Hold on to your Stetsons, Justified season four exploded out of the gate last night. It looks like this season is going to be a fast paced blow out, with some heavy hitting matchups. Boyd has some competition in his drug trade, Raylan is facing fatherhood, Arlo is willing to kill to keep something hidden, Ava is struggling to keep her prostitution empire intact, a captured bail jumper will likely be coming for Raylan, and the U.S. Marshal’s Office is going to have to clean house. Add to that some gun fighting, ass kicking, and nudity, and you have one of the best shows on cable TV.
The episode begins with a trip back to 1983, an era when cocaine was king. A man crashes to the ground, surrounded by what appear to be bricks of cocaine. This glimpse into the past lays the foundation for one of the overarching stories of the season: Arlo has been a bad, bad man. Not that there is any doubt on that point given his propensity for selling out (and even trying to kill) his own son. In the past, we’ve seen glimpses of Arlo’s devious nature. But, it feels like he’s being set up for a much bigger storyline. What was Arlo like back in his youth? Was he the Boyd of Harlan? It looks like we’re going to find out.
Raylan’s new philosophy seems to be that law is a three-letter word, and it looks like he is on the brink of taking a dark turn. Raylan is going to be a father soon and for some reason doesn’t think that his U.S. Marshal paycheck is going to be enough to help take care of the baby. To supplement his salary, Raylan illegally accepts a bounty hunter side job from a former fling. Naturally, things don’t go as smoothly as he would have liked. They should be careful about going too far down the crooked cop path with Raylan. He is still supposed to be the good guy, and if he starts crossing too many lines, it will hurt the feeling that Raylan is the hero of the story. He can be a little dusty, but we don’t want him rolling in the mud.
As Boyd can attest, well laid plans are worthless in Harlan. He’s got a new headache of his own; Preacher Billy is new to town and helping to get people off drugs. If this new guy is going to cramp Boyd’s drug business, it’s only a matter of time before Boyd goes hunting for him. It’s ironic considering how Boyd’s prior evangelical efforts were not appreciated by the local drug selling community, and now he’s on the opposite side again. But, as Boyd wisely notes, “No one ever said runnin’ a criminal enterprise would be this hard.” Lucky for him, he still has Ava at his side. Ava chose Boyd’s side a while back, but it is still jarring to see her embrace the criminal lifestyle with open arms. There is going to be trouble in paradise, though, when Ava discovers Boyd’s secret stash of cash in the ceiling tiles.
The first episode had an electricity to it that suggests viewers are in for one heck of a ride this season. Hopefully, the days of Raylan getting his ass kicked are at an end and he’s going to be stepping things up.
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