Raylan and Boyd have secrets to keep, as Arlo sets a mystery in motion
Credit: Prashant Gupta/FX

If the season 4 premiere felt a bit different to you, it was supposed to. The writers are trying something new this year: There’s not a “big bad” (RIP, Mags and, presumably, Quarles), there’s a big mystery. They’re also giving Raylan and Boyd very separate story lines, at least at the start. Since Raylan has to keep his moonlighting a secret because bounty hunters aren’t allowed in Kentucky and Marshals aren’t allowed side jobs, that means his colleagues were nowhere to be seen this episode — after Rachel appeared just long enough for Raylan to make a Big Lebowski reference. Art and Gutterson have great scenes with Raylan in next week’s episode as the three of them search for Waldo Truth, so that’ll feel more familiar. This hour was about setting Boyd and Raylan off in their respective directions and introducing new faces. Let’s dig in.

In a series first, we began with a flashback. On Jan. 21, 1983, a man fell from the sky with a streamer parachute and a bag of cocaine. All we learned before cutting to a snoozing Raylan being stirred by his ringing cell phone at his desk was that the man wasn’t Santa Claus and the cops were called.

Raylan’s phone call was a woman named Sharon Edmunds who does bail bonds in Knoxville, Tennessee. Another flashback, this time to a law enforcement expo in Miami where she met Raylan a few years ago, revealed she likes to stand in front of hotel room windows naked. “You want another one,” Raylan asked her, meaning a drink. “Not of that,” she said, staring at him in his towel. Yes, now he remembers her. She needed help bringing in Jody Odair, a 41-year-old man charged with double homicide. He’s out on $250,000 bail, but skipped town two days ago and has an ex-wife who lives in Lexington. She wanted Raylan to find him, then she’d have Lexington PD bring him in and pay Raylan $3,000. Rachel told Raylan not to get caught — does she know he’s playing bounty hunter or just guessing that he’s breaking the rules because he’s Raylan?

Conveniently, Raylan made it to the ex-wife’s house in time to see Jody show up with a bag of hamburgers. She wouldn’t let Jody in, so he went back to his vehicle to get a gun. Raylan, already annoyed at Jody for littering, eventually broke the driver’s side window and pointed a gun at his head. Jody was calm — he was confident the gun he had pointed at Raylan could shoot through the door and that lawman Raylan wouldn’t shoot him. He was right — Raylan shot the air bag instead. Awesome. In our weekly postmortem with EP Graham Yost, he assures us that could happen. Raylan cuffed Jody on the ground and called Sharon to suggest he’d better just bring him in.

Our first glimpse of Boyd this season came as he calmly tried to figure out why Hiram, one of his Oxy dealers, had stopped selling. “People are gettin’ off drugs and hooked on Jesus,” the recently saved Hiram said, crediting Preacher Billy and his Last Chance Holiness Church. Boyd reckoned Hiram either owed him $10,000 for his last delivery before his conversion, or the Oxy, which Hiram said he’d flushed. Boyd kept checking his pocket watch, and that was because his passion to blow s— up has been renewed. Hooray! Boyd moved away from the window just before a firecracker blew outside. Boyd said Hiram had until the next night to give him his money or a firecracker would go off inside the house next.

NEXT: Patton Oswalt pops in

In another home in Harlan, Arlo’s, a teen boy and girl, Benny and Roz, were trying to get something out of the wall (and stripping copper wire, while they were at). Patton Oswalt’s Constable Bob Sweeney made his grand entrance. Clearly Roz is the brains in that duo because she’s the one who knew to run. Bob called Raylan to tell him about the break-in and interrupted Raylan’s reluctant conversation with Jody, who said he’d killed heroin dealers trying to earn money so his wife would let him see more of his kids. We’d find out later that’s why Raylan’s moonlighting — he’s worried Winona may not think his room above a bar is suitable for visitation. Raylan’s car ride with Jody wasn’t Dewey Crowe-level fun — Jody seems smarter — but it was enjoyable. Raylan slammed on the breaks to knock Jody’s head on the dashboard. He’d warned him he’d put him in the trunk if he didn’t shut up. And that’s right where he went after Raylan lectured him: “You run into an a—hole in the morning, you ran into an a—hole. You run into a—holes all day, you’re the a—hole.” Raylan wasn’t concerned by Jody’s threat to tear him to pieces if he got out of those cuffs. He’s Raylan, I get it. But what makes me nervous is whoever fronted Jody’s $250,000 bail. If Jody can’t afford a home for his kids, then he didn’t bail himself out — and a quarter of a million dollars is an investment.

