It is great to have Justified back. Catching up on season 3, my personal favorite of the seasons to date, was a real treat. Neal McDonough was a great villain and an interesting counterpoint to Raylan. Seeing him become unhinged bit by bit was an interesting development for the season in general. Some interesting storylines were also developed and left us to munch on like, for example, what had happened to Arlo at the end and going to prison for Boyd. The last scene with Winona left us with a near-perfect cliffhanger. The kind of thing, say, Elmore Leonard would have written.
A pair of themes run through the fourth season: Secrecy and confidence.
Season 4 starts with a prologue that dovetails into the main story, though that doesn’t happen until the end. It is apparently based on a real-life event. Both the prologue and the ending, needless to say, ended with a pair of shockers. We don’t know what the meaning behind the prologue is yet, but we know it is worth killing for.
It is clear that Season 4 takes place several months after Season 3. It isn’t determined when; we only have Raylan and Winona’s baby not yet being born as the basis. Just as well. Seasons 1-3 ran the gamut of about three hectic months. That’s a lot of people for Raylan to kill. He could use a few months of downtime.
He could also use money. That’s why he illegally helps an old acquaintance in Tennessee pick up a murderer in Kentucky (bounty hunting is illegal in Kentucky; who knew?). Raylan seems like his old self, but the cracks are starting to show. He’s worried about what kind of father he’s going to be and what his role will be in raising the baby with Winona.
Things, as usual, go awry and the murderer, Adair, tries to turn the tables after spending more than a day in Raylan’s trunk with a bag of burgers. How he ends up in the trunk is, I thought, a kind of sly homage to the opening chapter of Riding the Rap where he tells Adair about assholes. He also talks about self-awareness, which is a kind of watchword on the show. The two young kids who steal his car have very little and Constable Bob is maybe half a rung above them (but still a fun character). Constable Bob is the guy living off of one achievement and calling it as such is a stretch. He means well and maybe there’s a good cop in there behind all the bravado he puts on as a front and the self-doubt inside.
Meanwhile, we have more secrets and confidence stories with Boyd’s storyline. Boyd is more in control than we’ve seen since the pilot. You can tell by his voice. Gone is the oily whisper. Now he speaks with confidence and authority. He also has his share of secrets involving oxy money that his old MP buddy Colton Rose knows about. Not even Ava knows.
Ava, his partner in crime, has to deal with Ellen May, who has no confidence whatsoever and is looking for a lifeline. So of course she’ll go with the snake-handling preacher, Billy St. Cyr, who delivers quite a monologue while everyone goes into hysterics around him. It is a hoot, by the way, that the kid from Jurassic Park is the preacher. Some kind of weird full circle, isn’t it? He exudes confidence and, if nothing else, he offers it to people in a part of the country that may not have very much. They have each other, and, depending on your circumstances, that is of dubious comfort. Ellen May has a secret from season 3 with Ava and it is clear the guilt is inside her. This might be an interesting storyline.
All the storylines are interesting thus far. We know Boyd and Billy are going to square off because Boyd is losing money to this man. And, knowing Justified, Billy probably has a scam of his own going on. And then there’s Raylan, who will inevitably be drawn to the center of the web. Right now, though, he’s interested in the bag and the guy with the name “Waldo Truth.” Arlo, for his part, is interested in keeping it a secret, which leads to the gruesome finale. I enjoyed the literary references and thought it was interesting the guy Arlo murders was mentioning Alan Furst, a prominent spy novelist. Secrets and confidence. That’s the baseline for the season. What next? One down, twelve to go, but it is clear that season 4 will be quite different from the first three seasons.