Heading into the final third of the season, this episode of Justified brought out the fireworks, likely the most action packed episode until the finale. It is one of the series’ most exciting episodes.
A key moment of “Outlaw” is of course the death of Arlo. Arlo was one of my favorite characters on the show, but the timing is right for him to go - leaving Raylan even more emotionally isolated even if never close to his father. Arlo was never going to die of old age peacefully with the dirt he can’t help but get into. The fight that leads to his death is an explosion of blood and violence, like his life. Raylan is caught between feeling affection for his father, or hate at the damage he caused on his life. When he sheds tears, it’s unclear whether it’s for his life or Arlo’s. Nevertheless this episode made Raylan feel even more human, at once vulnerable and closed off.
Boyd’s storyline meanwhile picked up, as he wrestled control from the high society brokers who tried to corner him into following their murderous orders. Boyd flips that by gaining power over them, but as Ava smartly notes, now he’s involved with an even more powerful force in Theo Tonin. Boyd controlling the high society brokers isn’t real power, it’s riding on the coattails of Tonin’s. It also adds them to a list of enemies or loose cannons he’s built, such as Johnny, Ellen May and the preacher’s sister. Perhaps most dangerously is he just personally embarrased Winn Duffy and even worse, didn’t adknowledge him as a major threat while doing this. Winn seems to be self-conscience of those not taking him seriously enough, Boyd could pay this price. In some way or another, the mistakes Boyd has made building an empire of enemies or untrustworthy allies, instead of loyalty and reliability, will come back to bite him.
As for the hunt for Drew Thompson, Shelby’s conversation with Ellen May discussing his ex-wife and the unfamiliarity of a new costume, plus giving her a necklace that’s a good luck charm for pilots, is a strong hint that he is Drew Thompson. With the amount of screentime they’ve gone out of their way to give him this season, it seems the obvious answer that he will be revealed as Drew next week.
Justified has thrown a nice change-up this season by replacing a big bad with the hunt for Drew Thompson and concentrating on establishing a web of chess pieces and threads. Now it’s time to bring them all together by sticking the landing.