Tonight’s episode of Justified is what we’ve all been waiting for: Raylan goes back to Harlan County. And Boyd and Raylan finally end up onscreen together in the same room. A small room. Also, Constable Bob is back.
This week’s episode picks up right where last week’s placeholder episode left off. Colton is at the convenience store, having “misplaced” Ellen May, and asking the clerk to show him the security video of what could’ve become of her. After nearly getting himself shot, he identifies himself as military police (which seems implausible given his hair cut). On reviewing the footage, he sees the edge of a cop car in frame.
Next, in a rare appearance without his stetson, Raylan is waiting for baby mama Winona at the Women’s
Health Care Clinic of Lexington. (We don’t expect to see much of her this season — mercifully — as Natalie Zea is busy chewing up the scenery over on The Following, Kevin Bacon’s new Fox show. Although she is a welcome relief after bartender Lindsey.) She arrives 15 minutes late and tells him about freelance work she’s picked up. He tells her there’s no need, because he’s been working side gigs and intends to support the baby. She expects this does not sit well with Art. He reassures her by telling her that Art has assigned him to the “biggest case in our office’s history. Could be a real game changer.” (It isn’t really clear how — public servants get paid the same either way. There might be a little fame, but not much fortune.)
Rachel calls and interrupts. Arlo has been delivered to the marshals’ office in his prison orange. Raylan leaves before they even get to the o.b.’s waiting room, but not before he feels the baby kicking.
Cut to a commercial for Maker’s Mark bourbon. Followed by a second commercial for Maker’s Mark bourbon.
Back at the marshals’ office, an irate FBI agent Barkley shows up, delivering files, and furious that the marshals have usurped his authority and taken over the Drew Thompson case. As he and Art argue, Arlo chats with his lawyer. She’s advising him he’d better tell her the inside info too, just to be safe. (Safe for whom? She might as well be twirling a mustache.)
Barkley encounters Raylan as he stomps out the door, telling him he’s probably behind the whole thing because he investigated him. “Kiss my ass,” is Raylan’s response.
Art explains that Vasquez is visiting and has brought Arlo in so he can make a deal with Arlo, who says he can deliver Drew Thompson. For this testimony, he will walk. If they can find Drew, they can bring down Detroit mobster, Theo Tonin. Raylan asks how much time he has. For what? To find Drew Thompson and make sure his father dies in prison for killing Trooper Tom. He has twenty four hours. Where will he go?
And then Raylan says the magic words we’ve been waiting for four episodes.
“I figured I’d go back to where it started. Harlan County.”
Cut to Wynn Duffy’s Winnebago. The dirty FBI agent Barkley introduces Nick Augustine, Theo Tonin’s henchman. Small talk and anecdotes are exchanged about how they go way back. Ugh! Another villain to keep track of? It should have been Theo himself, but showrunner Yost has said Adam Arkin’s too difficult to get while he’s working on The Americans. This is a real problem. (Season 3 suffered from a plot overpopulated with too many characters, and it would be a shame to see Season 4 head down the same path. Honestly. Sometimes, it is like they are not even listening to us.)
They might be old friends, but Augustine is not happy with Barkley’s service to the Tonins. “Drew Thompson’s still alive. How’d you miss that Buddy?” Barkley says there’s nothing to worry about; Arlo’s crazy; etc. We hear that Theo is really displeased. We find out that Drew shot Theo in the eye and left him for dead on the runway in Panama. He stole $2m worth of cocaine from the outfit. Losing that cocaine put Theo “into jail with some nasty people.” (That whole scene could’ve only been appropriately delivered by Adam Arkin; it’s only a good scene if we can see Theo’s bad eye.)
It’s all moot anyway. Nick Augustine has heard the FBI doesn’t even have the case anymore; it’s been turned over to the marshals. Barkley prevaricates. Barkley jacks up the price to $250. Barkley’s brain gets spattered all over the Winnebago miniblinds. So long old friend. Duffy doesn’t flinch. Now he has the job of finding Drew Thompson.
Colton turns up at the Sheriff’s office, trying to find Ellen May. The Sheriff says he has nothing on her. Colton leaves, dissatisfied, and unconvinced.
Back at the bar, Boyd is ebullient. Duffy is on the way. Before he arrives, Colton returns and gives a made-up story of how he dispatched Ellen May. Boyd is displeased, but before he can quiz Colton too closely, Duffy shows up. The negotiation is on. Boyd now has something Duffy wants. Maybe he can help in the hunt.
Next up, Constable Bob (Patton Oswalt) is back! He has brought the season premiere’s copper-wire stripping teen along for Raylan to question. The little flasher has tried to bribe Constable Bob with more of her wares, but the two are stalwart and immune to her charms. Raylan just wants to know why she went looking for that Panamanian diplomat’s duffel in Arlo’s wall. After much buildup, she divulges that she did it for her stepfather, Josiah. “Both of you keep your clothes on,” Raylan admonishes before he goes in search of her errant dad.
Great. Another villain to keep track of?! At least this one turns out to be played by Olyphant’s fellow Deadwood alum Gerald McRaney. (But still. Enough.)
Raylan approaches Josiah on his front porch, where the self-professed “retired” old criminal is somewhat chained up like a dog, via his electronic monitoring ankle bracelet. He professes ignorance of the diplomat’s bag and Drew Thompson until Raylan suggests they go for “a drive.” The next frame is Raylan dragging Josiah along at a good clip, handcuffed to the passenger door.
“You can’t do this,” Josiah pants.
“Sure, I can,” Raylan insists, “long as I got gas.”
Josiah says, “this ain’t legal,” and Raylan counters, “neither is impeding a federal investigation.”
Just before Raylan tows him past his electronic monitoring tether line, Josiah blurts out the most information we’ve learned about Drew this season. When he faked his own death, he busted up his legs, and went to hide out with the Hill People. Drew turned over the cocaine to Bo (Boyd’s father) and Arlo (Raylan’s father), in return for which, he got sanctuary.
“If I come down that mountain without him, you’re gonna be my first stop,” Raylan warns him.
Raylan heads for the hills, but not before stopping off at Constable Bob’s car to retrieve a photo from the easily remembered “keepsake” box from the season premiere. (It is stored there with Constable Bob’s go-bag, which we also expect to see again this season after all this build-up.) Bob strongly advises against the trip to the hills, suggesting that the Hill Folk may have already eaten Drew. Raylan says that’s an old wives’ tale.
You can’t be too careful though. He has called ahead for backup. Fellow marshal Tim meets him to stand watch, while Raylan hikes ahead alone. “These people don’t take to outsiders. I reckon this about as far as you should go.” Tim’s response, “I knew I shoulda brought my book.” If he’s not back by nightfall, Raylan tells Tim he should call in some of his Ranger friends (we’ll call them Chekhov’s Rangers, since we’ll surely meet them this season, along with the contents of the go-bag). “They sound cooler than they are,” Tim says, and suggests “how about the 101st airborne?” Yes. “Death from above; there you go,” Raylan says.
As Raylan treks through the woods, he begins to hear a series of bird calls. They are so obvious, they’re reminiscent of Gomer Pyle’s signals of “Hootie Hoo!” on the Andy Griffith Show. Raylan stops and puts his hands in the air, and the Hills ARE alive, with gun-toting Hill Folk. He reassures them, “I come alone, and with peaceful intent.”
The next scene is him being hauled into a cabin with a burlap sack over his head and being stuffed into a makeshift cell. “Hello, Raylan,” we hear, as Boyd’s face emerges from the shadowy confines.
They confer and compare notes on their present circumstance, none too peaceably. D’oh! That Josiah! Boyd is insulted. He can imagine Josiah setting up a U.S. marshal, but he thought they were better friends. “Honor among dumbass thieves?” Raylan asks.
“Dumbass?” Boyd clarifies, “coming from the man sitting tied up next to me?”
Raylan quizzes him about turning on Arlo, messing up his deal. Maybe Boyd is just a puppet of the Frankfort boys now? Boyd observes, correctly, that starting a fight would be ill-timed, as they have more “pressing concerns.”
Meanwhile, Tim is trying to get cell signal back in the foothills as Colton approaches. The two quickly bond over shared military service (the footwear identifies Colt).
