As much as I love Raylan Givens (and Boyd Crowder), I think some of the best episodes of Justified occur when the rest of the talented cast is included in the storyline. It’s always great to see Raylan from the point of view of his coworkers; whenever Art Mullen is onscreen, pricking the shiny bubble of Raylan’s outsized personality, I’m convinced that he’s my favorite character on the show. I would have loved last night’s episode just for Art’s screentime and Art-icisms but I also got a terrific (and terrifically cast) Confederate-flag-flaunting welfare-check-scamming hillbilly clan, a reminder of Boyd Crowder’s vast erudition and knowledge of the Bible and the return of my favorite Dixie Mafiacrat, Wynn Duffy. It was all golden.
We open with Raylan and his blonde friend Lindsey finishing up what was evidently a good time for both of them. In the spirit of post-coital bliss, Raylan offers to handle the impending liquor delivery to Lindsey’s bar, where a burly fellow walks in and helps himself to a beer. He engages in some manly posturing with Raylan, who honestly looks a bit like an exhausted and disheveled twig next to Burly Man; Raylan sensibly declines to engage and the guy eventually leaves the bar.
In a nice cut, we see Ava, also taking a liquor delivery, also interrupted by an unwelcome intrusion. Ellen May has apparently been AWOL from her hooker duties the previous night, but tries to justify her absence by quoting from the “Palms” she learned at her revival meeting. Awww, I love Ellen May! She’s like a female, even more hapless version of Dewey Crowe (whom I sincerely hope we’ll encounter this season. Maybe if I put a ’gator tooth under my pillow and wish really hard, the Tooth Fairy will grant my request!)
Ava reminds Ellen May again about their joint murder of Ellen May’s abusive pimp, and claims that the only person who saved Ellen May’s soul is Ava. She tells Ellen May that there’s no salvation for people like them, and that if Ellen May skips another night at the trailer, she’s fired.
Our third liquor delivery of the episode is in Art’s office; a Marshal named Patrick, who’s at the Bowling Green office, brings Art a $200 bottle of bourbon called “Pappy van Winkle” ostensibly to celebrate Art’s recent 56th birthday. Art knows, however, that he’s edging closer to the mandatory retirement age of 57 (I Googled it, like thousands of other Justified fans!) and that the other Marshal is angling for his job. He tells Patrick that he’s got Marshals who are more trouble than the fugitives. Definitely true in Raylan’s case, although then Art goes on to list Tim, who probably has PTSD from his time as an Army Ranger, Rachel who’s left her husband (um, when did that happen? I didn’t even know she was married!) and, of course, Raylan, who’s been “investigated so many times Internal Affairs has him on speed dial” and whose father has just murdered a member of the Dixie Mafia in prison. I’m surprised Art hasn’t downed that bottle already! Also, I want to write down every word that comes out of Art’s mouth because they’re all gems, but probably most of it is in Nick Searcy’s delivery.
After a commercial break, Art fills Raylan in on his daddy’s murderous ways. The man Arlo shanked was named Sam Porter, and Raylan recognizes him as being present when he showed Arlo the bag. Art, who doesn’t know anything about a bag, asks Raylan: “On a scale of one to a shitload, how much do you need to tell me right now?” Raylan finally explains to Art about the bag, and the license he found in the walls of the Givens home.
Boyd, like Art, is being plagued by subordinates and their wayward ways. Johnny opines that Billy’s revival tent is the major cause in the dropoff of the Crowder drug income. Boyd is not convinced, and neither am I. In fact, I’m starting to wonder whether Johnny isn’t doing a bit of skimming himself.
At the Marshals’ office, Art, Raylan and Tim (hurray!) are suiting up, preparing to bring (Waldo) Truth to justice at last from his hideout in Versailles (pronounced Versales), Kentucky. Tim shares a few details of the Truth family’s long history of run-ins with the law, and Raylan questions why Art is coming along for the ride. Art confesses that “that mystery bag thing is giving me a bit of a Marshal stiffie.” He also says there’s great barbecue in Versailles, and that he wants to stop for lunch before they get to the Truth(s) because if Raylan shoots anyone, there won’t be time afterwards. You know, if Art weren’t a) fictional; b) married; c) double-digit years older than me, I think I might propose marriage to him.
