Justified Season 4: Raylan and the Hill People

I really liked the recent episode of “Justified,” entitled “Kin.” It concerned Raylan’s ongoing pursuit of Drew Thompson, which led him to the irascible Josiah Cairn, as played by Gerald McRaney. Cairn misleadingly leads Raylan to believe that Thompson was alive and well and living among the “Hill People,” who took him in after he broke both his legs parachuting into Harlan, and with whom he’s been hiding with ever since. This subterfuge was no doubt brought about by Raylan’s methods of questioning Cairn, which involve handcuffing him to his car and driving away while he had to run to keep up with him alongside the car. Ah, that Raylan- he really is one for subtlety, isn’t he?

Raylan then proceeds to go up into the hills in pursuit, hoping to wrangle some good will via a picture he has which proves he’s related to Mary, one of the denizens of the hills. Bob warns him that the hill folk have been long rumored to eat people and that few who venture up the hills live to tell the tale. Though, of course, that turns out to be hyperbole to a large extent, I loved this set-up, which put me in mind of Wes Craven’s 70’s horror classic “The Hills Have Eyes,” which was remade in 2006 (and was successful enough the second go-round to warrant a sequel, just like Craven’s original did back in 1984). Though actor Timothy Olyphant, who plays Raylan, has indeed run afoul of “The Crazies“- and played one himself in “Scream 2“- how much fun would it have been if he’d actually come across some cannibals for real?

Imagine the possibilities. Raylan tied to one of those big sticks, being roasted over an open fire, like you’d see in an old Bugs Bunny cartoon or the “Pirates of the Caribbean.” Or Raylan getting invited to dinner, only to find he IS dinner. (“To Serve Man,” indeed!) I also like the idea of Raylan at the table with the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre“-gang, having the most demented dinner conversation ever.

Alas, there were no cannibals to be seen.yet. There’s always the possibility that they were lying about Thompson not being there, which might warrant a return visit. Still, it was fun after Raylan got caught by some of the Hill Dwellers, along with Boyd, wondering what in the world was about to happen to these guys. Would it be some “Pulp Fiction“-style Gimp session? Would they feed them to a pack of wild, ravenous dogs? Would they be made to squeal like a pig? Would they become part of some crazy tourist trap? Would they be used to further the freak species? (Naw, probably not- those guys like to keep things in-house, in family, if you know what I mean and I think that you do.) The possibilities were endless.

As it turned out, they were just relatively normal-ish, if backwoods, folks that just didn’t take kindly to strangers. Fortunately for Raylan, he was able to play the titular “Kin” card and emerge relatively unscathed; otherwise, he might not have been doing a lot of marshalling and a lot more of lying in the corner in the fetal position, if he was lucky enough to survive in the first place. Still, it was a fun bit of business that I hope they’ll find another way to visit on down the line. Much like the family business run by Margo Martindale and her boys in Season 2, it would make for some entertaining television to see how the Hill People do things in their neck of the woods. Just stay out of those cabins, kids!