Justified‘s got em, and they played out in spades tonight in “Outlaw,” the strongest episode so far of Season 4. Everything Raylan does, and doesn’t do, in Season 4 is informed by his impending fatherhood, for better and for worse. It isn’t a challenge for which he is especially suited, at least partly because he has had such a lousy role model in Arlo. Last week’s episode of Justified ended with Raylan telling the Givens pater, “I’m gonna be glad when I hear the news.” The news of his death that is.
This week, as promised, Raylan pays a visit to former Sheriff Hunter Mosley, at the same prison where Arlo is currently incarcerated. He offers him the same deal Arlo passed on (“eat shit” were his exact words): give up Drew Thompson in exchange for a transfer to Club Fed. Mosley is surprised Raylan would want to screw his father’s deal so badly that he’d offer it to the man who tried to kill him. Raylan admits he likes his would-be murderer better than he likes his father. (Daddy Issue Number 1.) He appeals to Mosley’s inner lawman. Surely he wouldn’t want Arlo to win? Mosley sees right through that. “You’re only a lawman when it suits you Raylan. Gives you cover to do things you woulda done anyway.”
Mosley wants to know why Raylan cares so much about Thompson. “What’s in the bag for you, Scarecrow?” The case would allow him to write his own ticket. Mosley calls bullshit. “You never cared about rank.” “Priorities change,” Raylan responds. (Daddy Issue Number 2.)
Meanwhile, the Class Wars continue between Boyd and the Clover Hill landed gentry. As a town elder draws him a detailed map for killing mining exec Frank Browning, Boyd questions his expertise, “broken into a lotta houses have you?” and makes it clear he’ll do his “own formulatin’.”
He also wonders aloud that if he were to be arrested or killed in this particular line of duty, might that not solve two problems for the gentry? No, no, Mr. Johns reassures him. They don’t see him as a problem. Boyd is just hired help, a serf who needs to be put in his place. “I got a boy that mows my lawn. I got a boy that does my shoes at lunchtime. And you, you’re gonna be the boy that takes out my trash.” If this were a setup, he explains, he’d just have called in his trooper and judge buddies and Boyd would be locked up within an hour.
Back at the prison, Mosley has taken the law into his own hands. He’s arranged for Arlo to be sedated and brought to the in-house barber shop. With a little help from one of the screws, he takes out the barber, and is prepping to take out Arlo. “Nothing personal,” he says, patting him on his narcotized head. “I’ll do my best to be quick about it,” as he selects a pair of scissors for the job. But wait! The old codger isn’t sedated after all. Arlo bounds out of the chair and smashes him across the head with a jar full of Barbicide while his back is turned. When the guard runs in, he pounds him too. Unfortunately, beating on the guard distracts him just long enough for Mosley to get back in the struggle and stab him in the chest with a pair of shears. Arlo seems as surprised as anybody.
And that was just the cold open!
Back at the marshals’ office, Drew’s non-widow, the clairvoyant Eve, is browsing Harlan DMV photos in search of a possible match for her not-late husband. She narrows the field to 27. People change in 30 years, she protests. “I used to look like Ava Gardner,” she tells him. Raylan suspects she is withholding, but he’s interrupted by Art with the news of Arlo’s stabbing. He returns to Eve, contemplative, but relatively nonplussed. Eve is nosy. She quizzes him (isn’t she supposed to be psychic?). He explains that the man he’d hoped would give up Drew, “took a shiv in the chest; they don’t think he’ll make it through the night.” Does he have to go? Nah. “Seeing me would only upset him.”
Meanwhile, Boyd has arrived at the scene of his prospective crime, the pleasantly appointed (and out of place in Harlan) craftsman-style manse of Frank Browning, who is lovingly polishing his shotgun. He suspects Boyd has been dispatched to blow a hole in a slurry pond, so the Clover Hill elders can get a federally-funded shower of SuperFund money. But he is mistaken. Boyd explains he has come not to praise Caesar, but to bury him. He has not been sent to release the slurry, but to bury Browning in it.
