“You wouldn’t happen to have a rocket launcher, would you?” Art asks law enforcement at the beginning of tonight’s episode. It’s not an entirely unreasonable question in Harlan County, and it correctly establishes the tone. This is war, wild west style.
Last week’s episode of Justified was Get Drew. They got him. The marshals that is. First, Limehouse got him. Then Boyd (and by extension, the Detroit Mafia). But the marshals ended up with him, and with one goal: to get him (and themselves) out of Harlan alive.
Tonight’s episode is a little bit Syriana, Butch and Sundance, True Romance, and The Wild Bunch, all rolled into one. Written by showrunner Graham Yost and Chris Provenzano, it feels like a movie because they’re movie guys.
It begins with the Detroit Mafia circling over Arlo’s house in a helicopter, where the marshals are holed up with Drew.
Over at the bar, Nick Augustine is interrogating Boyd, in between well-aimed and well-delivered blows. Boyd still maintains that if they need Drew, they’ll need Raylan, and if they need Raylan, they’ll need Boyd (and he still needs his $500k).
Back at Arlo’s, Shelby/Drew fills in Raylan and Rachel on more backstory. He and Arlo met in the service back during Vietnam, in Saigon, “in front of a whorehouse.” They’re waiting for an airlift from Lexington. That could take an hour. (The producers have finally realized this season that Harlan is not a suburb of Lexington.) “You want the Battle of Bloody Porch?” Raylan asks Art (from The Wild Bunch, the Sam Peckinpah classic, coincidentally starring Kentucky native Warren Oates.) Deputy Tim and Art are sent out as a decoy convoy. Boyd correctly intuits that Raylan would never wait that hour, and sends out an interception.
Once on the road, ex-Ranger Tim’s PTSD instincts immediately sniff out the ambush. Colt and a sniper might or might not have rigged abandoned cars with explosives. As Art looks on amazed, Deputy Tim simply calls Colt and runs through a hypothetical scenario confirming the situation. They can’t go forward, they can’t go back. The cars might or might not even be rigged. In one of the episode’s best cinematic visuals, “they circle the wagons.”
Raylan and Rachel relocate the prisoner from Arlo’s house to Raylan’s alma mater, an abandoned high school. Drew is unimpressed. “You got us pared down to three people against a goddamn Apache raid.”
Constable Bob calls Raylan from Arlo’s, where he has unwittingly arrived just in time to intercept Detroit Mafia henchman, Yolo. Bob is investigating because the motion detectors have gone off, along with those at the school. In the ongoing season-long running gag of indignities, Yolo explains him to the bosses: “He says he’s a constable. Yeah, I don’t know what that is either.” What follows is a brutally loving homage to Reservoir Dogs and “Stuck in the Middle with You,” as Yolo attempts to beat Drew’s whereabouts out of Constable Bob, who remains steadfast. “Drew? The doctor on TV? …Nancy Drew? …Drewbacca?… Drew Mama?”, all as “Love Train” plays cheerily in the background.
Just when it seems poor Constable Bob can’t be beaten to any bloodier a pulp, Yolo gets a little too close. Remember Constable Bob’s gleeful cackle in this season’s premiere, as he showed Raylan how he would mock-stab an assailant? “Beef stew!” he said — jab, jab, jab. Remember? Tonight: the payoff! Chekhov’s knife reappears — and it only took ten episodes — jab, jab, jab, and Constable Bob takes out Yolo’s femoral artery. Raylan arrives to save the day, but it’s a touching moment that he doesn’t have to. Constable Bob gets his moment of real glory, not just reflected, as they return to the school. “Drewbacca.” Detroit circles ominously overhead (Boyd and Ava having correctly deduced that Raylan would direct the cavalry to land on the baseball diamond, recalling that a visiting astronaut had done that in one of the more exciting memories of high school).
Meanwhile, back on the road, Art is desperate to go back up Raylan. Tim fashions an impromptu molotov cocktail from an Ale 8 bottle, though the whole plan nearly falls apart when no one has a lighter. “Not one of you smokes? This is Kentucky, not Sausalito. What’s wrong with you people?” Art asks, jocular as ever. Yep, the cars were rigged. The explosion is pure Hollywood movie style. There’s no time to even catch a breath of satisfaction as Colt cleverly uses the afterglow distraction to take out the Detroit sniper at his side. (There’s Drew! What? Where? Heyyyyy, wait a minute, that’s not Drew….Kapow!)
Back at the bar, Ava has taken up smoking again while she keeps Cousin Johnny and Nick Augustine company. Nicky has a very vulgar line of questioning as to why she’s allowed to run the whorehouse. He thinks she’s an expert trainer. But that’s all patter, leading to two revelations. Ava now knows that Cousin Johnny went to Duffy and has double-crossed Boyd. And, we now know Cousin Johnny’s angle — it’s not so much that he hates Boyd as that he loves Ava.
Meanwhile in the principal’s office, it’s a standoff. Boyd and Detroit have returned with reinforcements, as directed. But it’s too late. Raylan has bought just enough time to get Drew out, and advancing sirens wail in the background. The Cavalry has arrived.
And just where is Drew? Constable Bob had the winning idea. “You think you need a car or helicopter to get out of Harlan, but there’s another way.”
Cut to Drew’s new ride.
Yeah. It’s not all Peckinpah and Tarantino. Somebody saw Planes, Trains and Automobiles.
And somebody was listening to the O’Jays:
People, ain’t no war
People all over the world (on this train)
Join in (ride the train)
Start a love train
Season 4: Justified Episode Recaps