Justified "Outlaw" Review: Personal Loss, Blood Loss

Justified S04E08: "Outlaw"


Goodness gracious, people of Harlan County. It seems like the more you try to fix problems, the more those problems try to fix you. And in a lot of those cases, fixing problems means shooting someone or something, so some of those problems decide to shoot back. It all becomes a big mess and before you know it, bodies are dropping like fly balls in a Little League outfield. In tonight's episode of Justified, the equal parts violent and emotional "Outlaw," it was problem after problem and you know what? Solving one just created a whole new batch.

We'll start with Raylan, as we always should. But Raylan's story starts with his daddy Arlo, who didn't even make it to the opening credits before he got the worst haircut of his life. The younger Givens did what he promised and had a lovely Justifiedian chat with former sheriff/current prisoner Hunter about giving Arlo a nicer place to live out his imprisoned days in exchange for giving up the whereabouts and whoabouts of Drew Thompson, and in doing so Raylan may have inadvertently put his daddy in a box. I'm assuming Hunter stabbed Arlo in the heart area with a pair of barber scissors to guarantee his chance at the deal as well as settle an old score, but Arlo's death hangs around Raylan's neck like a bolo necktie.



We've always been led to believe that Raylan doesn't give a squat about his daddy and for the most part not only is that true, but the feeling is mutual. Example: While Arlo lay on his deathbed, Raylan continued to badger him about Drew instead of "Sorry you're dyin'" and Arlo's last words to Raylan were "Kiss my ass." Not exactly the heartfelt father-son moment you'd expect when the younger generation suddenly becomes the oldest generation. But even though the two have repeatedly wished a quick, painful death on each other over the last few seasons, a father-son bond is something so strong that you just know Arlo's relatively sudden ticket-punching to the Afterlife had to be putting cracks in the foundation of even the proudest man.

And when we saw Raylan approach the elevator after Art demanded that he take two days off (bargained down from a week by Raylan) to grieve the death of his father, we finally saw some weakness. Well, weakness Raylan-style. Brief. Alone. Created by anger. Where no one could see. It was a blink of a moment, but it was also the most vulnerable and raw we've seen Raylan since his aunt/stepmother Helen died, and it was a showcase for Timothy Olyphant's Emmy reel. Yet it wasn't a moment that asked for sorrow from the audience; it came off as more of a shocking revelation. It was like seeing Superman cower from Kryptonite or witnessing your father cry for the first time—powerful enough to knock the wind out of you, and all the more devastating knowing how hard Raylan has fought to keep Arlo out of his life. Justified obviously gets praise for its volleys of crackling dialogue, but it can also absolutely kill it on an emotional level when it needs to. But what was so beautiful about the whole thing was that Justified got Raylan's reaction so spot on.



But as sharp as that scene was, it wasn't even my favorite part of "Outlaw." I might be alone in saying this, but that honor belongs to the incredible minutes spent with Shelby (Jim Beaver) and Ellen May in Shelby's office as the two connected through past loss (Ellen May's mother who walked out on her; Shelby's wife Abby who left him 25 years ago) and moving on. It was a quiet scene, but the connection between the two characters went beyond the screen. Ellen May wore Abby's clothes, and Shelby, recognizing the physical similarity between Ellen May and Abby, looked as though he'd just seen the ghost of his wife. For a moment, she had never left and he was 25 years in the past. Ellen May wondered if she'd ever be the type of woman who "belonged" (a heartbreaking use of the word) in clothes like Abby's instead of the whore rags she's used to, and while Shelby stared at her as though she was the daughter he never had, the past she's been trying so hard to escape disappeared. It's even more emotional once you consider that Jim Beaver's wife passed away in real life and he wrote a book as an ode to her, and that the actress who plays Ellen May is actually named Abby (Miller). This was a scene where two actors were doing a lot more than just getting paid to pretend.

