Justified "Truth and Consequences" Review: The Mystery of TV Mysteries, Solved

Justified S04E03: "Truth and Consequences"

You know what's getting a little tired? Me saying how GREAT Justified is, yet here we are on another Tuesday evening, and yes, Justified is still great. Tonight's "Truth and Consequences" was dialogue dynamo even by Justified's lofty standards of loquaciousness, with everyone sharpening their tongues to a fine point before spitting out the words. But "Truth and Consequences" needed all that slick talk because it had the difficult task of moving things forward only ever so slightly while still keeping the audience's interest. The episode was a balancing act of keeping things interesting while not giving away too much, and boy howdy did it succeed with the help of snakes, psychics, and suicidal FBI men to thicken both of the season's major plots.

The bulk of "Truth and Consequences" followed that cold case Raylan picked up in the season premiere, leading Raylan, Art, and Tim to fake-dead Drew Thompson's fake-widow Eve Monroe, a sneaky psychic who was holding back more information than a science teacher in a Catholic high school in Kentucky. And it looks like that's how things are going to continue playing out, at least early on. So far, the Marshal department's investigation has led to people who aren't so forthcoming with details, as the mystery of Arlo's bag gets deeper with each step. The big chunk of info the guys got from Eve after she finally succumbed to their prying was that Drew saw Theo Tonin, Season 3's Detroit-based mobster played by Adam Arkin, murder a government informant. It sets up a situation where not only do Raylan and Art have to find Drew to figure out what the fuss over the bag is all about, if they don't get to him first, Tonin's going to have Drew put in a box.

Drawing out a mystery for 13 episodes, let alone 22, isn't easy as there are only so many details to go around and viewers only have so much patience (I have like zero). Personally, I've never been a big fan of televised mysteries for that reason. Mysteries are faceless adversaries, metaphorical obstacles that heroes have to overcome. And because television mysteries are only compelling when the audience is left wondering whodunit or whatdunwho, major details (and often the culprits) remain unknown and hidden until late in the game, taking away the fun of an audience trying to solve the mystery alongside the hero. That's why the ride along to those major details has to be a ton of fun, otherwise you get The Killing. Or the climaxes better be toe-curling and final, otherwise you get the multiple near-misses of The Mentalist or Pretty Little Liars or even How I Met Your Mother. TV mysteries have a tendency to hang on longer than that creepy guy at a party with a suspicious bottle of pills in his jacket pocket.

But so far, Justified's Season 4 mystery is working. Presumably it'll be contained within this season and have a solid end date (sometime in early April as the season closes), meaning questions will be answered wholly and completely before we lose interest. The case itself is directly tied to Raylan by virtue of Arlo's involvement, and Art has a vested interest in it as well. And though the details we excavate in each episode play that TV-mystery game of being largely tangential (for example, the first clue involving Waldo Truth was revealed us only because we needed to learn that Waldo Truth wasn't actually a part of it), Justified makes these otherwise tire-spinning treks interesting via characters we enjoy stopping by for visits, be they angsty hillbilly families or skittish "certified spiritualists." It also looks like many of the standalone case-of-the-week stories will give way to Raylan's cold case, serving as a substitute to self-contained episodes but still having beginnings and ends within their given hour. It doesn't matter that we're just moving from Point A to Point B and we won't get close to knowing the truth until somewhere around Point Z because we're having a blast along the way. Justified has done a fantastic job not trying to do much with its first mystery, keeping it simple and letting the folks of Harlan County add the color.

The mystery also has the benefit of not carrying the entire weight of the season, because we've got ourselves a heck of a B-story with Billy and Boyd. Following last week's fantastic encounter between the two, the back-and-forth continued with Boyd taking multiple approaches to kindly asking Harlan's newest residents to get the F out. His bribe was rebuffed by sister Cassie. His threat of violence was thwarted when henchmen Colton and Jimmy walked into Billy's Well of Souls (Snakes! Why'd it have to be snakes!?) and Jimmy got gangfanged by a rhumba of rattlesnakes. However, Jimmy didn't die from his punctures, so either he's part mongoose or them serpents been milked of their venom. So Boyd did what any man looking to sully the reputation of a traveling con would do, and he asked Billy to handle his snake (not like that, perv). And wouldn't you know it? In front of the whole congregation, God looked the other way while Boyd's rattler sunk his teeth into Billy's arm.

