[Review] - Justified, Season 4 Episode 1, "Hole In The Wall"

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television
Justified has never been one to make a big deal out of itself. It knows it's cool, so it's premiers and finales have a tendency to be subdued. Yes, there are conflicts and resolutions, and there is always some gun play, but it has managed to avoid the sort of spectacle events that can over power and drag a show down. Hole In the Wall is no different. It's business as usual for Raylan Givens, picking up an unspecified amount of time since last season (though considering the series thus far has had a very concentrated time line, we can expect not that long), and was a steadfast example of the series' consistent above-the-average quality.

And Raylan found a new way to punch a person with a car. That's always fun.

Hit the jump to read the review, which contains spoilers that sure as shit ain't Santa Claus.

This episode, written by creator Graham Yost, was perhaps the most Elmore Leonard of any episode since the pilot. The action was subdued, and the dialogue was crackling. Like the best examples of Elmore's writing, it was the little details of conversations, like the born-again guy giving Boyd guff for talking in his flowery manner, or the hardware store guy talking about Arlo, that gave the episode life. The dialogue felt real, prone to the sort of over talking that inflicts real conversation.

It also marked the first appearance on the show of a Elmore standard: the bail bondsman, who must come in third behind marshals and criminals as his most reoccurring character type. This particular bail bondsman also gifted the viewer with the first bit of non-Quarles related nudity on the show, a sign perhaps of the shows increasing level of comfort with itself and it's position as a quality program. It occurred in an odd bit of flashback, odd because the show it not prone to those sorts of elements, especially for a gag (it was a good gag though), and odd because as cool as Raylan is, he has never been painted as a Lothario. In fact, I've always appreciated his monogamy. He isn't interested in chasing skirt, as so many other characters of his ilk tend to be. When he was with Ava, he was with her. Then he was with Winona, and now he is with Lindsey. He's a serial monogamist, so to show a brief glimpse of a one night stand seemed oddly out of character. And perhaps, considering this shows tendency to play the long game, a sign of things to come?

I hope not, as the bartender Lindsey is growing on me more and more. But this being Justified, I can't imagine it will end well. Not considering the length the camera lingered on the placement of Raylan's newly acquired funds. In Elmore's most recent novel, Raylan, most of which has been plundered for the show already, the notable absence is a character called Jackie Nevada, and her storyline. I suspect a Jackie-like character will pop up this season, and my spidey senses tell me it might just be Raylan's current paramour. If so, it will be yet another relationship under the bridge, much like Winona, who sadly is gone, Natalie Zea struck off the opening titles, so she can go play with Kevin Bacon over on FOX. And while Winona was never the best character on the show, I liked her. I might be in the minority, but I did. I liked what she represented. Or rather, what she could have. That Raylan would have a stabilising influence outside of his office work, someone he could count on at home. But the writers insisted on giving her story lines, rather then just having her be a presence (like Tiffani Thiessen over on White Collar), and could never develop a storyline for her that worked. So she floundered, and Zea was wasted, and now she's relegated to the guest star list. Though that might work in the character's favour, being an occasional much like Dewey Crowe, or Stephen Root's judge. One thing this show doesn't do is forget it's characters, and brings them back when they are best used, and not before.

Like poor, stupid Ellen May, the county's unluckiest whore. The writer's surely do love heaping all the ills of the world on the girl, and it looks like she might find herself some salvation this season, though it being Ellen May it'll probably end poorly. At the very least, it'll attract the attention of Boyd, who in this first episode finally stepped into the role of crime lord of Harlan that he'd been working towards for the past two seasons. He's just, at the moment, bad at it. If last season tackled the economic crisis through the less then legal side of things, then this year seems to be highlighting the plight of the small business owner. I'm also going to take this opportunity to nominate Boyd Crowder as the best nerd on TV, and a positive role model for others. Last year he quoted Star Wars, and this year he references Asimov in a theological discussion. Boy enjoys his self some genre work (Raylan, not to be outdone, proves himself a Coen Bros. fan).

The episode lacked Art, or any other marshal work at all save a touch of Rachel at the start, and while they were missed, this episode was more a "day in the life" look at Raylan getting into shit he knows he shouldn't. And it gave us time to meet Constable Bob, as played by Patton Oswalt, who I've been looking forward to since it was announced. He played it straight enough, with just the right level of sad desperation. He has the marking of someone Raylan will learn to appreciate, if never fully like or enjoy working with. He's already saved Raylan's life once, that's got to count later on down the road. And the show pulled a Kansas City Shuffle on me with the knife. My instinct was, it being what it is, that he'd stab the girl. But then I thought, no, they'll know we're expecting that, he'll do this one right. So he stabbed the girl, both subverting and conforming to my expectations. Hilariously.

And we've got a lot to look forward to this season. Yost has promised more of a mystery arc this year that will slowly be unravelled, and we've seen the origins of it. Who exactly was the doomed parachutist loaded down with cocaine? What dark secret is Arlo going to such lengths to protect (and showing the signs of the bad ass the show has always alluded to but never shown). Who exactly is Waldo Truth (great name, that)? And what is Boyd up to, keeping all that money away from Johnny and Ava? Will his Gulf War buddy be a good little soldier, or will he become a problem (he already needs very specific instructions)?

It's going to be a lot of fun finding out.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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