“Justified” Hatchet Tour

I know I’ve been talking about this show too much, but I’m binge-watching through Amazon Prime right now, so you’ll all have to deal with it since it’s my blog. Also, spoilers, though I’ll try to hide the big one in case anyone s intrigued enough to actually look into this show (which they should be)

“Justified” has a thing for episode nines…first “My Brother’s Keeper”, now this, because “Hatchet Tour” was awesome. I realized that each show tends to have a specific thing it does really well that makes it stand out, or at least the great shows – not just high quality material, but something “different” about it. “Breaking Bad” (from what I’ve seen and heard) excelled at putting its main characters in how-will-they-get-out-of-this-one scenarios and solving them in exceedingly clever ways. “The Walking Dead” (I’m on season two of that) goes mostly for slow burn character development punctuated with mind-blowing, game-changer type twists (Shane SHOT him to save Rick’s son!!!). “Game of Thrones” works mostly through element of surprise; more than any other show, NOBODY is safe. And “Sherlock” is all about manipulating viewer expectations, most obviously by sticking to the canon then pulling the rug out but also by putting Sherlock in situations where he ISN’T one step ahead of the villain, something done rarely enough that when it happens (as it did in the series’ two best episodes) it’s seriously frightening.

“Justified” is best at setting up and delivering payoffs. The show makes a LOT of implicit promises to the viewer with its complex tangle of subplots and secrets. If it didn’t deliver, then the viewer would feel cheated. At the same time, if the payoff is exactly what the viewer expected they’ll be disappointed. It’s a difficult balance – they not only need to deliver on their promises, they need to do it in ways most people won’t expect.

And this is something “Justified” is really, REALLY good at, and “Hatchet Tour” is an excellent example of this. We have been waiting for a very long time for shit to blow up with Colt and Ellen May, and I figured Marshal Tim would be involved. What I did NOT expect was for Boyd to go into the police station to confront Shelby about his involvement in the Ellen May conspiracy and get arrested by Raylan and pretty much the entire police force of Harlan County. I also figured Colt was cooked, and I was surprised that Tim let Boyd, in all of his Walton Goggins glory, just take him. The logic might not have been stretched a bit thin (I know he was on drugs at the time and Boyd promised to take care of him, but you’re really just letting Colt go, Tim?), but Boyd was so compelling, as always, that who cares?

It was also fantastic to see Boyd give the middle finger to the suits trying to control him. Boyd is most fun to watch when set against an opponent even more corrupt than he is, and it was a ton of fun watching them sweat.  do think Ava’s days may be numbered though…otherwise Boyd has incentive for leaving Harlan, and the show isn’t letting him leave. We’ll see.

And we finally get the big reveal: Who really is Drew Thomson? Well, I’m not telling, but I WILL say that my mind was blown. On the other hand, a lot of reviewers seemed to have had it figured out already, so maybe I was just slow. I don’t care. It was awesome.

Four episodes in season four to go, then onto five.

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