It was a fascinating game of chicken as Billy pressed on with the challenge even though Cassie told him not to. It also answered our questions about who is in on the con and who isn't, because Billy seemed to think that God would intervene and give him the strength to overcome one of nature's most potent poisons. Even Boyd tried to tell Billy to let the snake be, and I may be mistaken, but he even looked a bit remorseful as he left the tent while Cassie wailed for an ambulance and Billy kicked on the floor. Boyd's just trying to run a couple of cons out of town; he didn't actually want to kill anyone. But this is exactly what takes Billy to the next level and makes him one of Justified's most unpredictable enemies. If he isn't in on the con with his sister, and if he actually believes in his snake sermon, he's a lot more dangerous than a traveling charlatan.

But what about the teen drama of Raylan's personal life? Lindsey's ex Randall isn't pleased with Raylan's presence around Lindsey's private area, as he made it known during their excellent encounter in the gym locker room. That was just two pissed-off guys going at each other without losing their cool, and their back-and-forth was beautiful. It turned out Raylan was a little overconfident in Lindsey's love for him, because at the end of the episode, Lindsey was nowhere to be found and Raylan's room had been turned over like a... ummm... like an apple turnover! Now either Lindsey, who admitted she was part of a two-person criminal enterprise with Randall, pulled a fast one on Raylan and took his unborn baby's nest egg, or she's being bullied by Randall to steal from Raylan. Given that I've never trusted Lindsey (Team Winona!) and Raylan shouldn't be tied down to any one woman, I'm hoping she's about to learn what happens when you mess with Mr. Givens.

"Truth and Consequences" continued to show off this season's early strength: balance. With a cold case, some new unwanted Harlan residents, and short stories spanning an episode or two, Justified is keeping every facet interesting without making it too complex or repetitive. This show is on fire right now.



POSTCARDS FROM HARLAN COUNTY

– That whole bit with the snakes snappin' onto Jimmy was terrifying, and the dismembered snake hanging onto Jimmy's cheek was awesome.

– Colton: "I think a snake bit him." Thank you, Dr. Sarcastic.

– Raylan and Rachel together are fantastic. Almost as good as Raylan and Art. Which is almost as good as Raylan and Tim. But no combo is better than Raylan and Tim. NONE!

– Art's Marshal Stiffy has lasted much longer than eight hours. Time to get that checked out, Art. Or find yourself a brothel.



Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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Could not agree more that this season of Justified is awesome, I am really glad that they decided to do a more serialized mystery this season rather than just introduce another frenemy villain. Not saying that the past ones haven't been good, although i wasn't to thrilled of last seasons, that actor just creeps me out, but let Boyd is enough frenemy for the whole show and it seems the writers realized that too and they to do something different, and it is working. And yes why oh why did it have to be snakes? Why? well so they could have one of the most horrifying cringe worthy scenes in a tv show ever! IMO I should say, and top top it off with the snake's head still attached to the poor dude's face! That is something I don't think I would wish on my worst enemy! Oh yeah, yes the snakes were milked of their venom by the preacher's sister otherwise there is no way a human could survive getting bit that many times, oh man just remembering the whimpering sounds he was making when the other guy carried him in is making me cringe all over again. I'll say the only thing I am less than thrilled about so far, and only it's cuz we already went through this as a red herring last season, is Jonny's seeming betrayal of Boyd, plus that guy who plays Duffy usually plays the smarmy villain I really want to punch him in the face! lol
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For the love of God, get rid of Lindsey! It's better to have no girlfriend than a total bore like her. She's just awful.
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Big fan of Justified obviously, but when are they gonna
1) kill Winona (useless "teen drama", makes me puke)
2) kill Rachel, or tie her to a radiator in an acting class, whatever, worst actress ever.
It's funny to see that everyone in my "justified fan's circle" agrees with that but not here...
again, being french, try to read this without a headache, sorry for the inconvenience.
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Another great episode! There was a bit of everything: some weirdness (a snake hanging from Jimmy's face!); a (real?) psychic; possible betrayal (Boyd's cousin teaming up with the-shaved-moustache guy); Raylan-Randall's pissing contest; Billy-Boyd's chicken play - which I loved! There was a lot of suspense over it, like, was Billy really "Jesus reincarnated" or just a clueless human?? I wonder how the snake-bite episode is going to affect Billy's faith after all? Is he going to give it all up and delve into crime/drugs or will that strenghen his faith, and make him more dangerous like Tim suggested? I can't wait to find out!
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Yeeah Tim and Rachel! I can't think of any other TV show where I absolutely love every single supporting character. I could watch 44 minutes of Raylan, Tim, and Rachel sitting in a stakeout van and be completely delighted.

