One of the key reasons the mystery of Drew Thompson has remained an intriguing part of this season of Justified is the manner in which the case has become increasingly more important to Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder.

In that regard, the series’ writers have done a convincing job in making the case as much about which of the many, many colorful Harlan County denizens is actually a guise intended to conceal the true identity of the plane-jumping, Theo Tonin-shooting Drew Thompson as it is about the two men and their reasons for pursuing Thompson with such dogged intensity.

There are professional concerns, to be certain. Boyd is operating under the assumption that if he were to find and eliminate Drew first, he would be able to move past Wynn Duffy and assume the mantle of the Dixie Mafia’s new man in Harlan. But bizarrely, such an elevated presence within a notorious criminal organization is actually Boyd’s exit strategy – which actually sees the Crowder name becoming respectable in a few generations’ time, by way of purchasing a house on the hill, and printing money in the summer by way of a Dairy Queen franchise.

It’s not too dissimilar a situation on the other side of the law, either. The thought of writing his own ticket has a sudden and unexpected appeal for Raylan, considering he has a child on the way, and the notion of setting a positive example from the get go with the little Givens sounds like the kind of thing a good, responsible father might want to do. But that is something that will only pay off in time, as the child gets older and learns of his or her daddy’s exploits as a marshal, and how he wound up solving a 30-year-old case (among some other fine and fairly exciting exploits).

Right now, though, Raylan’s most immediate concern (whether he’s immediately aware of it or not) is really finding some closure in his relationship with his own father, Arlo – a man whose last words to his son didn’t exactly provide a proper conclusion to their rather tumultuous and (mostly) bitter relationship.

Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens in Justified the Hatchet Job Justified Season 4, Episode 9 Review – Hash it Out

And so, to that end, certain key aspects of Raylan’s unfinished business wind up in the backseat of his Lincoln Town Car in the form of Hunter Mosley – perpetually dressed in the most fashionable of correctional facility orange. Not only does the former sheriff possess the knowledge of just who Drew Thompson is pretending to be, but the man also delivered the barber’s scissors to Arlo’s heart, which eventually caused it to stop beating. As ‘The Hatchet Tour’ unfolds, it’s clear that it’s going to be Raylan’s best chance this season to find any sort of resolution to a sour relationship that was abruptly cut short.

Regardless of the extent of his role over the years, eliminating Arlo was a bold choice for a series that has made the considerable effort of defining its main character (at least partially) by his inability to properly reconcile with the past and extreme desire to avoid becoming like his father. As Mosley says to Raylan, he knows “whose voice it is makes you do what you do,” and Raylan, ever armed with a snappy quip or comeback, isn’t so quick with one this time.

During last week’s rather fantastic episode, ‘Outlaw,’ Raylan’s own clever guise – that of a man who’d washed his hands of his father long ago – was nearly exposed, but he held it together and looked over his father’s body in the morgue as the screen went to black. This week, the emotion that had been choked down threatens to rise to the surface, as what is most likely Mosley’s last car ride appears to become increasingly precarious, due to his refusal to divulge the one name that Raylan needs.

Patton Oswalt in Justified the Hatchet Job Justified Season 4, Episode 9 Review – Hash it Out

Considering Drew Thompson had been hiding in plain sight for a few decades, it was probably a foregone conclusion that he would be doing the same in regard to his casting on the show. The stories that’d been told of the man painted a picture that lined up more closely with the direction Boyd had been taking his investigation; that is, the Clover Hill folk, and, more specifically, one of two corrupt individuals by the name of Lee Paxton and Gerald Johns. It was a nice bit of misdirection that allowed ‘The Hatchet Tour’ to wind up revealing of Drew Thompson thanks to a confluence of events that, on the outside, seemed to be par for the course for the series.

It will eventually be discussed when, how and why the Justified writers room settled on Jim Beaver’s Shelby Parlow as the lynchpin to an entire season’s storyline, but in terms of the actual realization, the moment felt well-executed; it gave Brent Sexton’s curious “this is who we are” speech some definite weight and worked as a great counterbalance to Constable Bob’s chaotic shootout with Paxton and Johns.

Mostly, though, since Shelby has figured so prominently in the season as a lawman looking to get out of Boyd Crowder’s pocket, there are now a whole host of scenes begging to be looked at again in a whole new light (most notably, when Shelby mentioned he’d like to get a look at Drew’s former widow, Eve Munroe, based on what Raylan had said about her looks).

Until now, it was hard to imagine how this season’s various subplot-juggling would be resolved – what with the ongoing calamity being caused by Boyd’s new hatchet man, Colt, and the continued liability that is Ellen May being in the hands of Shelby/Drew and not at the bottom of a slurry pond. But with the outing of Drew, it suddenly feels like there is time enough to explore those tangents – even the softer side of Tim Gutterson, as he takes what may be more than a passing interest in Cassie St. Cyr.

This is one of those episodes that pulls the curtain back on the main mystery, but wisely saves the conclusion for another time. As with Raylan, it may not be the immediate resolution he was looking for in the moment, but he can always keep looking.

Jacob Pitts in Justified the Hatchet Job Justified Season 4, Episode 9 Review – Hash it Out

Various Items:

  • Constable Bob has a real “jerk store” moment with Lee Paxton that shows off Patton Oswalt’s ability to play the long suffering object of scorn and humiliation with enough comedic presence that when he finally opens up the “go bag,” it’s appropriately funny and not simply drowning in his character’s desire to finally shut the bullies up and earn some respect.
  • “When I take him down, his eyes will be clear.” Tim has been having several Raylan-esque moments this season, and that line isn’t too far removed from the classic Givens quote of “next one’s coming faster.”
  • Wynn Duffy once owned a Yorkie. The image that is conjured around this information is a thing of great wonder and amusement.
  • Nelson Dunlop has gone from birthday boy to most hated man in Art’s field of vision in an astonishingly short amount of time.

Justified continues next Tuesday with ‘Get Drew’ @10pm on FX. Check out a preview below:

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