Although my favorite frenemies, Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder, never shared a scene in last night’s season 4 premiere of Justified, they did share some questionable actions, such as hiding large sums of illegally gained money from the blonde women in their lives.
The episode opens in 1983. Ronald Reagan is President, and a suburban couple is arguing offscreen about who’s responsible for removing the Christmas decorations from their house. A loud thump disrupts morning in America: a parachutist has plummeted from the sky, his bloody limbs surrounded by bags of cocaine spilled from a large canvas bag. No one knows who he is, but we do know that he “sure as shit ain’t Santa Claus.”
In the present day, Raylan is snoozing at his desk while his phone shrills. Rachel nudges him awake to take a call from Sharon, a bail-bondswoman from Tennessee with whom Raylan once shared a lot of booze, sexytimes, and a jar of macadamias, “the most overrated of the nuts.” Sharon asks for Raylan’s assistance in nabbing a bail-jumper named Jody Odair. Raylan will get $3,000 for tracking down Jody so the Lexington cops can arrest him. Although bounty hunting is illegal in Kentucky, Raylan accepts Sharon’s offer.
It takes Raylan no longer than a commercial break to track Jody to his ex-wife’s place. Somehow, the ex is able to resist Jody’s big pack of McDonald’s burgers complete with toys, so Jody returns to his car to get the gun he keeps in his glove compartment, tossing the burgers on his ex’s front yard. That’s not very environmentally friendly! Raylan, under the pretext of returning the hamburgers, ends up pointing a gun at Jody’s head. A brief standoff (the first of several in this episode) is resolved when Raylan cleverly shoots the car’s airbag rather than the car’s occupant. After extricating Jody from the airbag, Raylan handcuffs him and calls his friend Sharon to say that he’ll bring Jody in for her.
Meanwhile, Boyd is experiencing the difficulties of being at the management level of a crime syndicate. One of his dealers, Hiram, has apparently been born again, and no longer wishes to sell drugs for Boyd; Hiram mentions that Preacher Billy of the Last Chance Holiness Church is both providing salvation and cutting into the demand side of Boyd’s oxy business. “People are getting off drugs and hooked on Jesus,” Hiram says. Boyd, looks pensively at his watch, perhaps in remembrance of his own short-lived stint as a preacher and exploder of meth labs before his father Bo murdered his flock or perhaps because he’s timing the explosive device he’s placed in Hiram’s car. Boyd tells Hiram that he wants the $10,000 Hiram made from selling Boyd’s oxy before his conversion or the next explosion will be inside Hiram’s home.
At Arlo’s empty house, two teenagers break in and start cutting into the walls (as well as stealing some of the copper wiring. They’re chased away by Constable Bob Sweeney, who is in no condition to chase the young ’uns and contents himself with telling them that his dogs will eat them alive. (Spoiler: he has no dogs.)
Raylan and Jody converse in Raylan’s car about visitation rights and the reason that Jody murdered two heroin dealers which was to steal their money so he could visit his kids more often. (I guess he’s a bit like Omar Little, if Omar had children, killed the dealers he robbed, and was seriously lacking in charisma.) Raylan is annoyed by Jody’s constant excuses for his behavior: “You run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole,” Raylan says. “You run into assholes all day, you’re the asshole.” Raylan threatens to put Jody in his trunk if he doesn’t stop talking and indeed, after Jody interrupts a phone call from Constable Bob, that is exactly where Jody goes.
Still, Jody is doing better than our old friend Ellen May’s client, who likes to dress up as a furry animal. Apparently, he’s usually a rabbit, but this week, he fatefully chooses a new bear suit, which causes Ellen May, high on a mystery drug delivered in a $1,000,000 bill issued by the Last Chance Holiness Church to shoot him. It’s nice to see that in a world of constant change, some things, like Ellen May’s gullibility, stay the same. (I was going to say that she’s “childlike” but my five-year-old is substantially less gullible than Ellen May.) Stay gold, Ellen May, stay gold!
At Arlo’s house, Constable Bob and Raylan check the damage done to the kitchen wall. Raylan reaches in and pulls out a canvas bag, no longer containing packages of cocaine, but simply a driver’s license issued to Waldo Truth, causing me to wonder: Where’s Waldo?
Bob fills Raylan (and the audience) in on the fact that Raylan hired him as a caretaker for Arlo’s house and he had the bright idea of installing a motion detector. Bob’s moonlighting as a security service because his position as Constable is elected, and because he’s required to provide all of his equipment out of pocket, including his uniform and the lights atop his delightfully miniscule car. “Stay frosty,” Bob tells Raylan, after promising that Raylan has only to call, and Bob will be there to help!
Raylan throws the bag from Arlo’s wall into the trunk on top of Jody, telling him that they have one more stop to make before they head for Tennessee. Meanwhile, the two teenagers from the night before watch Raylan through binoculars.
In Ellen May’s trailer, Ava, like Boyd, is dealing with unsatisfactory subordinates. She asks why Ellen May has a gun at her workplace. Ellen May says it’s because people—not necessarily clients—hit her, and Ava takes offense at the reminder that she once punched Ellen May. She reminds Ellen May about how she killed Ellen May’s abusive pimp for her. Apparently Ellen May is feeling a bit down on life, after Ava made her give up meth, cocaine, and oxycontin. I think she might be the next person to get “hooked on Jesus.”
Raylan stops at a hardware store, where the owner tells Raylan that Arlo was acting oddly before he went to prison. That doesn’t seem terribly surprising to Raylan. As Raylan tries to exit, Roz, the female half of the teenaged crime duo distracts him by dropping a box of screws and then engaging in the least subtle innuendo since Kitty Sanchez on Arrested Development. When Raylan finally manages to slide past her, she flashes her breasts at him, giving her confederate enough time to steal Raylan’s car before she exits through the back.
At the Crowder lair, Boyd is having an upper management meeting with Ava and the now wheelchair-less Johnny to discuss the drop in oxy sales. Johnny opines that falling demand may be a result of the FDA approving a new, less-addictive formula for oxy as well as new laws in Florida. He’s apparently been watching a lot of CNN. Boyd sends him back out to the bar before complaining to Ava about the stress of running his own criminal enterprise. She commiserates before going to get him a Dr. Pepper.
Outside at the bar, a shady looking character with an odd haircut and Ray-Bans is trying to suss out where Boyd is. He kicks Johnny and moves Ava out of the way before he makes his way to the inner sanctum. Ava follows, shotgun in hand, but it turns out that the guy is Colton Rhodes, a former MP and army buddy of Boyd’s.
Raylan has called Constable Bob to help him track down the stolen car, and is alarmed when Bob says the most likely destination is the scrap yard where they strip and crush stolen cars. Raylan won’t get any money from Sharon if Jody is turned into a human crepe encased in steel.
At the scrap yard, Raylan gets a good-news/bad-news report. His car is uncrushed but his prisoner and the bag from Arlo’s house are both missing. Raylan is strangely reluctant to turn the stolen-car part-stripping scam into a federal bust, and instead punches the junkyard guy for information. Meanwhile, Jody shares his heroin dealer tracing technique (follow the expensive bikes to find addicts who steal them, then follow the addicts to the dealers). He calls for Roz’s gun, but she doesn’t give it to him before Raylan busts in. Jody tells Roz to shoot Raylan, while Raylan reminds him that she just flashed him forty-five minutes earlier. (I’m not really sure one precludes the other, to be honest!)
A series of reversals in which Raylan reveals that he’s a US Marshal and promises Roz and her sidekick a deal if she gives him the gun, followed by the entrance of the junkyard guy holding Bob at gunpoint results in a complicated standoff. Raylan tries to offer the junkyard guy immunity, but Jody has promised them $10,000 instead. Raylan raises doubts about Jody’s ability to get the $10,000 which is supposedly in Lexington and offers the $500 he claims is in his wallet instead. Roz has the junkyard guy check Raylan’s wallet, which enables Raylan to elbow him in the nose and take his gun away. Jody ends up taking Roz hostage, but Bob, of all people, resolves the situation by stabbing Roz in the foot with the knife he keeps hidden on his person. Raylan is in an awkward situation regarding the bounty hunting he’s doing, so he offers to let Roz and her sidekick go if they tell him why they wanted the bag hidden in Arlo’s kitchen.
