There’s likely no way to discuss the events of tonight’s episode without dealing with some major spoilers, so if you haven’t seen “Outlaw” yet, you’ll want to avoid reading further.
MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW
Justified racked up a pretty impressive body count tonight, but none was as startling as seeing Raylan’s estranged father Arlo getting stabbed in a prison barbershop. Raymond J. Barry is a truly fantastic character actor, and I think the show is going to suffer a bit now as Raylan’s junkyard dog of a father has, as Wynn Duffy put it tonight, shuffled off the mortal coil. Arlo’s death also puts Raylan in an interesting place character-wise. We know that both men truly despised each other. But, this was Raylan’s father, evil cuss that he might be. Arlo’s last words to his son tonight may have been “kiss my a–,” but there’s no question this will have some effect on Raylan. He’s lost everybody now: his mother, his father, his aunt Helen. Even his wife has left him to be on that Kevin Bacon serial killer show.
We found out tonight that Raylan’s motivation for wanting to crack the Drew Thompson case was the big promotion that will likely come with solving a 30-year-old mystery. Does Raylan honestly think a desk job will win back Winona? Is Raylan deluded enough to think he’s cut our for a desk job?
I don’t think I’ve mentioned how great Ron Eldard has been this season as Boyd’s old army buddy and enforcer Colton. Most people are going to likely remember him from Men Behaving Badly all those years ago, which is a shame. Who wants to be remembered for being in a Rob Schneider sitcom? Here, Eldard is playing a truly unhinged and menacing guy, and he’s doing so with almost no conventional menace. Colton seems very detached from everything, almost cheerful. Yet, he’ll shoot you in the face without thinking twice. Tonight, he murdered Tim’s old army buddy. I think we’re going to see some fireworks between Tim and Colton sooner than later.
Boyd played everybody like grand pianos. This wasn’t a surprise. In typical Elmore Leonard style, the story is often told through the dialogue and not onscreen action. It wasn’t until the nearly final scene that we learned how Boyd had incorporated Theo Tonin’s bag man to screw over his three nemeses as well as Wynn Duffy. I love the idea of Boyd opening a Dairy Queen. It’s a hoot that Theo’s bagman is played by Mike O’Malley, Kurt’s understanding dad from Glee. O’Malley seems to be relishing his chance to be the baddie. This is going to be a lot of fun.
My main gripe tonight was that so many things happened so quickly that a piece of truly significant character development didn’t get the breathing space it deserved. Our hero lost his father tonight. Sure, his father was a pretty despicable human being. Usually, when major characters are killed on shows, it’s the villain for a beloved protagonist. I loved that tonight we saw the end of a character we felt a great deal of ambivalence for. I liked the final shot, with Raylan in the prison morgue looking on Arlo’s body. His face was filled with hatred and regret. Olyphant is so great in this role, it would have been nice to really see how losing a father, even one of the worst in television history, would affect him.