"Outlaw" wasn't all sniffling and heart-wringing, though. Those Kleenex-heavy moments were countered by what Justified does best, which is test your ability to keep your underwear clean through tension and violence. Of course Boyd was at the center, and the way he played the jerky rich folks like a tamborine was awesome. Boyd was caught between the rock of Wynn Duffy (by way of Theo Tonin) wanting him to deliver Drew Thompson and the hard place of Lee Paxton and Gerald Johns ordering him to kill Frank. But Boyd saw an opportunity when Theo sent down a robotic assassin to speed up the Drew Thompson-finding, and cleverly gave Theo's hitman the names of Frank and one of Lee and Gerald's cohorts. After two grisly execution-style murders, Lee and Gerald thought Boyd had killed them both, increasing Boyd's legend and threat level. Then Boyd leveraged his new deal with Theo to weaken Lee and Gerald's power by threatening the judges and other powerful men they work with. At least, I think that's how it went. I suppose Boyd could have had the hitman kill everyone, but then Boyd wouldn't be able to look the men he just fucked over in the eyes (and extort them for a hundred large each and use their power to get himself a Dairy Queen franchise), and that's how Boyd gets his kicks.



The only problem with Boyd's plan is that it might involve telling his new fiancée Ava a few stretched truths and it doesn't take into account the two snakes in the grass—Johnny and Colton—that are crawling around his lawn. Following Boyd's chicanery, Wynn promised Johnny that Boyd was now a goner and sent the hitman after him; only a chance visit from Raylan saved Boyd's ass. What's Theo going to do when he finds out that Boyd had his prize hitman killed? Or is Boyd reasoning that he should be Theo's man instead of Wynn because Wynn got himself played? And when will Boyd find out that Ellen May is very much alive and telling Shelby all of Ava's dirty secrets? Ava and Boyd think they've picked a winner who will keep their grandkids rich and fat, but it's so obviously about to come back down on them. What, did you think they'd just get married and live happily ever after?

We're no longer skipping around from point to point finding the next person to tell us they think they know who Drew Thompson is, and the show is better for it. Instead, the approach to keeping the case interesting involves raising the stakes for finding Drew and adding more interested parties to the hunt. We're teetering on all the action and motivations and almost tipping over into overly complex, but things are currently balanced just so, and damn entertaining. Justified is in a groove right now as it heads towards the Season 4 finale.



NOTES



– It may have been hard to keep track of all the people who died in this episode, but don't forget that Colton killed Mark, Tim's friend. And a shell casing conveniently landed on the table. That will somehow lead Tim to Colton, and then we got ourselves a Tim-Colton showdown!

– Boyd: "I know people like you are used to taking from people like me, but there comes a point when people like me can't take no more taking. Now all the things you've done, the way you've built your fortunes, it might make you criminals, but it don't make you outlaws. I am the outlaw." YEAH BOYD!

– Only Raylan can get away with insulting Drew Thompson's widow by making fun of her psychic powers and then melting her panties a second later by confirming that she still looks like Ava Gardner.

– I love how in the middle of Boyd being hauled off by the fake deputy hitman, Raylan interrupted him to talk about Ava's engagement ring and Boyd told Raylan he was still on the wedding guest list.

– Holy crap, Johnny Crowder is the fastest texter EVER! Either that or Colton's phone is haunted.
Comments (44)
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Good call on the Tim-Colton showdown but I think its going to be from the cigarette but and not from the shell casing, considering the gun was from the drug dealer.
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I think the conversation between Ellen May and Shelby made it obvious that he was Drew Thompson. That bummed me out. Now, everything else in this weeks episode was the best. I think my favorite part was Jonny saying "You gentlemen like ice cream?" after Boyd had his way with them. Priceless!!
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"only a chance visit from Raylan saved Boyd's ass"
That's all that scene gets?
"Ok, maybe I'm crazy. Uh, I'm just having a hell of a day. Did you just give me an order!?"
"Jeez, I hope I got that right."
Awesome. Best shoot out I've seen in a long time.
35:23 - 35:48
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Dear all other shows,

this is how it is done.

