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.