After we watched Ellen May shoot a furry client dressed as a bear who’d gotten her high on a mystery drug he’d brought in a $1,000,000 bill from the Last Chance Holiness Church — the craziest scenes happen at Ellen May’s — we returned to Raylan, who was surveying the damage at Arlo’s. Bob has a motion detector on the house that sends him a text when anyone is there — point for Bob! Clearly, Bob wants Raylan to think he’s tough, which is why Raylan had already twice heard the story about Bob putting a football player who came at him in high school in a coma with a hammer. In Arlo’s wall, Raylan found the bag from that 1983 event, and a driver’s license in it for a man named Waldo Truth.

On the walk back to their cars, Bob filled Raylan (and us) in on what it means to be a Constable — an elected position that pays $2,400 a year and requires you to furnish your own everything, from the uniform to the lights on top of your car. Bob’s fine with people underestimating him. Just ask the kid in a coma, Raylan said. “If he could respond,” Bob cracked. Bob told Raylan to call him if he ever needs to — he’d grab his go bag and be ready to jump. “You stay frosty,” Bob said. I’m so glad that’s not the last we saw of him. Raylan put the Panamanian diplomatic bag from Arlo’s in the trunk with Jody and told him they were making one more stop. Roz and Benny were watching him.

Meanwhile, Madam Ava made her first appearance trying to figure out how Ellen May had shot a man while also reminding us of their history. The man, Arnold, won’t be pressing charges since he’s the judge executive. Ava was mad that Ellen May had a gun at work. Ellen May said it’s because she’s been hit — and not just by clients. Ha. Ava maintained that her hitting Ellen May once shouldn’t overshadow the fact that Ava had killed Ellen May’s pimp, Delroy, to save her life. Bottom line: Ellen May feels scared, jittery, and low. She looked at that $1,000,000 bill, and you knew she was gonna end up at the church.

Raylan’s stop was at the hardware store, where idol chatter revealed he had no intention of seeing Arlo in jail. Roz was there and accidentally knocked down a bunch of screws. “You want one,” she asked Raylan. Let’s pause and think of how many times a day Raylan Givens gets hit on. He squeezed his way past her so we could admire his broad shoulders (okay, I’m stopping now), and she held him up a little longer by flashing him to ask his opinion on her breasts. Roz flashed Mike, the chatty store owner, too, and scooted out the back. Per Yost, that’s something a couple of writers who visited Harlan between seasons heard happens there — a pretty young girl distracts someone, Raylan in this case, while someone else steals his car. It’s always nice to be reminded that Raylan isn’t perfect.

NEXT: Ron Eldard arrives

Boyd had frustrations of his own. He held court in the backroom of his bar with Johnny and Ava contemplating why Oxy sales had fallen. Ava doesn’t think it’s just the backwoods preacher, and since we know Johnny has betrayed Boyd in the past, I’m guessing she’s right. Boyd sent Johnny off to figure it out, and he and Ava discussed Ellen May. “No one ever said runnin’ a criminal enterprise was gonna be this hard, huh?” Boyd groaned to Ava. “They left that part out on career day,” Ava said, patting him on the back. Another tender moment between Bonnie and Clyde.

Ava went out to the bar to get Boyd a Dr. Pepper, and a straggly man seated there asked if Boyd was in. Of course, he was told no, and of course, he figured out they were lyin’. It turns out he’s a friend of Boyd’s from Desert Storm, Colton Rhodes (Ron Eldard), former military police. “How many times did you jail my ass in Kuwait? I say five. Am I low?” Boyd asked him, introducing him to Ava, Johnny, and the young guy who’s name I’m not gonna bother to learn until I’m sure he’s not too dumb to get himself killed. That was a great delivery by Walton Goggins. I’ve missed Boyd.