Yours sincerely,

Justified.
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Justified is just the best.
When I watched this episode I wanted to weave myself in a cocoon of Justified
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Powerful episode I think Boyd's comeuppance speech with those white collar jerks was almost on par with his conquistadores speech from last season. Boyd sure got more lives than a cat!
I must admit to some shock at the death of Arlo ,Beautifully written and acted. it was the last thing I expected. Arlo couldnt have wished for a better exit than his kiss my ass death door speech.
It was a thrilling episode and one am sure I'll be rewatching it so many times cause am sure this was a pivotal episode and the writers are trying to overwhelm us much with emotions while hiding so much in plain sight that will be important this season. yeah am that paranoid.
This gets a resounding 10\10 from me.
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D'awww Raylan killed TeddyBear616 ...
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I'm surprised the review didn't mention how show suggests Bobby, I mean Shelby, is Drew. Most of the commenters noticed it (see comments below) and when I was watching the show, my suspicion about Shelby being Drew kept growing. It may be a red herring but I was hoping the review would touch on the episode leading us viewers to conclude that Shelby is probably Drew.

Boyd and Raylan killed it this episode--excellent acting.

"...Justified got Raylan's reaction so spot on. " I'd say "Olyphant got Raylan's reaction so spot on". Sure the show justified said (script), stand by the elevator and subtly look sad but it was the actor who knocked it out of the park. Regardless, Olyphant, Groggins, and the show Justified are all awesome!!
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AWESOME episode!

are these questions rhetorical? "What's Theo going to do when he finds out that Boyd had his prize hitman killed? Or is Boyd reasoning that he should be Theo's man instead of Wynn because Wynn got himself played?"

Maybe I missed something but I thought Boyd told or implied that the "button man" was dead (so Theo knows) and Boyd blatantly stated that he played Duffy and hence Theo should back him (Boyd) over Duffy. Theo agreed to do so if Boyd delivered Drew to him. Boyd then went into "debt" by having his sponsor (theo) pull some strings to make the threat of judges, etc go away...

I did enjoy the review on this fabulous episode of one of tv's best shows~ Justified. Best episode of the season imo.
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I still think Drew is Sam Anderson/Bernard/Holland Manners/Lee Paxton
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So many people died tonight ! I think the most in all of Justified episode. The body count must be at least 10. I was really surprised the writers finally decided to write off Arlo now. I thought he would be around a long time.

I too get the vibe that Shelby is Drew especially when he gets so interested in the case. The final show down between Johnny and Boyd would be something to look forward to. It should be coming soon.

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Hmmm I count 7
Arlo, drug dealer, drug buyer, rich guy #1, body guard, rich guy #2, assassin

Am I missing someone?
I'm pretty sure the prison guard survived, he was just beaten badly.
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Think you are right. It still seems a lot even for a show like Justified and people are saying The Following is too violent !
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Talk about pulling out of a nosedive! This episode was nearly everything the rest of the season has been lacking: real story movement, real emotional situations, real intertwining of events, and REAL BADASS. What made me happiest was the feeling that Raylan will go on as a character, that his dad is dead and he has some personal feelings, but he'll be a whole person next week, he'll still be US Marshal Raylan Givens and not some embarrassing shell of the man (largely the way he has been this season), that he'll do paperwork to get past those feelings rather than chug booze and screw barflies and other soapy nonsense - you don't get to being a successful interstate lawman by being so easily broken.

This was the first episode in a long while that really held my attention, kept me from picking up the tablet and playing games or reading articles.

Shelby was a deputy for 20 years, a store greeter for a little while, and a mineshaft security guy for a short time. He's Drew Thompson by the numbers, but only just, his timeline is razor-thin.