Back at Arlo’s house, Bob has sussed out that Raylan isn’t on the up-and-up with his bounty hunter dealings, and Raylan admits that he’s trying to make some extra cash because of the baby Winona is expecting. Apparently, Raylan has forgotten that his earlier forays involving money and Winona did not end well; I see no reason to expect this situation will be any different.
Later that night, Boyd and Colton are hanging out in Boyd’s truck on the bridge where Boyd shot the Aryan Nation guy in the pilot of the series. Colton tells Boyd how he came to leave the military, and Boyd asks for Colton’s help resolving his business problems.
Raylan stops at the prison where his father is incarcerated, and they have a short chat about the sale of Arlo’s house. Apparently, Arlo understands that the real estate market in Harlan isn’t exploding with consumer confidence and tells Raylan to lower the price. Raylan moves on to talk to Arlo about the bag he found and the driver’s license inside it; Arlo swears that he had nothing to do with the break-in and doesn’t know what Raylan’s talking about, but Raylan wisely doesn’t believe him for a moment. Arlo attempts to soften Raylan up by talking about his grandchild on the way, and Raylan says that he hopes the baby is a girl so the Givens family line is ended. Arlo tells Raylan to “put that bag back in the wall and forget about it.” Ah, Arlo! Tripped up by that old trick! Raylan never said the bag was in the wall. As he realizes what he’s just admitted, Arlo asks for the guard to take him back to his cell.
Elsewhere in Harlan, Boyd and Colton have Hiram duct-taped to a chair with a stick of dynamite in his lap. Boyd is done playing games, and Hiram finally admits that the $10,000 is under the lawnmower; he’d hidden it, hoping to donate it to the Church. Boyd sends Colton out to find the money while he regales Hiram with quotes from Isaac Asimov and John Maynard Keynes. I think Boyd would make an awesome literature professor, to be honest! He’d probably still have to moonlight as a criminal though, given professors’ salaries.
Colton returns with the money, which Boyd tells him must not be mentioned to anyone, even Ava. Then he tells Colton to “take care” of Hiram, which Colton interprets as “shoot Hiram in the head.” Although Boyd says he meant for Colton to cut Hiram loose, it’s clear that he was giving Colton a test; a test that he passed with flying, murderous colors. (But can he quote Keynes?)
At Raylan’s apartment over the bar, his girlfriend Lindsey is using his bathroom to floss her teeth. Raylan hides the $10,000 he got for delivering Jody, and then helps Lindsey floss her teeth with his tongue.
Boyd also hides his $10,000 in the ceiling of his bar, and checks out the fake $1,000,000 bill he took from Hiram’s place.
We cut to a revival tent where Preacher Billy is fondling a rattlesnake and dancing while he talks about his father and grandfather dying from snake venom, which I guess is an occupational hazard; among the enthralled congregation is our dear Ellen May. My prediction: Ellen May is either going to become Preacher Billy’s girlfriend or she’s going to become the rattlesnake’s victim.
Back at the prison, the library trustee stops by Arlo’s cell. Although he’s ostensibly come to offer Arlo an Alan Furst novel (he’s great, by the way!), he actually wants to talk about the mysterious bag from Arlo’s house. Apparently, there’s money to be made from that bag, although it’s not clear how or from whom. Arlo says that he wants a book after all, and when the trustee goes back to his book cart, he sneaks up and slits the trustee’s throat with his homemade shank. Talk about your rattlesnakes!! I wonder if Preacher Billy can handle Arlo Givens.
The episode ends with Arlo contemplating the blood on his hands and with me contemplating twelve more episodes of this amazing show!
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.