The ramifications of a rejection (unexpected and otherwise) are not something Justified normally devotes a lot of time investigating – though there has been the on-again, off-again relationship that Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) has with his ex-wife Winona (Natalie Zea), and there has been some rich emotional context mined from the very troubled relationship Raylan has with his father Arlo (Raymond J. Barry).

And that’s not to say there hasn’t been plenty of rejection-related behavior going on in Justified; it’s just that, for the most part, the relationships Raylan finds himself in seem to be of a quick, temporary, or all together fleeting variety, wherein a mutual attraction is established, followed by a quick getting-to-know-you session, and then the encounter ends with Raylan polishing off a $20 tin of macadamia nuts (the most overrated of the nuts).

So when Lindsey Salazar (Jenn Lyon) – the bartender Raylan had been spending a substantial portion of his off-hours with – up and left with her ex-husband, Randall (Robert Baker), and “a goodly sum” of the marshal’s hard (but not exactly appropriately-earned) cash, it came as something of a surprise to Mr. Givens. He expressed this surprise to his fellow deputy and underused series asset Rachel Brooks (Erica Tazel) by simply saying, “I thought she liked me.”

Seeing that Raylan’s pride is a little bruised (not to mention the hit his wallet took), Rachel joins in the search for the two grifters, which takes them to the rather posh suburban home of Joe Hoppus (Josh Close). There, Raylan has a brief moment to ponder a wrestling challenge from an awfully forward woman before he actually gets access to Hoppus. At first, Joe’s none too pleased to have his morning interrupted by two uninvited guests – U.S. Marshals or not – but Raylan breaks it down for him saying, “Since I don’t got eyes for you one way or the other, we could go about this differently.” The offer to let Hoppus skirt charges is enough to get a solid lead on Randall and Lindsey.

Turns out, with the help of the cash he and Lindsey lifted from Raylan’s apartment, Randall has his heart set on becoming a manager of fighters – cockfighters, that is. After two solid episodes spent a considerable amount of time building the suspense of a showdown between the marshal and a man-mountain he “couldn’t knock down with a hammer,” the reveal that Raylan’s adversary has a long-standing dream of fighting chickens for fun and profit brought a kind of levity to ‘This Bird Has Flown’ that was totally unexpected.

Come to think of it, seeing writer Taylor Elmore concluded the Randall storyline with nary a dead body, a permanent limp in an otherwise Gary Cooper-esque walk or any other disfigurement was also surprising. Certainly, the fight between Raylan and Randall was bound to happen, especially with Lindsey being on hand, but Raylan’s use of the beanbag rounds in Rachel’s shotgun, and their non-lethal but obviously painful impact somehow paid off all the build-up between the two combatants better than if it had ended the way so many other standoffs with Raylan do.

But it’s not just Raylan getting the short end of the stick when it comes to the thieves. There’s the convenience store clerk, who did behave inappropriately with Lindsey, mind you, but Randall’s reaction – especially that far after the fact – came off as unnecessarily brutal and thuggish (which, probably was the point). But even Raylan looks like he has some shred of pity for the foolish fellow. After all, how was he supposed to know he was walking into a buzz saw when Lindsey starting asking all those questions about film?

Still, Lindsey did try and get a hold of Raylan while Randall was throwing the clerk his beating. So that, coupled with time they’d shared and the fact that, when push came to shove, she shot Randall with a beanbag rounds a lot more than she shot Raylan, and you begin to see why the suddenly Zen Marshal Givens lets a fairly proficient grifter take a walk. Well, that and the realization that she really did like him.

Meanwhile, it’s been four episodes and Raylan has yet to cross paths with Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) or anyone else in his growing criminal empire, for that matter. The separation between the two narratives has been interesting thus far, but it’s only a matter of time before Arlo’s connection to the diplomatic bag, Waldo Truth, Drew Thompson, Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns) and Theo Tonin (Adam Arkin) brings them to the same place. But for now, Boyd’s stuck dealing with an increasingly paranoid Ava (Joelle Carter), who is convinced Ellen May (Abby Miller) is going to spill her guts over Ava’s killing of Delroy the pimp.

So, one more person gets the boot, as Ava offers to send Ellen May to Alabama to clean hotel rooms for Boyd’s cousin, on account she’d renounced her old lifestyle and taken up with the new church in town. Not without considerable protest, Ellen May finally agrees to leave, letting Colt (Ron Eldard) drive her to the bus station. But things go south after Colt gets the green light to kill the young woman and he winds up losing her after stopping to gas up and take a hit in a gas station bathroom.

In a way, the intense interactions of ‘This Bird Has Flown’ all have a lot to do with one person letting down their guard and another revealing a different, possibly true side of their nature. It’s not entirely unlike the event that apparently took the life of newly established preacher Billy St. Cyr (Joseph Mazzello) after he’d been twice bitten: once by the venomous snake which would then claim his life, but also before that, by Boyd Crowder – whose less literal bite still stung the young man with the revelation that the poisonous snakes he’d been handling were unlikely to kill him on account of his sister Cassie (Lindsay Pulsipher).

Naturally, Cassie sees Boyd as her brother’s true killer, and whatever it is she’s been hiding will likely come back to bite Boyd or someone close to him, just when he’s let his guard down.

Various Items:

  • There was kind of a ‘Legend of Zelda’ vibe when Rachel gifted her shotgun to Raylan. It seemed like she was about to say, “It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this.”
  • Goggins and Carter both apply a particular intonation to some of their lines in this episode that really shows just how deeply these actors understand their characters; it’s small but they really stick out. Goggins’ pronunciation of “Alabama” and Carter’s line read when describing Ellen May as being “wild” is just terrific. Added to the fact that they both just sound exhausted talking about what to do with the girl, and the inflection becomes even more interesting.
  • “The Bruce Lee of fighting chickens.”

Justified continues next Wednesday with ‘Kin’ @10pm on FX. Check out a preview of the episode below: