The notion of family, and all the good and bad things (mostly bad, when it comes to the Givenses) that come with it, has been lingering around every episode of Justified this season. It's been there through the other seasons, too, but with all that's going on in the life of Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) at the moment, family is never too far from his mind.
Of course, with a child on the way, the deputy marshal may also be thinking quite fondly of the money he'd set aside for the newest member of the Givens clan, and how that was turned into a van full of chickens by a pair of grifters (the nicer looking of the two had led Raylan to believe she liked him). And as understanding as Winona (Natalie Zea) can occasionally be, one can't imagine she, or the unborn child, has too much use for $20k worth of fighting chickens.
Meanwhile, Arlo (Raymond J. Barry), Raylan's father, sits in prison, having killed two men to get there and another while on the inside, just for having laid eyes on Panamanian diplomatic pouch with an ID for one Waldo Truth tucked away inside. By now it's clear that Waldo had been done for decades ago, so lets not even get started with the rest of the Truth clan – entertaining though they may be.
And so, with the start of 'Kin,' Raylan finds himself compelled to act on behalf of his father. That is: To ensure the old man dies in prison, and doesn't get released on account of his knowing where the illustrious Drew Thompson has been hiding out. Seems word on Mr. Thompson's intimate knowledge of Theo Tonin's reported murder of a government agent is enough to bring several familiar faces out of the woodwork to see the case against such a powerful criminal finally come to a head. Why, no sooner does Raylan walk into the office than he's besieged by Agent Barkley (Stephen Tobolowsky), who believes the marshal service's request to handle the Thompson case is an act of vengeance for Barkley having accused Raylan of being on the take. Of course, considering where Agent Barkley ends up, it's almost unnecessary to bring up the fact that he's in Theo Tonin's pocket.
So far this season, it seems that whenever a meeting takes place with Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns) present, someone either winds up making an exit from the show or Duffy conspires to ensure that exit is forthcoming. One instance sees Mike O'Malley as Nicky Augustine – a fellow who shares a history with Agent Barkley, but also takes orders directly from Theo Tonin – let Barkley know that Tonin knows the marshals have taken the Drew Thompson case away from the FBI. And as usual, Jere Burns displays his usual comedic grace when faced with all sorts of unique pressures – this time he has the distinct pleasure of being seated next to an FBI agent who was recently shot in the face.
Not long after, Duffy shows up at the bar to meet with Boyd (Walton Goggins), his appearance causing Johnny (David Meunier) no end of grief, considering the deal Boyd's kin had made with the gangster to eliminate his cousin and assume his "rightful" place at the head of the Crowder criminal empire. But Duffy's not there to inform Boyd about his cousin's murderous intentions, he's there to offer his brand of transparency as a means of illustrating to Mr. Crowder that there's "no reason we can't work together to build a brighter future."
That bright future finds Boyd and Raylan in the same metal box guarded by hill people intent on killing the interlopers on the advice of one Josiah Cairn (Gerald McRaney) – stepfather to a thieving teenager with a hole in her foot (something stepdaddy Cairns will be able to relate to pretty soon) and the one guy who seems to know just where Drew Thompson has been hiding all these years. Before things can get too crazy with the hill people, Raylan makes urgent mention of his kinship with the folks of the hills and winds up getting his bacon saved by none other than Christopher Douglas Reed, a.k.a. Filthy Phil from Sons of Anarchy.
Raylan and Boyd escape with their lives, but without Drew Thompson. After telling Colt (Ron Eldard) that Boyd is "gonna need a saw," Raylan goes to check in on Josiah Cairn, who has managed to ditch his ankle monitor by having his foot removed. Whether that was voluntary or not will likely be answered in the weeks to come.
With all the plot developments and reveals that 'Kin' has to offer, though, there's probably not a better scene than the one where Raylan attempts to prove he has the right stuff to be a father by finally showing up to one of Winona's doctor's appointments. The two fill what may be an uncomfortable situation with pleasant talk, wherein Raylan tells a little fib about the money and Winona frets ever so briefly over the last remnant of his encounter with Randall last week.
Raylan tells her, "The job is still the job," and she knows that despite the effort and all the talk about landing a case that could be a real "game changer," Raylan's probably not going to change. It all boils down to a great scene where two people who are thoroughly familiar with one another now have to fill the void between them with pleasantries, even though they are bringing a permanent reminder of their time with one another into the world. The whole thing plays as an excellent tie-in to the theme of the episode.
With all the family stuff going on in 'Kin,' Fred Golan and VJ Boyd, the writers of the episode, managed to dig into the past and bring around as many familiar faces as they possibly could, proving just how deep the series' bench is ( and making reference to the Justified "family" at the same time).
- Of all the possible ways the writers could find to get Boyd and Raylan in a scene together, this one had to have been one of the most entertaining.
- It sure seems like Colton has dug his own grave by lying to Boyd about killing Ellen May (Abby Mliller). During their first encounter it was clear that Shelby (Jim Beaver) wasn't being entirely forthcoming about Ellen May's disappearance and, sure enough, by the episode's end we find out Shelby has intentions to use the frightened woman to bring Boyd Crowder down.
- Constable Bob (Patton Oswalt) makes only his second appearance on the series in 'Kin,' but, as usual, makes the best of what little time he has on screen. Season 4 has made excellent use of the other players in the Justified "hero" camp, with several appearances by Tim Gutterson (Jacob Pitts) and Rachel Brooks (Erica Tazel), so hopefully there'll be more of Constable Bob before the season's out.
- Speaking of, Tim's response to Raylan inquiring whether he's too old to be reading what sounded like a YA novel about "a native American princess who controls invisible forest animals" was a pretty good way to get anyone to just leave that line of questioning alone.
Justified continues next Tuesday with 'Foot Chase' @10pm on FX. Check out a preview of the episode below: