Justified "The Hatchet Tour" Review: No Triggers Pulled, But Shots Fired

By Tim Surette

Mar 06, 2013

Justified S04E09: "The Hatchet Tour"

***Spoilers for "The Hatchet Tour" ahead, obviously***

Mystery solved! Well, almost. I don't remember at what point I hunched that Sheriff Shelby (Jim Beaver) was Drew Thompson, but clearly I wasn't alone as many of you have commented with regard to Justified's not-so-well-kept secret. For me, the biggest neon arrow came last week from Raylan, who—just before arguing with Art about staying on duty after Arlo's murder—glared at Shelby as he left and made a passing comment about not entirely trusting him. Raylan's instincts should stand up in court as admissible evidence (except when it comes to sexy, leggy blondes) and indeed, our lawman was spot on. I'm not going to take credit for guessing correctly; it's my bad for not saying something in last week's write-up (do your job and put your money where your mouth is, Tim!). I think I may have been blinded by the power of Timothy Olyphant's acting as he strode to the elevator, broken and bereaved. That still tickles my tiny emotional core just thinking about it. Or maybe it just seemed so obvious that Shelby was Drew that I thought he couldn't actually be Drew. But he is.

There were other clues, too. The most damning being the most obvious: Why the hell has Shelby been all over Season 4 in the first place? And why did he keep popping up everywhere Raylan did, casually showing interest in the case? What was he really offering Raylan, anyway? What purpose did he have in Season 4 if he WASN'T Drew Thompson? If Justified really wanted to keep us in the dark regarding Drew Thompson's identity, it would have kept the lights all the way off, but it purposefully didn't. And you know what? That's how it should be played. Too often television hands us mysteries that are impossible to solve, frustratingly introducing the real culprit at the very last minute so our sleuthing skills at home are wasted and the fun of solving the mystery is reduced to a mere non-participatory ridealong (I've never understood that kind of storytelling). Here, Shelby hid in plain sight and our suspicions about him grew each week, allowing us to play Justified: The Home Edition

Still, Shelby revealed as Drew was satisfying. It reminded me faintly of last season's Sons of Anarchy when whoever was behind the Charming break-ins was a big hullabaloo. I thought the answer was fairly obvious: [spoiler redacted] was behind them, duh-doi. But that was just a little something to kickstart the greater story, and I think Justified is doing something similar. Figuring out who Drew Thompson, though clearly the objective of the season from the start, was only part of the case. Catching him, learning about out the importance of the bag and how it ties to Arlo, and discovering Drew's motive is the real story here. And guess what? There's still four episodes left to explore that. The case really took off when Boyd joined the hunt for Drew, and that aspect hasn't changed. Now both Boyd and Raylan know that Shelby is their man, and instead of turning over rocks this thing is a bona fide manhunt. Bring. It. On.

Looking to average out its body count after last week's Great Harlan Massacre, there were zero deaths in "The Hatchet Tour." BUT! There were plenty of tense scenes sprinkled throughout with guns-a-pointing, almost as if the show was teasing us and taking advantage of our jumpiness. Chief among them was Boyd retaking the position of power over bulky heroin junkie Colton thanks to some intel from another one of his untrustworthy henchmen, Johnny.

It was Boyd vs. Devil 2.0, and who wasn't ready to see what the insides of a veteran's noggin looked like when Boyd put the barrel of a gun to Colton's forehead? But here's what we learned in that scene: lying to Boyd's face about shooting or not shooting secret-keeping whores is forgivable. Planning to take over Boyd's business is not, as Devil found out last season. TAKE NOTE JOHNNY. Also, can we assume Johnny's a dead man by the end of the season? Why is it so hard to get a good henchman these days?

We also got some more gun-pointing courtesy of Tim, who is correctly pegging Colton as the man who offed his pal Mark. This is part of the big arc for Tim that creator Graham Yost previously teased, but so far it needs some more punch. Tim might be my favorite character in Justified because his strength is irritating Raylan with vaguely homoerotic and definitely jabbing quips. His Season 2 declaration of "I love this shit... this shit gets me hard" while threatening to shoot Raylan is in the Justified Quote Hall of Fame, the timing and delivery of it redefining impeccable. From that quote, we can ascertain that he quite literally gets off on irking Raylan. On his own, as he was for most of this episode, he's more of a serious cat. We've always wanted to see more of Tim (and Rachel), but I think what we really asked for was more of Tim and Raylan, the Marshal Service's Lenny and Squiggy. Send them after a fugitive, send them out for frozen yogurt, send them out for colonoscopies, I don't care, just send them out together so that they can annoy each other. That's gold!

