It would be understandable if Justified decided to “take a few days off, Charlie Hustle,” after delivering a nearly perfect episode of television in last week’s Decoy. Skeptical, but eager?
We’re back to Daddy Issues this week. Raylan may’ve gotten his man, but for all his conflicts with Arlo about fatherhood, he isn’t shaping up to do a much better job. We know he’s already turned up late for the one doctor’s appointment he actually made it to with Winona, and as tonight’s episode opens, she’s on the phone with him reminding him to fill out the forms she emailed last week, “they’re to protect the baby, in case something happens to either one of us.”
That tells us two things: Justified‘s never short on foreshadowing, so something is certainly going to happen to one of them; and once again, Raylan is continuing to neglect the impending duties of fatherhood. Now, admittedly, he’s been a little busy, with the Drew Thompson Manhunt and biggest case of his career, but throughout the season, he’s reduced his duties to breadwinner and this Big Promotion, while abandoning any of the day-to-day maintenance he might be responsible for as a Dad. When Winona tells him they’re having a daughter, he says, “I don’t know shit about girls.” (No kidding.)
He enters the Marshals’ HQ to the slow clap of his colleagues, which he obviously enjoys in spite of himself, though he does return to his Baby Mama phone call.
This week it all comes down to the hooker with a heart of gold. It’s all very Pretty Woman, as Art points out to Raylan. (“I never cared for her much anyway. Looked too much like Eric.”) Shelby/Drew refuses to give up any info until Ellen May is safe. Raylan wants to go fetch her. Art wants him to serve out his suspension…and take just a moment to bask in the glow of getting his man. “What the hell’s wrong with you Raylan? Don’t you know how to win?” He underlines it. “You’ve got a family on the way.”
Poor Ellen May, or “the whore,” as Raylan and Art and Boyd and Johnny repeatedly refer to her. Augustine also calls her a “trailer park bunk bunny,” (when he divulges to Cousin Johnny that Theo has eyes and ears everywhere and she’s the one gumming up Drew’s deal; file that throwaway foreshadowing tidbit away for next week’s Finale, when we’ll likely find out who the inside traitor is — smart money is on Assistant U.S. Attorney Vasquez). She knows she’s out of options. As she tells Limehouse, either Limehouse gives her over to Boyd and Ava and they kill her, or he lets her go…and she still ends up dead.
Boyd and Ava are coming to the end of the line also. They didn’t deliver Drew Thompson to the Detroit Mafia as promised. And they haven’t managed to shut down Ellen May as a witness who could bring down Ava for the killing of Delroy.
Time is running out for everybody…as it should be in the penultimate episode of Season 4.
Cousin Johnny tries to make a deal with Limehouse (who is just beautifully framed and lit through a tattered screen door at the beginning of their phone conversation), but Limehouse wants no part of it, not even for $300,000 pieces of Detroit silver. Nicky, realizing that Johnny is the wrong pony to back, returns to Boyd, offering to front him the Ellen May ransom money and turn over his backstabbing traitorous cousin. “I’m gonna need Google Translate on my phone if I’m gonna keep talking to you,” he tells Boyd after a particularly flowery exchange.
Ava wants to be the bag man. “All I want is the whore,” Nicky says. “What are we drinkin’?” Boyd responds.
But the marshals get to Noble’s Holler first. Limehouse tells them, truthfully, “if she was here, or ever was, she ain’t now.” Obviously, the holler will have to be searched. This gives Deputy Tim the opportunity he has needed for four seasons to finally quote Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive (“what I want from each and every one of you is a hard-target search of every gas station, residence, warehouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse in that area.” Art — Nick Searcy — played the Sheriff in The Fugitive: “We’re shuttin’ it down. Wyatt Earp’s here to mop up.”)
Ava has no better luck than the marshals with Limehouse. She brings the money, and has a few recriminations for his reneging on their earlier deal, but he just can’t do it. And he says Ava shouldn’t either. He’s worried about her “peace of mind,” when it’s all over.
With little imagination and fewer resources, Ellen May returns to Cush, her former pimp, and of course it’s the first place Boyd looks.
