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Published on January 9th, 2013 | by Ernie Estrella


Justified Season 4 Premiere Review – A Gratifying Start with Lots of Moving Parts

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Justified Season 4 Episode 1: Hole in the Wall

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FX’s winter flagship, Justified kicked off a dense fourth season premiere, picking up the grand Kentucky chess game where it left off last May. This opener was a departure from the last two seasons, where those premieres were used to build up the world of boss villains and the size of the ensemble cast tripled. But the holes left by the Bennetts, Robert Quarles and several supporting characters were filled in by many of the minor characters who look to be major players in Season 4. Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) complicated his life further by moonlighting as a helper to a Miami bail-bondsman Sharon Edmunds (Aja Evans), continuing to blur his loyalty to his marshal badge.

He’s still living above a saloon and sharing bed sheets with its barkeep, Lindsay (Jenn Lyon) but with a baby on the way the desire to pick up odd jobs on company time is tempting and compromising Raylan like we’ve never seen before. It’s also making him careless, and reckless, stowing away his extra cash in a surprisingly conspicuous place. Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) is also stowing away money, because his organized crime machine is broken and is struggling to be profitable. It also appears that we’ll see just how good Raylan’s detective skills are as we have a genuine mystery on the show, beginning with a flashback to January 21, 1983 involving a dead parachuter, bags of cocaine, and a driver’s license belonging to one Waldo Truth.

Based off the premiere, other characters that look to step up in a big way this season are Raylan’s father, Arlo (Raymond J. Barry), sweet prostitute Ellen May (Abby Miller), and Lindsay, who is awfully inquisitive about Raylan’s time spent as compared to the self-absorbed Winona (Natalie Zea). Is that enough reason to mistrust Lindsay? Could be; she sure took a good glance at where Raylan put his bounty savings. Aside from Rachel (Erica Tazel) it’s hard to trust anyone on this show, including Raylan. But let’s look quickly back at Arlo and Ellen May, both of whom make big transformations by the end of the episode. Ellen May is finding out she’s scared of being a whore for Boyd and Ava Crowder (Joelle Carter) and may be turning to the church for a sanctuary. She knows a lot of what goes on beyond those trailers and any hopes of redemption for Ellen May seems to go through Ava. Who will win out?

We’ve never had to fear Arlo for three seasons, even though he’s always been crooked and dishonest, and we were heart-broken when he was revealed as Trooper Tom Bergen’s killer, but when that fellow inmate got suspicious about Waldo’s driver’s license, Arlo acted with a clear mind and a determination to keep the secrets of that visit with him. Arlo sent two teenagers (Roz and Benny) to break into his home and get the bag from the insides of his home walls. He failed at looking dumb to Raylan when asked about Waldo Truth, and given this recent act of violence, Arlo is excitingly stepping out of the shadows of Harlan. If the end of Season 3 wasn’t tragic enough for Arlo and Raylan, this season is cooking up to be a stinging result. Given the treatment of these characters in the premiere alone, hope remains for developing Raylan’s co-workers Rachel, Art (Nick Searcy) and Tim (Jacob Pitts), and that just pushes the show towards a better place. Let’s not forget Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson) is still out there.An

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Now certainly, there were new additions: Gremlin-driving, constable Bob Sweeney (Patton Oswalt) who was a high school classmate of Raylan’s and Colton “Colt” Rhodes (Ron Eldard), a friend from Boyd’s past in Kuwait, both were equally intriguing supportive pieces. We know that Johnny’s been working against Boyd, and is probably a big reason why his Oxy operation is stuck in the mud so it’s nice to see Boyd have someone besides Ava he can trust. As for constable Bob, he’s not as polished as the late Trooper Bergen, but he proved to be equally as helpful, baggage and all. Bob saved Raylan’s life and he’s been paid to monitor Arlo’s home while he’s in jail. Raylan was patient with him, and as honorable as Bob tries to be, Raylan’s working in the fast lane, law-abiding or not. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of constable Bob Sweeney. Oswalt was infinitely better here than he was in a guest-arc on Burn Notice, perhaps that’s just the difference in writing caliber, but Oswalt was noticeably more believable and convincing as a Raylan wannabe, than he was as a sniveling smuggler.

Hiram to Boyd: People getting off drugs; people getting hooked on Jesus.

The fly in the ointment this season comes in the form of the Last Church of Holiness, a traveling racket and new visitor of Harlan County, led by Preacher Billy (Joseph Mazzello, The Pacific), a poisonous snake-charming, hand-healing and supposed soul repairman. He’s revealed at the end of the premiere as the man who is luring Boyd’s cronies away like a bug zapper. If in fact Preacher Billy is the man threatening Boyd’s Oxy empire, then audiences should prepare themselves for the word of God to be twisted in all sorts of lovely ways this season. Goggins gives some of the best monologues on the show, but when he gets a chance to preach while doing it, like he did in scolding Hiram (David Ury), Boyd quickly becomes Justified’s center of attention. Given the honesty between Raylan and Boyd, their paths will most certainly cross this season, but for now, it looks like Boyd, a former purveyor of God himself, must stare another parading the gospel to prey on the weak. Any development to get Boyd and a bible together is a wise move.

So much goes on in this premiere, that another great cat and mouse chase and car ride is minimized in this episode. Raylan helped out Edmunds by capturing fugitive Jody Adair (Chris Chalk) who escaped to Kentucky to see his kids.

Raylan to Jody: You run into an asshole in the morning, you met an asshole. You run into assholes all day, you’re the asshole.

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It didn’t take long for Justified to settle in and have Raylan Givens diffuse stressful situations with his words and smarts, Boyd Crowder twisting the words of scripture or classic literature, and the audience misjudging the characters that inhabit this world. Even Raylan underestimated the young couple who Arlo hired to retrieve the mysterious bag and ID of Waldo Truth.

Raylan to Roz holding him at gunpoint: Damn, girl. You just showed me your tits 45 minutes ago.

“Hole in the Wall” was crafted with a lot of care for those who have been around since the beginning, who never tire of the honesty and surprising growth for characters minor and major. It’s a satisfying start, with lots of moving parts that will surely be put in motion by the season’s midpoint, when we’ve fastened our belts and prepared for the usual ramp up to the season’s peak. Any further flaws and misguided acts on Raylan’s part will be undoubtedly raise the stakes, but to be honest, he’s making more and more of those careless moves–yet somehow I’m sure that’s exactly where Elmore Leonard, Graham Yost and Tim Olyphant want Raylan Givens to be.

There’s a lot of trouble stirred up for that mystery bag and now Raylan has a reason to search for the Truth, we have a reason to be excited for Tuesday nights again in the winter, because we’ll be following him and that Stetson until he finds it.

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