Justified knocked it out of the park this week with an exciting, hard-hitting and revealing episode that gave us a ton of gunfire and an unexpected death.
Warning: A teensy bit of vague speculation about the identity of Drew Thompson below…
From the brutal prison barbershop “clippers vs. scissors” brawl between ex-Harlan Sheriff hunter and Arlo at the top of the episode, to Boyd “table turning” Crowder expertly turning the tables on the Harlan elite at the end, “Outlaw” was top-notch Justified and the best episode of Season 4 to date. Not only did the Drew Thompson mystery start paying off in brutal and unexpected ways, but Arlo, who I was sure was going to have a big role in the endgame of this episode, fell to injury and became this season’s first big casualty. And no, I didn’t suspect that Arlo was Drew. He’s too old and Raylan, as his son, is too old. Plus, the Givens clan goes back too far and has ties to the hill folk.
But this episode did solidly confirm my suspicions about another character on the series being Drew. I won’t say his name outright, but he’s a member of the cast. And so when the reveal comes, it won’t be a new face that we’ve never seen before. That being the case, I do wonder what he thinks about so many freakin’ people getting killed in the name of his mystery. Because this week, with a new hitman in town posing as a patrolman, the kill count grew, with Boyd using his ties to Wynn to kill two birds, and two men, with one stone. So the Harlan “Hands that Feed” had no idea that they were in for a double-cross because they didn’t know the real reason why Boyd was at their party in the first place. So Boyd had Wynn take out Frank, and then one extra member of their elite ring, just to prove a point. And in the same manner that Boyd asked Frank to pay him NOT to kill him, Boyd squeezed each remaining member of the inner circle for a “good faith” hundred grand. All hail the future Dairy Queen King!
And on top of this, Boyd’s about to, unknowingly, save his own ass from an impending double-cross from Wynn and Johnny by making a direct deal with Nick Augustine.
Meanwhile, Raylan took a five second moment by the elevator to wipe away a tear for Arlo, whose final words to him were “Kiss my ass.” Man, talk about a a show that won’t bend to easy sentiment. Any other series would have went for, perhaps, a final bonding moment between the two. Giving both Raylan, and the viewer, a sense of closure. But that was it for Raylan. A watery eye. And all of this after quick-drawing and gunning down the hitman as he was trying to “arrest” Boyd – while casually noticing Ava’s lovely engagement ring.
But the violence wasn’t just contained to the search for Drew and Detroit bagmen. Colt, now being blackmailed, has totally gone off the rails, killing his drug dealer along with Tim’s friend, Mark. This now creates a bunch of winding roads that, I can feel, will all lead to one big blow-up.
Again, Justified is the kind of show that won’t end an episode on a big, cast-reducing death. It’ll open on it. It took me a while before I was able to accept that Arlo was, in fact, going to die. That he wasn’t going to miraculously pull through. “Outlaw” was no-holds barred Justified. This season’s been a bit of a slow-starting race, but all burners are heated up now and characters are becoming dangerously desperate.
Matt Fowler is a member of the Television Critics Association. Follow him on Twitter at @TheMattFowler