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Justified, Ep. 4.03: “Truth and Consequences” outlines the season’s revised game plan

Justified, Ep. 4.03: “Truth and Consequences” outlines the season’s revised game plan
Justified, Season 4, Episode 3: “Truth and Consequences”
Written by Benjamin Cavell
Directed by Jon Avnet
Airs Tuesdays at 9pm ET on FX

In case you hadn’t gotten the memo that Justified‘s fourth season is going to be a vastly different beast from those that came before, “Truth and Consequences” might give us a better sense of just how things are going to operate this time around. For all the rhetorical bluster and speaking in tongues, Joe Mazzello’s Preacher Billy appears to already be out of the picture (though his shifty “sister” remains). Imagine if Robert Quarles had gotten his arm lopped off back in episode 3.3 and you have some idea of what Justified looks like without a Big Bad. While it’s a little sad to see Mazzello off so soon, his last sequence, with Boyd tempting him into a foolish demise, is effective and nicely paced.

Which is not to say that the season’s central mystery is anywhere close to being wrapped up. This week, the hunt begins in earnest for the real Drew Thompson, aka, not the guy who ‘sploded onto a suburban sidewalk surrounded by cocaine. To that end, “Truth” once again deploys long-underused Marshals Rachel and Tim, who both get more screentime than usual this week, especially the former, who even gets a nice scene with Raylan in which she (guardedly) divulges a little information about her separation. (Not to be outdone, Tim finds time for a wonderfully brief zinger at Raylan’s expense, in response to Raylan shrugging off his laziness with “I’ve got a lot on my mind”: “Yeah, you hide it well.”) Graham Yost has been insisting for years that he loves the characters but struggles to find a place for them amidst Raylan’s antics, but the season’s cascading-arc structure seems to finally allow him and his writing team to incorporate them more fully. About damn time.

There is reason for concern about the long-overdue integration of the other Marshals, however. With only a 13-episode season, it’s going to be tricky to give every one of our favorite characters their due, and so far, Ava is most in danger of getting shortchanged as merely Boyd’s partner in crime. Of course, Justified has always had a difficult time nailing the character, especially given that the first-season iteration of the character doesn’t much resemble the one that decided to once again shack up with a Crowder in Season Two. There’s still potential, though, for the show to examine Ava’s decision-making process, particularly as it applies to her romantic and criminal misadventures.

Speaking of misadventures, “Crimes” introduces yet another mystery, albeit a much more intimate one. At episode’s end, Lindsey has flown the coop, Raylan’s apartment is thoroughly trashed, and the promised showdown with Randall has been shown to be a ruse. Did she go with him willingly, or has she been kidnapped? The latter option is far less interesting, and therefore (since this is Justified we’re talking about) far less likely. In any case, the subplot nicely underlines one of Justified‘s most consistently rewarding thematic throughlines: can people change their stripes? Lindsey and Randall spent years conning people out of whatever they had, but Lindsey earned an honest living while Randall worked the bags behind bars, and her affection for Raylan certainly didn’t seem feigned. Art has given up on Raylan being anything other than a force for chaos in his office, but with (likely estranged) fatherhood looming, will there be a chance to overcome the demons of his lesser nature? (Alas, with Natalia Zea off squandering her talents on The Following, it seems unlikely the series will get to explore this notion effectively for some time.)
The episode’s best scenes mirror Raylan and Randall, two deeply flawed individuals who find themselves on opposing sides despite, frankly, not being all that different. Besides their shared taste in women, their sardonic senses of humor feel awfully similar, and Randall is able to exploit Raylan’s love of dramatic flairs in order to gain the upper hand, marking him as possessing a bit of Raylan’s situational awareness. He’s not the dim-witted muscle he appears to be. It’s easy to imagine Raylan pulling a similar gambit, should he have found himself in Randall’s situation. With Raylan and Rachel about to chase Randall and Lindsey down, there’s reason to believe Raylan might be staring down his own faults sooner than he thinks. Or, you know, he may just greet them with cocky rejoinders and gunplay like usual. Either option sounds plenty promising.
Simon Howell