Savvy criminal that he is, Boyd has paid him a courtesy visit to offer him the chance to beat their price.”You want me to pay you not to kill me?” They trade a few folksy aphorisms and hunting metaphors, and then Browning’s right-hand muscle appears, Deke. Browning then shoos Boyd out with the aforementioned shotgun, which is probably by now clean enough to kill a man with.
Back at the bar, Boyd downplays Browning’s response to his offer to Ava as “ornery,” but he’s more honest with Colton. He’s going to need his own muscle now. Colton is distracted. He’s getting extortion texts during the meeting (and is probably high, or needing a fix — since those are the only two states that addicts occupy). Somebody knows what he’s done, or not done, to Ellen May. Just as Boyd is chiding Colton for passing notes in class, Duffy arrives.
He is displeased, or more accurately, he is there to relay Theo’s displeasure from Detroit. Josiah is minus one foot, but he is also in federal custody. He could’ve been Drew. Time is running out. Theo has dispatched a henchman. Duffy thinks Boyd might not understand the gravity of the situation, “Theo is ready to scorch the earth down here.”
He isn’t the only one.
Back at the Brownings’, Frank and Deke are preparing for War with great bluster. But first, there’s a knock at the door. Deke answers, and a guy in law-enforcement gear asks, “Mr. Browning?” Like an idiot, Frank steps up behind him to helpfully confirm his identity to the officer, just as the guy blows Deke’s head off and comes in, closing the door behind him. Officer Friendly snaps a quick instagram of Browning’s blood-spattered face, and confirms with someone on the phone “the man in the photo is not the correct target.” Browning is sure they can work something out. “I don’t know Shelby’s game…” (it is a sheriff’s department uniform, but it seems likely we’re supposed to infer more than that from the mention of his name).
“I don’t know Shelby,” the gunman says, and now Browning is Body Number 2 for tonight’s quickly escalating count.
The next scene is Shelby and Ellen May. He interrupts her going through his ex-wife’s things, wearing her clothes. He picks up a necklace. “St. Christopher, patron saint of travelers, sailors, pilots, and bachelors.”
He says it belonged to “Abby,” his wife. He doesn’t say ex-wife. “She ain’t dead?” Ellen May asks. “Not that I know of,” he says. She did the leaving. Left him a note on the TV set. “Going on 25 years ago,” he says.
Ellen May says her mother did the same. Left when she was three. She doesn’t really remember her, but people tell her she favors her. “Now that you mention it, you kinda favor Abby some.” (Hmmm. Ellen May does have the same coloring as Eve, does she not?)
Wearing different clothes can make you feel like a different person, Ellen May points out. Shelby responds, “Musta been a year after I first joined the Sheriff’s Department before I could put on my uniform without feeling like I was wearing a costume.”
Oh, really…? [Lean in.]
Might Abby’s clothes one day let Ellen May feel less like a whore in church?
“I think, if you pretend to be something long enough, it’s not pretending.”
Oh, is that right, Shelby…. or should we call you… DREW?!
Next, Colton needs that blackmail money. He shows up at his drug dealer’s house. (In fairness, who else would have that kind of cash?) He explains he’s not there for drugs, he needs a loan. The dealer is sarcastic, “$20 grand. How do you want it? Hundreds, or tens? Fives? I could give you singles if the plan is to make it rain at the Lobster Box.” Colton chuckles. Body Number Three.
Colton quickly discovers the stash of cash he needs, along with a drug supply, and is preparing to pack up when he hears a noise. It’s Deputy Tim’s fellow vet and fellow addict buddy, Mark, hiding in the bathroom. They all met at the VA. Poor Mark tries to play dumb. Colton offers him a cigarette. Maybe the courtesies of comrades in arms? “We are in the shit, Mark,” he laughs ruefully. For purely expository reasons, he explains, “someone’s trying to run a game on me.” He knows it isn’t Ellen May, at least not by herself. He packs up the cash, and stubs out a cigarette in the ashtray (probably realizing this is Justified, and not CSI). It seems as if he might let Mark go, “This never happened.” “Copy that,” the frightened Mark says. That makes Body Number 4.
Raylan, meanwhile, has taken up an uneasy vigil at Arlo’s deathbed. The doctors have told him he’s in and out of consciousness and might sleep the whole time he’s there, but Raylan tells him he’s “too mean to go that easy.”
He offers Arlo a shot at redemption. He doesn’t want an apology. There’s no need for fatherly advice. “If you had any worth giving, you wouldn’t be circling the drain in a prison infirmary.” He just wants Drew’s identity. “Not for me, for your grandkids.” They’ll get a father who’s a chief deputy, and maybe stories about “a granddaddy who wasn’t just a son of a bitch.”
“It’s your last, last chance,” he tells his father, who whispers, “closer,” and manages to utter a few words right into Raylan’s ear, “Kiss. My. Ass.” Raylan squeezes Arlo’s shoulder with something almost like a resigned affection as he leaves. Arlo hasn’t disappointed him — the same Arlo who was thoroughly prepared to kill Raylan last season to save Boyd (shooting Trooper Tom, and thinking he was Raylan), remains unreconstructed to the end.
Back in Clover Hill, town elder Sam, another one of Boyd’s new employers, is busy upstairs with some candlelit shenanigans involving tying a leather bikini’d girl to his bedposts. The doorbell rings. It’s Officer Friendly with another Instagram. This time, the shot happens off camera, as we see bikini girl react and tear at her silk restraints. Sam is Body Number 5.
Shelby and Raylan confer at the crime scene. Shelby wants to know why one man on the List that Raylan gave him is dead, and a second stiff, not on the List, was shot in the exact same way. Which is the coincidence? “What’s the List?” Reluctant to share much info with law enforcement that might or might not be helping Boyd stay ahead of the marshals’ investigation, Raylan tells him about Eve’s DMV list.
“You never said anything about the widow,” Shelby says… a little too casually?
Boyd’s staying ahead of Raylan just fine on his own, Shelby points out. Browning’s widow reports Boyd visited hours before Raylan even gave Shelby the list.
Back in Duffy’s Winnebago, Cousin Johnny is reporting in. Boyd has started World War III. Duffy assures him Boyd hasn’t killed anybody. This is all Theo’s handiwork. “One of them was Drew Thompson,” he says of the pile up of corpses. “According to who…Boyd?” asks Cousin Johnny, as he explains why the dead guys are not likely Drew.
For such a criminal mastermind, Duffy takes a while to absorb the information that he’s just executed Boyd’s enemies for him. He has good news and bad news for Cousin Johnny. Boyd is a dead man. That’s the good news. The bad news is, Johnny better be able to deliver Drew Thompson, or he’ll be sharing his grave.
Back at the bar, Raylan shows up to talk to Boyd and Ava, and is surprised to see what appears to be a deputy escorting Boyd out in handcuffs. “Raylan Givens,” Boyd exclaims, exasperated. “If you were coming down here anyway, why have Shelby drag me in again?”
Raylan is perplexed. “I didn’t have him drag you in the first time. What’s going on?” he asks Officer Friendly. “Did Shelby send you?” This doesn’t add up. He just saw Shelby fifteen minutes ago, and he didn’t mention this.
Raylan pauses, briefly dazzled by the sparkles of Ava’s “engagement ring?” Boyd is proud of it, and assures him, “as acrimonious as our relationship has been lately, Raylan, Ava and I have discussed it and you’re still gonna be on the guest list.”
Then Officer Friendly tips his hand, telling Raylan to step aside. “Did you just give me an order?” He tips it further. “You don’t move, I’m gonna shoot you.” That gives Raylan the split second of awareness he needs to realize this is not law enforcement, just as they both draw on each other, and it offers the extra split second Raylan needs to get the first shot. But he isn’t sure his reflexes were correct. If they’re not, he’s shot a cop. “Geez, I hope I got that right,” he tells a momentarily-stunned Boyd and Ava. Body Number 6.
Over at the kids’ baseball field, Colton makes the blackmail cash drop… while Cousin Johnny observes, and then ditches his throwaway trak phone.
