Justified – “Peace of Mind”: Divine intervention

Justified: Season 4

Episode 12 – “Peace of Mind”

Aired: March 26, 2013

Director: Gwyneth Horder-Payton

Writers: Taylor Elmore & Leonard Chang

“What’s the matter with you? Don’t you know how to win?”

– Art Mullen

This week’s episode played out in a similar fashion to the hunt for Drew Thompson. Boyd was once again teamed up with the boys from Detroit to seek out a common enemy while Raylan and the marshals raced to beat them to the target. And, once again, Raylan and the marshals emerged victorious.

Part of me couldn’t help but feel like this was a bit of a shaggy dog story. Shelby asked Raylan to pick up Ellen May when he was being apprehended. Most of the action this week could have been avoided if Raylan had sent some troopers down to Knobles Holler then to confront Limehouse and shake her out. He could have saved himself the miles and the headache of once again driving from Lexington to Harlan if he had just listened then. And, if that had been the case, Winona would most likely not have ended up in the rocking chair of doom at the end of the episode, since Raylan wouldn’t have landed back on Theo Tonin’s radar.

So while I couldn’t shake the feeling that the whole hour felt a bit unnecessary and a bit like a lackluster redux of the hunt for Drew, I did enjoy many of the individual moments in this week’s episode.

I liked the bizarre “not-quite-a-Mexican-standoff” ending at the church, with Ava being unable to shoot Ellen May, Colton ready to step up to the job and Tim showing up just in time to save the day. I thought everyone in that scene nailed it, from Ellen May telling Ava that the peace she feels in God is unlike anything Ava’s ever felt to Ava knowing she has to do but being unable to do it to Colt defiantly taunting Tim and refusing to lower his gun to Tim giving him every opportunity to do so while waiting for a clear, justifiable reason to shoot him in front of three witnesses. Great character moments all around that felt earned by everything that happened earlier this season.

I also liked that this week Rachel was the unstable one (rising to Limehouse’s bait and getting lippy with him) and Tim was the one who shot someone while Raylan just sat back and played it cool. This show would be much less interesting if it was always Raylan getting into disputes with scumbags and running around with a “shoot first, ask questions later” mentality. So I enjoy that the show has made a real effort to include Tim and Rachel more this season and I enjoy the fact that, at the end of the day, they aren’t so different from Raylan. He’s clearly the biggest cause of Art’s anxiety, but he certainly isn’t the only cause. Plus, it was nice to see the local cop asking Raylan if he was involved in the shooting and Raylan getting to nonchalantly say no.

I also really enjoyed the reunion of Shelby and Ellen May. The scene was perfect, starting with Ellen May nervously fidgeting as she waited for him to arrive to the pure joy both of them had at seeing each other once again. I’m not one to write fan fiction, but it’s nice to imagine an alternate reality where Drew Thompson and Ellen May did make it out of Harlan together and lived out the remainder of their days together in the mountains of Mexico.

On the other hand, I’m not sure how I feel about the ending this week. It was an odd cliffhanger with Picker installing the rocking chair and then leaving Winona’s place. I’m not sure if we are supposed to assume the chair is somehow wired to explode or if it was simply illustrating that Picker knows where she lives and can get to her at any time. I also don’t know how excited I am about a finale that revolves around rescuing Winona. (Although maybe it won’t be a rescue at all. If the show wants to go to a dark place, having the finale open with Raylan discovering that Winona and his baby girl have been killed could be one way to go. Especially since Natalie Zea has been cast on The Following and can only appear on Justified sporadically as it is.)

Hopefully the show has something great in store for the finale. I’ve enjoyed this season, but in a lot of ways last week’s episode felt like the climax. “Peace of Mind” felt a bit like an emotional letdown after such a fantastic episode the week prior. I’m hoping the season ends on a strong note.

And another thing …

  • Quite a few movie references this week (without actually mentioning the movie titles): there was Art comparing Ellen May to Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman and Tim sarcastically referencing the “outhouse, doghouse, henhouse” line from The Fugitive. Plus, Art mentioned transporting Drew Thompson on “Con Air,” though I imagine that one was just a coincidence. (Not that I wouldn’t love to see a version of Con Air that starred Shelby instead of Nick Cage.)
  • Apparently Boyd Crowder is a fan of Ralph Waldo Emerson, which I appreciate.
  • So what now for Ellen May? She’s safe, but what will she do with the rest of her life?

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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