Justified – “Decoy”: High school reunion

Justified: Season 4

Episode 11 – “Decoy”

Aired: March 19, 2013

Director: Michael Watkins

Writers: Graham Yost & Chris Provenzano

I know a lot of you have been a bit underwhelmed by the season-long Drew Thompson mystery plot. I take it from the comments I’ve heard that a lot of you would have preferred a supervillain a la Mags Bennett or Robert Quarles to a slowly unraveling mystery.

And to some extent, I get that. I understand how, at the onset, this season’s arc could feel a bit underwhelming.

But hopefully last night’s episode put those complaints to rest. In my opinion, “Decoy” is the best hour of television the show has produced in the post-Mags Bennett era. It was an hour full on tension and excitement that gave us two phenomenal games of cat and mouse.

The first was Raylan and Boyd squaring off in the high school. I like that Boyd was able to keep figuring out where Raylan would be, but was still constantly one step behind him. (The story about the astronaut coming to their school was a nice touch.) Boyd cutting his loses before heading into the Mexican standoff at the end was great too. The man is, first and foremost, a survivor.

That plotline also gave us the redemption of Constable Bob. I like Boyd getting to take out YOLO and save the day while still getting mercilessly beaten. The episode let Patton Oswalt shine (and redeem himself for his previous shootout with the two old non-Drew Thompsons) without feeling forced or unbelievable.

It was also a good episode for Rachel, who ends up in sole possession of ol’ Shelby/Drew at the end of the episode (which was a plan devised by Constable Bob). It’s nice to see an episode where Raylan is just a diversion and Rachel is the one holding the bad guy at the end.

The other cat and mouse game was glorious as well. I loved all of Tim and Colton’s phone conversations as the two tried to outmaneuver one another. It took a little bit of work to get Tim and Art stuck between the two exploding cars, but once they were there, everything was highly entertaining. I like Colton when he isn’t drugged out and in a panic looking for Ellen May. He’s actually a worthy opponent for Tim.

I’m very curious to see where we go from here. The threat of Theo Tonin is still looming for all of our major characters, though Drew Thompson appears to be safely on his way to lock up. I know the writers have something up their sleeves for the remainder of the season, but in a lot of ways, this episode felt like the climax of this whole adventure.

Of course, Ellen May is still out in the wind, so its possible that she’ll play a major role in the finale. And Tim still had a blood feud to settle with Colton. Plus, I just have this sense that we are in for one more major piece of collateral damage – whether it be Ava or Winona or another regular. I just get the sense that Theo Tonin and his crew will take out someone before the season is all said and done.

Still, wherever we go from here, this was an incredibly fun and satisfying piece of television.

And another thing …

  • God, there’s something deeply satisfying about a guy named YOLO getting stabbed in the leg and then being murdered.
  • Wow, Nicky sure didn’t do his homework on Ava. He really thought that blowjob play was going to work?
  • Do you think the show will go the “hero” route with Shelby and have him end up unhandcuffed and holding a gun to cover Rachel in the next episode or do you think he’s remaining captured and out of play?
  • Oh Johnny, one of these days maybe someone will take your grasps at power seriously.

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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