Raylan tries to proffer the photo he retrieved from the keepsake box to their captors. It’s a picture of Raylan’s mother and “Cousin Mary,” a hill person herself. In response, a bullet comes whizzing through the door. They both recoil, and Boyd is hauled out, dragged across the floor feet first as he confides, “I don’t like your plan Raylan!”
As Boyd is being shotgun-whipped, Raylan manages to free himself and join the fight, taking the Simple Cousin Daniel’s gun… which has no firing pin, as it turns out. (His titular Kin love him, they explain, but they would never let him carry a live weapon after that unfortunate childhood incident between his head, and a rock.)
Raylan insists on his kinship to the hill people, but they’re nonetheless intent on dropping their remains down an abandoned mineshaft.
Just as Raylan and Boyd seem destined for a swift descent, Cousin Mary emerges from the woods. Daniel has delivered the photo to her, and she is satisfied that Raylan is a legitimate relative, one whose death she could not sanction. She has no such commitment to Boyd, but Raylan reluctantly prevails upon them to spare his nemesis as well, since he’d be compelled to report his murder as sworn law enforcement and all.
Mary spares them both, and tells them what she knows about Drew (and Josiah selling them both out). She nursed him back to health, but one day, he was just gone. Boyd suggests he could’ve parlayed all that cocaine into tremendous power, but she explains that Bo and Arlo took it all. “Of course they did,” says Raylan. “That’s another reason we’re so proud of them.” Mary hasn’t seen Drew in ten years. She saw him at a bluegrass festival ten years before, hobnobbing with the mayor and rich Clover Hill folks. She tells them they are on the wrong hill.
As the two descend the mountain, Boyd tells him “I’d whistle the theme song to Deliverance if I thought you had a better sense of humor.”
The irony isn’t lost on the two of them. “Here we are, both of us in pursuit of a man our daddies went to great lengths to hide,” Raylan tells him.
“May the best man win,” Boyd says and the two shake hands, just as Raylan cuffs him to a tree.
“No sense of humor?” Raylan says, of the Wile E. Coyote/Roadrunner moment. “This is funny.”
Meanwhile, at the foot of the hill, Colt and Tim are comparing their military service to Eastern Kentucky. Colt says, “It’s a lot like here when you think about it. A bunch of clans [klans?] led by guys with beards running around shooting at each other.” Then they compare notes about how to find someone who has disappeared. Tim misinterprets it as a request for tips on getting hired as a marshal.
Raylan shows up with the news that he thinks Drew is in Harlan. Tim is impressed, narrowed down from the whole world to one county in just a few hours? “It wasn’t as easy as it sounds,” Raylan says, before advising Colt he should take along a saw to retrieve Boyd from the trail.
Cut to another Maker’s Mark commercial.
Next, Boyd tells Duffy he’ll have Drew within a week, and the new price is, “I get half the heroin business in the state of Kentucky.”
Cousin Johnny is listening in and doesn’t like it when Duffy says they have a deal. But as Duffy explains, “I can promise him a rocket ship and a goddam unicorn. The point is, once he brings me Drew, he and I are done. And you’re free to kill him.”
Next up, Colt is banging on the sheriff’s door. “Where’s Ellen May?” he demands. The sheriff spins a good story about how she might’ve disappeared with a long-haul trucker. Colt leaves, dissatisfied. And Ellen May emerges from under a table. The sheriff says he’ll protect her, but he needs her help to bring down Boyd.
Boyd is, meanwhile, re-convening with Arlo’s lawyer, hired on his dime. She couldn’t possibly break confidentiality, she explains, not when a friend of hers got busted for just such a payoff. Boyd knows an opportunity when he hears one. “That is very good to hear. That the only thing you’re concerned about is getting caught.” He hands her one pile of cash for getting Arlo a deal. And a second pile to shut the deal down.
Raylan, as promised, returns to Josiah’s…where he discovers his electronic ankle monitor. How’d he do that? he wonders. And then quickly answers his own question when he happens upon Josiah’s severed foot a few seconds later.
And that’s the perfect wrap to one of Season 4’s best episodes thus far (notwithstanding the unforgivable substitution of a new character for Adam Arkin’s Theo). Raylan is back in Harlan. He and Boyd are sharing the screen, Butch and Sundance style, as God and Graham Yost know it should be.
Season 4: Justified Episode Recaps