***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.
POSTCARDS FROM HARLAN COUNTY
– 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.