Next, Boyd gets a call. It’s Nick Augustine, Theo Tonin’s henchman (a cluttered addition to the season, presumably added because Adam Arkin wasn’t available as Theo, because he’s working on The Americans). Boyd makes a good case for the disposition of Duffy. “Why would you want to back a man who got took, when you can back the man who took him?”
(The scene is Augustine at a desk, alone, for about a minute of screen time. They couldn’t get one camera on Adam Arkin for that?)
Boyd makes a good case for his continued employment. Theo needs a man who knows the lay of the land, will bring him Drew Thompson, and will continue to run his Kentucky operations smoothly. Nick’s prepared to negotiate, after Boyd has handed over Drew. Boyd will just need one thing in the meantime. Nick makes it clear that it will be a debt, not a favor.
Back at the marshals’ office, Shelby arrives to tell Raylan he’s in the clear. Art is relieved his deputy is not a cop killer. Comparing notes, they’re all agreed that the killer was likely working for Theo, and that Eve’s DMV list would consume a lot of manpower. Raylan doesn’t trust the list.
“Eve’s the widow right? Is she really psychic?” Shelby asks, once again, a little too casually.
Then he steers them to the remaining Clover Hill elders Boyd’s been consorting with, Lee Paxton and Gerald Johns. Art asks Shelby to keep an eye on them.
Sure thing. “I wouldn’t mind putting eyes on the widow,” Shelby adds, a little too innocently. “From what Raylan says, she’s something to look at.” And then Art just tells him she’s at The Motel with her security detail. (It’s like he doesn’t even read these recaps!)
“Why do the pretty ones always go for the bad boys?” Shelby asks Art, with obvious foreshadowing. Then he tosses over his shoulder, “I guess they think they can change us, right Raylan?”
Raylan suggests to Art maybe they go at Boyd directly. “He’s Theo’s only loose end.” Art says, “him and your daddy.”
“Arlo’s dead,” Raylan reports matter-of-factly. (Body Number 1, of 6.) It’s surely no accident that Arlo was taken out by a blade to the heart; he’s been breaking Raylan’s heart since childhood.
He tells his colleagues he got the call an hour ago. Art tries to send him home. He should take a week. But it’s his case! He pulled it out of the wall of his own house! Relax. The case’ll be there when he gets back, Art reassures him. They compromise. Raylan will take two days. One to fetch the body. As he waits for the elevator, mixed emotions play out in conflict across his face. George Michael plays on the soundtrack. “I will be your father figure, put your tiny hand in mine…” (Just kidding about that last part.)
Down in Harlan, Boyd has re-convened the Clover Hill elders at the bar. Their pal Sam is dead, he informs them, at the hand of the same man who killed Frank Browning. “You piece of white trash,” Paxton says. He’ll see to it that Boyd doesn’t live to see Sam put in the ground. How? Will he sic those state troopers and judges on Boyd? Try it. He does. And lo, the numbers have been disconnected.
This is the favor Boyd asked Nick, the debt he will owe Theo. He has found a bigger thug to outman their thugs.
“The way you’ve built your fortunes, it might make you criminals. But it don’t make you Outlaws. I am The Outlaw. And this is my world.”
What does he want? A hundred thousand. Each.
Oh. And one more thing.
A Dairy Queen franchise.
Leaving Cousin Johnny to sort out the particulars, he returns to his office, ebullient. Ava likes a peanut buster parfait as much as the next girl, but what? A Dairy Queen?
“This is it baby. This is goin’ legit. This is how we see to it our grandchildren grow up bona fides.”
Ava is, wisely, a little nervous about any debts they owe Theo.
Cut to the end of the episode. The final scenes are a lingering shot of Arlo’s toe tag, beautifully composed with Raylan in his stetson framed in the background, followed by a closeup of Arlo’s face, slowly panning up to Raylan’s face, and then a cut to an overhead shot of Arlo’s corpse on the gurney, framed by Raylan standing over him in his stetson.
This won’t be the last we see of these Daddy issues.
Season 4: Justified Episode Recaps