I hope Billy doesn't die, I kinda like that crazy religious snake-dancing mofo. Plus he seems to be an oblivious idiot and those are always fun to watch.

And Art, I've heard enough about your penis to last me a lifetime. 'Nuff with the stiffy jokes! OK, one more. Haha that was a good one!
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It takes very special shows to have an episode where very little happens and yet is very entertaining to watch. Justified is one of three shows that fall under that category for me, the others being Breaking Bad and Homeland. The fact that I really liked this episode despite not being able to recount anything amazing happening reminds me yet again of why I've said for years now that I love this show.
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No mention of Duffy and Boyds cousin(what's his name again?)?
Either Boyd uses him to get to Duffy after he inclined his offer Or it is as it is: Boyd is in danger because Duffy seems to have geared up in terms of badassery this season, didn't he?
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Justified just gets better and better with each season. I don't even know what to say about this anymore! It's so consistently flawless! Which, sadly, is a rare phenomenon in television these days.

Btw, Tim: Your best comparison in your reviews yet: "...a sneaky psychic who was holding back more information than a science teacher in a Catholic high school in Kentucky."
I couldn't stop laughing :)
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Team Winona? Like really? I couldn't stand her so annoying and yeah the dialog between the characters..the best
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Holy shit! Timothy Olyphant is guest starring on Archer tomorrow!
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I totally agree: Raylan and Tim are AWESOME!
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Seems weird/dumb that a snake charmer's assistant who's routinely milking the venom from the snakes wouldn't have some antivenom nearby. But maybe it's not so easy to get as I imagine. Can you buy it at a pharmacy? Does it go bad quickly or something?
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I got nothing to add. Just came here to say that was another fantastic episode.. what a show..
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Raylan and Boyd is better than Raylan and Tim. I know you were going with the marshal dynamic, but let's be honest. Raylan and Boyd together steal scenes unlike anyone ever on TV. Maybe Locke and Ben.

And that's my only criticism of this season of Justified so far. No Raylan and Boyd. Find a reason for the two of them to be in a room together for a few minutes, I dont even care if it makes sense.
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Agree that Billy would had been a great enemy for Boyd, but Graham yost confirmed that Billy died.
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I wonder if Lindsey actually had something to do with turning Raylans room upside down. If I don't remember it all incorrectly, wouldn't she know where his money were? She stood in the bathroom while he came in and said how much he made on that sidemission in ep1, and it didn't really look like he was trying to hide any information about that cash. As I see it she wouldn't have the need to turn the whole room inside out to find it!

But I agree on the whole article, Justified is really awesome right now. This season has fantastic potential!
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Haha - Awesome episode again!! Bit gutted that the woman was playing Raylan, I hope she wasn't I don't like the thought that Raylan would have the same weaknesses as almost all men :P keep it coming Justified! So to speak.
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Good stuff. I don't really notice how nice it feels to smile during a show until something like Justified comes back.

And to be fair, Boyd often looks pained right before he does something f**cked up to someone nice. He'll still do it, of course, but still.

