It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that if you're a fun character on "Justified," you won't stay in jail for long. Of course, Arlo's not officially out yet but after Boyd's ridiculously short stint and Dickie Bennet's now he's in and now he's out of last year, I'm beginning to doubt the severity of a Kentucky jail sentence. That being said, this threat of Arlo's release gives Raylan excellent motivation to find Drew Thompson and the whole race against the clock aspect provides us with a new level of tension.
In an episode brimming with old familiar faces, it was fun to see the return of FBI Agent Jeremy Barkley and US Attorney David Vasquez. Vasquez, especially, is just the kind of recurring background character that "Justified" uses so well to develop unobtrusive, casual world building and continuity.
Ah but, of course, Agent Barkley didn't last long. As someone on Twitter noticed, poor ol' Stephen Tobolowsky bit the bullet awfully close to Groundhog Day. We also met a new member of the Dixie Mafia, Nick Augustin, played by the wonderful Mike O'Malley. I do hope we eventually see the return of Adam Arkin as Tonin himself, but I'm quite happy that this new henchmen is in the picture. Finally, if I were Wynn Duffy, I would just go ahead and get a new Winnebago. Too much bad sh*t has gone down in this one.
There are few things I love more than a Raylan/Boyd scene (we'll get to that in a minute), but these Duffy/Crowder scenes are a close second. This bit of verbal tennis reminded me an awful lot of Boyd's "carpetbagger" speech from last year. I haven't decided yet whether I loved the way the camera was spinning around these two, but I've decided that it's an implication that the crew was as excited as we were.
Speaking of continuity, we get the return of Patton Oswalt's Constable Bob as well as little Brace Face. And as excited as I was by Mike O'Malley, I was over the moon to see Gerald McRaney (aka "Major Dad" aka Mr. Delta Burke) show up as Brace Face's step-daddy, Josiah Cairn. As someone pointed out to me, this is another in a long line of "Deadwood" reunions, but McRaney is the kind of actor (with a built-in drawl) who damn well belongs in the Holler. Perfect casting.
I don't really love the Johnny Crowder plotline this season. Do we really think he's going to get the drop on Boyd? Do we honestly think this will end any way other than him joining Devil down in that hole? Maybe he'll surprise me. I am glad they gave us an Ava scene this episode so we could see how the Ellen May aftermath with sitting with her. Not too well it would appear. Having her handle all of Ellen May's pathetic little stuffed animals? That was a cruel and beautiful touch.
Hill People! We were promised Hill People this season, and Graham Yost, bless his heart, he Delivered. The back of my brain was itching as to where I had seen Cousin Mary (Bonita Friedericy) before. Of course, under all that dirt, she's the General from "Chuck." I really loved this segment (and not just because that hulking bearded kid from "Sons Of Anarchy" showed up). I'll talk about this more later but the whole "kin test" ties so nicely into the bigger picture of this episode.
Speaking of connections, I loved the mirroring we got with Tim Gutterson and Colton Rhodes. Two sides of the same coin. Beautifully shot and perfectly acted.
My my my, Sheriff Shelby. Well played. Ellen May, little tortured spaniel that she is, is safe for the time being. Shelby's looking for incriminating information on the Crowders and she's got it. I'm so glad the excellent Jim Beaver has a significant role this season.
Agent Jeremy Barkley (Cause: Nick Augustin's Lack Of Respect For Childhood Nostalgia.)
Josiah Cairn's Foot (Cause: That Saw Raylan Was So Convinced Colton Rhodes Would Need.)
Deputy Marshal Rachel Brooks and Deputy Marshal Tim Gutterson Line Count:
I'm loving what they're finally doing with these two. Not just the increased line count, but the significant character development. Though it was clumsily introduced via exposition early on, Rachel's divorce and Tim's PTSD are absolutely coming into play. That's more characterization than they've had throughout the run of the show and it's about damn time.
"I dunno, I was probably too young to be blowing the heads off of Taliban. Guess it all evens out."
Alright, Winona's back. And though she was her usual abrasive self, chastising Raylan from the get-go, I think we can all agree that Raylan deserved it. Unequivocally. He's being a major ass and she's carrying a baby, I don't begrudge her that crankiness.
Boyd: "Whole world's a tree Raylan. I'm just a squirrel trying to get a nut."
Wynn: "Any cats? Do you see any cats?"
Boyd: "What precipitated the change in your weathervane?"
According to Josiah Cairn: He busted up his legs and was hiding out with the hill people as they nursed him back to health.
According To Cousin Mary: He's in Harlan County. He enjoys bluegrass music. As of ten years ago he was rubbing elbows with the Mayor et. al. The "you're on the wrong hill" comment made me think briefly that he might be on Capitol Hill.
According To Logic: He should be about Arlo's age. It would be better for the plot if he were someone we already know.
Best Candidates: Sheriff Shelby? (Jim Beaver's 62, the actor who plays Arlo is 73)
Josiah Cairn? (Gerald McRaney is 65) Personally, my money's on Cairn. Mostly because I want to see much more of McRaney.
The Gist: The one word title of this episode "Kin" says it all. For the entirety of the series, we've been dealing with Raylan Givens desperately trying to prove he's not his father's son. Winona's pregnancy and his impending fatherhood throws even more light on that struggle. The major tension of the Drew Thompson mystery has become can Raylan keep Arlo in prison. Can he keep that part of himself that he so hates, that is the source of all his anger, locked away? And should he? It's telling that at the beginning of the episode, Raylan says "I figured I'd go back to where it started: Harlan County." And that's where the show will always bring him. Not just because it's so much fun to see him spark and spar with Boyd Crowder, but because that journey of self-discovery and self-confrontation is at the root of this tightly wound hero. And in order to survive this episode, Raylan had to lay claim to the most backwards side of his family. Timothy Olyphant did a brilliant job communicating that palpable relief and sweetness when Mary said to him "I see Frances in you." And then, of course, through a typical Elmore Leonard plot twist, Boyd and Raylan are thrown back together. Their mirrored path (like that of Deputy Tim and Colton) and their reluctant brotherhood is one of the deepest joys of "Justified." (Not to mention the sheer comic relief e.g. Goggins' delivery of "I don't like your plan Raylan" as he's dragged out of the box.) These two men, Givens and Crowder, are still living in the shadows of their fathers and their fathers' misdeeds. Brothers, sons and fathers: kin is at the very root of the "Justified" yarn.