Even with the big info drop of Shelby being the Drew that was under our nose all along, "The Hatchet Tour" was more of a transition episode to the next stage of the case. Revealing Drew's identity now was a pacing issue. It seemed to me that the writing staff was very cognizant of how long the audience could hold interest in a case and hit its beats almost perfectly. With the Who solved, Season 4 is now a What Where When Why, still leaving plenty of questions to be answered. 


– Cool factoid of the day: "The Hatchet Tour" was written by Taylor Elmore and Leonard Chang, and if you say their names fast enough you might just stumble upon the name of a famous author with ties to Justified

– I loved learning that Wynn grew up with a Yorkie. 

– Has Harlan ever had a sheriff who wasn't crooked as hillbilly's incisor?

– Holy smokes was that early scene the angriest we've ever seen Art? 

– More good father-son revelations even after Arlo's passing. Raylan seemed genuinely taken aback when he learned that the big Dog Shit Fight from decades ago involved Arlo defending his mother's honor, and wasn't just Arlo being an asshole.

– Of course Patton Oswalt gets the biggest laugh of the season as Constable Bob reached into his Go Bag and introduced Lee and Gerald to his not-so-little friend.

  • Comments (45)
Add a Comment
In reply to :
  • Ankh49 Nov 18, 2014

    Can't believe no-one else mentioned how much Art shone in the episode. Not just the rant at the beginning but also his admiration of what a badass Drew Thompson is. I rewound that scene a few times. :-)

  • johnlocke Mar 08, 2013

    Can someone please tell me what is Detroits interest in Drew Thompson. I must have missed something.

  • GreyMinerva Mar 10, 2013

    Drew Thompson is a missing federal witness against - amongst others - The Tonin, I believe.
    Which is why he faked his death in the first place, and why Detroit is so hot to take him out.

  • sassyj64 Mar 07, 2013

    I seriously love this series. It's simply perfect. The casting is genius and the dialogue divine. Tim and Raylan together? I could watch 45 minutes of that snark and never be bored once. Throw Boyd and Ava into the mix and things just keep getting more interesting. Art, so much more than the traditional captain figure, from anger, to resignation, to amusement and then frustration, he can give you them all in four seconds on screen. Rachel, clearly being groomed to take over from Art (though please, why retcon a husband for her to leave... single is a choice, not a challenge, or something to be afraid/ashamed of!). I have two reasons to watch television, Justified and Person Of Interest. Long may they reign!

  • klotensen Mar 07, 2013

    I love how Drew/Shelby handled the Ellen May situation. Colton should have been killed, but I think that Boyd knows that he can't trust any of his Henchmen so he waits - maybe he needs Colton in the end. And that's where Tim comes into play... no way he lets Colton get away with the murderers. I love this show.
    Come to think of it - even with Breaking Bad, GoT, Fringe and Banshee I think Justified has made(continuously) the best casting choices EVER.

  • katikool Mar 07, 2013

    Ava and Boyd are my favorite couple on TV right now. They're just so gosh darn cute together! Loved the house hunting scene, and I really liked seeing Boyd out of his element with these upper-crusty folk the last few episodes. Of course he got the upper hand, but it was interesting seeing him off his game for a bit.

    Scratch that, Tim and Raylan are my favorite couple. And it looks like the two are teaming up next episode! But, is it too much to ask that Tim gets into some deep shit and says "This isn't where I parked my car" to excuse himself? I don't think so.

    And yes! Shelby is Drew. I started suspecting after his conversation with Ellen May about his almost-fiance. I feel so vindicated. At first I thought it could be Lee, but that would have been too obvious. So Shelby it is.

    And finally, Constable Bob's scene was probably the funniest thing to grace Justified. He had me cracking up at how tragically inept he is at his job. Constable Bob for sheriff (I hear there's an opening).

  • AustinGonzale Mar 07, 2013

    Can someone please explain why the Marshall service cares to find Drew Thompson? I know Art and Raylan keep talking about "retiring on this case", implying it's be this huge find, but I still don't understand why that is!