Arlo went out like a pimp, and I'm glad they didn't pull a Boyd and give him a cheap out at the end - sometimes stuff goes bad, that's just how it is. I wanted to see Boyd's reaction to Arlo's death, I don't care if he has genuine feelings or over-the-top reactions or even flippant "that's just how it is for an outlaw" casualness, just seems like it'd be interesting to explore.

Speaking of, Boyd really needs to get his comeuppance soon, he's fun to watch in this episode but he's gone way too far out on a limb and has shown time and time again that his opinion of his outlaw talents far exceeds his abilities - look at his shabby "gang" that seems to be 4 people and the occasional extra.

The one thing this season is now still missing is Harlan County, it still doesn't feel alive and full of unique characters the way it has in the past, it feels like Los Angeles county rural location shoots with nobody there at all. Maybe 'cause of 3 years' worth of killing.

The shootout at the end was great, it saddened me though that the show felt that wasn't the key moment to the end of the episode, that we needed more Boyd Crowder soap opera silliness. "Hope I got that right." "I was almost sure you weren't a cop killer." "'Almost'?"

Cousin Johnny's phone is using T9 texting which requires far less keypresses because it's a predictive text system that uses only 9 keys for the entire alphabet.
More+
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I have been wondering and wondering if we have already seen Drew... It could be that they will hire a high profile actor to play him, or that he's already appeared in the background or something. Granted, I've considered a lot of silly options -- including that Arlo could've been Drew -- but now I've turned by attention to Shelby. Sure, he was working at the mine beforehand, but that don't mean he can't be Drew I wouldn't think. He lurks around town fearlessly and didn't budge when it came to brushing Boyd off. Plus, he'd be the last person people would suspect to being Drew! And, also, people who knew Drew beforehand haven't really encountered Shelby lately have they? The psychic wife, the woman in the mountains, and so forth. I could be missing something that eliminates Shelby as a possibility, but at the moment I'm keeping my eyes open.
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Best show on TV.
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This was not only my favorite episode ever of Justified, but one of the most enjoyable hours of TV I've sat through. We've all noted the difference in this season, which is more complex and intricate, and earlier seasons that were more straightforward with a "big bad." Well, in one killer hour, season 4 has become my favorite season of Justified, just like that. Don't get me wrong, I still love the first 3 (1 and 2 especially), but now that everything is delicately coming together, it's just.......brilliant. Bravo, Justified. But yeah.....I did notice all the deaths. I kept thinking "Holy crap, how many people they gonna kill this week?"
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Such a great episode. I knew Arlo's time was coming, but when that isn't the biggest or best part of the show, you have a good show.

Boyd's story was great. When Raylan walked in to deal with the hitman. I was strangely glad that he was going to get to shoot someone. That is two shootings in a row after a pretty long drought.

As for who Drew is. It is one of two things, it could be Shelby, which would be great. He could have Keyser Soze'd everyone which would be such a great story line. Provided they don't arrest him or kill him in the season finale. I think it would be fun if it was him and they set him up as the big bad for next season where Raylan and Boyd deal with him. Because, well more Raylan and Boyd is the best.

Or Drew is someone that they haven't seen which can offer its own cool factor and plenty of stories as well.

Either way it is going to be fantastic .
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I forget, have we seen Shelby with leg issues or limping? My impression from the Hill People episode was that even after he left his leg was still all kinds of messed up.

Shelby being the guy would be pretty cool in either case. And considering his reactions to everything going on I have a feeling it's true.

But really, anything to give us more time with Jim Beaver is appreciated... I think he's a solid actor.
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Anybody else notice how many times this episode had reaction shots of Tim? He had like 15 different reaction shots, and only had one line near the end. It's as if the director heard our pleas for more Tim and did what he could to include him, despite the script only giving him one line. I guess it was also a way to remind us that he's around and should be involved more when he finds out his buddy was killed.

"Jesus. I hope I got that right." Haha! Raylan seems to have at least one line every episode that I wish I could say in the same context.

