This latest installment of Justified was a thrill for many reasons, the first being… frenenemies Raylan and Boyd are, again, holed up in the same room, fighting for the same cause (kinda), and engaging in some of their delightful trademark frenemy banter. Seeing Raylan and Boyd together for the first time this season makes you realize the absolute perfection of Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins onscreen together. Each line is delivered perfectly and the relationship between their two characters is just so nuanced. Adding to the greatness, there is also war bonding across party lines between Tim and Colton, an appearance form Arlo, Raylan waxing nostalgic about his mother, Ellen May coming into a greater purpose, and Gerald McRaney’s (and another of Olyphant’s fellow Deadwood alum’s) self-severed foot…
Though if I’m nitpicking, we could still do without the whole Detroit invasion. And Mike O’Malley still on Glee, right? This minor transgression is, however, overshadowed by the fact that this episode brings us into even more of a hick milieu that even Harlan County proper: the realm of the hill people. And yes, a Deliverance reference is made (thanks, Boyd!). Them crazy hill people are always encouraged… and no one had to “squeal like a pig” or nuthin’.
Nevertheless, exciting stuff is a-brewin’, and this episode, “Kin,” covered a lot of ground with great ease – and the exposition never seemed forced. We learned the approximate location of Drew Thompson, that Sheriff Shelby enlisted Ellen May to bring down Boyd, more on the Wynn/Johnny Boyd double cross, even that Raylan has kinfolk in the hills.
We open with a Henley-clad Raylan waiting for Winona at the OB/GYN, but he only beat her there because he got the time wrong. She, of course, still has him in the doghouse, even though he still clearly loves her and wants to be a part of the baby’s life. Winona, you are one stone cold bitch! Sure, Raylan has to leave before the actual appointment ever transpires, but he has to earn a living, now doesn’t he, Winona? Is it a blessing or a curse Natalie Zea booked The Following? You be the judge. This scene is necessary, because it reminds us that (a) Winona is still around and (b) lets us know that she is probably going to give birth fairly soon, judging from her pregnancy girth. Also, your heart melted just a little when Raylan felt the baby kick, didn’t it…
Raylan misses the appointment, because Arlo is apparently getting a plea bargain – he stands to walk if he gives up info on Drew Thompson to the FBI. Given the relationship he has with his criminal father, Raylan wants him to stay in jail – and is given 24 hours to find Drew Thompson himself. Surprisingly, this proves fairly easy, as Raylan employs lil’ Constable Bob (oh hey, Patton Oswalt!) to re-track down wire stripper Roz, who is hilariously wearing a splint on her shot-up foot and still offering up BJs. She does tell our lawmen that her stepfather Josiah Cairn (McRaney) told her to go into Arlo’s wall for the bag. Raylan is all-too-familiar with Josiah and pays him a visit, to find he is on house arrest, a situation that Raylan uses to his advantage, as he handcuffs Josiah to his moving car in order to get answers on Drew Thompson’s whereabouts: THE HILLS!
Checking in with Boyd, he is seemingly onto everybody – he has the intuition that Johnny is backstabbing him and Colton might not have killed Ellen May. Goggins’ Boyd is working a lot of angles in this episode, and you never once get the impression that he is being had. Boyd has outlived most of Harlan’s criminals for a reason: he is as smart as all hell, and it is highly doubtful that anyone will ever pull one over on him. So… it’s safe to say that Johnny and Wynn’s days are likely numbered. Goggins continues to play Boyd with this steely all-knowing this week, and just keep it coming, son.
Though Josiah is a cagey one, as he just sent Boyd to the hills too, thus setting us viewers up for the unparalleled pleasure of Raylan and Boyd being tied up by hill folk and thrown into the same barn to exchange jabs and their own special brand of camaraderie. Boyd went on the search for Drew Thompson at the behest of Wynn Duffy – though for the potential heroin monopoly, not just for shits and giggles. According to Josiah, Drew Thompson gave the drugs from the plane to both of their daddies and then went into hiding, so it’s only fitting that their sons are both looking for the deceptive fugitive, albeit for different reasons…
Raylan and Boyd trapped together is a lovely reminder of the Season One finale, when they had to take cover together. Again, Raylan does come to Boyd’s rescue in the face of the hill people – he could have let them kill him, but decides not. Sure, Raylan attributes this to the fact that letting the hill people kill Boyd would be against the law. But, clearly, the two men share this strange affinity for each other. They were friends as young men in the mines, and even though they are on very different sides of the law, the shadows of their friendship remain – which is obviously a very difficult feeling to convey, but Justified does it flawlessly. Even when not onscreen together (though they should be a lot more often!) the Raylan/Boyd dynamic is the backbone of this show. Boyd (as well as Arlo, of course) represents the criminal underbelly of Harlan that Raylan has worked so incredibly hard to distance himself from… and yet that tethering force remains. Raylan’s blood runs deep in Harlan and even extends to the hills, where his mother’s cousin lives and is apparently the Mags Bennett equivalent.
Our favorite frenemies (sorry to keep using this Sex and the City term, but it does fit) have many fun exchanges during their time together, but this one is perhaps the best. When leaving the hills, Boyd says to Raylan, “I’d whistle the theme song to Deliverance if I thought you had a better sense of humor…” Raylan then swiftly handcuffs him to a tree, getting the head start on the search for Drew Thompson and retorts, “You talk about no sense of humor… this is funny. I know I’m laughing.” Perfection. Perhaps the only person who can outsmart Boyd Crowder is Raylan Givens. They are a match made in hillbilly heaven.
I have to also acknowledge the subtle doubling here that extends beyond Raylan and Boyd. Waiting for our boys – together – at the bottom of the hills are Tim and Colton. Tim, who is apparently a Pocahontas fan, notices that Colton is wearing army boots and the two strike up a conversation about serving overseas. Colton asks Tim about tracking, as he is looking for Ellen May, and Tim suggests applying for the Marshalls. Ah, so similar, yet so different. This moment between Tim and Colton was pitch perfect, for it served to further humanize Colton and gave us some more ever-desired Tim backstory.
There’s a fine line between the law and the criminal underbelly, and Justified never lets us forget that. This episode even closes with Boyd paying off Arlo’s lawyer to keep the old man in jail. Again, he and Raylan have the same goal… for an altogether different purpose.
The Upside: Among many other things… RAYLAN AND BOYD TOGETHER AT LAST!!!
The Downside: Mike O’Malley, I like you and remember you fondly from Nickelodeon’s Guts, but we don’t need you and your leftovers from bad Season Three villains!
On the Side: If Assistant U.S. Attorney Vazquez (Rick Gomez) looks familiar, that’s probably because he is another Nickelodeon alum. Yes, he was the much-feared Endless Mike Hellstrom on The Adventures of Pete and Pete.
Top Moments of Badassery: So many… Boyd talks to Wynn Duffy with a shotgun casually in front of him on the table, Raylan handcuffs Josiah to a moving car, Roz flips Raylan and Bob the bird, and Raylan handcuffs Boyd to a tree.