And can we get Arlo back soon? Or that black guy that talked a lot a couple weeks ago?
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In Boyd's defense, he gave that preacher tons of chances to walk away from the toolbox. It seemed like he didn't even WANT the preacher to do it because he knew what was going to happen. Pride cometh before the fall: Preacher-Boyd learned that the hard way when he saw his flock strung up in the forest.
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Sure, like Tim said, Boyd just wanted him to get the F--- out. Gotta keep Boyd a little sympathetic, especially with Arlo looking a bit less so right now.
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Bulls-Eye, Tim! "Justified" is on fire right now (dare I say: "Again"?).

Spent my childhood in The Deep South. Escaped to Cali.
While I'm grateful to be clear of The Bible Belt (for oh, so many reasons),
I've gotta admit that Justified's jaw-droppingly whip-smart, wiseacre, listen-closely-or-you'll-miss-something-If-it-doesn't-go-over-your-head dialogue, must-have-lived-there references and serpentine, scary and hairy situations won me over from the first episode. Into its fourth season, it continues to elicit Cheshire grins, unexpected and spontaneous bursts of laughter, reveal long-forgotten (repressed?) memories and - yes - even something as rare as a fond (gasp!) reminiscence of what had felt like an endless, involuntary and torturous incarceration in that hot-as-Hades, triple-digit humid, insect-filled, rattlesnake-family-friendly, "Gator-Crossing" sign-dotted, hurricane-homing-beacon, lightning-strike capital (of U.S.A.)...
aka: "Florida".

Curious?/Considering a road trip? Don't. Want to immerse yourself in Southern Hospitality without the risk of all those bug (and "other") bites? Skip the trip. Watch "Justified". Believe it or not, many of the characters are remarkably realistic representations. The good people of Harlan and its neighbors aren't over-the-top exaggerations or uninformed caricatures. I love watching all of 'em. Particularly Raylan and Art/Tom/Boyd. Or Raylan and (anyone).
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Don't know this show but I came here just because it's Walton Goggins' picture! This guy was so good in The Shield! For me the best actor of The Shield!
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He's truly fantastic on this show. He was my favourite on The Shield as well.
Check this show out and stick with it. It's really great.
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He's the best one here too.
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He is spectacular in it and his character is very smart. He's not just some two bit criminal.
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I'm glad we're seeing so much of Tim and Rachel so early on. I always felt like they were underused in previous seasons, especially since their scenes with Raylan are so great.
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I was going to offer a counter-opinion that a genuine preacher trying to do good (albeit a tad misguided on the proper response to rattlesnakes) would not be more dangerous than a traveling con man. A con man is out for something and might do all kinds of crazy things to get what he's after. A preacher trying to save people's souls probably wouldn't. But the more I think about it, I think you're right. This particular preacher obviously has some issues, or at the very least a borderline delusional fundamentalist attitude on Christianity. If such a character were to, say, decide that Boyd was demon or possessed by one, or sent by the Devil, or anything along those lines......well then who knows WHAT a guy like that might do. He might start seeing it as his Holy Mission to rid the world of Boyd Crowder. I'm assuming Billy isn't dead from the bite and will continue on the show since people rarely die from rattlesnake bites.
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I could go on and on about how good that was. But I am under some time constraints. S I will just leave it at this.


F&$k that was good.
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If they offered the full season on DVD before it aired, I would buy it. I don't tend to like season long mysteries either, but this show is so good that I can't just wait until it's over and watch it all at once.And Rachel starting to act the badass, and calling Raylan Wyatt Earp, that was beautiful!
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Two things:
1. Since this show has a history of Deadwood reunions & Ian McShane filled out his paperwork with FX through American Horror Story, I wanna see Swearengen & Bullock share the screen again if only for a single scene.
2. Marshall Stiffie sounds like a gay porn name
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I've always said that the other Marshals are entertaining enough that I'd still watch this show sans Raylan, and I enjoy the hell out of Raylan.
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I feel the exact opposite. His fellow Marshals are pretty boring.
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I don't think characters such as Tim have had enough to do. this is obviously the Raylan show (and i love it) but i think a Tim story line could add a load more depth.
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I think I am getting a viewer stiffy!
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Agreed with the mystery stuff. Knowing what i know from previous Justified seasons, i think the pay off will be great but we just have to wait. I love the banter between Tim and Raylan the best. Another fantastic episode from my favorite show and dare i say best show on tv right now
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