I wonder who Raylan would have called to come help him track down his car — and Jody — if we hadn’t met Constable Bob. Bob was all too eager to help, after Raylan agreed to pull on him (“Beef stew,” Bob said, pretending to stab Raylan with his knife) and listened to the contents of Bob’s AK-47 and body armor-filled go bag (“This sh– goes Road Warrior, man, I’m ready. You gonna come to me”). Say what you want about Bob, but he knew to go to the scrap yard where Raylan’s car was probably being crushed for parts. Bob got to use his lights as they sped off. That made his year, I’m sure.

Raylan’s car was safe when they got to the scrap yard, but Jody and the bag were gone. Raylan’s got a short fuse this season and isn’t afraid to punch. I approve. While he tried to beat information out of the crusher man (Bob’s term) about where Jody and the kids were — and keep Bob from making this into a federal bust — Jody convinced the kids to cut off his cuffs because he was the only one who was prepared to kill whoever found them. Jody had time to tell us how bicycle thieves are largely heroin addicts, so if you want to rob heroin dealers, you look for rich kids’ bikes, then follow whoever steals them. Makes sense. But Roz didn’t have time to give him the gun before Raylan walked in. Jody told her to shoot him. “Jesus, girl, you just showed me your tits 45 minutes ago,” Raylan said. Ha!

From there, things just got crazy/awesome. Raylan identified himself as a Marshal and offered to let Roz and Benny off the hook for stealing his car if she turned over the gun. She was about to do it when the crusher man, Henry, walked in holding Bob hostage. Raylan had asked Bob to watch Henry, but Bob had asked Henry to pull on him, and so Henry punched Bob in the nose. That’s a nice payoff to that earlier bit.

Did you notice how Raylan never even pulled his gun at this point? He offered Henry immunity, too, but it seems Jody promised everyone $10,000 if they helped him. “Jody, you got $10,000 stuck up your ass?” Raylan asked him. Roz said they weren’t stupid, it was hidden up in Lexington. Raylan couldn’t even deal with this. He offered them a chance to walk and the $500 in his wallet. Roz wasn’t stupid, so she told Henry to check Raylan’s wallet — $12 and a Piggly Wiggly card. Ha. But that got Henry close enough for Raylan to elbow him in the face and pick up his gun.

Bob ran toward Jody, who kicked him in the nuts, and Jody grabbed Roz’s gun and took her hostage. Jody told Raylan to go ahead and shoot, but he might hit her instead. That’s when Bob came to the rescue: he knifed Roz in the foot, which gave Raylan a chance to smack Jody down. That’s a little homage to Speed (“Shoot the hostage”), which Yost also wrote. Just like the judge can’t report why he was shot, Raylan can’t report that his car was stolen with a bail jumper in the trunk, so he gave Roz and Benny another out. He knew they didn’t care about the copper wire or his car, they’d just wanted the bag at Arlo’s. He asked why. We didn’t hear the answer, if there was one. Commercial.

NEXT: Things get bloody

Later, Raylan asked Bob, who was understandably pissy with Raylan after going through all that and not being able to arrest anyone, to watch his family photos until he fixed the door to Arlo’s house. That’s uncharacteristically sentimental of Raylan. And why couldn’t he just keep them at his place? Bob had figured out Raylan had only called him because he couldn’t call anyone else, and Raylan admitted he was trying to bank extra cash because he has a kid on the way. It was sweet the way Raylan told Bob he’d stepped up and they were alive because of him. Not sweet: The way Jody said Raylan’s name. He’s gonna remember it. We’re gonna see him again. Could he get Raylan in trouble if he tells the authorities who nabbed him?

As night fell, we caught up to Boyd, who took Colton for a ride to what I assume is the only bridge in Harlan. They popped open a couple of beers and Colton told us how he earned his discharge — he shot a fellow military man in the bicep who’d reported Colton for kneeing him in the nuts at a charity baseball game after the guy had slid high into second base. Baseball is a life-changing game on this show (remember what Raylan had done to Dickie). Boyd needs help solving his Oxy mystery and had a job to offer Colton, if he was willing to cross the line to the criminal side. Boyd wanted to take him on a dry run…

