In addition to addressing the concepts of family (or ‘Kin‘) and legacy, Justified also likes to remind its characters of where they’ve come from so they can either look back and see how far they’ve risen or simply appreciate the fact they’re now sheriff and no longer a greeter at a “big-box store.”
This being a show about the ups and downs in the personal and professional life of U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant), the series normally likes to spend some time analyzing Raylan’s few thoughts on his past and the somewhat unpleasant upbringing he had on account of growing up in the house of a petty criminal like Arlo (Raymond J. Barry). But with a supporting cast as deep and capable as Justified has, it isn’t much of a surprise to see another character take a step up just so he can look back and recognize how far he’s come.
‘Foot Chase,’ for all intents and purposes, is a good example of the kind of rapid-fire procedural Justified can be when the narrative requires it. But the episode also provides an insightful look at Sheriff Shelby Parlow (Jim Beaver), who, after pulling Ellen May (Abby Miller) from the clutches of certain death and then asking for her help in bringing down Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), may have just set fire to his career and put himself in grave danger.
Shelby’s purpose in ‘Foot Chase’ is primarily to help Raylan locate the rest of Josiah Cairn (Gerald McRaney) – seeing as how the authorities only have his severed foot – but there is an excellent back and forth between the two men that resolves their preconceived notions of one another, and eventually leads to a mutual admiration. Raylan, for his part, realizes he’s dealing with a consummate lawman that, regardless of how he got elected, proves to be someone Raylan wants on his side when things start to get dicey.
The Shelby/Raylan team-up comes shortly after Marshal Givens’ interrogation of a heartbroken Benny (Casey Brown), during which Raylan and Shelby both scrutinize a crude drawing that probably says a lot more about Benny and his state of mind than it does the person it was intended to depict. A few shoves and a well-placed Givens Glare later and the newly formed team winds up looking for Roz (Alexandra Kyle) at the ramshackle home of an uncommunicative and hulking brute named Teddy.
After a rather one-sided conversation that ends with Raylan questioning Roz about the foot her stepdaddy seems to be missing and Teddy clutching his leg following a bashing from Shelby, Givens and the Sheriff manage to scrape together that the people who “chopped” Josiah are also under the assumption that he is in fact the Drew Thompson everyone (especially Theo Tonin, a.k.a. the guy Drew shot in the eye) have been looking for.
Of course, the folks who took Josiah – including Arlo’s attorney Sonya Gable (Romy Rosemont, Fringe) – are relying on the word of a murderer who is also suffering from the early stages of dementia, but more importantly, it seems highly unlikely that at this stage of the game the writers would reveal Major Dad to be the key ingredient in a decades-long federal investigation against the head of the Dixie Mafia. And after a brief, intimate moment with a blowtorch aimed directly where his foot used to be, Raylan and Shelby manage to rescue Josiah with limited bloodshed.
Meanwhile, it seems everyone in Boyd Crowder’s inner circle is a bit on edge. Colt (Ron Eldard) is growing increasingly agitated knowing his fib to Boyd isn’t going to just go away. Then there is Cousin Johnny (David Meunier) who is in league with the progressively more awesome Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns), while Ava (Joelle Carter) is having something of crisis of conscience regarding her involvement in Ellen May’s “death.” As a result, Ava asks Boyd if she can find a better solution to locating Drew Thompson than pointing guns at people who may or may not be the man in question. It takes some doing, but she gets an invite to a party Napier’s throwing through Arnold (Brian Howe), which should provide her and Boyd opportunity to track Drew down without the use of guns and threats.
But Boyd manages a surprise at the episode’s end – and not just through his proposal to Ava. It seems Boyd’s been thinking about legacy too, and the way he sees it, all that he’s doing now is going to get him and Ava a house (perhaps one like Joe Hoppus), and in time, people won’t be associating the Crowder name with Boyd’s current illegal activities. Regardless of how the plan pans out, it says a lot about a character when the show reveals him to not only be thinking that far ahead, but to be doing so for people who don’t even exist yet. Compare that to Raylan, who is content simply urging his unborn child to ditch his tail and come out to read about his daddy in the newspaper, and it suddenly becomes clear which man has a more distinct vision of his future.
Looking to the future may have its advantages, but there’s always the risk of “turning a corner that you can’t walk back around,” as Boyd warns Shelby. Time will only tell if Mr. Crowder needs to heed his own advice.
- It’s not entirely obvious where the writers are going with the Tim Gutterson (Jacob Pitts) subplot, but seeing them devote time to an underused character is quite welcome and suggests there’ll be some important developments around the corner.
- Raylan and Shelby just created the new version of comparing scars by using the baggage that comes from having a truly unpleasant work history. Shelby has greeter at a big-box store and crime scene clean-up crew. Raylan used to clean bathrooms at dive bars before going to the academy. I think Shelby’s got this one in the bag.
- All season long, it has felt like Raylan has been putting forth some effort to not shoot the people he probably would have shot just last season. In a nice Justified moment, Raylan remarks to Shelby, after they rescue Josiah, that it has been a while since he’s shot someone.
- Also, Raylan thinks Lynyrd Skynyrd is overrated. Good to know.
Justified continues next Tuesday with ‘Money Trap’ @10pm on FX. Check out a preview of the episode below: