Now that we’re digging deeper into the Justified season, things are getting especially dicey – not that they’re ever that calm in Harlan County.
Picking up where the last installment left off, Colt (guest star Ron Eldard) is still trying to locate Ella Mae, who took off running while he was preparing to kill her. He uses his old military police ID to get the gas-station attendant to let him watch the security camera tapes, and doesn’t like what he sees.
Meanwhile, Raylan meets ex-wife and current baby mama Winona (Natalie Zea) for her next doctor’s appointment. He semi-brags about being in charge of what could be “the biggest case in our office’s history,” and says that he’ll be there for her and their baby girl, but she’s skeptical. Her skepticism is reinforced when Raylan calls the Marshals Office and Rachel tells him to “Just get here, now.” That would be because his father Arlo (Raymond J. Barry) is being hauled in. So are boxes upon boxes of files.
AUSA Vasquez (Rick Gomez) and Art are having a snippy chat with FBI Agent Jerry Barkley (Stephen Tobolowsky), who is not thrilled with them taking charge of his “major criminal investigation.” When Raylan shows up, he blames our hero, who tells him to “Kiss my ass.”
Art tells Raylan that Vasquez wants to strike a deal with Arlo: the elder Givens hands over the enigmatic Drew Thompson, who could in turn bring down crime boss Theo Tonin, and in return, Arlo walks free. Raylan admits that the play “makes sense,” but wants to know how much time he has to find Drew Thompson. Vasquez clocks it at about 24 hours, and Raylan heads back to “where it started”: Harlan County.
Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns) has a chat with Barkley and a guy named Nick Augustine. Apparently the latter two grew up together, and Augustine works for Tonin. “Bottom line, I don’t think any of this is going to pan out,” Barkley tells the other two, referring to their Drew Thompson problem. Augustine is unconvinced; he says that Tonin wants Thompson alive, and then he kills Barkley while Duffy is sitting right beside him. “Mr. Tonin would like you to find Drew Thompson,” he tells Duffy and it’s not a request.
Colt visits Sheriff Shelby (Jim Beaver) in his hunt for Ella Mae. He’s sure that she was picked up by a sheriff’s deputy, but Shelby doesn’t have any evidence of that. Colt goes back to Boyd and lies, saying that he did kill Ella Mae as planned, but Boyd knows he’s not being truthful. He gets half a reprieve, though, as Wynn Duffy arrives at the bar for another chat, much to Johnny’s (David Meunier) dislike.
After rebuffing Boyd’s offers of partnership previously, Duffy is suddenly much more amenable, and Boyd wants to know why. “I need you to help me find someone,” Duffy tells him. Never mind the gun sitting alone on the table between them which just so happens to be pointed his way.
Raylan arrives in Harlan County and meets Constable Bob (Patton Oswalt), who has the girl who stole Raylan’s car in the season premiere sitting in the back seat of his cruiser. Why is she there? Raylan still wants to know who told her that the diplomatic bag was hiding in the wall of the Givens home. “Josiah sent us,” she finally admits, referring to her stepfather, Josiah Cairn. The name rings a bell with Raylan, and not in a good way.
Josiah (Gerald McRaney) is a less than reputable guy who tells Raylan he’s retired from his life of crime, despite the fact that he’s wearing an ankle bracelet. “How about you and me go for a drive?” says Raylan, who handcuffs the old man to the passenger door of his Lincoln, and drags him along until Josiah decides to cooperate. He finally tells Raylan that Drew Thompson is “with the hill people.” Well, that’s a unique way to get information.
Satisfied, Raylan lets Josiah’s stepdaughter go – she leaves with her middle finger in the air – and stops to snag a Polaroid from one of his old family albums before hitting the road. Bob doesn’t think he’ll come back.
At least our hero has help, in the form of Tim Gutterson. “If I ain’t back by nightfall, call in some of those Ranger friends of yours,” Raylan tells his colleague, before heading off on foot to parts unknown.
Johnny comes looking for Ava, who’s packing up Ella Mae’s personal effects from her trailer. Johnny asks if Boyd told her anything about his working for Duffy. “Now he’s got Boyd running around and doing his errands,” Johnny says skeptically. Ava’s faith in Boyd, however, is unwavering.