Raylan’s next stop was the prison, to see Dickie Dewey Arlo. They bickered about Raylan setting the asking price for Arlo’s house too high — do we think Raylan’s gonna end up moving in there for his kid’s sake? And then Raylan confronted Arlo about the bag. Arlo tried to say, on Raylan’s mother’s grave, that he hadn’t hired those two kids to fetch it for him. Raylan showed him Waldo Truth’s driver’s license, and still nothing. Arlo tried to change the subject and suggested that with a son on the way, Raylan should have more pressing things on his mind. Raylan said they don’t know the sex of the child (so Winona’s not in her third trimester yet), and he’s kinda hoping it’s a girl: “End the family line right here.” Ha. Just like Raylan didn’t want Jody to blame others for all his troubles, Arlo told Raylan that he wasn’t the sole cause of all his — his mother hadn’t been a saint. (As a reader commented on our postmortem with Yost, could that mean Raylan’s mother is involved in the bag mystery, too?) Arlo’s advice: “Just put that bag back in the wall and forget about it.” Raylan hadn’t said it was in the wall! That’s when Arlo called for the guard to take him back to his cell. He was done talking. Well done, Raylan. As Raylan walked out, another inmate seemed seriously interested in him.

But cut back to Boyd and Colton, who had Oxy dealer Hiram taped to a chair in his living room with dynamite in his lap and the long fuse already lit. The only money Hiram had for Boyd was a $1,000,000 bill from the Last Chance Holiness Church. Boyd didn’t believe him and was going to walk out. Hiram told him the money was under the lawn mower — he’d been hoping to donate it to the church. Boyd stomped out the fuse and quoted science fiction author Isaac Asimov (“I expect death to be nothingness” and economist John Maynard Keynes (“In the long run, we’ll all be dead”). Boyd’s mind never ceases to amaze me.

Boyd grabbed the money from Colton and told him that if anyone asks, even Ava, Hiram had none and it doesn’t exit. What’s that about? Then, he told Colton to “take care of” Hiram. Boyd meant for Colton to cut him loose, not kill him, which Colton had done in one shot. Yes, Boyd, you will have to be more careful with your words. And I guess you got your answer: Colton is willing to cross that line for you. Did you get more than you bargained for?

Raylan got home to find bartender Lindsey using his bathroom to floss after having BBQ for dinner on a very busy “Come Get Effed Up Friday.” (Barbecue a nod to Limehouse?) Raylan hid his ten grand (Sharon paid him more for delivery) in his boxer brief drawer and convinced Lindsey to extend her break. Totally understandable. Anyone else nervous that she has access to his place and knows where he keeps his cash?

Boyd’s hiding the money no one’s supposed to know about in the ceiling of his bar, which is slightly safer. He sat down and looked at the $1,000,000 bill, which was a nice segue to our first look at the church. Finally. I approve of the lighting in the tent, but Preacher Billy isn’t that great of a dancer. He was handling a snake and told a woman speaking, I don’t know, Parseltongue, that she would be saved by the lord. Does he get bit? Yes. Only twice so far, by his snake Mabel. Once he took her out of her crate too rough, and the other time, well, he doesn’t know why. But the lord wanted him to continue his ministry, so he survived the venom. We learned he and his sister Cassie lost their father and grandfather to snake bites, which they consider a noble way to go. Billy saw a lot of new faces in the congregation — including Ellen May’s.

The final scene of the hour felt a little Sons of Anarchy to me, which isn’t a bad thing. The inmate who’d seen Raylan talking to Arlo came by with a book cart to supposedly offer Arlo a read. Really, he wanted to talk about the bag Raylan had with him. He wanted to know where Raylan had got it from, and said it could be worth some money if they played their cards right. He asked about the driver’s license, and Arlo again played coy and said it read Marlon Brando. The inmate said he’d make a call and see how much money this info was worth, and Arlo suddenly decided to take up reading and asked for a book. As the guy turned to fetch Arlo an Alan Furst novel, Arlo snuck up behind him and slit his throat. Excellent blood splatter. Arlo just went back to his bed and looked at the blood on his hands. I guess there was no place for him to go. That’s definitely more vicious than I imagined sing-song-voiced Arlo to be. Did he do that to protect Raylan? Probably not. So what are we dealing with here?

Your turn. What did you think of the episode? For Ken Tucker’s review, click here. For our postmortem with Yost, who teases when we’ll see the return of Constable Bob and much more, head here.

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