Justified, Ep. 4.02: “Where’s Waldo?” heavy on comedy, light on plot indicators

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Justified, Season Four, Episode Two: “Where’s Waldo?”
Written by Dave Andron
Directed by Bill Johnson
Airs Tuesdays at 10pm ET on FX

If you were concerned that Justified‘s third season may have suffered from a character glut, now might be a good time to check out entirely. Boyd’s new/old pal Colt isn’t going anywhere, and his newfound nemesis Preacher Billy is just getting started. While Patton Oswalt’s bumbling Constable Bob doesn’t make an appearance this week, we do get an entire clan of degenerate hicks (headed up by the one and only Beth Grant), a brief appearance from Sheriff Jim Beaver, Preacher Billy’s likely-scheming sister (Lindsay Pulsipher), a resurgent (and de-stached!) Wynn Duffy, and, oh yes, Raylan’s bartender girlfriend Lindsey’s tough-as-nails husband Randall (Robert Baker). Things are getting downright crowded.

And that’s without the Marshals. “Where’s Waldo” reintroduces Art, Raylan’s long-suffering boss, who has younger folk nipping at his heels for his job. It’s a little odd to hear Art go on about Marshals Tim and Rachel, whose exploits we sometimes hear about but rarely ever see, as though they have inner lives. Tim is described as “probably” suffering from PTSD, while Rachel is apparently reeling from a divorce. OK, then! Maybe this is a sign that finally – finally! – these characters will be getting their honest-to-goodness due. But there’s ample reason to doubt that.

As one might guess from the title, “Where’s Waldo” begins to dive into the Waldo Truth/Arlo Givens mystery in earnest, with Raylan, Art and Tim accosting the aforementioned Truth clan in an effort to track down their missing patriarch, who mjust so happens to be a fugitive. This heavily armed standoff provides a slew of great moments, from Raylan earning a double-finger salute from a young boy (who repeatedly calls the Marshals “perverts”). to Mama Truth’s take on romance and courtship, to Fake Waldo’s outing as merely the asshole helping to keep Waldo’s disability check coming in regularly. It’s all very Tracy Letts, only with less redeemable characters.

But of course the sequence that’s destined to mark this episode for most is the scripture-laced showdown between Raylan and Preacher Billy over the fate of Harlan’s faithful. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen Preacher Boyd in action, and it’s a sterling reminder that Walton Goggins is very simply one of the best actors plying his craft on TV right now. It’s no shock that he’s spent his off-season in Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino movies: dude’s got skills. It’s almost disappointing when Boyd sniffs out that Billy’s sister seems to have ulterior motives, as the notion of Boyd taking on a completely innocent foe is a tantalizing one. Still, Mazzello and Goggins have great chemistry, and the scene is just as great as one might reasonably expect. An even smarter move by the showrunners is to once again place Boyd in Raylan’s path – though not immediately. Wynn Duffy enlists Boyd to try and suss out just why Arlo killed a Dixie Mafia soldier in prison, thus ensuring more Boyd-Raylan-Arlo angst to come. Excellent.

But I’m especially intrigued by just what the show has in mind for Randall, the apparently-estranged husband of Raylan’s current squeeze. His approach to conflict resolution involves swift physical takedowns and quick verbal retorts. Sound familiar? Maybe he’ll be done away with by the end of next week’s outing, but the notion of Raylan squaring off against another tough, sarcastic song of a bitch is weirdly appealing, so maybe he’ll stick around for a bit.

With that said, “Where’s Waldo” feels a little shapeless, as though it’s meant to set things in motion, even though it’s still not at all clear just how the season will coalesce or what the central conflicts are. It’s a very funny, never-boring, sharply written and acted hour of TV, but the jury’s still out as to precisely what Season Four is up to.

Simon Howell





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