As we move confidently into the season-four story lines in this episode, we see a whole lot of people trying to hold on to what they’ve got, despite the intrusion of outsiders. Raylan’s not really one of those people (he’s actually the intrusive outsider, in one instance), and after a season three where our favorite U.S. Marshal was all too often on the sidelines of some of the major conflicts, that’s not un-troubling. I know Boyd Crowder is wonderful and compelling and we’d follow him to the ends of the Earth, and I also know it’s early in the season, I just hope his and Raylan’s story lines don’t stay parallel for too long, is all.
More than anyone, it’s Boyd who’s trying to hold on to what’s his this week. The intrusion of Preacher Billy and his sister Cassie is an unambiguous threat not only to his drug-peddling but also to his general influence in Harlan. If someone as weak and trembling as Ellen May can find enough backbone in that revival tent to turn away from the Crowders, who’s to say anyone else won’t? It’s not only Boyd whom Ellen May is defying, of course. It’s primarily Ava, who gets Ellen May to confess to attending Preacher Billy’s services and then tells her in no uncertain terms that she’s not to go back. Ava’s trying to hold on to what’s hers, as well, but she’s also desperately trying to justify (sorry) the choice she made last season to push all her chips to the center of the Crowder table. “We killed a man,” she tells Ellen May. “Ain’t no salvation for people like us.” You can see how galling it must be to Ava to see Ellen May trying to save her soul when it was Ava who killed Delroy (in part) to protect Ellen May. And now this jumpy little hop-head hooker is going to wash her hands clean and leave Ava with the stain on her conscience?
Ava’s threats aren’t enough, though, as Preacher Billy proves to be quite the salesman. Who’d have ever thought that Timmy from Jurassic Park would make for such a magnetic presence? I’ve got to compliment the casting here, because the surface-level boyishness of Joe Mazzello works so well with this character. His conviction and persuasiveness come as a much bigger surprise, and you can see even more clearly why Boyd would want to crush this little bug. The scene where Boyd strides into that revival tent like Al Pacino in The Devil’s Advocate is thrilling in ways we expect (obviously Boyd is going to deliver a killer monologue about religious hypocrisy and the carpetbaggers looking to bleed Harlan dry) and in ways we don’t expect (Preacher Billy’s quick thinking to suddenly cut off all donations to the church, to eliminate even the appearance that he’s being predatory; it’s great PR). By the end of the scene, Boyd thinks he’s gotten a crucial piece of intel, as he spots Cassie’s stone-faced look of concern at her brother’s grandstanding. If she’s the one pulling the strings in that tent, Boyd has a new target.
Of course, Preacher Billy’s sermons aren’t the only threat to Boyd’s empire this week, as his in-house psychopath Colton ferrets out someone dealing heroin inside Boyd’s territory. The guy turns out to be Dixie Mafia, which ends up luring our old pal Wynn Duffy back into the Harlan mix. Wynn looks to be set up pretty well within the Dixie Mafia, and since Raylan isn’t in the room, he’s able to maintain his air of condescending authority. He’s also very possibly learned his lesson about getting Harlan mud on his fancy boots, so he’s incredibly not interested in Boyd’s offer of a partnership to sell heroin in Harlan. In fact, when Boyd tries to use the dealer they caught as a bargaining chip, Wynn shoots the dealer dead on the spot. I love it when we get Ruthless Wynn. It only makes it more satisfying when Raylan turns him into Cowering Wynn again. I also love it when Boyd is genuinely shocked by the ruthlessness of another. He’s utterly at a loss as to how to respond to Wynn now, but he all but assures the audience he’ll think of something.
Back in Lexington, we see Art’s trying to hold on to what’s his, too. He’s just turned 56, and he’s being pushed into retirement — his job listing has already been posted, in fact. We’ve seen Art the Old Dog at play before, and this time he decides to rage against the march of time, he involves himself in Raylan’s investigation. After hearing about Arlo’s adventures with a toothbrush shiv last week, Raylan makes the logical leap that there must be something behind that Panamanian diplomatic bag and the “Waldo Truth” I.D. After a stakeout wherein Raylan, Art, and Tim make the case for a regular webisode series where they just sit around and give each other shit, they follow a lead to down-and-out home of the Truth family. The Truth matriarch is played by Beth Grant, and while her character is no Mags Bennett (Mags could never fake folksy for half as long as Beth does), she’s still a hoot and a half. The Truths are anti-government types and defiant ones at that. Up until Beth intervenes, they don’t seem to have any reluctance about getting into a gun battle with these Feds on their doorstep, and once Raylan and crew are inside, they flaunt their weapons and weed without any fear of reprisal. Their major concern is protecting their “draw,” that is, their stream of disability checks from that government they hate so much. I love the way Justified prizes the lexicon of the holler, and the way these people keep saying “draw” as this inalienable thing they will never relinquish just says so much.
That’s where Waldo Truth comes in. When Beth’s husband arrives home, Raylan & Co. arrest him, which is when he claims he’s not Waldo Truth at all. His name is Harold, and he’s only been impersonating Waldo for fifteen years to help the family collect Waldo’s draw. After an ill-advised attempt by young Milo to pull a gun — an attempt that Raylan puts down hilariously quick — Beth admits that the real Waldo was a heel of a guy whom she had to end up stabbing in the buttock once. She hasn’t seen him in 30 years, not since he was taken away by a pilot of some such extraction, name of “Jew.” Before we’re forced to follow the Truth family down what would likely have been a horribly unpleasant rabbit hole on the subject of someone named “Jew,” Art comes up with a name: Drew. Drew Thompson. Back at the office later, Art explains that Drew Thompson was known as the man who brought cocaine to Harlan County, after the day he fell out of the sky and pancaked onto a cul-de-sac, much in the same way we saw in the flashback last week. But after a quick check of the records, Art reports back that the body that splattered on that street had a scar on its ass. It was Waldo Truth who died on that asphalt. The plot thickens.
Finally, one last man looking to hold on to what’s his presented himself to Raylan as a trespasser in Lindsay’s bar. Raylan and Lindsay are keeping it casual, but they’re also “getting good at it” in the bedroom, and it’s certainly graduated to more than a simple fling. So this interloper poses a problem, especially once we see that he makes his money by engaging in backyard boxing matches for cash. After brutally taking down a couple of sore losers who were about to jump him, this stranger ends up back at the bar. Twice is about enough for Raylan Givens, but before he can get into take-out-the-trash mode, the guy introduces himself as Lindsay’s husband.
Apocrypha of the Week: Ellen May made her case to Ava for her own salvation by quoting a verse from the book of “Palms.”
Found Object of the Week: I have a feeling ol’ Shelby’s conscience is going to be as much a liability for him as it is a virtue. Great scene with him and Boyd this week, as Shelby gave him the 411 on Billy and Cassie, who move from poor town to poor town without running afoul of the law (though Boyd suspects they squat there until the criminal element pays them to leave). “I will turn my head as far as I can without breaking my neck,” Shelby says, of his strategy to keep Boyd happy. We’ll see how his neck is doing at season’s end.
Wynn Duffy Hard-Earned Chuckle of the Week: I don’t want to like Wynn Duffy at all. But when he responds to Boyd’s “You can trust me,” with “I don’t even trust the way you just now said I could trust you,” what am I supposed to do? Incidentally, Boyd seems genuinely surprised when Wynn tells him that Arlo killed a Dixie Mafia guy in prison the other night. That’s trouble Boyd doesn’t need.*
Lexington Federal Sewing Circle Minutes: Seems Art and Tim have been spending some time discussing Raylan’s odd comings and goings of late. Art tells him he’s been keeping “addict hours,” while Tim reveals that the smart money in the office pool is on Raylan having taken up with an exotic dancer.
Juvenile Nightmare of the Week: If anything, that youngest Truth family member who was constantly yelling “PERVERTS” at Raylan & Co. and tried to pull a gun on our hero only proved that Raylan needs to deputize Loretta McCready and bring her along for any assignments where he might encounter a kid who needs to be kept in line.
* We initially confused some characters in a section above. Thanks to those who noticed and pointed it out.