Ellen May returns to the church tent, where Billy’s sister Cassie tells her that Billy is too busy to speak to her. Contradicting Cassie’s words, Billy pops out of wherever he’s been to have a heart-to-heart with Ellen May, who parrots Ava’s words back to him, saying that she can’t join his church because she’s done terrible things that no one could ever forgive. I feel bad for finding Ellen May comical, because at this moment, she’s genuinely moving and in pain. Billy gives her a pep talk, and poor Ellen May, swayed as ever by a stronger personality, returns to the road of salvation. I hope things work out for her, but I’m fairly certain they won’t.
At a large house with trashed grounds and a swimming pool, people are taking bets on a couple of shirtless fighters. One of the fighers is Burly Man from Lindsey’s bar. As he punches his opponent, we dissolve into a punch from Colton into the face of the hapless Danny.
Colton informs Boyd that Danny was sniffing around the brothel and that, when stopped, it turned out that he was carrying heroin to sell. When searched, Danny’s wallet reveals a license issued in Frankfurt, causing Boyd (and me) to put two and two together. I think there might soon be a sighting of the creepy, awesome Wynn Duffy! Ava interrupts the Danny interrogation with the words “You have got to see this!” Because the sight of a bunch of kids singing “Shall We Gather at the River” to a bunch of confused and underdressed hookers and their clients truly is one that no one should miss.
Boyd goes to visit Shelby Parlow, his successful candidate for Sheriff of Harlan County last season (but forever known to me as Ellsworth from Deadwood). Shelby says that he doesn’t want to be part of Boyd’s business any more, but after a little back and forth, passes along the information he’s gathered about Billy’s church. Billy and Cassie have apparently set up shop in five cities in the last three years, recruited the locals, and then moved along after a few months. Boyd says that he thinks they get payoffs from the local criminals to get them to move along and let business resume, and that this is what they’re trying in Harlan.
Meanwhile, Burly Man, who has evidently won his bout, is complaining to the fight organizers that his cut was much lower than he thought it would be. His complaints are fruitless, but as he leaves the compound where the fight took place, two guys who bet on his opponent come up and demand that he give them back the money they lost. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s not really how illegal betting on illegal fights works, is it? Burly Man handles both of them, and teaches me the use of “raccoon” as a verb (i.e. giving someone two black eyes.) He’s clearly a force to be reckoned with.
In Versailles, Art, Tim, and Raylan are staking out a mailbox from which the Truth family retrieves disability checks for Waldo; well, Art and Tim are staking out, while Raylan is snoring loudly and jumps when Art wakes him, leading to a discussion of why exactly Raylan is so exhausted these days. Tim says that the smart money in the office is that Raylan’s moonlighting as an exotic dancer. Well, he’s certainly doing the horizontal mambo with Lindsey. Art reminds Raylan that it’s illegal for him to do any paid work outside the Marshals’ office. Any exotic dancing will have to be done for the pure pleasure of the art.
As the discussion continues, Milo Truth, grandson of Waldo, comes to the mailbox to get the check. The kid notices them, since they are in the only car on that street and could not more obviously be cops. He speeds away with the Marshals in hot pursuit. The kid stumbles home in time for his kin to get their arsenal and tumble out of their house. Milo accuses the Marshals of being “perverts” and one of the Truths demands ID from them while also pointing his gun in their direction. I guess the jackets that say “US Marshal” aren’t good enough but it’s also possible that the Truths are unable to read the letters.
The tense but hysterical standoff is interrupted by Mrs. Waldo, who is yet another example of the amazing casting on this show because she totally looks the part. She’s the only sensible one and tells everyone to lower their guns while her daughter (I think) calls for Waldo to come over.
