Tonight’s episode picks up where one of last week’s duller threads left off. Deputy Tim is now surveying the crime scene that includes the body of his friend Mark, and that of Mark’s drug dealer. Maybe those guys have seen CSI after all. With his dying breaths, Mark managed to text a clue to Deputy Tim that will help him identify Colton as the murderer. Yawn.
Don’t be misled. This is also the episode that identifies Drew Thompson. (Spoiler alerts. Stop reading if you don’t want to know.)
Back at the prison, former Sheriff Hunter Mosley is about to be transported, when a Fayette County Sheriff’s bus pulls out of the frame to reveal Raylan propped against his car. Hunter wants no part of this ride, but nobody cares what he thinks.
Art is unhappy to learn how Raylan is spending his day off. “Articulate to him my extreme displeasure,” he tells Tim as he storms around the office adorably barking profanities. Once again, Tim offers his help. He’d like to head to Harlan himself (he’s already on Colt’s trail).
Raylan and Mosley have reached their first stop: Wynn Duffy’s Wynn-e-bago.
Once inside, Raylan spins a folksy yarn about how his mother Francis once resolved an Arlo feud by getting all parties together to hash it out, pausing for a French etymology lesson (hacher –> hatchet –> hash it out –> “cut through the bullshit”). Duffy doesn’t follow. Raylan explains that Hunter might be the only person alive to know Drew Thompson’s identity, now that Hunter’s killed Arlo. Duffy’s brows arch approvingly higher (if that’s possible), before he expresses his condolences. Raylan believes him. “Dixie Mafia has no skin in the Kill Arlo game.”
Cut to: Boyd and Ava are “storybook” house hunting in Clover Hill with a snooty realtor. Ava accidentally trips the security system while checking out window treatments. As the realtor disarms the system, Boyd casts a sidelong glance at the keypad — he could be filing it away for future reference (in a future episode), or it could just be a directional reminder of who he is (‘once a criminal…’) While Boyd is verbally redecorating the place (flatscreens and taxidermy), Ava is having her own flashbacks. She knows this house’s footprint. Her mama used to clean it. But of course they came in through the back. If The Help references aren’t explicit enough (starring Ava Crowder as Aibileen), the snooty realtor gilds it, “I don’t know if you got help, but it’s a lotta house to clean on your own.”
As they check out the garden, the realtor switches from The Help to Pretty Woman, “Are you sure I can’t show you something a little further down the hill…lovely starter homes…quaint.”
Boyd instantly transforms into Julia Roberts, “I got money to spend here!” He opens up a briefcase full of loot. “Whatever home we buy, we’ll buy it outright. Pay cash. Obviate the need to get in the gutter with the banks.” It’s clearly meant to be a satisfying moment, but even the most casual Justified viewer would know that a guy so specifically obsessed with laundering his ill-gotten gains through a prospective Dairy Queen franchise to buy respectability for future generations would never flash cash that way. Boyd might be prideful, but he is rarely stupid. It would take more than a bitchy Century 21 agent to prompt him to take a risk like that for nothing more than ego. Ava is more blunt, “we don’t need your shit; have a nice day.” Uh oh. Hubris. Justified doesn’t take kindly to hubris. As the camera pans longingly across the house’s exterior, and Boyd talks about a plaque for Ava’s mama, we can almost see the cross-stitching across the sampler nestled over that flatscreen, “pride goeth before a fall.”
Back on the Scenic Route to Prisoner Transport, Raylan reiterates his willingness to honor the ClubFed deal in exchange for Drew. In response, Hunter tucks and rolls right out of the moving car, awkwardly perp-walking his suicidal best in front of a speeding tanker truck, before Raylan tackles him out of its way, and then roughs him up a little, in the hopes of knocking “some goddam sense into you,” in the words of his late father. Not only would Hunter rather die on the road than give up Drew, he’s even willing to face the prospect of Theo’s thugs in prison.
Over at the best little whorehouse in Harlan, Boyd quizzes Judge Furry Executive about his past security business, where he might’ve encountered Drew. While they catch up, Ava runs across Cassie (the late Preacher Billy’s sister) who’s wandered into the front-of-house in search of Ellen May. She got a message from her — yesterday — and is worried. Not half as worried as Ava. Colton is summoned to the bar for a sitdown with Boyd and Ava. How could Ellen May have left word for anyone? She couldn’t have, Colt reassures them. It’s probably just another one of Cassie’s grifts, Boyd surmises. Ava, on the other hand, has “a bad feeling.” Probably a … foreshadowing kind of feeling. Boyd dispatches Colton back to the henhouse, in search of Cassie. Deputy Tim is parked outside, where he can observe Colt melt down; shoot up; light a cigarette; and drive off.
Raylan’s road trip is interrupted by flashing lights in the rearview. It’s Sheriff Shelby, responding to Art’s call to the locals to pick the two up and convey them back to the marshal’s service. He thinks maybe former Sheriff Hunter has taken Raylan hostage, but surveying the damages, it could be the other way around. Shelby decides to go along for the ride up to Lee Paxton’s hunting lodge where Constable Bob is currently quizzing him and Gerald. Raylan brings Shelby up to speed. The Dixie Mafia didn’t order Arlo killed. Maybe it was the Crowders? Hunter pipes up from the backseat. He wouldn’t piss on the Crowders if they were on fire, he helpfully reminds Raylan. Henry Crowder raped and tortured his niece. And “feuds ain’t about money.” This one isn’t done.
