Justified: “The Hatchet Tour” (Episode 4.09)

TV Reviews
Justified: “The Hatchet Tour” (Episode 4.09)

“I’m talking about who we are, ‘cause that’s the reason we do what we do.”-Hunter Mosley

They say that you should judge a man by his actions, not his words. Graham Yost and the creative team behind Justified certainly seem to think so. They’re in the midst of making a television show to prove their point. Character as destiny has been their thesis all season, and this week’s episode is the beginning of their closing statement.

As we very nearly knew last week, Sheriff Shelby is indeed the secret identity of ill-fated skydiving thief Drew Thompson. Given the heavy-handed clues that were dropped last week, the reveal is hardly a revelation. What is revelatory, however, is what we learn in the process.

Take Hunter Mosley, for instance. It was easy to assume that his decision to kill Arlo was a completely despicable act committed at the behest of a criminal kingpin. Even more important, consider what drove Arlo to both kill and die to protect Drew’s identity. We had been led to believe all season that his motivation was predictably sinister, an angle that would benefit him in some way whether it was money or freedom.

As it turns out, we were wrong about both men and their true intentions were nobler than we ever could have suspected.

Then again, misjudged motivations are all over this episode. When Raylan calls in a favor in order to personally transport Mosley, we automatically assumed, along with a hysterical Art (both the angry and funny kinds), that Raylan has some vengeance in mind. It speaks volumes about Raylan as a character and the job that the creative team has done over the years developing not only the man but also his locale and heritage that we have no problem imagining him avenging a man that he despised.

Here again, we were wrong.

Just like we were wrong when we thought that Boyd would kill Colt for lying about Ellen May (though with three hours yet to play out this season, I wouldn’t buy any green bananas if I were Colt). Just like we were wrong when we thought Drew/Shelby would kill Mosley in order to protect his identity once and for all. Just like we were wrong when we thought that Sister Cassie was nothing but a pretender and a con artist.

In the end, Arlo and Mosley were trying to kill each other for the same reason: to protect Drew. Though it remains unclear exactly how the debt originated for Arlo, the way Mosley and Shelby talk about Raylan’s mother, it seems likely that it has something to do with her. It isn’t the first time we have heard a character speak of Francis with a level of affection and respect that approaches worship and none more so than Raylan. Still she remains an elusive figure, her name always spoken with sadness and praise. If all she did to deserve such admiration was to call a truce meeting, then that must have been some meeting. I’m not convinced that Arlo would have ever gone through with his deal, which is a surprising thing to say. Mostly I just think there has to have been a good reason for Arlo to keep that courier bag in his wall all those years, and I refuse to believe it had anything to do with money. Otherwise Arlo would have cashed it in long ago.

I expect we will learn more before the season is over, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out that Mosley’s debt to Drew is more than simply a case of Drew taking the heat for a transgression back in the day. Regardless of how it turns out, I can’t stop thinking how much I’d like to see a prequel spinoff show about Arlo, Shelby, Mosley and the rest back when they were younger.

The Ellen May storyline finally gets tied into the main plot, though it does it without an appearance by Ellen May. Boyd has to be reeling from the double betrayal of his old war buddy followed by the cop he thought he had in his pocket. Boyd has been making a lot of mistakes lately, which isn’t like him. Ever the schemer, Boyd has often been two steps ahead. But something has changed. For once he is driven not by power or greed, but by the desperate need to protect someone who he loves. It is a subtle shift, but it’s good writing to show that his emotions are making him rushed and sloppy with predictable results.

Sister Cassie’s return is unexpected but welcome since she provides the impetus for the Colt/Tim reunion while also provided a potential love interest for Tim. Given that she does seem like she may actually be a true believer, it will be interesting to see how her opinion of Tim changes if he ends up inadvertently doing Boyd’s dirty work.

Despite a lack of violent action (save for Constable Bob and his “Go Bag”), plot point for plot point, this episode was a non-stop rollercoaster ride. While Drew has been unmasked, a new mystery has cropped up. What the hell is the show going to be about for four more hours this season?

I’m sure they’ll think of something.

Some closing thoughts:

-Once it is over, this season looks to be the most re-watchable season so far, if only to catch all the hints about Drew’s identity that were peppered all over the place. Some were overt: Shelby leafing through Drew Thompson’s police file even though he had no real reason to have it. There was also Shelby’s keen interest in maybe getting to see his psychic ex-wife one more time (or the intentional placement of the scene of Ellen May trying on her clothes while Shelby looked on sadly jammed right up against the scene of Eve Monroe leafing through mug shot books). I’m sure when we go back and look there will be plenty, both overt and subtle.

-The car ride out to meet up with Constable Bob was a full-blown Deadwood reunion. It was very nice to see all three actors onscreen together again.

-A small technical note: Most of the in-car shots on the show are done with a green screen, and though they mostly pull it off, it rarely completely works. So it is always strange to me when an episode comes along where the bulk of the car scenes are actually shot on a real road. I have no point to make except that it’s unusual and I wish they would do it more often.

-Wynn Duffy had a corgi. Fantastic.

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