'Justified' Season 4, Episode 8 Review – The Bigger Bully

Timothy Olyphant and Jim Beaver in Justified Outlaw

In addition to the continuing mystery of Drew Thompson's new identity, Justified has been focusing plenty of attention on the various players pondering just what the future might bring.

Like any good show, there can be any number of reason for a character to wonder just what's in store, but two of the most powerful motivators that have been on display this season happen to be the biggies, i.e., fear and optimism.

This being Justified, fear tends to come with a toe tag. But a fear of death isn't just a concern for a character's own wellbeing; it's also the fear that a loved one – or, in the case of Arlo, a not-so-loved one – will wind up meeting their maker, despite a warning and wish from Raylan that his father would do just that.

There's also the fear that something nasty may be on its way, which, thanks to Boyd's dealings with Theo Tonin – or, rather, Theo Tonin's mouthpiece, Nick Augustine – there's a better-than-average chance the Detroit mafia is going to have an even larger presence in Harlan, and, much to the concern of Ava, Tonin and his boys will most definitely factor in to Boyd's new plan for making the Crowder name legitimate in three generations or less. Apparently, in the criminal world, you've got to make a crooked step back before you can truly attempt to walk the straight and narrow.

Of course, there's also plenty for Raylan and Boyd (and some others) to be optimistic about – cautiously optimistic, but it's optimism nonetheless. For his part, Raylan's hoping to bag Drew Thompson so that he can write his own ticket, which comes as a surprise to Hunter Mosley (Brent Sexton), who didn't think the deputy marshal cared much about rank.

"Priorities change," Raylan tells Hunter, but the former lawman describes just what he thinks Raylan's loose definintion of a lawman really is. "You're only a lawman when it suits you, Raylan. It gives you cover to do things you would've done anyway." That's a not-too-subtle way of saying Raylan's not that different from his father; he's an outlaw who just happens have the backing and provisional approval of the United States government. Still, with a kid on the way, and a burning need to prove he's not like his old man, Raylan may be right: priorities change.

David Meunier and Walton Goggins in Justified Outlaw

And sometimes, a change in priorities means you make a deal with Theo Tonin for a favor that'll put three white-collar criminals in your pocket, and possibly land you a Dairy Queen franchise in the process. But all that's just taking care of present day problems, and while Boyd does away with Lee Paxton, Gerald Johns and Arnold, he winds up letting a potentially bigger problem come waltzing through the front door.

The very moment the name Drew Thompson was uttered this season, Theo Tonin became a much larger, more threatening presence on Justified. His tenuous connection to things in Harlan, by way of the late Robert Quarles and Wynn Duffy, was very much a faint specter of fear looming over the illegal shenanigans in Kentucky. Now, even though he's not been seen or heard from – save for the words coming out of Nick Augustine's mouth – Theo Tonin feels like a very real, very pressing threat that can deliver a stone cold assassin to a man's door, or compell the former sheriff to bury a pair of scissors into Arlo Givens' chest.

In the end, Theo winds up doing Boyd a favor and making Raylan look like a psychic by killing off the men each had reasons to want dead. Boyd's move was more of a masterstroke in criminality, or as Ava puts it: calling on the bigger bully to deal with the smaller bullies. But the move put him in deep with Tonin, possibly the same kind of deep that saw Hunter Mosley risk time in a Supermax prison just to make sure Arlo kept his mouth shut.

Timothy Olyphant as Raylan in Justified Outlaw

When it comes to Arlo, it was as unceremonious a finish as there could have been for a man who'd been so tough and so mean that the only emotion he'd nurtured in his child was one of distrust and hate. And the offhand way Raylan mentions Arlo's death to Art, Tim, and Rachel couldn't have been a more appropriate comment on their relationship. Still, Raylan sat by the dying old man, daring him to say something to his son.

It was Raylan's final effort after he predicted this outcome; one final push shrouded in a hint of selfishness to see his father go out on something of a high note, anything that could inform his grandkid he wasn't a complete S.O.B. Something like, say, the name Drew Thompson's been living under since he faked his death so many years ago. Instead, all Raylan gets is weak beckoning to come closer and the words "kiss my a**" whispered defiantly in his ear.

As far as the final words of Arlo Givens go, those seem to be the most fitting. There was no last minute reprieve or apology – as Raylan said, there just wasn't time for that – there was only the continued defiance of a man who gave up trying to make his situation better a long time ago. The only thing he had left was to be reliable, and that meant letting his and his as-yet-unborn offsping know just what a tough S.O.B. he was – provided that's how their dad decides to tell the tale.

Raymond J. Barry and Timothy Olyphant in Justified Outlaw

Various Items:

  • "I hope I got that right," Raylan mutters after gunning down a Detroit hitman dressed to look like one of Shelby's men. Thankfully, Art was pretty sure Raylan's not a cop killer. Still, that scene showed off just how busy the Justified writers can make their tense moments. Between noticing Ava's engagement ring and then questioning her sanity, and Boyd inviting him to the nuptials while in handcuffs, Raylan barely had time to get upset at the fake cop giving him an order before he riddled the fella with bullets. It leaves you wondering if maybe Hunter's assessment was correct, and shooting the guy was something Raylan would've done regardless of being right or being a lawman.
  • The battle of Boyd's henchmen continues as Cousin Johnny blackmails Colt anonymously for $20k. I have to say, I didn't see it in Johnny to be working so many different angles so well. Still,  chances are things won't end any better for him than they did at the end of season 1.
  • If you were wondering how the Colt/Tim Gutterson thing was going to play out, well, chances are Tim's going to be taking an interest in whomever killed his friend Mark. Those cigarette butts in the ashtray might prove to be Colt's undoing.
  • Raylan mentions he still doesn't entirely trust Shelby. To be honest, it's hard to tell whether the conversation between Shelby and Ellen May was the sheriff being kind, the beginning of something romantic, or if he was just pressing her for information he could use for a purpose other than bringing Boyd Crowder down.

Justified continues next Tuesday with 'The Hatchet Tour' @10pm on FX. Check out a preview of the episode below:

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