It’s only taken four seasons, but Justified is finally doing something that it should have been doing a long time ago – fleshing out Raylan Givens’ supporting cast of U.S. Marshals. His counterparts on the other side of the law have all been given enough air time and development to become their own full fledged characters, but when it comes to Rachel and Tim it has always seemed like they are on the back burner. They show up in an episode or two, say something sly then sort of disappear and Raylan shoots someone. Fortunately everyone in the Marshal’s office is getting a much deserved increase in screen time this season.
As much as this season is about Raylan and Art trying to solve a case that is 30 years old (and of course everyone’s favorite deadbeat dad Arlo is somehow connected), it’s also about the conflict between Boyd and Preacher Billy. Justified’s strong point has always been its writing and these confrontations between the two where they recite scripture as quickly as Raylan draws his pistol have been the crown jewel. It’s the sister who is the brains of the outfit, and thus the real threat as Boyd deduced last week so the episode opens with him trying to bribe her to leave town. Initially dismissive she then tells Boyd they’d need more money to get Preacher Billy into a better venue than a tent. Is she telling the truth or trying to extort more money for her own nefarious schemes? Do we finally have our “big bad” for this season?
After the reveal last week that Lindsay is married to the lurking and Coover-esque Randall a confrontation between the two men in her life is inevitable. Raylan confronts Randall in his gym and tells him that he knows that he is violation of his parole by leaving Florida. There are a lot of parallels so far this season as Randall’s journey from Florida to Kentucky mirrors that of Raylan’s. The big surprise is that Lindsay wasn’t just Randall’s wife, but also his partner in crime. That Raylan sure can pick ‘em! Raylan then gives Randall the Tommy Buck’s treatment – leave town or I will make you leave.
Colton and Jimmy sneak into the church to sabotage it but are met by Preacher Billy’s venomous snakes. Jimmy is repeatedly bitten and Colton has to rush him back to Boyd where Johnny is nowhere to be found. There’s another parallel in this episode – trouble amongst the ranks on both sides of the law. Johnny is back to scheming to get rid of Boyd because he is still bitter about being shot and offers to side with the ever charismatic Wynn Duffy. He’s always maintained a certain resentment of Boyd since being handicapped and now it seems that Boyd having a new number two in Colton is furthering that dissension in the ranks.
On the Marshals’ side Rachel is getting reprimanded for failure to follow protocol. Raylan walks in on the meeting and immediately Rachel points out that he has made a habit out of being reckless without any reprimand from Art. It’s like a case of sibling rivalry between two, but honestly who wasn’t thinking what Rachel was saying? Art simply replies that Raylan is a “lost cause.”
We’re only three episodes in but Tim has stolen every scene. I’ve long maintained that the writers have a wealth of potential to expand this character ever since he showed up drunk at the V.F.W. hall in season one. Art even comments in the season premiere that he’s, “Probably got PTSD, probably an alcoholic.” What drives him to be such a strong presence in a show with the likes of Boyd and Raylan is that he is just as jaded as Raylan, if not more so. He also has the quick wit and sarcasm to go toe-to-toe with Raylan on his best day.
Oh, that pesky F.B.I. agent that has been pestering Raylan this episode? Yeah, he’s crooked (shocking, I know). This is my one gripe about the episode – as soon as a legal threat is presented against Raylan it’s removed when it turns out that the F.B.I. agent has been black mailed. So what does he do when Raylan figures it out and threatens to turn him in? Shoot himself in the head. I really thought that Raylan was going to pull off the quick draw and take out his leg like he said that he would, but instead he just watched. My question is did Raylan purposely and callously not draw, or has he gotten slow?
As the episode draws to a close there’s another tension filled Boyd vs. Preacher Billy showdown, and this is the best one yet. Jimmy has survived his multiple snake bites because Billy’s sister (unbeknownst to Billy) has milked the venom from the snakes he’s been handling. To prove the point Boyd brings a crate containing a rattler that he has captured for Billy to handle. Billy tries to play it off so as to maintain the faith of his congregation while his sister tells him, to no avail, to not handle the snake. The distraught Billy walks away from the crate while his sister explains that she had to watch their dad die from the bites. Again, is she being sincere or did she milk the snakes to exploit the faith of the followers? Billy appears to successfully handle the wild snake before getting bit.
The episode ends with Raylan and Rachel having a drink at the bar where Raylan is living upstairs. He notices that Lindsay isn’t around and the bartender tells him that she’s been waiting for him upstairs. The suspicious Raylan investigates with Rachel and finds his apartment ransacked as Lindsay and Randall are back to their old ways. The question is – was this a quick con that the two came up with Randall walked into the bar, or was Raylan the victim of the long con?
While the F.B.I. agent moments felt sloppy and out of place this was another great episode that finally gives Tim some much deserved screen time while developing the rest of the supporting cast.
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