In the Season 4 premiere, expectant father Raylan takes off on a fun, rule-breaking side story that involves a fugitive, a mysterious satchel along with Patton Oswalt and his “Go Bag.” You know, in case he needs to “Go!” – -
“Hole in the Wall,” while not involving any of Raylan’s active duties as a Marshal (or his colleagues, other than a brief moment with Rachel), gave us a lot to take in; partially setting the stage for the rest of the season. Raylan, whose immediate motivation is to earn some extra cash for his unborn child, accepts a harmless, yet illegal, gig as bounty hunter. Through this enjoyable, totally Elmore Leonard evoking caper, Raylan inadvertently winds up crossing paths with an Arlo scheme surrounding a satchel that fell to earth 30 years previous, thanks to a dead parachuter.
One thing that wasn’t evident from this kickoff episode was an idea of a “big bad.” Could it be Ron Eldard’s Colt, a dangerous old army buddy of Boyd’s? Or perhaps it’s Preacher Billy (Jurassic Park’s Joseph Mazzello) and his backwoods Snake Handler sect? Or maybe, since he ends the episode with a shocking prison murder, it’s Arlo himself and Justified has now turned its villain spotlight inward? Also, there’s been a ton of pre-season reporting about a Deliverance-style clan of hill folk that might wind up being formidable adversaries, but they were absent here.
Along for the ride in “Hole in the Wall” was Patton Oswalt’s Constable Bob, who Raylan turns to after his bounty/fugitive gets stolen, along with his car, because he can’t exactly call it in to the Marshal’s office. Oswalt, who’s also coming off a surprisingly action-filled Burn Notice arc, fits in perfectly here as Bob; who is both filled with humor and darkness, constantly bragging about a football jock he put into a coma back during his and Raylan’s senior year of high school. Plus, he bumbles around Harlan almost looking for moments to lash out in violence. I did enjoy the fact though, that even though Bob has a chip on his shoulder, he’s not void of smarts. He knows his law book and he’s not so delusional as to deny his own screw-ups.
And, of course, we’re given a couple of teen crooks whose dim-wittedness makes them almost more dangerous than someone with all their wits intact. One thing that Justified does sometimes, that’s almost Dexter-esque, is give us an episodic adversary who mirrors Raylan’s current emotional state/life-predicament. Here it’s a fugitive who’s in hot water just because he tried to earn extra money for his own kids, much like our hero. When this kind of contrivance happens, it feels beneath Justified, even if it’s not explicitly showcased like it is on other shows.
And let’s not forget…a john wearing a bear suit gets shot in one of Ava’s prosti-trailers, a born-again crook gets threatened with some dynamite to the nuts and string of prop $1,000,000 bills starts pointing people in the direction of Preacher Billy’s revival tent. A set-up that Boyd’s sure is a scam since, you know, he used to run one just like it back in Season 1. Justified doesn’t wind up on as many year-end Top 10 lists as its contemporaries, but tight, fun episodes like this are a perfect example of why more people should watch. If I had to guess, from this one episode, Justified might have chosen to focus more on Raylan and Arlo this year rather than have a notable guest star play a quirky adversary. With the idea that the season will just be peppered with mini-arcs and mini-bosses throughout. Much like Dexter did with its Season 7 and the Dex/Deb story.
“Never too early for a Dr. Pepper.”
Follow Matt Fowler on Twitter at @TheMattFowler