[Review] - Justified, Season 4 Episodes 10 and 11, "Get Drew" And "Decoy"

Every time I miss a week, and have to double up a review, it is always my intention to go threw the merits and let downs of each of the episodes in order. And then, inevitably, something happens in the latter of the two episodes of that completely eclipses whatever else I was going to say, and the former episode gets little more then a courtesy mention.

That has happened again this week. Because Get Drew was an excellent episode. But Decoy was in a league of its own.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that also have a pair of whore's underwear. Just in case.

I've mentioned before the depth of universe the show has cultivated over the years, assembling an impressive list of secondary and tertiary characters to fill in the plot gaps from time to time. What I haven't waxed on about is the impressive list of comedians the show has assembled to fill those roles. Again, I refer to Joss Whedon's belief that "comedy is the hard one" and that if they can do comedy, they can do drama. And despite Graham Yost's insistence that the first duty of Justified is to be funny, it regularly calls upon it's cast to do the deep heart of humanity as well. So, you've got actors like Stephen Root, Stephen Tobolowsky, Mike O'Malley, and Patton Oswalt handling the heavy stuff as readily as their usual fair.

And the day does belong to the clowns, as Patton Oswalt completely owns episode 11. Once again, I was concerned for the safety of the secondaries, with Tim and Constable Bob put in danger yet again, and this close to the season's end you do wonder if they might decide to knock one or two more out of the recurring pool. It is a credit to the writers and director that at no point during Bob's torture does the action cut away. They don't stretch it out, they don't play it close to the chest. From the minute Yolo sits Bob down, to the minute Raylan pulls up, it is real time and tense. Bob started as a one-off joke, but proved his worth here. Oswalt needs an Emmy nomination for this episode, so honest and fantastic is his performance. And never once did I think he would crack. I never doubted his integrity for a moment. I did however, forget about the belt knife.

The whole construction of the scene, with Love Train playing in the background, somehow making it all the more terrifying, was masterfully shot. In fact, both torture scenes were shot well, with the episode opening with Augustine giving Boyd a quick beating. I especially liked the shot of Boyd's hand hitting the floor alongside his tooth. It brought the whole scene to a complete stop for just a second, as if it were taking a breath. And considering what came next, a breath was needed.

With Shelby's identity busted, we finally get a peak at his true self, and what he's worth. This season has evolved into a show-and-tell of honesty. Arlo showed his true self, as did Hunter. Raylan's self is constantly at odds with his perception of self, and Bob obviously has his self bought out in spectacular fashion. Get Drew was the chance to show what Shelby really was, and to try to reconcile the kindly lawman we've known with the fiend we've been hunting all this year. And he does it with an act of kindness. Art's speech is fantastic, summarising the Drew that was appropriately. But I honestly believe, despite Raylan's insistence to the contrary, that Shelby is a better man then Drew. Raylan, because he seems incapable of changing himself, and because of the way Arlo was right up to the end, refuses to believe anyone else can change either. Drew is a bad man, a criminal, and that is all he can be. But I think he's wrong. As Shelby said himself a few episodes back, live a lie long enough, and even you start to believe it. Drew Thompson really did die jumping out of a plane that day, the man who landed badly became someone entirely different.

And, for his single utteress of "balls," he was also briefly Bobby Singer.

Ellen May's character has went in pretty much the opposite direction. As Boyd warned, she is a caged animal, and episode 10 ended with the promise was bad things to come. She starts the episode the lost puppy at the side of the road, all big wet eyes and bounding happily into the nearest familiar lap (Joelle Carter's defencive flinch as Ellen May hugs her might be my favourite bit of acting so far this season), and ends it snarling and spitting at the end of a chain. Thing is, it didn't have to be that way. Ava over reacted, and drove Ellen May to become this thing. If Eva and Boyd had let her be, she'd still be in her trailer, shooting furries and finding Jesus. Instead, they drove her into the cold, and let her go wild. Ellen May is their sin made flesh, and I can't wait to see how it comes back on them.

Episode 10 also made use that depth of universe, and brought back Limehouse. I think one of the reasons I like this show is the writers are very aware of how and when to use characters to their greatest effectiveness. Dickie Bennett, Dewey Crowe, and even Winona could have been used this season, but for no reason or purpose then just to have them appear. This was the problem with Winona in the first place, the writers kept using her when they didn't have a reason. In the same way, it's entirely possible that in an alternate universe, Limehouse was the primary antagonist for this season, but that wouldn't have worked. It isn't what Limehouse is about. The writers understand this, and waited, and found an organic and honest way to bring him back into the fold. And again, Boyd creates his own trouble. I have no doubt Limeshouse, despite his desperation, would have dealt with Ava fairly. But Boyd, using forty words instead of four, ambles on up and insults the man, leaving Limehouse little alternative then to defend his honour and screw over Boyd.

I'll even admit to being uncertain as to who Drew would end up with in the end. I figured the Marshals, but I also know this show likes to move left when we think it's moving right, and Drew could have just as easily ended up with Boyd, to be used further as a pawn. Of course, if that had happened, we wouldn't have been treated to the straight up western we got from Decoy. It was an episode where everything came together perfectly. Even Colt, a character I've never really warmed to, if only because I've felt he hasn't been used to his full potential, finally achieved what I've been hoping for from him for a while now. In this episode he was knowledgeable, threatening, effective and of use. His scenes on the hill side were I feel the first glimpse we've gotten of Colt's true self. And despite sharing the scene with Tim over the radio, it was as electric as any scene Yost and co have written between Raylan and Boyd.

I like nothing more then a subverted trope, and this episode had it in spades. Circling the wagons around nothing at all. The good guys hold up in a building, except it's one with no defensible positions. The showdown that includes no gun play, the threatening chat between enemies that's just small talk about their high school days. And a train robbery, in that it is the train that robbed the bad guys of their prize. Now, with Drew on his way to Lexington, Boyd on the outs with Detroit, Wynn making a run for the Canadian border, and Ava knowing everything she needs to, you have to wonder what happens next. Despite all his attempts, Boyd is now worse off then he's been in a good long while, and Raylan, despite having gotten his man, still has to answer for his own bad decisions. Ellen May is still chomping at the bit up in Noble's, and in a pair of episodes where you'd expect the most gun play there was hardly any at all.

I can only assume that in the final two shows of the season, which promise to be quieter and more character focused, that someone is going to get shot.
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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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