  • GreyMinerva Mar 10, 2013

    Once again - Drew Thompson faked his death because he's a federal witness against Theo Tonin, the Big Boss from Detroit. He didn't want to testify, Tonin doesn't want him to testify, all the feds DO want him found because being part of taking down Tonin would make their career.

  • Tjsmooth0 Mar 06, 2013

    I think I'm with you, Tim. All the clues were there about Shelby the whole time, so much so that I almost cleared him from being Drew just because of that. My money was on Lee Paxton, until Shelby showed up in this episode and it dawned on me that Shelby has been around this case an awful lot.

    Great episode here though. Great Boyd stuff. Lindsay Pulsipher's return was nice to see, I knew it couldn't have been the last of her, and I'm wondering if she's really just looking for Ellen May or if she has some kind of a plan to get back at Boyd for killing her brother. Also, I loved Art's scene at the beginning. Art has been mad before, but usually a good wise-crack can still get through. Art yelling at Tim, and Tim's reaction, was perfect. Art was PISSSSEEEDDD this time.

  • Vicky8675309 Mar 06, 2013

    I think you did the right thing in not speculating about Shelby/Drew in the review last week so don't beat yourself up about it.

    Most of what I think of this great show/episode has already been said in the comments but I just want to add "thanks for the great review/article".

    Wynn kind of looks like a Yorkie;-)

    Good on you for mentioning Raylan's reaction to Arlo defending his mother's honor. Fantastic acting (subtle but perfect) by Olyphant

  • MarlboroMagpi Mar 06, 2013

    Its a good show but I still prefer Season 3 which I think is the best! Now my question is why did Shelby/Drew run now?I mean they have been different parties hunting him since the beginning of the season? It seems no one was going to tell on him. He must have order the hit on Arlo as I think he wanted a normal life as a sheriff. Then why did he run now? Did he expect Bob to let his secret out? Then why not run earlier? Some parts of this season is confusing as hell.

  • kanniballl Mar 06, 2013

    It's a good question why he waited as long as he did. Between the Marshals, Boyd, Theo Tonin, and even drug-users all wanting to find Drew... perhaps leaving earlier would have been the wise move. Sure, leaving might send up a flare that HE was Drew... but waiting around was pretty dangerous.

    Meanwhile, he probably A) figured Raylan was going to find out after talking to those 3 idjots in the cabin and B) felt that Hunter had done enough to keep his secret... so it was worth running. Though why so late, I have no idea.

  • JT_Kirk Mar 06, 2013

    You were right not to publicly speculate on Shelby being Drew, that'd have distracted from the actual review. I think with as many folks out there last week guessing it in the comments, no one person deserves credit anyway.

    Shelby was the last person in the main story whose timeline could fit Drew Thompson, and he asked about Thompson's widow, and he saw the similarity between Ellen Mae and his ex-wife (they did good casting, there is certainly physical and personality similarity there). There were a ton of clues, and yet nothing that screamed at the screen either, so they handled that portion well. They still missed a key bit in losing the "why do we care" portion of the mystery though, I still don't remember why we're looking for Drew Thompson on the law side.

    I would have loved if this episode had straight up killed Boyd Crowder during one of the times where it could have. He's too big for his britches and has overwhelmed the show yet again, if they simply axed him right then and there, that would have been some impressive storytelling. Live wildly by the gun, die randomly by the gun. Or a bus, or whatever. Maybe Colton or Johnny could whack him. This show doesn't have the balls to get rid of the character though, and it's to its detriment that we'll instead see Cousin Johnny catch hell for his machinations.

    Overall, this was a good episode that got away with a lot of personality moments and moved the plot along. Raylan coming off of Arlo's death felt right, and Hunter not using the keys to escape was a good small moment for a character.

  • JonStryker Mar 06, 2013

    You're right. Although Walton Goggins is awesome, it has become strange that Boyd always survives.

  • MarlboroMagpi Mar 06, 2013

    I think they are as many fans of Raylan and of Boyd so probably many would be upset if they killed Boyd. Not many shows are as brave with ratings as Boardwalk Empire.

  • JT_Kirk Mar 07, 2013

    A good show should be able to dictate what people want, not acquiesce to it. That is how stagnancy is born.

  • See More Comments (18)