Everything is different, yet nothing’s changed: the Season 4 premiere of Justified was a wacky, wild ride — albeit one that set the stage for a really intriguing season, with Raylan barely holding on as a f***ed up, brokenhearted mess, and Boyd gleefully managing the Harlan criminal enterprise with the love of his life by his side. Even though these two characters make magic when they’re on screen together, Tuesday’s episode (and, from what we hear, the next few) found both men on two equally engaging (and equally batshit) separate journeys. One involved braces, breasts, and a secret bag from the ’80s, the other a “snake church” run by Timmy from Jurassic Park. Basically, if last night can be used as an indicator, Season 4 is going to be really, really fun, and a departure from last year’s darker fare.
Let’s start with Raylan, whose wild ride began with good intentions: He received a late night call from one of the many hotties he’s spent the night with, only this one wasn’t a booty call — the woman was a bounty hunter, who would pay up if Raylan could deliver an escaped parolee convicted of double homicide. Easy enough, and Raylan needed the money for his unborn baby with she-who-will-not-be-named (okay, Winona). He caught the chatty criminal before I had time to grab my popcorn from the microwave, delivering one of many memorable lines from last evening after the man continually excused his actions (They were heroin dealers! They totally deserved to get murdered!). “You run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. You run into assholes all day, you’re the asshole.”
Truer words, Raylan. (Also, pot-kettle?) But the unlikely duo was about to encounter two criminal (and one well-meaning) assholes — Raylan received another late-night call as he attempted to drive his bounty over the state line, this time from comedian Patton Oswalt, known here as Constable Bob Sweeney. Sweeney, an old high school classmate, had been watching over Arlo’s house while the old man rotted in prison, and a couple of kids had broken in and stolen some copper (more on them later). Raylan locked his bounty in his trunk and went over to investigate, and while poor Bob — who never amounted to anything after high school — prattled endlessly about long-forgotten high school victories, Raylan found what the kids were really looking for: a bag containing the 1979 driver’s license of one Waldo Truth. (Aside: This is probably where I should mention that the episode began with a flashback to the early ’80s, where a man fell from the sky with a bunch of bricks of what looked like cocaine. End of flashback.)
Raylan took the bag, not thinking much of it, and went over to the hardware store to buy some copper. There he ran into the female half of the teen duo from Arlo’s house, who promptly enticed him with a literal and metaphoric screw (while wearing braces) and flashed her ample chest. But Raylan’s an ass-man, and not a statutory rapist, so he politely declined her generous request…
… Which ended up to be a poorly-planned ruse. While she flashed her goodies, her boyfriend ran off with Raylan’s car — which, if you remember, carried an escaped parolee in the truck. Bob told Raylan that most of the stolen cars in town end up immediately crushed in a junkyard for $500, so they hightailed it over to Criminal N’ Sons Shady Illegal Activities Junkyard to retrieve it, and him. The man had already been freed by the wonder twins, who were holding him in the shed at gunpoint. This all led to a classic Justified-ian sequence where Raylan had several guns pointed at him, but somehow got out of it based on a stroke of luck — or, this time, a stroke of Bob. Bob stabbed the teen girl — who was being held by the parolee — in the foot, giving him time to regain control and announce to the duo that he knew they wanted the bag, not the copper or the car. Phew. Got that? This marked the end of Raylan’s first adventure with Constable Bob, but he’s a great comedic foil for Raylan who has been a total laconic downer his entire life, so I’m very excited to see more of him and his adorable man-crush on Raylan. See you on Twitter, Patton.
Of course, this wasn’t the end of “The Tale of the Mysterious Bag” for Raylan — not by a long shot. He finally went over to see his filicide-enthusiast father in prison, who swore on his dead wife’s life that he knew nothing of the bag. This would have been the end of it, until he said “Put that bag back in the wall and forget about it.” Raylan hadn’t said the bag was in the wall, so, sorry dead wife. It will probably be awhile before we find out the importance of Waldo Truth’s old driver’s license, but apparently it’s worth approximately the cost of a man’s life — a fellow inmate had the unfortunate luck of overhearing Arlo and Raylan’s conversation, and when he approached the old goon later that night, he was rewarded with a stab to the jugular. Believe it or not, this was actually the second murder of the night.
Which brings us to Boyd, arguably the most fantastic person on television right now besides Daryl Dixon. Boyd was using his patented, twisted manner of speech to interrogate a former Oxy dealer (late on his payment) who had recently been saved by one “Last Chance Holiness Church.” Boyd, wonderfully, used Biblical verse to justify (hey!) selling pills, comparing them to modern-day wine (albeit in pill form), which Jesus was totally a fan of. “I’ve got to be honest now, Boyd,” the frightened man said. “A lot of the time the way you say things, I can’t make hide nor hair.” Ha! But that’s what makes him beautiful, girl. Also, this line totally came full circle at the end of the episode when Boyd’s lack of verbal clarity led to the same man being shot in the face. But more on that later.
In a sequence that fit in wonderfully with the whimsical, comedic tone of the episode, Ellen May (the hooker Ava punched) returned — stupid as ever, snorting a white substance with a john. This john handed her a fake million or billion or trillion dollar bill advertising the very same Last Chance Holiness Church, which they used, hilarrrriously, as their snorting vessel. Of course the show needed a way to bring the strung out Ellen May to the church, so she had a little mishap — the john made her close her eyes, and when he came back into the room for some sexy times, he was dressed AS A GIANT BEAR. You guys, he was a furry. I only found out what this was very recently, and it is endlessly frightening. Ellen May thought so too, so she shot at him several times — not enough to kill him, but enough to scare her into sobriety re: the Church.
So for Boyd and Ava — who are adorably running a large portion of Harlan’s criminal enterprise with the whoring and the Oxy — the Church was already becoming a problem. Enter Boyd’s mysterious, definite no-goodnik war buddy, Colt (Ron Eldard!), who had been recently discharged due to bad behavior (shooting his comrade in the arm). Boyd offered his old pal a job, effective immediately — then went over to take care of the Oxy payment once and for all: by putting dynamite between the former dealer’s legs. He revealed the location of the money he owed, leading to the aforementioned verbal misunderstanding: “Take care of him,” Boyd said to Colt. Boyd meant “tie him loose,” but Colt took it as “shoot him in the head!” Hey, we all make mistakes. “Well, I guess I have to be more careful with my words,” Boyd crooned. The night ended with a peek at the Timmy-led Church (with Ellen May in attendance), which consisted of people holding up snakes on folding chairs in a tent in the woods. This, apparently, is how you get sober in Harlan. All in all, it was a wonderful return for a show that got a little too dark last season, introducing a gaggle of new characters and plot lines that are sure to bring new life to the already vivid series. Your thoughts, pray tell? Follow Shaunna on Twitter @HWShaunna [PHOTO CREDIT: Prashant Gupta/FX] MORE: Raylan Returns: What to Know Before ‘Justified’ Debuts, Guns Blazing ‘Justified’ Gets Season 4: More Timothy Olyphant Shooting Junkies ‘Cougar Town’ Season Premiere React: Same Old ‘Cougar Town’, Now with Sex Jokes!