I spent most of my first three reviews of this season of Justified rambling on about the virtues of structure and pacing and the combination of standalone stories and season-long stories, and then Justified had to go and throw an episode like "This Bird Has Flown" at us. Barely touching on what we thought were the centerpieces of Season 4 (Billy the snake handler vs. Boyd; Raylan vs. the Cold Case), "This Bird Has Flown" chose to tell unrelated tales about two supporting characters close to our hero's and anti-hero's hearts—or in Raylan's case, another throbbing part of his body.
But before we get to that, BILLY THE PREACHER IS DEAD?!?! What!? Last week, the true believer got snake-bit on the arm after Boyd brought in a real juiced-up snake instead of one of the drained ones Cassie had been using, and Billy's test of resolve was a failure, proving only that rattlesnakes are God-hating atheists. But all I expected to happen to Billy was a short stay in the hospital and maybe some snake-handling rehab with a rubber hose or something. Instead, the man we thought was going to be around all season long to serve as the fangs in Boyd's side is a goner. Of course, until I see a body, I'm holding out hope that Billy will slither out from under a rock somewhere. But in the meantime, maybe R.I.P. Billy (Joe Manzello). You had no problem escaping velociraptors, a T-Rex, and the Japanese WWII forces, but one toothy kiss from a rattler and you're a goner.
As for what DID happen in this episode, I think it's about time we really devoted more than one or two sentences to Lindsey. As the saying goes, I don't trust her as far as I can throw her, and because I have never thrown anyone before I really have no point of reference but throwing people sounds fun, especially when it comes to those I trust least like Lindsey. Last week Raylan came home to his room above the bar and found it turned upside down, his 10 large missing from his underpants drawer. At the time, we knew Lindsey's ex-husband Randall was involved, but we didn't know whether Lindsey was privy to the situation. Ummm, yes she was. When you're blonde and skinny and pretty and you squeak in that "Who, me?" voice, you not only can get away with that kind of stuff, you rely on it.
And that's what we learned from her story this week, confirming what we suspected the minute she wrapped her leggy legs around Raylan last season. Lindsey is a compulsive con artist who doesn't know when and where the grift ends, and we got to see her true colors when she left both Raylan and Randall (and Randall's dream of being Kentucky's finest cockfighting chicken manager) behind to punch each other in the face in the shadow of a van full of caged pugilistic poultry. It wasn't so much a case for Raylan as it was a search for answers that benefited the both of us, and despite being stuffed with double crosses and Raylan's achy-breaky heart, this story was darkly comic and entertaining all the way through.
But now that my concerns have been confirmed, I actually like Lindsey a lot more than I did before. Yes she had to be scrubbed clean instead of doing it herself, but now that we've seen the real her we can either be angry or we can be impressed with the way she pulled everything off. I almost shared Randall's sentiment when he said, "End of the day when it's all done, she's still kind of worth it isn't she?" She done hookwinked the both of them, and did it without breaking a sweat or an ounce of regret. Deep down I'm sure she did have some feelings for both men, but Lindsey's daddy probably didn't give her enough attention (or he gave her way too much icky attention), so this is how she rolls. If you're going to get left in a ditch without a wallet, it might as well be at the hand of someone like her.
However, I'm uneasy over Lindsey's effect on Raylan. Have we ever seen Raylan act like such a whimpering pussy the way he did tonight? Begging for confirmation that she actually liked him after she blasted him with a non-lethal beanbag shotgun? That wasn't the nonplussed Raylan we're used to, it was a guy whose ego jumped in front of his heart to take the beanbag bullet. I don't know if we'll ever see Lindsey again; it seems as though women who get out of Raylan's life have to run for the hills and never look back. But if this WAS the last time we see her, it closes a chapter of Justified that didn't really work until it was time to say goodbye. Better late than never, I guess. And at least Raylan can stop living like a raccoon in the attic of a bar and move back into a shifty motel like a wino whose life is in ruins.
Proving that blondes have more fun, brunette Ellen May got a raw deal thanks to her previous knowledge of Ava's past as a pimp murderer. With her stairway to heaven blocked off after Billy's passing, Ellen May came back to Ava looking for work on her back. However, Ava didn't know whether Ellen May was a loose end with the secrets to put her away, so she had two options: Ship Ellen May off to another state to rot away in silence, or take the sure thing and have her killed. She flip-flopped for awhile, but unfortunately for Ellen May, the final call was to have Colton put her down near a remote gas station. That drive with Colton and Ellen May reminded me a bit of the uncomfortable car ride between Michael and Snoop in The Wire, and I half expected Ellen May to wise up to the situation and ask Colton if her hair looked alright (caution: link has spoilers for The Wire).
But no whores were killed after all, because when Colton got back from a drug snort and some heavy contemplation in the gas station bathroom, Ellen May was gone (at least she put gas in the car before flying the coop). PHEW. If this season isn't going to have Dickey, it better at least have plenty of Ellen May. Did she somehow get tipped off (possibly by a remorseful Ava?), or is that dumb whore actually a smarter whore than we thought?
It was telling to see Colton not actually want to off Ellen May, as it turns him from a trigger-happy war vet to as close to a human being as one of Boyd's henchmen can be, but it also means he's in bad shape with current employer Boyd. And Ava has no idea where the one person who can put her away is. Run for the hills, Ellen May!
"The Bird Has Flown" got us no closer to solving the case of the mystery bag and only gently caressed the cheek of the Last Chance Salvation church, but Justified is so good at telling other stories, I didn't mind a bit.
– I don't know who the heck this dude with the beer who was walking around the party house was, but I want to see him more of him, Justified!
– Randall: "There's money in fightin' chickens, Raylan. You think about it..." Raylan's beanbag shotgun: "BLAM!" Haha, Raylan. Their fight was great, too.
– Favorite line of the night, from Raylan: "Maybe my participation earns me a simple 'They went thataway.'"
Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom