In Slate’s Justified TV Club, Rachael Larimore will IM each week with a different fan of the FX drama set in Harlan County, Ky. This week she chats with journalist Niki Kelly.
Rachael Larimore: So, after a few weeks’ diversion, we return to the Drew Thompson story line and start to figure out how Arlo—and by extension Raylan—is tied into this whole mess. And it’s a pretty big knot. What did you think?
Niki Kelly: Everything in Harlan County is so rich and complicated I love it, and this Drew Thompson story is no different. Every time you think you have a handle on the players they introduce you to new characters you want to know more about. My dad’s family have Harlan County roots, and my uncle is always visiting Evarts down there. He says the show is spot-on.
Larimore: I’m very curious about people’s take on the authenticity of Harlan. I’ve heard several different opinions and have wondered if there are really people like the Bennetts and the Truth family. And then this week we met the “hill people.” They make the Truths look positively civilized. This was an especially rich and complicated episode. The writers conveyed a lot of info in a few scenes. We learn the annoying FBI agent who’s always after Raylan has his own side job—protecting Theo Tonin—and that Drew Thompson not only saw Tonin shoot an informant but also shot Tonin himself and stole his cocaine. And THEN, Thompson turned to Arlo and Bo Crowder for help. And now, Arlo’s and Bo’s sons are caught up in the mess.
Kelly: The best part of the arc might be seeing Raylan and Boyd interact, it’s one of the highlights of the series. There’s nothing better than seeing Boyd handcuffed to a tree professing his dislike for his old buddy.
Larimore: They are the best of frenemies, aren’t they? It might be the most complex relationship on the show. Which we see when Mary, who is kin to Raylan’s mom, says that they can’t kill Raylan, but has fewer qualms about Boyd’s demise. We know that Raylan isn’t going to let that happen, but it’s powerful to see him put himself in jeopardy to make sure it doesn’t happen. And then of course he doesn’t hesitate to to cuff Boyd to that tree when he gets in the way.
Kelly: It will be great to see them trying to solve the mystery in their own ways. Also, Constable Bob returned in this episode with my all-time favorite law enforcement car: the Gremlin!
Larimore: I really hope they do more with Patton Oswalt’s character, who disappeared after the first episde. And his return was too brief. But he did work in a mention of his go bag! I feel like we’re going to see the go bag come into play later.
Kelly: He’s a great addition to the cast. Another key part of the episode was the appearance of a very pregnant Winona. It appears nothing has really changed though despite Raylan’s supposed excitement about being a dad. He seems to care about it in philosophical terms but not so much in terms of really being there for her. Providing money doesn’t make someone a dad. Alas, the job always comes first.
Larimore: The episode was called “Kin,” for all kinds of reasons. Raylan is really struggling with his impending fatherhood, and not just because OB appointments are a hassle. His own father was such a loser that he’s worked hard to go in the opposite direction. But being the good guy doesn’t necessarily make him a good father.
Kelly: Raylan has the biggest Daddy issues I’ve ever seen. Hopefully he will wrestle them down enough to at least provide a positive role model.
Larimore: It did not surpise me at all, that having to leave Winona at the doctor’s to, of all things, find out his dad’s about to get a deal, he set off to hunt down Drew Thompson and ensure that Arlo would stay in prison. It’s like if he can keep Arlo locked away, then he’s conquered his demons. I’m curious about your take on Winona, since she inspires such strong mixed reactions from Justified fans.
Kelly: I’m not a huge fan but I do like that she was strong enough to break away when he wouldn’t prioritize her. I similarly find Ava and Boyd pretty honest with each other and they seem to have a “healthy” relationship even though it is based on criminal enterprise.
Larimore: What an excellent segue! We need to talk about Boyd. I feel like Boyd and Raylan’s story lines have been discrete all season, but they are going to wind together. But Boyd still has a few problems of his own. When Colton lied to Boyd about killing Ellen May, I figured that that boded poorly for one of them, Colton or Ellen May. What I did not figure, though, was that Shelby came to Ellen May’s rescue. He’s ready to make a break with Boyd. Daring.
Kelly: I am intrigued by Shelby’s seeming move to independence and how Ellen May will fit in. She and Shelby work together on bringing down Boyd and Ava that could be a great arc.
Larimore: People who cross Boyd tend not to fare too well.
Kelly: True but you would think Boyd would have to lose sometime! Speaking of people who cross Boyd, I am confused about Johnny’s plans/motivation behind hooking up with the dangerous but hilarious Wynn Duffy, he of the infamous RV, and killing Boyd. I feel like this kind of came out of nowhere.
Larimore: What is the DEAL with that RV? It cracks me up. Who operates out of an RV? I was left wondering when Wynn Duffy hired Boyd to hunt down Thompson: Is it just that he needs him? Or is it a plot to take out Boyd at the same time? I suspect the former, based on Wynn and Johnny’s last scene, but who knows what will happen?
Kelly: I wonder if in the end Drew Thompson is under everyone’s nose as someone we may have even met. That would be a twist.
Larimore: Cousin Mary of the hill people kind of implied that, didn’t she? When she said she saw him at a parade and hobnobbing with the town’s leaders.
Kelly: And what the heck is going on with Josiah’s bloody foot?
Larimore: For the second week in a row, we end on a mysterious disappearance. I think, as with Ellen May, we’re not supposed to know yet whether he ran off or was taken. I suspect either Thompson came to get him, or he’s so afraid of Thompson that he made a run for it. On foot.