On last week’s impressive Season 4 premiere, Raylan faced off against imprisoned Arlo and his teenage flunkies on the outside as they tried to take a bag and ID from a 1983 plane crash/drug bust hidden in Arlo’s wall, Arlo shanked another prisoner, Ellen May shot a furry john, and Boyd suspects he has a new adversary in fundamentalist preacher Billy. Winona remains out of the picture, while Ava is still the First Lady of Boyd’s criminal empire. Raylan remains the best.
This week’s episode “Where’s Waldo?” brings us many wonderful things. Raylan, Tim, and Art go on a stakeout together – a marshallin’ dream team. There is also perhaps the highest volume of rednecks in a single episode of Justified. We have the Waldo Truth family, a redneck backyard ultimate fighting ring, and a fundamentalist church congregation. And not only are they rednecks by socioeconomic background and/or geographical location, but they serve up some redneck realness. A redneck child throws Raylan double middle fingers! Ellen May gets “saved!” Yes, as established in last week’s recap, Justified is back to doing what Justified does best – luxuriating in the seedy criminal world/religious zealotry of Harlan County.
Oh yeah, and crooked businessman Win Duffy (Jere Burns) is back and continues to stir the pot on yet another season – hurray!
We open the way every show should open – with a post-coital Timothy Olyphant. Sorry… too much? That’s doubtful. Jenn Lyon, who plays Raylan’s bartender paramour Lindsey, is one lucky lady. Though romancing Raylan Givens cannot erase all problems in life, as Lindsey is revealed to still be married to Randall (Robert Baker), the vicious winner of one of the aforementioned redneck backyard fights. Judging from next week’s preview, Randall is going to be a major thorn in Raylan’s side, and he might just be able to beat him in a fight. Baker is also a magnanimous force on screen, and the backyard fights are exciting and as “redneck” as this show can get.
The one drawback here is that with Randall present, Lindsey’s role seems to be beefing up. Now, it’s admirable that Lindsey is housing Raylan above the bar and is always game to “get it on,” but she’s really a non-entity, and the relationship between her and Raylan isn’t overly compelling. Now that Winona is nowhere to be found, it would be preferable to bring Raylan a more formidable love interest with more of a palpable personality – someone akin to Carla Gugino’s pseudo-Karen Sisco from last season would work.
Thank goodness, Art is back this week and in fine form. He gets a “marshallin’ stiffy” from the potential mystery behind the Waldo Truth ID found in that Panamanian bag of Arlo’s, so he joins Raylan and Tim for the perfect trifecta of law enforcement delights. Art needs this excitement, as his retirement is pending and people are already lining up for his position. The Waldo Truth they think they find is not the real guy… the real Truth was taken away by a man over thirty years ago. Luckily, Art knows who to look for. As an added bonus, Character Actress extraordinaire Beth Grant plays fugitive Waldo Truth’s wife, so hopefully she surfaces again.
First off, it is a genuine thrill to see Olyphant riff on the stake out with actors Nick Searcy (Art) and Jacob Pitts (Tim). Art and Tim rib Raylan for snoring, Raylan deadpans that he has to go to Pilates at 6pm… can the three do a stakeout every episode? It’s also exciting to see Art on the job rather than behind his desk drinking bourbon. Art also mentioned Tim’s sniper past to his potential successor – it would be great to see some sort of Tim backstory, as Pitts would definitely deliver in adding more layers to his sometimes little-used character.
Uh… so perhaps the greatest thing this episode is a PREACHER-OFF between Boyd and Billy. Back and forth Bible verses! Wonderful oratory skills! False prophetry! As could have been predicted, we get the face-off between Boyd and Billy, and it does indeed deliver. Could anyone out-preach Walton Goggins’ Boyd Crowder? Joseph Mazzello’s Billy sure gives him a run for his money, as he calls Boyd’s bluff. Boyd tries to call foul, claiming that they are both in it for the money, “We all gotta eat, Billy – you got your collection plate, and I got mine!” Billy, in turn, tells his entire congregation to never give him another cent. Is Billy for real? It’s doubtful… his sister Cassie (True Blood “werepanther” Lindsay Pulsipher) has a steely gaze that would imply otherwise – she is the Ava to Billy’s Boyd here, and is likely hardly a passive party. Ellen May is the go-between here between Boyd and Billy’s worlds and her cluelessness will likely make her rather weak character fall victim to someone. Will she be a heroin mule for Jesus? Will she stop turning tricks? Well, she is saved now, so perhaps her whorin’ days are over. She is stupid enough to become Billy’s unwitting pawn, and the possibilities of her being taken advantage of are rather endless and pretty exciting.
And again, Billy does provide us with a formidable foe for Boyd as he proves this week and as we learn his true intentions in the drug world (if there are any), his character can only get more interesting.
The Upside: The “Preacher-Off,” the Raylan/Art/Tim stakeout, redneck backyard Ultimate Fighting. Also, more Jere Burns and Beth Grant, please!
The Downside: Bartender Lindsey seems to be a greater presence… though doesn’t Raylan deserve a more interesting love interest?
On the Side: Boyd really does button all his buttons, doesn’t he?
Top Moments of Badassery: The impressive match cut from redneck backyard fighting to Ron Eldard’s Colton Rhodes punching a potential heroin dealer, Art swilling REALLY expensive liquor, Randall “raccooning” someone, Boyd confronting Billy, Raylan nonchalantly sleeping on the job in front of his boss, and the kid brandishing the double middle fingers at Raylan. Ah, Harlan…