Once again, Raylan and Rachel return to Cousin Johnny, where they find him “trussed up” by Nicky’s men. His fate is left to Rachel, while Raylan goes to intercept Ellen May back at the spot where everyone is now converging and where season 4 began, the Last Chance Holiness tent revival.
Could this season possibly sustain one more Mexican standoff and another shootout at the OK Corral showdown? Yes! Yes, it can.
Ellen May is confessing it all to Cassie. She has done bad things, she has found Jesus, but she’s still not naming names. Ava arrives to interrupt. She has no patience for “purifying” the soul. But Ellen May stands up for herself. “I don’t believe a word that comes out of your mouth…If God can forgive me, I can forgive you too.”
Ava doesn’t need forgiveness (in fairness, she really did only get into this particular mess — killing Delroy — on Ellen May’s behalf). She has no patience for fate. It’s all about choices. Colt arrives to interrupt just as she’s pointing the gun at both Ellen May and Cassie. He’s clear-headed, cool. “Is this what Boyd wants?” he asks. It doesn’t matter. Ava can’t do it. “It’s not who I am,” she tells Boyd in an impromptu phone call. Boyd reassures her it’s ok. No sooner does she hang up than Colt’s phone rings. Obviously, it is time for him to finish what he started. Just as he takes Ellen May’s arm, Deputy Tim arrives.
Ron Eldard’s exasperation is as comically real as it was when he inadvertently killed Hiram for Boyd in the season opener. “I just cannot catch a break,” he laughs to himself. Tim orders him to drop his weapon. “Maybe in a minute,” he says, fumbling for a cigarette. “Relax.”
It’s another Mexican standoff.
As he lights his cigarette, he is framed against a crudely lettered bible verse on a sign (Mark 11:24 “what things so ever you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them.”) To the left is a sign that reads “Jesus is coming soon.” And in the foreground is a painting of the late true believer, Preacher Billy tacked to a pole.)
Tim is framed up against another hand-lettered sign (“No tobacco use of any kind…men with mustach [sic] or beard, dresses above knee, sleeveless shirts, jewelry, or makeup, women cutting hair. No gossip. No talebearing. No lying. No backbiting. No bad language.”)
“Did you kill my friend?” Deputy Tim asks.
“Collateral damage,” Colt acknowledges, poignantly summarizing his entire arc in Season 4, before apologizing, but qualifying “most of him died somewhere in Kandahar.”
Tim is a veteran, but he is also a lawman, only concerned with the part of Mark that was killed here.
Colt takes one last blissful drag. “I guess I’ll quit today,” he tells Tim, raising his revolver, instantly outgunned by Tim (a former sniper, as he knows), who lifts and pockets the Ray Bans from Colt’s dead body, in a reinforcement of military gestures. Tim said he wouldn’t take care of Colton until his eyes were clear, and he didn’t. (Again, foreshadowing almost always rewards the faithful Justified viewer.)
Raylan arrives to fetch Ellen May, softening just a bit at the concern she instantly expresses for Shelby/Drew. “He’s still looking out for you, or else none of us would be here.”Back at marshal HQ he oversees their reunion hug with benign bemusement. (Showrunner Graham Yost says this is the end of their storyline, but it doesn’t seem quite finished. There have been so many clues — his devotion to her, her resemblance to his first wife, her unknown lineage — it would be a shame if she didn’t turn out to be his daughter.)
Ava has now had a change of heart when she returns to Boyd. Maybe this is all Fate. Boyd says No. “You dictate the river of fate through your own actions.” They have one play left. To retrieve Delroy’s body. (He didn’t say it was a good play. Surely if it was that simple, they could’ve saved themselves an entire season of nothing-but-trouble.)
But Detroit has one play left too. The final scene belongs to Winona, who’s having a rocker assembled in her newly-decorated nursery. The helpful delivery man turns out to be Picker, one of Theo Tonin’s last henchmen standing in Kentucky (played by veteran character actor John Kapelos, the janitor in The Breakfast Club… “You think I’m just some untouchable serf…a peasant?” He and Yolo have been welcome additions to a season that was always threatened by the clutter that nearly ruined Season 3.)
“Congratulations ma’am. You have yourself a lovely day.”
Next week: the Season Finale.
Season 4: Justified Episode Recaps