Raylan wanders through the woods, and stops when he realizes that he has several guys pointing guns at him from behind trees. They throw a bag over his head and haul him into a shed where he finds…Boyd. Yep, they’re stuck with each other.
The two compare notes (“You got that honor amongst dumbass thieves thing?” Raylan asks when Boyd speaks of his own chat with Josiah. “Dumbass coming from the man that’s sitting tied up next to me?” Boyd retorts). Boyd soon makes an ill-advised move and gets a rifle butt to the face, before all hell breaks loose. Raylan busts free and comes to Boyd’s rescue, but then reinforcements arrive, courtesy of a call from Josiah.
As Raylan and Boyd are being walked to their apparent deaths, the trip is interrupted by a woman named Mary (that’s Chuck star Bonita Friedericy), who identifies him as “my cousin’s boy.” Raylan convinces her to spare Boyd, and she advises her brood to “let ’em both go.” She also adds that Drew Thompson isn’t there. Raylan convinces Boyd to shake hands over their mutual objective, and uses that moment to handcuff Boyd to a tree.
Elsewhere, Tim and Colt are waiting for their respective colleagues, making small talk between two ex-military men. Colt wants tips from Tim on finding a missing person, but Tim doesn’t give any. Raylan emerges and tells Tim to inform AUSA Vasquez that Drew Thompson is indeed in Harlan. He also tells Colt where to find Boyd, and that “you’re gonna need a saw.”
On the ride home, Boyd tells Duffy that he expects to locate Thompson within the week, but that he wants half the heroin business in the state in return. Duffy reluctantly agrees to the deal, which irritates Johnny, as he happens to be standing right there when the words leave Duffy’s mouth. Duffy convinces him that once Boyd delivers Drew, Johnny is free to kill him.
Colt angrily confronts Shelby, demanding Ella Mae. Shelby tells him that the girl left in an eighteen-wheeler that may have had Tennessee plates. Colt insists that Shelby not mention a word to Boyd. But right after they leave, Shelby speaks to Ella Mae, who’s at his dining room table. He vows to protect her, but asks for her help in bringing down Boyd.
Boyd’s meeting with Arlo’s attorney, Ms. Gable, to see what she knows about all the happenings. He pays her off for brokering Arlo’s deal and then hands her more money for “shutting that deal down.” She takes the money with a smile. The episode ends as an irritated Raylan goes back to see Josiah, only to find out that he’s in the wind – without one of his feet, which he cut off in order to dispose of his tracker. Enjoy that visual for the next week.
“Kin” is an episode that’s interesting if only for the sheer fact that it’s much more reminiscent of Justified‘s phenomenal first season. Like season one, it’s about Raylan and Boyd’s paths crossing even as they have two vastly different viewpoints on where they’re headed. It exemplifies the driving idea behind this season to focus the story on the existing ensemble, rather than an outside “big bad.” The appearances by AUSA Vasquez and Agent Barkley, and the callbacks to earlier episodes this season, are fine examples of that in action.
The episode rests largely on the performances of Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins, and as usual, they deliver, both dramatically and comedically. The pair have always had a great banter between them, and there are several quotable lines between them in this episode. However, there’s always that underlying tension between them in any scene, and that continues here. They might be after the same man, but they’re never going to stop wanting to one-up each other as well. This is the relationship at the core of the show, and an episode like “Kin” shows exactly why.
Orbiting around that are numerous other partnerships and betrayals, whether it’s Wynn Duffy and Boyd, Duffy and Johnny, Johnny and Boyd, Boyd and Shelby, or even Johnny putting that first hint of doubt in Ava’s mind. Justified juggles all these combinations without the audience needing a chart to follow along. In fact, the show makes it all feel natural – like it’s just the cost of doing business in Harlan County. And perhaps it is. At least, nothing has ever come easy on this show, and that’s what makes it so deliciously fun.
In case you missed it, check out BFTV’s interview with David Meunier about playing Johnny Crowder and what’s ahead for him this season.
(c)2013 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Fanbolt with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.