Shelby, that is.
And I quote “¦”Whole world’s a tree, Raylan. I’m just a squirrel trying to get a nut.”