Soooo…that was a particularly violent and memorable episode, was it not?
Let’s bitch it out…
In the annals of Justified episodes, ‘Outlaw’ has surely got to be in the top five, no? Obviously the big event is the murder of Raylan’s (Timothy Olyphant) father, Arlo (Raymond J Barry) which Raylan more or less instigates by talking to former Sheriff Hunter Mosley (Brent Dexton). There’s also Boyd’s (Walton Goggins) huge power play as he uses a Detroit hit-man (Matthew John Armstrong) to execute his enemies while simultaneously leap-frogging over Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns) to position himself tenuously underneath Theo Tonin.
It’s tough to say which of the two will have the greatest impact moving forward. The central relationship on the show has always been Raylan & Boyd, but the mutual hatred between father and son is a close runner-up. I can honestly say that it’s unlike any other depiction I’ve seen on TV. What’s really fascinating about ‘Outlaw’ is the casual way Arlo is dispensed of: he’s shivved before the opening credits, visited by Raylan around the mid-way point and then casually pronounced dead by Raylan with the same inflection as a request to pass the salt at dinner. Contrast this with the depiction of a central death on last week’s The Vampire Diaries which literally encompassed the entire episode and it’s clear that Justified made a strategic narrative decision on how to address Arlo’s death.
This nonchalance makes sense. As an audience we’re tied to Raylan – he is our protagonist even when he disappears off-screen (as he does during much of this episode). The result is that more often than not we align with his perspectives and actions (however unorthodox). So we mirror Raylan’s disinterested reaction to Arlo’s fatal attack.
This shouldn’t suggest, however, that the loss of Arlo isn’t significant. On the contrary: it’s massive. Whether or not Raylan feels remorse for the role he played in his father’s death is unclear, but there’s no denying it’s impact. It’s just much more subtle than we’re used to.
Consider the absolutely fantastic scene as Raylan waits for the elevator after Art (Nick Searcy) sends him home. It is so simple and understated that it has to be applauded. There’s nothing fancy: no overwhelming soundtrack or musical montage, no outrageous character histrionics. Just Raylan, looking as close to tears as we’ve ever seen him, waiting in silence, the camera slowly pushing in on his conflicted face. Couple this with the final, too-brief scene of him standing over his deceased father’s body and Justified has delivered an emotional wallop without even seeming to. Hats off on an outstanding job.
- This leaves the bloody Quentin Tarantino-esque events to Boyd as he ruthlessly dispatches the moronic white collar criminals who tried to blackmail him last week. I mentioned then how excited I was to see Boyd show them who’s boss and, in true Justified spirit, he doesn’t fail to live up to my expectations. Have we seen an episode with such a high body count?
- Never one to miss an opportunity to interject inappropriately timed humour, Raylan naturally comments on Ava’s (Joelle Carter) engagement ring, even as they’re in danger of being killed by the Detroit hitman
- What to make of the fact that Boyd lies to Ava about his initial inability to handle the Clover Hill criminals? Sure, he ultimately gets the job done, but he has lied to her before? If not, this suggests a dangerous precedent, especially since his new position of power rests squarely on a) finding Drew Thompson and b) not pissing off Theo or Nick Augustine (Mike O’Malley)
- In a subplot I’m still unsure anyone cares about, Johnny (David Meunier) is using his knowledge of Colt’s (Ron Eldard) mishandling of the Ellen May (Abby Miller) situation to make a tidy profit ($20, 000 to be exact). Of course Colt leaves his own trail of bodies to get it, including Tim’s (Jacob Pitts) VA friend, Mark (Ian Reed Kesler) – last seen in 4×06 ‘Foot Chase’
- Finally, is romance brewing between Sheriff Shelby (Jim Beaver) and Ellen May? Wearing your ex-wife’s clothes is awfully personal
- Hunter Mosley: “You’re only a lawman when it suits you, Raylan. Give you cover to do the things you would have done anyways.
- Boyd (after blackmailing $100, 000 apiece from the men of Clover Hill): “Oh and I want you to get me a Dairy Queen franchise.”
What did you think of the episode, folks? Were you surprised at Arlo’s death? Did you expect it to be a bigger deal? Do you think Boyd’s deal will come back to haunt him? Who’s likely to die first: Colt, Johnny, Wynn Duffy or Sheriff Shelby? Hit the comments below with your thoughts
Justified airs Tuesdays at 9pm EST on FX