In the fullness of time, after the Marshals disbelievingly watch the younger members of the Truth clan light up a doobie in front of them and listen to Mama Truth reminiscing fondly of Waldo’s romantic streak, a middle-aged gentleman stumbles in. He’s handcuffed by Art as a fugitive, and it looks like the Marshals’ Service has another check in their “win” column with minimal effort. But “Waldo” apparently just met the family fifteen years ago and is actually named Harold; he’s only pretending to be Waldo so the family can keep the “draw”: the disability checks they receive from the government they despise.
Finally, Mama Truth lives up to her name: Waldo was taken away to do a job thirty years ago and she hasn’t seen him since then. One of her kids protests about Mama giving up her husband so easily, and she bitterly says Waldo was an asshole and that she once stabbed him in the cheek (the nether one, she clarifies, when Raylan expresses his surprise). Further questioning elicits that the man who gave Waldo the job from which he never returned was a pilot named “Jew.” Or possibly Drew Thompson, as Art realizes. Art thanks the Truth family for their hospitality (ha!) and then the Marshals leave, along with the Truths’ arsenal.
Over at Billy’s revival tent, a different sort of truth is occurring. Just as Billy finishes baptizing Ellen May, Boyd, Johnny and the young incompetent from Boyd’s bar stroll in. Boyd reaches back to his own preaching days for a Bible Quote-Off with Billy, and he seems to be getting the better of the younger man for a while (I must say Boyd is a much more inspiring speaker). However, Billy responds to Boyd’s charges of hypocrisy by saying he won’t take any more money from his congregation and wins this round. Or does he? His sister Cassie’s face turns to stone at Billy’s announcement, and Boyd realizes that she might just be Billy’s Higher Power.
At the Marshals’ office, Art explain that the man who plummeted into the driveway while bringing cocaine to Harlan County in the first episode was assumed to be the pilot, Drew Thompson. But a second (and I’m sure extremely unpleasant) look at the autopsy report reveals that the body had a scar on his ass, so it was actually Waldo who died that day, and the Marshals are looking for Drew Thompson.
Boyd, Ava, and Johnny are seated around a table at Boyd’s bar, while the hogtied and blindfolded Danny sits with his back to them. Boyd tells Ava to let Ellen May go because they can find someone else to work in the brothel, but Ava is concerned that Ellen May’s conversion may lead to confessions not only of Ellen May’s guilt, but of Ava’s status as actual killer and co-conspirator. I love that Justified is clearly going to keep coming back to this story, and not just let it fade away. But now I’m even more worried for poor dumb Ellen May, who may well be imitating the “Palms” and walking the valley of the shadow of death, because I think Ava will protect herself at all costs. In any case, Ava’s whispered explanation to Boyd is interrupted by the arrival of Wynn Duffy.
Boyd proposes that he will distribute Wynn’s heroin in Harlan County for a fifty-percent cut of the profits. Duffy tells Boyd that he doesn’t want a partner, and if he did, he’d want someone he could trust. Boyd, smiling his shark smile and spreading his arms out wide, tells Duffy that he can trust Boyd. “I don’t even trust the way you just now said I could trust you,” Duffy tells him.
His opening gambit unsuccessful, Boyd threatens Danny’s life if Wynn doesn’t agree to the deal, so Wynn calmly shoots Danny in the head, and subsequently apologizes for making a mess in Boyd’s bar. There’s the psychopath we know and fear! Before he leaves, Wynn asks if Boyd knows why Arlo murdered one of Wynn’s guys in prison. This is all clearly news to Boyd, and I have a feeling that he is now going to become involved in the mystery of the Panamian diplomatic bag.
Back at Lindsey’s bar, Raylan helps his girlfriend clean up, and then they start to make out. Raylan’s fantasy of having sex on the actual bar is interrupted by the arrival of Burly Man, who turns out to be Lindsey’s husband. Oopsie!
Next week, I anticipate fireworks, machismo and more great lines from Art!
Regina Thorne is an avid reader of just about everything, an aspiring writer, a lover of old movies and current TV shows, and a hopeless romantic.