And yay @ Brent Sexton. His face was quite red and tanned though -- I guess the little yard time they get is more than enough when they don't get sunscreen for protection.

And I noticed the quick texting as well. It's as if Johnny knew what Colton's replies would be and typed up his own replies before receiving Colton's.
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Yeh I was wondering what-the-heck. No comments, no condolences, nothing but focused shots of various facial expressions.

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Such a good fucking show. I can't believe it still doesn't get the mass approval it deserves. Boyd's outlaw speech was friggin awesome, reminded me of Opie's "The outlaw had mercy" somehow. He continues advancing towards being one of my all time favorite characters. Raylan's gotta watch out he's not being robbed of the spotlight on this show...
Loved how Arlo's death was handled. Not your conventional dramatic death scene, just Raylan stating "Well, my dad just kicked the bucket."
Also really looking forward to Tim's and Colton's (who, by the way, ain't no bad texter neither) confrontation. Betcha that cigarette butt will be the link.
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This was a brilliant episode but really sad that Arlo is gone. I agree with many that Shelby could be Drew and it is going to be fantastic last episodes.
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This episode was so good, I can't wait till next week. Boyd's last outlaw speech was amazing and can't wait/ kind of don't want to see when everything falls apart. I also really love the psychic widow. She is just so funny.
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I love Raylan's off-handed comment "I hope I got that one right" when he shot the killer-in-cop's-clothing.

I also noticed that "Dang, Johnny can TEXT"
Who are you?
(0.25 seconds later)
Ellen May
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SODAMNGOOD!! I realise I sound like a child, but my favourite part was Raylan shooting the Detroit hitman. Only time I've rewound and watched a few times. The Ellen May scene was nice, but far from the strongest scene in the episode in my view. I'm still dreading seeing how things will turn out for Boyd and Ava. Still smacks of Carlito's Way...
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"I'm gonna need you to step aside."
Ava's reaction is brilliant.
"Ok, maybe I'm crazy. Uh, I'm just having a hell of a day. Did you just give me an order!?"
"You don't move, I'm going to shoot you."
Bang, bang.
"Jeez, I hope I got that right."
Awesome. Best shoot out I've seen in a long time.
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I have the other two seasons on DVD, and don't recall Shelby ever saying he was born there. ANd the whole "pretend long enough and it becomes real " thing makes it hard not to jump up and down pointing at him as Drew. But these writers have surprised me enough, they're good like that, so I won't put all my eggs in that basket. Just most. And I hope Shelby gets Ellen MAy to fess up about her and Ava before it's too late for him to use it too cause trouble for Boyd.
I did like the banter when Raylan walked in on Boyd being taken away, between the definition of crazy and the wedding invite, it was a great scene.
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Agree 100% - Shelby is Drew, Drew is Shelby. Of course I thought Josiah was Drew at first. Oops.
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Yeah, I became convinced of Shelby being Drew after tonight's episode, too, especially after watching Brent Sexton in the previews for next week's ep.

Last week's episode was really good but this one was just off the chain. It's great to see all the disparate threads slowly coalescing into what should be a great finale. It's also great to see Raylan back to killin' folks again.

Superb recent installments of a superb show.
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i think shelby is drew thompson
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Can't deny that would be awesome
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Agree - The way he kept asking about Drews' "widow" and how she is nice looking. That he may go check her out.
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also the way he was trying to find her location
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I'll second the Shelby/Ellen May scene as the strongest of the episode. Mr. Beaver does damn fine work in every role I've ever seen him in. Speaking of Shelby this episode gave me the distinct impression that maybe he's Drew. Anyone else get that vibe?
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I'm totally with you there on the Shelby being Drew deal. He's awfully interested in that widow...
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And where she was hiding out...
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Yeah pretty sure Shelby is Drew Thompson. This final episodes are going to be wild and emotional!!!
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