Last week in the Season 4 premiere of Justified, we were introduced to a 30-year-old mystery inspired by the Bluegrass Conspiracy. A drug-runner parachutes to a bloody heap in a suburban Kentucky cul de sac in January 1983, drugs spilling from a diplomat’s duffel. In the season premiere, the duffel resurfaces inside the walls of Arlo’s house. Inside is a driver’s license for Waldo Truth. This week: Where’s Waldo?
The action opens with Raylan and the blonde bartender, lying naked and spent from finished business. He has revived and is proceeding due south, but before he could go all Good Wife, or Uncle Jun in the Boca episode of Sopranos, she says, “I’m afraid to have to stop you right there Cowboy, not that I don’t appreciate the thought.” She dispatches him to handle the morning’s bar delivery, leaving him no time for whistling through the wheatfields.
He heads downstairs for a mildly confusing confrontation with a mystery beer drinker — is he a vendor? are they competitors for the bartender’s true hand? The visitor leaves without making it clear.
Back over at Boyd’s bar, Ava must deal with Ellen May and her newfound salvation. The prostitute makes the case to the Madame that she needs to save her soul before it’s too late. She is there to proselytize. Ava’s having none of it, “you will be back at work tonight,” or else.
Back in Raylan’s boss’s office, Art is greeted by a western Kentucky guest bearing gifts, “Pappy Van Winkle. Holy shit, what’s the occasion?” Art explains the lay of the marshal’s office to the visitor — including the fact that he has not yet broken it to Raylan that his father offed a man in prison the night before.
“That’s a $200 bottle of bourbon, Art,” the guest says cryptically.
“I intend to enjoy every drop of it, Patrick,” Art replies.
And that was just the cold open.
After the break, Raylan questions Art about Arlo’s crime. “When?…Who’d he kill again?”
It was a Dixie Mafia Thug, a Dixie Mafia Thug that Raylan recognized from lurking nearby when Raylan showed Arlo the bag the night before.
“Raylan,” Art begins reasonably, “on a scale from 1 to a shitload, how much do you need to tell me right now?”
So, Arlo has admitted no knowledge of the bag; he barely admitted it was hidden in his walls.
Raylan clarifies, “why would he hide a Panamanian diplomatic bag in the wall, or murder someone for just laying eyes on it?”
“Either,” Art responds matter-of-factly.”Both.”
At Boyd’s bar, Boyd would like some answers as to what’s intruding on his drug trade, and he refuses to accept the answer that it’s the sudden embrace of Jesus at the Last Chance Holiness. As he points out, folks have been “partying on Friday and Saturdays and getting saved on Sundays,” since the beginning of time. Plus, as he reminds Ava, “I don’t like churches.”
Back at the Marshals’ office, Raylan and Deputy Tim and Art are strapping on ammo as they prepare to head out in search of Waldo Truth. Reminded he could sit this one out, as the boss, Art replies, “Best barbecue I ever had was in Versailles. If that’s where Waldo is, I don’t want to miss out on that brisket.”
They’re not buying it. As Raylan prods him, he admits, “for 30 years this office dropped the ball on apprehending a federal fugitive that was collecting a draw check. And I personally want to be the one to cross that off the books.”(The syntax is just a little off there. In Kentucky, the fugitive would’ve been “on the draw,” or “collecting a check,” or drawing a check,” but not “collecting a draw check.” It can be noun = on the draw; it can be a verb = drawing a check; it wouldn’t be an adjective
= a draw check.)
Also, Art adds, “that mystery bag thing is giving me a little bit of a marshal stiffie.”
Meanwhile, Ellen May is off to the Tent for a little fellowship with the Pastor, and elsewhere, a fight club has broken out starring Raylan’s mystery bar visitor from the morning. Ugh. Do we have to get to know another character? Lindsey is a peripheral enough waste of space as it is, now we have to discover his place in the clientele? Patton Oswald and Ron Eldard are ample, sufficient, and welcome additions for Season 4.
From one fight scene to the next, Ron Eldard as Desert Storm vet Colton Rhodes is roughing up a rival distributor just as Boyd walks in. “Poppy fields,” Rhodes describes his Afghanistan view to Boyd. “What they find in Afghanistan that they could not find in Iraq: heroin.” Boyd is leaving with “have your people call my people,” just as Ava intrudes to lead him through a group of children of the corn, singing (out of sync) “shall we gather at the river,” and proffering to him their Million Dollar Bills from last week’s premiere.
Next, Boyd pays a visit to the sheriff — a sheriff who thinks by now the two of them are square. Boyd prefers to think of their relationship as “a circle.” It’s not that the sheriff doesn’t want to help Boyd with his criminal enterprise — “I will turn my head as far as I can without breaking my neck, — but this can’t continue.” Boyd says he’s just a concerned citizen, worried about a “cult” in their midst. The sheriff has been looking into Pastor Billy and his sister — their history is checkered and sketchy, but no involvement with the law that he’s unearthed.
