Justified – “Kin”: The hills have guys

Justified: Season 4

Episode 5 – “Kin”

Aired: February 5, 2013

Director: Peter Werner

Writers: Fred Golan & VJ Boyd

“Mr. Duffy, we are not trustworthy men.”

– Boyd Crowder

This week, we got Raylan and Boyd doing battle with the hill people, Agent Barkley showing his true colors and Arlo looking to get himself out of jail by giving up Drew Thompson. There were a lot of wheels spinning and a lot of great little individual moments in this week’s episode and yet, I felt a bit underwhelmed by “Kin” as a whole.

Maybe I’m alone in this, but this episode felt more about getting from Point A to Point B than most. Usually, the show is pretty good at advancing the season-arcing plot while still giving viewers a series of entertaining stand-alone shows. And while this week’s episode was by no means bad, it just felt like the clunkiest and least-compelling stand-alone episode in a while.

While Raylan and Boyd getting kidnapped together was entertaining, it felt more like a fun diversion than a cohesive plot. Similarly, I enjoyed Colton and Tim getting to meet and swap war stories, since they exists as fun house mirror reflections of one another in their post-military lives, but that too was just a brief interlude. We also got brief cameos from both Arlo and Winona, though neither had much to actually do this week.

The biggest problem with the episode as a whole is that it felt like a series of information dumps to fill viewers in on all the necessary background info before moving forward with the story. We start with Arlo showing up at the marshals’ office, but he doesn’t actually become a factor in the episode, except that he’s a catalyst to send Raylan out to Harlan to try to find Drew Thompson before his deal is in place. In the episode’s B-story, we see Colton having a series of chats with Shelby as he tries to track down Ellen May, but all of that just sets us up for the next phase of Ellen May’s story.

Early on, we get the episode’s clunkiest scene, as Agent Barkley and Tonin’s man Nick Augustine fill Wynn Duffy in on their history together. The two take turns finishing each others sentences as they have to establish, in a short span, that they are childhood friends and Barkley is dirty. Nick also has to give us more info on Tonin’s history with Drew Thompson, as he explains that in addition to witnessing a murder that could bring Tonin down, Thompson shot the crime boss in the eye before stealing $2 million in coke and running away. It’s an exposition-heavy scene that isn’t handled in a particularly compelling way, up until Augustine decides to take out Barkley for his high asking price. The whole thing just felt rather forced.

Perhaps the most compelling development this week is Boyd’s willingness to help Wynn Duffy track down Drew Thompson. As Raylan points out when the two are being held by the hill people, Arlo took the fall for Boyd and now Boyd is trying to sabotage Arlo’s deal. At first, it seems like this is just collateral damage, but late in the episode we see Boyd paying off Arlo’s lawyer to make sure the deal never happens. I’m very curious to find out what his motivation for keeping Arlo locked up could be.

This episode did set the table for some other great storylines as well. We discover that Shelby did indeed have Ellen May picked up (after realizing what Boyd had planned for her after Boyd made him set up that secret conference call last week) and is lying to Colton about her whereabouts. That doesn’t bode well for Colton, who is lying to Boyd about Ellen May being dead already. Also, Raylan finally has a line on Drew Thompson’s whereabouts, though Boyd has the same information Raylan does and is looking to get to him first. All of that combined with the revelation that there are other dirty FBI agents out there looking to protect Tonin means this thing is going to get messy very soon.

And another thing …

  • Now that we know the truth about Agent Barkley, it makes his accusations of Raylan being a dirty marshal last season ironic in hindsight.
  • Speaking of Barkley, I’ll miss you, Stephen Tobolowski. Having just watched Groundhog Day this past weekend, it was a bit jarring seeing ol’ Needlenose Ned get popped.
  • Of course, the “That Guy” cameos continued this week with Major Dad himself, Gerald McRaney, popping up as Josiah, the man who sends Raylan and Boyd on a wild goose chase into the hills. (Which was fun considering the history the two had as rivals on Deadwood.) Although it looks like Josiah got some wicked karmic payback in the end, with his foot being the only thing left of him in his front yard when Raylan goes looking for him.
  • As much as they hate each other, Raylan and Boyd really do make quite a team. I look forward to all of their scenes together and am quite impressed it took the show this long to get them together this season.

Written by Joel Murphy. If you enjoy his recaps, he also writes a weekly pop culture column called Murphy’s Law, which you can find here. You can contact Joel at murphyslaw@hobotrashcan.com.

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