The slate’s wiped pretty clean going into season 4 of Justified. After the all-out war of season 3, there’s plenty of room for heroes and villains alike to step up and stake their claim of east Kentucky. The previous season ended on such a down note for Raylan, so you’d think this season would start off with a subtle build for our beloved hero. But Justified kicks off its new year with Raylan and the rest of Harlan’s rogues gallery up to their old tricks, violence, and rapid-fire banter. Hit the jump for more on the season 4 premiere of Justified.
“Hole in the Wall” starts with a gory opening that flashes back 30 years to 1983. It’s a unique cold opening for a series that typically begins with a familiar character or location. It presents a mystery that will only grow deeper as the episode progresses. The man falling out of the sky with a bag full of heroin is only the beginning of the story that will probably be unraveling as the season tears along.
When we jump forward to present day, the dust has settled in the wake of the sadistic Robert Quarles and the havoc his Oxycontin war brought. It’s settled so well that Raylan is catching a nap at his desk. He wakes up to a call from a Knoxville bounty hunter he once slept with. Someone’s jumped bail and she thinks he might have torn ass to east Kentucky. Raylan agrees to track him down for a decent chunk of pocket money. He’s never motivated by money before – the man went from living in a motel to above a bar. Maybe he’s just bored.
But as Raylan explains later in the episode, he’s got a kid on the way and a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. Doing profitable favors for an old flame might not be approved by the Marshals Service, but stretching the law for his unborn child is worth the risk in Raylan’s eyes. This contrasts what he says to the bond jumper he apprehends using the old “shoot the airbag” trick (our first badass Raylan moment of season 4). The fugitive explains that he only robs drug dealers to take care of his kids. After asking him about visitation rights, Raylan says doing dirt to feed your kids doesn’t make it alright. It’s a nice bit about being a responsible father, but Raylan himself isn’t above it.
Could Raylan actually be sweating fatherhood? It’s an interesting avenue to explore as far as his motivations this season go. A man who never flinches when a pistol is pulled on him is worried about paying for child support? Go figure.
Raylan’s deep conversation about fatherhood is cut short by a call from a new character, Constable Bob, played by the always great Patton Oswalt. When I heard Patton would be a regular this season, my mind swelled with the possibilities of him being a villain or even a dirty cop. But Constable Bob is a lot like his Spence Olchin character from King of Queens. He’s enthusiastic as hell about law enforcement even if he doesn’t have the skills to quite pull it off. I looked up Kentucky constable laws and it seems everything Bob says is true: they have few real responsibilities and are paid crap, but can still make arrests and execute warrants. I was really hoping for Patton to play out of type, but so far him and Raylan make a good buddy cop team. I love the part about his “go bag.”
Raylan’s hired Bob to watch over Arlo’s house until it’s sold. As Raylan’s driving back with the fugitive, Bob catches two teenage lowlifes smashing holes in the kitchen wall – presumably in order to strip the copper wires for cash. Since one of the kid’s says “While we’re here we might as well pull some copper,” it’s easy to conclude the wires are just a bonus to whatever they’re really after.
After chasing the kids off, Bob and Raylan find more than missing wires. Inside the wall there’s an old mailbag that reads “Correspondence Diplomatica” (the one from the opening). The bag’s empty except for an old KY driver’s license for a Mr. Waldo Truth. Oh, I should mention it’s daylight now. Raylan got the call from Bob the night before. Meaning Raylan has had the fugitive in the boot of his car for several hours.
Before we get further into the secrets of the mailbag, let’s see what everyone else has been up to. Having survived Quarles, Boyd Crowder is the undisputed crime boss of Harlan County. But there’s trouble brewing with his Oxy business. One of his dealers hasn’t paid up, and when Boyd questions him (in his usual dead-eyed, terrifying manner he reserves for his employees), the dealer explains that he’s been saved. A Pentecostal preacher named Billy and his Last Chance Holiness Church has set up shop in the woods. He’s been baptizing junkies – causing a serious drop in Boyd’s clientele.
Boyd’s obvious distaste for religion is on full display in this episode. The one-time preacher can still shake the walls with the word of god when he needs to, but whatever faith he actually had has blown up like a case of his beloved dynamite. He refers to church as a “collection plate” and later in the episode quotes staunch atheist Isaac Asimov. I’ve got a hunch Boyd’s going to bring some Old Testament fury to Preacher Bob.
Boyd’s crew is still running shit out of Johnny’s bar. Johnny’s been doing his research on the FDA and new Oxy laws in FL (two aspects that affect Boyd’s business, I guess), but Boyd pays his information no mind. He better start treating Johnny as more than a bar hand though. Johnny leaked some info to Limehouse last season behind Boyd’s back and he’s liable to do worse if he doesn’t start getting more respect.
Maybe he got pushed out of his wheelchair one too many times, because now Johnny’s opted for a cane. This doesn’t work out any better when Boyd’s old war buddy Sgt. Colt kicks it out from under him. Colt’s played by ER veteran Ron Eldard – an actor more than believable as ex-military police. Boyd brings him on as muscle. His first assignment is tagging along while Boyd interrogates the born again junkie from earlier. It seems so simple as an interrogation technique, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone taped to a chair with a dynamite between their legs. Bravo, Boyd.
I can see how Colt misunderstood Boyd’s order to “take care” of the dealer. What criminal wouldn’t interpret that as “kill him?” Anyway, Colt’s quick on the trigger and Boyd will keep one eye on him if he’s smart. He may have gotten more than he bargained for by bringing him on.
Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but there were several close-ups of Boyd’s pocket watch during the episode. This could be alluding to time somehow running out for Boyd or a deadline approaching. Also, why would Boyd be hiding money from Ava? After getting his cash back from the dealer, Boyd tells Colt not to tell Ava about it – to lie and say it wasn’t there. Then we see him hiding it in a ceiling panel alongside some other cash. Boyd’s a very smart and methodical criminal. I have a hunch he’s not interested in selling Oxy his whole life. He must have some endgame in mind.
Ava’s still running the prostitution side of things and guess who she has to have a sit down with? Ellen May. This trick is always in trouble! This time she shot a client with a furry fetish thinking he was a real bear. As Ellen May explains to Ava “I was on drugs and it was a good costume.” She had it rough last season and pulling the trigger herself drives her to welcome Jesus into her heart – at the Last Chance Holiness Church, of course.
Preacher Billy (Joseph Mazello – the kid from Jurassic Park) is old school Pentecostal. Snake handling, healing, speaking in tongues, the whole bit. From what little we know about him it remains to be seen if he’s genuinely out to save the heathens of Harlan or if he’s got something more criminal in mind. But c’mon, this is Justified. I don’t care how many times he’s been bitten by poisonous snakes and lived to brag about it. No way Billy’s a saint.
The misadventure at the scrapyard was a great display of Raylan’s quickness with his fists and tongue. Bob wound up saving the day by stabbing the teenage girl in the foot, which he felt awful about doing. After consoling him, Raylan collects on the fugitive and goes to bang Lindsey the bartender (a day in the life of Raylan Givens, huh?). Then it’s off to jail to question Arlo about the mailbag.
I honestly didn’t think we’d see Arlo for awhile. Their wounded relationship went to an all-time low last season when Arlo shot a cop thinking it was Raylan. But he’s back and still a grouchy old prick. He plays stupid about Waldo Truth (“funny last name”) but goofs up when he mentions Raylan found the mailbag in the wall. We see just how valuable this mailbag is later on when Arlo slits an inquisitive inmate’s throat.
Just like the season 3 premiere, “Hole in the Wall” throws us right into a myriad of questions, characters, and ass kicking. The mystery mailbag, Waldo Truth, Preacher Billy, Bob’s “go bag,” Raylan and Boyd possibly furthering their careers…hell, we can go anywhere from here. No matter where we end up though, bet your ass it’s gonna be a fun ride. See you next week.
MOST BADASS MOMENT: Tie between Colt tripping up Johnny and Bob stabbing a woman in the foot.
BEST KILL: The only kill was Arlo slitting the inmate’s throat, so the old man wins by default.
FUNNIEST MOMENT: Raylan has a Piggly Wiggly card in his wallet.
The production designers always throw in some nice, subtle touches. I liked the “Gods, Guns, and Coal” shirt in the storefront this week.
Anyone buy the line about the teenagers having $10,000 hidden in Lexington? The two seem craftier than your average wire-strippers.
Raylan’s stuttered reaction to them saying they have $10K was hilarious.
Going back to Boyd…he’s always been a hands-on crime boss, but why couldn’t he have sent Jimmy (the fauxhawk kid) or someone else to go rough up the born again dealer? I’m telling you, he’s up to something and doesn’t want the rest of the crew to know about it.
You’d never think Raylan has any time to watch movies, but it seems that when he does, he’s got good taste. Nice Big Lebowski reference.