“Harlan is far from thriving,” the sheriff reminds Boyd, ” and folks pouring what little they got into drugs and whores ain’t gonna get it back on track.” Maybe the Church of the Last Chance could help.
Now it’s back to the stake-out, with all the deputies and Art in the car. Once again, Raylan is snoring. Raylan checks the time. “Why, you got somewhere you need to be?” asks Art. A six o’clock pilates class is Raylan’s fresh answer.
“Well this is the job, Ray” Art says.
At last, the Law arrives at the nominally alleged “Truth” compound. There they encounter an entire nest of the white trash Truth clan, and another Mexican standoff results as they get acquainted. And then Mother Truth herself wanders out the door (the superb character actress, Beth Grant, No Country for Old Men, etc), Waldo’s Wife. She tells them they can leave a message, and Art explains that until they lay eyes on Waldo, the disability checks will stop. “Y’all ain’t gonna take our draw!” is the consensus protest. Mother dispatches a kid to go in search of pater familias.
A character shows up proclaiming his identity as Waldo Truth, until the cuffs are slapped on him. Then Harold admits he was just the guy enlisted to help keep the draw coming in, pretending he’s Waldo. As Raylan lists the litany of crimes on which the clan can be booked — harboring a fugitive, possession and distribution of narcotics, mail fraud, identify theft. “Congrats. Now a draw check is the least of your goddamn concerns. I think I’ll start with you ma’am.”
But Mother Truth hasn’t seen Waldo in 30 years. She once knifed him in the cheek. “You stabbed him in the face?” Raylan clarifies in a joke so hamfisted we know it will resurface later. “No, the other cheek.”
Waldo is out of her life. She hasn’t seen him in three decades. “Not since that man came and took him away. He said he had some job for him. He was some kind of pilot. And that Waldo wasn’t coming back.” She was fine with that, as “Waldo was an asshole.”
The pilot? Drew Thompson.
Art seems satisfied. Cuffs are unlocked. Raylan and his coworkers take their leave of The Truths.
Tonight’s episode begins to wind down as last week’s did, at the Last Chance Holiness tent.
Ellen May has been saved and is emerging from her baptism as Boyd and Rhodes show up. Fans who have been with Justified from the beginning will know that Reverend Billy will be no match for Boyd in a scripture-off. “I once stood where you are now, preaching to wayward souls. Asking for their faith. And in return, offering them eternal salvation. But in the end their faith was not rewarded. And mine was shattered.”
Billy asks if that’s why he’s chosen a more …materialistic path.
“We all gotta eat Billy,” Boyd responds.
Billy insists he goes where the Lord takes him, not the money. He dreamed a dream of Harlan.
“Well, you know what the apostle John had to say about prophets. ‘Beloved, do not believe every spirit. But test the spirits, to see whether or not they are from God. For many false prophets have gone out into the WORLD’ …I wonder if when John was talking about false prophets he wasn’t talking about you.”
Reverend Billy then cuts off the collection plate — insisting they will not take one more penny from this particular flock.
Back in the Marshals’ office, the 30-year mystery begins to be pieced together over glasses of Pappy. The parachute into the driveway, “that was the day cocaine came to Harlan County.” If Waldo Truth died in that driveway (as is suggested by the scar on his posterior, administered by Mrs. Truth in a fit of pique: Chekhov’s ass), “where the hell is Drew Thompson?”
“I don’t know,” Art admits, “but I bet your Daddy does.”
Back at Boyd’s bar, he is explaining that the key to the Church is not Billy, but Billy’s sister. And that is when Wynn Duffy and crew arrive on the scene. Slow night? No, closed for renovations. Spying the tied up trespassing hostage, Duffy says, “I hope this isn’t your decorator.”
No. “We caught this young man selling Dixie Mafia heroin out back.” With a Frankfort license.
Duffy says it’s circumstantial evidence.
Which is why Boyd sent a secret shopper into Duffy’s jurisdiction, to buy heroin. It matches.
Boyd explains, he just wants to be partners, not enemies. Duffy isn’t looking for a partner.
Boyd ups the ante. If they want Danny to leave the room alive, they’d best negotiate. Whereupon Duffy promptly executes Danny. (See also, Graham Yost, Speed: “always shoot the hostage.“)
Duffy explains, “any dealer silly enough to poach your territory is not welcome in my crew.”
As a parting shot, Duffy asks Boyd about the Dixie Mafia Soldier Arlo has murdered the night before. Boyd says he’ll look into it.
“Good luck with the remodel,” says Duffy.
Back at the bar for the night, Raylan is helping the blonde clean up (the one none of us trust anyway). “What happens if you find this guy who was ruthless enough to fake his own death and smart enough that nobody even realized it?” she asks (a little too curiously).
“Hard to say,” Raylan purrs, “but there might be some gunplay involved.”
And then the morning’s vendor and fight club fighter resurfaces. Raylan informs him they’re closed.
“I just need to have a word with my wife,” he says.