I continue to believe Justified is the best show on TV these days and episodes like “The Hatchet Tour” reinforce that belief. From start to finish, the writers draw a nice, tight circle that connects the dots of the season’s central mystery and deftly ties together threads from every storyline. Well played, Graham Yost & Co. Well played.
The episode opens with Tim at the apartment of the drug dealer, where not only the dealer, but Tim’s friend, Mark, lie dead. The local detective makes a point of telling Tim that the dealer sold almost exclusively to vets. That and the word “Bagram” that Mark managed to text to Tim before died, have Tim’s suspicions falling on Colton.
Colton is already having a bad day. After a bit of house-hunting with Boyd, Ava is back at work supervising her whorehouse when Cassie walks in looking for Ellen May. Ava falls back on the cover story about Ellen May moving to Alabama, but Cassie responds that the trying-to-reform whore left a message with another member of the church the day before. Since Ellen May is supposed to be dead instead of leaving messages at her old church, Ava is understandably concerned and runs off to find Boyd. Boyd hauls in Colton to explain himself and rather than confess his errors, Colt continues to lie his ass off and insists that Ellen May is dead. Thinking that Cassie has come up with a new way to scam money, Boyd decides to find her. He goes one way and sends Colt off to look for her at the late Preacher Billy’s tent church.
Unfortunately for Cassie, Colt is the one who finds her. Fortunately for Cassie, Tim is trailing Colton by that point and no sooner does the heroin addict get his hands around her neck than Tim has his gun out and Colt in his sights. Before he can get an answer from Colt about killing Mark, Boyd (who has finally been told the truth about Ellen May by Johnny) shows up. He manages to remove Colt from the danger of being in Tim’s crosshairs but that just means Colt now has to answer to Boyd. We all know that isn’t going to end well. While he’s confessing to Boyd about letting Ellen May escape, Colt mentions that he asked for help from Shelby. Boyd is more than a little alarmed; Ellen May knows Ava killed Delroy and the last thing Boyd wants is for her to tell Shelby that story. He heads off to see Shelby and when he lets himself into what he thinks is the sheriff’s dark, empty house he instead finds it full of law enforcement – and Raylan.
Why is Raylan at Shelby’s house in the dead of night? I’m glad you asked!
Raylan, if you’ll remember, promised Art he’d take a couple of days off to mourn his father’s passing. Instead, he shows up at the prison and takes over the duty of transporting Hunter to his new federal digs. While Art is throwing a temper tantrum over Raylan’s activities, his wayward US Marshal is delivering Hunter to Wynn Duffy. Why? Because Raylan thinks the Dixie Mafia, through Duffy, are the ones who hired Hunter to kill Arlo. Wynn Duffy and his eyebrows are genuinely surprised to hear about Arlo’s death, however, so it’s back in the car they go until Hunter throws himself out of the moving vehicle and into the path of a semitruck, only to have his hopes of death by 18-wheeler dashed by Raylan’s quick reflexes. Raylan pushes Hunter out of the path of the truck and then beats the shit out of him. They’re barely back in the car when Shelby pulls them over: Art has put out a BOLO on Raylan. Instead of taking Raylan and Hunter in, Shelby leaves his patrol car parked and gets in with Raylan and his prisoner to pay a visit to the two surviving members of the Clover Hill gang, who are holed up, hiding from Theo Tonin’s men and being watched over by Constable Bob.
Constable Bob isn’t held in much regard by those two, however, and by the time Raylan and Shelby pull up to the house, bullets are flying. No sooner does Raylan get that situation calmed down than Bob is yammering away about Hunter and Shelby and their tangled history and suddenly the light bulb goes off and Raylan figures out what viewers have known for at least two weeks: Shelby is Drew Thompson.
Sure enough, down at the patrol car, Hunter and Shelby/Drew are having one last chat about old times and loyalty. Before he disappears again, Shelby/Drew hands Hunter the keys to the handcuffs but Hunter is still in the backseat when Raylan returns to the car, since he figures he’d just get caught anyway if he tried to run through the woods in that orange jumpsuit.
Raylan heads to Shelby/Drew’s house to comb it for evidence, which leads us back to Boyd sneaking in and finding Raylan. That’s when Boyd has his own lightbulb moment. “Drew goddamn Thompson.”
And I quote (Ava to a clueless realtor who just lost 6%): “Thank you very much, but we don’t need your shit.”
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