After watching Justified's "Foot Chase," the mystery of Drew Thompson, the bag, and Arlo's part in this cold case that Raylan's chasing is still a mystery. And it's going to be that way for some time, I'd guess. Let's say maybe three or four more episodes without much new info, and real details coming out in Episode 10 or so. That'll give Justified the time it needs for three episodes' worth of learning what this thing is all about.
But until then, we'll have to settle for TV mystery storytelling and its slow steps from Point A (the introduction of the mystery) to Point B (the resolution of the mystery) by way of Points C, D, E, 23, 7x, and 2πR. Those middle points are what make up most of TV mystery storytelling, and how they're used reflects greatly on the show's quality. Remember The Killing? Great case, great acting, great cinematography, but the show had more red herrings than a Scandinavian deli hosting a tomato fight. No one wants to feel like they're wasting time while watching serialized television, but false leads and misinformation written into the story to prolong the real deal is damn annoying. Thankfully, Justified's central case for Season 4 isn't too fishy, making this waiting game much more tolerable.
Tonight we inched closer to solving things as Raylan and Boyd both put their feelers out for Drew Thompson, but they may as well be the nutjobs looking for Sasquatch in Finding Bigfoot because Drew is the great ghost of Harlan County, an apparition and thing of legend among Kentucky's underbelly. Everyone knows someone who might know where to find him, but that only leads to more people who think they know where he might be. For about 30 minutes we figured Josiah, he of the missing foot, might be Drew, but alas, he's just a guy that's a foot lighter in another case of mistaken identity. About half of Harlan has been accused of being Drew in this wild turkey chase, and I wouldn't be surprised if the guy never existed at all the way everyone purports to know a guy who had a cousin who once saw him 20 years ago. The way things were left, Raylan has another lead in the form of the imprisoned Hunter (from Season 1) and Boyd is gonna invite himself into a swingers party for older people because old pervs fit the profile for Drew. Sounds like we won't be finding Drew next week either. It's a little less exciting than the urgency we expected from having both Boyd and Raylan on the hunt for Drew that was created in the last episode, but a case like this in a tight community like Harlan will have both their paths intersecting again sooner than later.
What "Foot Chase" really had the responsibility of doing was putting other stories in motion, perhaps to tighten up the sagging middle while Raylan and Boyd continue to chase Drew's legend. But it meant an episode that was put together like shattered glass rather than a clear picture. We all asked for more arcs for Tim and Rachel, and now we got one, rather jarringly, of Tim helping out an old Army friend kick Oxy and pay off some debts. I love Tim (and can say his name all day long), but adding this arc so suddenly feels like a conversation interrupted. It wasn't exactly a smooth introduction and might take a while to find our bearings, but dammit, it's going to be worth it to see Jacob Pitts do his thing even if he's not trading one-liners with Raylan.
Meanwhile, Colton is already unraveling like a mummy on a Tilt-a-Whirl. His drug habit is well beyond being a hobby, and his inability to put away Ellen May has him beating hookers in the search for her. Specifically, a hooker named Teri who also happens to be sweet on Johnny Crowder. Under order from Colton, Teri told Johnny that the Colton-shaped backhand bruise on her face came from one of her regular Johns, and Johnny and Colton paid that guy a visit and rearranged his face. It wasn't easy to watch given that Colton has entirely lost control of his situation, and credit to Ron Eldard for making me feel honestly afraid for everyone in Colton's path. The man is hollowed out and unpredictable, and much more dangerous than a calculated threat like Boyd.
And how about that Shelby? Just as I thought, he and Raylan are pairing up to find Drew and he's going to need Raylan's help to fend off Boyd because Boyd ain't too pleased that Shelby is sticking up for himself. Shelby still has Ellen May in his back pocket, though neither Boyd or Raylan know that, so he's going to end up being a very strong ally for Raylan and a real pain in the ass for Boyd.
"Foot Chase" fanned things out like a deck of cards for the better of the season, giving us teases of several stories rather than focusing on one. Personally, I like the show better when it throws in some completion through some standalone story, even if it's a tangential storyline like that of Randall and Lindsey in "This Bird Has Flown." But the hard work done in "Foot Chase" will pay off down the line.
POSTCARDS FROM HARLAN COUNTY
– Awwwwwww! Boyd proposed to Ava! And you know what? It was a pretty good, no-big-deal-but-super-appropriate) proposal. Will it have a major affect on the story or was it just a bone for the Boyd-Ava shippers? I don't know. Let's just be happy for the couple.
– Oh my gosh Josiah's leg stump looked disgusting, and I'm usually okay with that sort of thing. Loved it.
– How great is Boyd's pronunciation of "Assholes"? "Ass-hoes!!!"
– Boyd's lawyer is the worst! It's not surprising that she went off on her own and went after Drew so that she could cash out and drink fruity drinks on the beach. But did Arlo tell her Josiah was Drew because he thought Josiah was Drew, or because he wanted Josiah out of the picture?
– Lots of great dialogue tonight, let's run through Raylan's best:
Raylan: "Yay high, braces, went through puberty six months ago."
Raylan: "I'm sure you and Rapes With a Smile were just talking."
Raylan: "I think Lynard Skynard is overrated, I know you're in Boyd's pocket."
Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter if you want to: @TimAtTVDotCom