Raylan’s trademark white cowboy hat lands on the dirty floor of a rundown bar. Ava hacks off her pretty blonde hair and tosses the shredded locks into a stained sink in a Kentucky state women’s prison. In between those two ugly events, things get even uglier.
At least we didn’t have to wait long to find out what Art thought about Raylan’s not-quite-specific-but-close-enough confession last week about his involvement in Nicky Augustine’s death. Art is drinking alone in a bar while the saddest of sad country songs plays on the jukebox when Raylan walks in out of the rain. Without a word, Art stands up and lands a punch that sends Raylan’s cowboy hat flying. At the office the next day, the relationship between the two men is still chilly despite the “we’re not that dumb” levity Tim attempts to inject by pointing out the coincidence of Art’s bandaged hand and Raylan’s black eye, or by Raylan’s volunteering for the thankless and boring job of taking inventory of their ammo supplies.
Raylan’s own sour mood isn’t improved any when Alison steps off the elevator with a face as messed up as his own, and the story behind her injuries makes his bad mood worse.
The story of her bruises starts, of course, with the Crowes. The previous evening, Alison took a trip out to the Crowe family’s lovely, spacious new home to pay a welfare check on Kendall. Wendy helpfully provides a copy of the rental agreement and an explanation that her apartment in Miami was just too small for a teenage boy. The house, though, is plenty big enough for all the Crowes, including Danny’s trained-to-be-violent dog Chelsea. Alison is wary of the dog, but Danny is the real threat. When Alison leaves, he jumps in his truck, follows her to a deserted stretch of highway, and runs her off the road by slamming repeatedly into the bumper of her car.
Alison’s version of reporting the crime is going to see Raylan (one messed up face meeting another messed up face), since she’d been smoking a joint before Danny showed up in her rearview mirror and can’t officially call the cops for fear of being busted.
The Crowes don’t know Raylan is on his way, but they manage to keep busy anyway. Dewey unsuccessfully tries to sell his bullet-ridden swimming pool (courtesy of Raylan in episode one) and when that fails, comes up with the idea of forcing Boyd at gunpoint to return the money Dewey paid him for Audry’s. Danny, because he’s a fucking idiot, thinks that’s a swell idea and he and Dewey head off to Boyd’s bar.
They don’t find Boyd, but they do find Carl working behind the bar. To give him credit, Carl does point out how stupid their idea is, but in the end, it’s two against one (although it does take both Danny and Dewey to take Carl down). Plan A has become Plan B: Kidnap Carl and force Boyd to return the purchase price of Audry’s in return for his henchman.
When Raylan, with Rachel in tow, arrives at the Crowe’s rental house, Danny and Dewey assume he knows they have Carl tied up in the trunk of Danny’s car. Wendy’s cool head prevails; she meets Raylan outside the house, lies about Danny being there, and does her best to keep Raylan from going inside where her idiot brother and her idiot cousin are panicked and a hair-trigger away from coming out guns blazing. Raylan avoids the death trap he doesn’t realize is on the other side of the door but immediately pays a visit to Mike, the real owner of the house, who is working at the hardware store he owns. Mike, you may remember from last season, is susceptible to a pretty face (or being flashed by a pretty pair of boobs, i.e., S4.01) and explains to Raylan that Wendy had just appeared out of the blue with Kendall and a sob story about sleeping in her car and he, out of the Christian goodness of his heart, rented his house to them. And his hunting cabin, apparently, which gives Raylan one more location to check out in his search for Danny.
Sure enough, that’s where Danny and Dewey have fled, but neither Raylan nor Rachel expect to see Carl there, too, bloody and beaten and tied to a chair. Carl explains that his current state is the result of him and Danny playing S&M games without a safe word (I suggest “waffle”). Everyone knows he’s lying out his ass, but Raylan also figures out that letting Carl go means Boyd will be coming for the Crowes for revenge and out loud, sorta hopes they all kill each other.
On that tender note, he and Rachel head back to the office. She tries once more to draw him into telling her why he and Art have matching injuries, but he refuses point blank. Reading between the lines, Rachel realizes that what she doesn’t know can’t blow the whole office apart, and lets the subject drop.
Alison, when she’s not smoking weed or planting meth in a toybox so she’ll have an excuse to remove a child from an unsafe home, is a pretty smart cookie. She listens to the story of Raylan’s day and offers an observation that fits with that not-so-white cowboy hat of his: Raylan might be the heroic type who would run into a burning building but chances are, he’s also the person who set it on fire.
Boyd, meanwhile, is also not having a good day, which is not that surprising considering he spends most of it dealing with the Crowes, too. His first order of business, though, is making sure Ava is taken care of in her new home in state lockup.
He pays a call on an old skinhead friend of his, Gunnar Swift (guest star Branton Box). Gunnar has fond memories of Boyd from their prison-buddy days, and, more importantly, Gunnar also has a sister currently housed in the same state facility as Ava. Money changes hands and a deal is struck: Gretchen (Casey McCarthy) will watch over Ava and see that she comes to no harm.
Ava’s attorney delivers this bit of news to her with a handwritten note from Boyd telling her that everything will be okay. The pieces in place, Ava is released out into “GenPop,” where she meets her new bunkmate, Nikki, and makes a new friend out in the prison yard, Penny (Danielle Panabaker). Unfortunately, Ava also attracts a bit of unwanted attention from a gang of African American inmates whose leader seems more than casually interested in getting to know her better. Those ladies are turned away only by the arrival of Gretchen and her gang of female skinheads. Gretchen introduces herself and mentions the arrangement Boyd set up with Gunnar and then in the next breath, denounces Boyd as a “race traitor,” takes a few good swings at Ava and hacks off chunks of her hair. Ava finishes off the job herself later that night, borrowing Nikki’s secret razor to even up the new and unwanted haircut.
Boyd, predictably, is pretty damn pissed when he finds out what happened. He sends Jimmy (who will forever be Snake In the Face Boy, sorrynotsorry) to scout out Gunnar’s place. Jimmy comes back with the report that the skinhead is surrounded by a lot more just like him, just in case Boyd decides to come calling.
Carl, who was MIA while being kidnapped by Danny and Dewey, comes back about that time. Boyd barges in on an angry Crowe family discussion about their future, or lack of one, in Kentucky, but before you can say “Why make an enemy when you can make a friend?” Boyd surprises them with an offer of employment.
With the Crowes backing him up, Boyd returns to make Gunnar pay for his sister’s attack on Ava, and by “make Gunnar pay” I mean Boyd uses Daryl’s very effective fists to beat the shit out of Gunnar, with the added message that if anything else happens to Ava, Gunnar will pay for it again, with his own blood.
One last bit of business remains and that is setting up the heroin pipeline with his Mexican connection. He, Picke,r and Wynn Duffy meet with representatives from the gang, led by a very smoooooooth Mr. Yoon. Yoon and Boyd impress each other with their respective awesomeness and the deal is struck.
Boyd then calls Hot Rod Dunham to make sure he can deliver on his end of the deal, i.e., Johnny. Hot Rod is a man with a gun to his head (literally and metaphorically), but he gets a warning off to Boyd anyway by reminding him about the last drug deal the two of them engaged in, over Mags Bennett’s weed. Since that one involved Boyd stealing it from right in front of Hot Rod, the “Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!” message is received loud and clear.
Boyd pays another visit to his new BFFs, the Crowes, and hires them to kill Cousin Johnny. If they’re successful, that screaming of “It’s about damn time!” will be coming from me.