And speaking of feuds… Hunter and Shelby correct Raylan’s earlier version of the folktale-telling in the Wynn-e-bago. That feud wasn’t actually about a dog at all, it was actually about a man trashtalking the virtue of Raylan’s mother. “Frances took the high road,” Shelby explains. But Arlo, a man who always loved a good metaphor, he “shoved a pound of dogshit down his dirty mouth.” Raylan basks in a rare moment of posthumous father-son pride. Hunter explains the code, “I’m talkin’ about who we are. Cause that’s why we do what we do.” Raylan suggests Hunter’s old pal Drew best be stepping up if he doesn’t want to see his buddy dying to keep his secret, thanks to the Dixie Mafia.
Back at the bar, Johnny finally comes half-clean to Boyd. Colt never killed Ellen May. And by the way, he’s still smarting at Colt getting promoted over him. He isn’t even kin. Colt shambles into Cassie’s church, where she talks a little Salvation before he gets his hands around her neck. He’s prepared to choke her into telling him she sent the Ellen May texts, when Deputy Tim arrives on the scene, gun drawn. He asks outright if Colt killed his pal Mark. It would be a time for a Mexican standoff, except Boyd arrives. He convinces Tim to let them go in peace. Like Shelby has just told Raylan. They’ll get to the what’s what directly. When they do, it plays out like a take on a traditional interrogation scene, but with Boyd playing the detective role for a change, instead of that of the criminal. Eventually, he gets an apology, a confession, and an explanation. “I messed up. I’m so sorry,” he says, admitting that he even went to Shelby for help, but he has no idea what has become of Ellen May. “My Sheriff Shelby?” Boyd asks.
Outside the hunting lodge, Constable Bob is waiting impatiently, listening to vintage Sanford Clark on his Gremlin’s radio (“there goes a lucky guy/they don’t know/I’m living/The Big Lie”). Lee Paxton answers the door with a shotgun in one hand, bourbon in the other, and an insult: “Marshals musta fallen on times sending you to do their business? They run out of chimpanzees?” Patton Oswalt does a masterful job, practicing his repartee in the yard before returning, and drawing on the Clover Hill duo. They continue to mock him, and the next cut is to Raylan, Hunter, and Shelby reacting to the sounds of gunfire as they approach. “Goddammit Bob.” Luckily, Bob has his go-bag, fortified with automatic assault rifles. “Try not to catch a stray,” Raylan advises Hunter as he takes the front and Shelby covers the back.
Raylan breaks up the fight much as he would a playground dispute. “You got cuffs small enough to fit him?” Gerald taunts. “He wasn’t the only one shooting,” Raylan remonstrates sternly. As he questions them about Drew Thompson, Shelby has taken a seat alongside Hunter in the backseat, gun drawn.
“You stood up for me. I told you I’d keep your secret and I did,” Hunter tells Shelby. He apologizes for Arlo. It should’ve been clean and easy.
“What now, Drew?” Hunter asks Shelby. And just like that, Drew Thompson is revealed. (Not like that, actually. More like this, if you paid attention to last week’s episode.) We see what’s what. Shelby hands Hunter the handcuff keys (are handcuffs a universal key?). “I’m grateful,” he says, before he goes.
Inside the lodge, Raylan interrogates Lee and Gerald, but Constable Bob interrupts, and inadvertently explains it all. Those guys did right by him after he put that kid in the coma (has he mentioned that before?)
“Even when Shelby took the fall for Hunter, I knew I was lucky having those guys looking after me.”
“Say that again. Shelby did what?”
“Hunter went after Henry Crowder. Crowder disappeared. Miami got involved…Shelby took the heat.”
Raylan’s got it now. He walks out to find Hunter reclining in his back seat (handcuffs off). “Guess we ’bout hashed through all the bullshit now, didn’t we Raylan?”
The Gremlin (or “patrol cruiser!”) is gone.
Back at the bar, Boyd has put two and two together and sends Ava away, under protest. It’s just til he can have a conversation with Shelby. Every threat that has been leveled at Boyd this season has come with a promise to hurt the people he loves, not him. Ava makes him vulnerable. They might have gotten engaged in A Very Special Justified Valentine episode, but it is unlikely that the season is building to a big Wedding Finale. “I shoulda killed her myself,” Ava says of Ellen May portentously. “It may come to that yet,” Boyd admits.
When Boyd shows up at Shelby’s, he is greeted in the dark by a gun’s laser sight playing across his chest (which would’ve made for an excellent cliffhanger). But it’s only Raylan. As Boyd is cuffed, he puts it all together, “Drew Goddamn Thompson.”
As the dust settles, Raylan transfers custody of Hunter. (Has he been waiting patiently in the car this whole time?) Hunter wonders if the deal for Club Fed still stands — he didn’t run, after all. Nice try. “For what it’s worth, I’m sorry about your daddy,” he says. “Don’t be,” is Raylan’s response.
Hunter has some advice. “You listen to what your mama taught you and not that old sonofabitch, you may turn out all right. But I wouldn’t count on it. Cause I think we both know whose voice it is that makes you do what you do.” (Raylan’s late mother has been referenced so many times this season that it seems likely that her history will somehow figure prominently in the conclusion of the central mystery.)
“Let’s go find Drew Thompson,” Raylan tells Deputy Tim as the two of them stride off purposefully into the sunset glow cast by the flashing red and blue lights of the surrounding squad cars.
Season 4: Justified Episode Recaps