Justified: Season 4, Episode 2
Where's Waldo?
Well, this season of Justified isn't wasting any time, is it? After last week's pretty stellar case-of-the-week, we seem to be diving right in to the season's master plot, with Raylan, Art, and Tim on a hunt for Waldo Truth that takes them into one of the weirdest, most wonderful scenes the series has yet produced. Meanwhile, Boyd is facing off with Billy and trying to make an alliance with a reluctant Wynn Duffy. And this is only the second episode of the season.

Things start off well, with Ava shutting down Ellen May's religious conversion by reminding her that Ava saved her soul long before she ever met Billy. One of the greatest subtle themes that has run through the past few seasons of Justified is the way that Boyd, the former evangelist who has chosen a darker path, uses religious metaphors and terminology to convince his followers to commit dark deeds in his name. Another theme started last season, and continuing tonight, is Ava's slow conversion into a full-on criminal, and the way she uses Ellen May's religious conversion to remind her what debts she really owes was downright Boyd-ian in its malevolence.

Billy, and his sister Cassie (Lindsay Pulsipher) are more slippery, at this point. It isn't clear, yet, whether they truly come to save Harlan or whether they are grifters as Boyd tries to paint them in one of the episode's strongest scenes. Its a credit to the show that it can do a big "Boyd Crowder discredits his adversaries in the eyes of Harlan" scene once a year or so and they never get old. Walton Goggins is so damn good at playing those big, speech-y moments, and so good at bringing Boyd's persuasive charm to the forefront, that I could watch him engage in wars of words for seasons on end and clamor for more. Boyd turns Billy's teachings around on him, accusing him of taking hard-earned money from the folks of Harlan (money, its important to keep in mind, that Boyd would like to take from them when they buy his Oxy) and of being a false prophet. I don't have a handle on Billy yet, but I do know this: he is a charismatic fellow facing off against perhaps the most darkly charming character on television currently, and I imagine their battle of wills is far from over. Personally, I can't wait to see where the struggle takes them both.

Meanwhile, Art entertains a man who wants his job, regaling him with tales of his difficult staff--the probably PTSD Tim, the recent divorcee Rachel, and, of course, Raylan, who he actually lets off easy by speaking only about Arlo's recent escapades. When Art breaks the news to Raylan, our hero comes clean and the two, with Tim in tow, set off to find Waldo Truth, coming across his family in the process. I'd have been satisfied with this episode being wasted on Art, Tim, and Raylan bantering as they searched for the Truths (and what a metaphor it would have made, as on the nose as it would be), and we got some good stuff from those early scenes: Art's "marshall stiffy" over the bag and his desire to eat his favorite barbeque before going to the Truth's house, because he is sure Raylan will shoot someone there and ruin his lunch. Plus, there's Art and Tim's speculation about why Raylan has been keeping "addict hours" of late (Tim thinks Raylan is moonlighting as an exotic dancer). All of this is so much fun, it's pretty hard to top it.

And yet, top it "Where's Waldo?" does, because after that, we reach the Truth compound, and are treated to one of the great scenes in the series' run. This is a masterpiece of laughs and tension, with each Truth quickly becoming a memorable character, plenty of great dialogue, and enough twists to give the whole thing a propulsive pace, just in case you weren't already having enough fun. The youngest Truth insists the Marshalls are perverts, and the whole family is worried they've come to take away the family's "draw," in the form of Waldo's benefits. They draw on the Marshalls, smoke pot in front of them, and seem bemused that the lawmen can't have a drink while they interrogate them. Basically, they are amazing, and the entire scene is like a fireworks show of great Southern comedy. Things seem to take a turn for the better when Waldo shows up...except that it quickly becomes clear he is not Waldo, but a man posing as Waldo so the government benefits keep coming. Raylan wants to haul the whole clan in, but then Art puts the pieces together, and realizes the real Waldo Truth died in a cul de sac in the '80s; the man with the parachute in the season's cold-open flashback.

Most of the episode is committed to the build up and aftermath of the Boyd/Billy confrontation and the Truth scenes, but there's enough time for Wynn Duffy to put in an appearance, killing one of his dealers to erase Boyd's leverage and chuckling as he points out "I don't even trust the way you just now said I could trust you." Wynn asks Boyd about Arlo's last killing, and Boyd cops to his ignorance. But now we all know that the Dixie Mafia is involved, and so, now, is our boy Boyd.

We also meet Randall Kusik (Robert Baker), who it turns out is Lindsay's husband, a fact that perturbs Raylan to no end, by the look on his face at the episode's end. We are introduced to him early on, as he plays macho to a bemused and mostly annoyed Raylan, and watch later as he wins a brawl and stops two assailants from taking his winnings. So we know he is physically imposing, and we know he doesn't like Raylan. Yeah, this is probably going to be a thing.

"Where's Waldo?" indicates Justified is off to a very strong start this season. If they can keep this run going, they may be able to overtake the stellar season two. Either way, there are enough balls in the air to keep me interested, and even if things slow down, there's always Raylan's side-career to keep things interesting.

Grade: A-


--I toyed with giving this episode an "A," but this season has started off so well, I want to hold back and wait for when it starts knocking it out of the park. I may readjust later as needed.

-"Raylan, on a scale from one to a shit load, how much do you need to tell me right now?"

-"Where were you yesterday?" "Why? Did something happen?" Raylan is such an asshole. And yet, we love him.

The exchange that won Truth's wife over is priceless. When she tells him "This snatch is off limits" because she's married, he replies, "I got a goldfish." She is confused, and he clarifies, "I thought we were talkin' 'bout shit that don't matter."
Tags: Justified
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