While this week’s episode, “Truth and Consequences” was certainly watchable, it was somewhat of a disappointment. Billy died from a snakebite, falling victim to his own blind religious fervor, which seems really premature. Joseph Mazzello really shined as Billy, especially this week, and it is upsetting that his time on the show was so short. Also, Raylan is duped by Lindsay and Randall, who were apparently in cahoots the entire time. Uh, really? Not only is it illogical, it’s not exactly fitting with Raylan’s history as the man least likely to be taken in by the blonde floozie. Raylan is one of the most astute characters on television – nothing gets past him. Also, the Drew Thompson/Waldo Truth mystery is getting boring real fast, y’all… and muddled to boot. The pseudonyms, the drug cartel, whatever… it’s either hard to follow or hard to care about (think, probably it’s the latter).
These glaring issues are only compounded by the overall issue of this episode trying to cover too much ground in around 40 minutes. We really don’t need to hear about Rachel’s backstory – just cut that scene with her and Raylan out at the bar, it seemed really tacked on. I guess that was only there to set up her helping Raylan to track down Lindsey/Randall? Also, we got a taste of an interesting storyline – Johnny backstabbing Boyd via Wynn Duffy – but it was covered in one measly scene. That is good stuff and more would have been better, thanks. David Meunier and Jere Burns are two of the show’s little treasures, so hopefully their alliance will be explored in deeper scope next week. A Boyd overthrow (as if that’s possible) is somewhat of an important plot point and certainly deserved more attention.
We open strong this week with Boyd visiting Cassie (Lindsay “Werepanther” Pulsipher) at the church – being Boyd, he instantly deduces from Cassie’s steely gaze that she is the brains behind the operation, and that Billy truly does believe the stuff he is preaching. In an interesting twist, she is the church’s Boyd, not Billy. Boyd therefore sends his goonies Colton (Ron Eldard) and Jimmy (Jesse Luken) to the church at night to explore – and it seems they use venomous rattlesnakes instead of guard dogs. In an entertaining/gross scene, Jimmy gets the shit bitten out of him, and Colton takes him back to the bar with a severed snake head still attached to his cheek. Funny, it seems Colton is impervious to snake bites! The Jimmy death does make Boyd more keen on revenge, however…
Things start off okay with the whole Raylan/Lindsey/Randall thing. Raylan threatens Randall with sending him back to Florida, per a parole violation. Randall lashes back and says “I’m gonna write my name all over that pretty face of yours, how does that sound?” Great, so we’re all in agreement that Raylan is pretty. Lindsey later shares with Raylan that she and Randall used to be a con team, and she would get close to someone before stealing all their stuff. And Raylan, you didn’t see this coming? This whole storyline is rife with flaws. Last week with Randall was only interesting because of the backyard fighting stuff. But really? This just seems like the show’s writer’s pulled this twist out of their butts. She tells Raylan point-blank of her past – and it’s not exactly like there is some overwhelming love between Raylan and Lindsey that would pull the wool over his eyes.
They have sex when he gets home from marshallin’, which is the extent of their relationship. Also, being introduced last season, Lindsey seemed fairly well-established in her position at the bar, hardly a drifter type. Nevertheless, Lindsey was never interesting, so hopefully finding the two of them isn’t morphed into this larger storyline later on. Raylan should probably just cut his losses and move on… for all of our sakes.
Further running the Waldo Truth/Drew Thompson thing into the ground, Art, with “marshallin’ stiffy” still erect, makes Raylan and Tim scope out Thompson’s ex-wife Eve Munro (Julia Campbell), who is a psychic. Raylan and Tim are briefly thwarted by crooked FBI Agent Alex Barnes (Josh Stamberg) who is in cahoots with kidnapper Mason Goines (Michael Graziadei, of my mother’s favorite soap The Young and the Restless). Raylan immediately knows Barnes is dirty when he discovers Barnes is following him – Barnes reveals Munro’s location and swiftly commits suicide. See, Raylan does have strong powers of deduction!
This whole thread is also problematic, for many reasons. For one, the psychic thing is unnecessarily silly. For another, it brings back awful reminders of last season – Goines is apparently a henchman of Theo Tonin (Adam Arkin) and Thompson apparently witnessed him kill a government agent. We didn’t care about the Detroit mob last season, and we certainly don’t care now. Why tie this already convoluted storyline into a bad storyline from last season? The Waldo Truth/Drew Thompson situation would have possibly succeeded if just directly tied in with Arlo as it seemed to be in weeks past, but now that the Detroit whatever is attached? No, thank you. Let’s keep the main crimes Harlan-centric, shall we? Also, the more Arlo, the better.
This episode’s shining moment which could redeem it for a lot of these less-than-satisfactory aspects, is the showdown between Boyd and Billy at the church. And bravo, Walton Goggins, for continuing to turn in amazing acting performances week after week. Calling bullshit in front of the whole congregation, Boyd brings in a venomous rattlesnake for Billy to handle – he assumed [correctly] that Cassie milked the venom out of the snakes before Billy handled them, unbeknownst to Billy. As Billy reaches into the snake box, Cassie tearfully tries to stop him – the guise of the whole congregation is immediately destroyed, as is Billy’s lifelong belief in himself as a “prophet” and in his beliefs. Though he insists on handling the snake, to which Boyd sermonizes, “You know what, son? I once stood where you are standing now, mistaking my own hubris for God’s touch. That ain’t religion, son, that’s called self-glorification.” Yes, Boyd – preach. Billy is bitten and dies before his entire congregation. This is a perfectly-crafted scene, for it enunciates the themes of blind religious zealotry so well-explored in Justified lore. Boyd’s tired wisdom gained from his own disillusionment with the church is evident with just a mere look from Goggins here, and Mazzello counters that with a palpable wide-eyed idealism.
Though with Billy now dead, where can we go from here? This fundamentalist church was a very intriguing backdrop, and now are we just going to get some sort of drug war between Boyd and Cassie? It seems like a missed opportunity to get rid of Billy so early – it would have been a more interesting choice to have him survive and face a new world without his faith. Look what happened to Boyd when his faith was diminished! Also, Billy’s survival would have afforded the opportunity to see how his relationship with his sister would have changed. Mainly, however, Billy is significantly more layered and psychologically-complicated than his sister. With the sermons and the snakes, he is also a helluva more fun to watch. A quiet blonde girl with bangs? Not so much. Her without him does not make for interesting viewing.
The Upside: Boyd and Billy’s showdown in the church and Boyd’s impressive cunning, Johnny and Wynn’s alliance, and the growing welcome presences of Art and Tim.
The Downside: Billy should not be dead, Raylan would not be duped by Lindsey, Rachel backstory feels completely tacked on… and the Drew Thompson/Waldo Truth thing? Sorry, Art – my viewin’ stiffy is getting pretty limp on that one.
On the Side: Is it just me, or is Ron Eldard morphing into chubby Val Kilmer?
Top Moments of Badassery: Boyd’s showdown in the church, Raylan rocking a wifebeater, Billy & co. using rattlesnakes in lieu of guard dogs, Raylan immediately sizes up FBI Agent Barnes, and Tim’s very masculine storming of the hotel room.