Things are definitely hitting the fan in this week’s Justified. While the Marshals try to get Drew Thompson someplace safe – you have to love Art inquiring about a rocket launcher – Boyd is trying to appease an unhappy Nick Augustine (guest star Mike O’Malley; can you believe this is the guy who used to host Nickelodeon’s GUTS?).
Holed up in his father’s house, Raylan recounts history with Drew (guest star Jim Beaver), at least until Art comes in and gives him a status update. “Art, we gotta move, and we gotta move soon,” Raylan insists. That’s a good idea, because Boyd is telling Augustine exactly where they are and what Raylan is likely thinking. He convinces Augustine to send Colt and one of the Detroit mafia henchmen to a specific location where they can confront the Marshals. Yep, it’s going to go down in this episode.
The Marshals’ convey comes to an unexpected stop when Tim’s spider-sense starts tingling. One PTSD joke later – perfectly delivered by Jacob Pitts – the sharpshooter tells his colleagues to “stay off the radio.” Raylan then gets a phone call from Art informing him that they might be in trouble. He decides ‘soon’ has become ‘now’ and yanks Drew up out of his chair.
Tim passes the time by having a fun phone chat with Colt while the two of them are within striking distance of each other. After this, Colt decides he’ll force the convoy to move by ordering his partner to shoot at it, but Tim knows this, so he elects to make a preemptive move of his own. “Holy shit,” Colt says when he figures out that the Marshals now have a bead on him. It also makes him realize something else: he phones Boyd and tells him that the convoy is a decoy.
Raylan, Drew and Rachel are paying an unscheduled visit to Raylan’s old high school, which looks like it was ransacked at least once, possibly more than once. While Drew sits in a chair, he questions Raylan’s plan (not that Raylan cares what Drew thinks), before Rachel asks him what he did to Waldo Truth. “You do what you gotta do to get what you want,” she says, before she asks him what he wants now. Seconds later, Raylan promptly gets a call from Constable Bob Sweeney (guest star Patton Oswalt), who’s at his house and asking him if the vehicle rolling up is one of theirs. The next we see of Bob, he’s bloodied and scared as one of Augustine’s henchmen chats with Augustine’s colleague Picker. After Bob gets further beaten up (to the sound of “Love Train”), he finally has an opportunity to fight back, and a returning Raylan walks in to see him laying beside one dead henchman.
Unfortunately, Boyd has continued to ask himself “what would Raylan do?” and is on his way to the high school, with the mafia’s helicopter also headed there. Raylan brings a messed-up Bob to the school so they can all wait out the final fifteen minutes before their own chopper is scheduled to arrive, and fills in Rachel and Drew about their impending problem. Drew volunteers to help fight the good fight, but Raylan calls him “a criminal” and elects not to give him a weapon. Instead, he draws his own gun and walks to the stairwell for a chat with Boyd and Picker, telling them to come back when they have a few more guys. “I figure I bought us maybe five minutes,” he reflects.
Out on the road, Tim is busy whipping up a Molotov Cocktail with the help of a car battery, and we find out that Art once went to a Guns ‘n’ Roses concert in 1989. Art has a pretty great throwing arm and we get to watch one really fun car explosion before everybody scrambles to converge on the high school, except for the guy that’s with Colt, because Colt shoots him. Whoops.
Augustine insults Ava until Johnny speaks up, and it’s then that both Augustine and Ava realize two things: that Johnny has a soft spot for his cousin’s bride-to-be and Johnny betrayed Boyd. Johnny confirms both things by pulling a gun on Ava to keep her from shooting Augustine, even as he tells her “I love you.” She isn’t particularly moved as she departs the bar, gun in hand.
Speaking of guns, Boyd and the aforementioned “more guys” walk into a room at the high school to find Raylan and Bob, both of them armed. As sirens wail in the distance, Raylan informs them that Drew Thompson is gone, and that their best option is to leave. Boyd smartly walks away from a lost cause, and when Art and Tim meet Raylan and Bob, Bob informs them that Drew and Rachel are on a coal train out of Harlan. Mission accomplished.
There’s something missing from “Decoy” that keeps it from being the great Justified episode that it should be. This series has set the bar so high when it comes to confrontation-type episodes (see: “Bulletville,” “Reckoning”) that this one feels just slightly underwhelming. There’s far more talking here than there was in either of those two previous installments, and that’s sort of a good thing, but mostly a bad one. While you can give the writers credit for defusing the situation in a less violent way (proving again that, for all the talk about violence in this show, Raylan Givens is far more than just his superior trigger finger), the show built up so much tension around Drew Thompson’s survival that it actually seems like a letdown that there’s not more action.
Having said that, this episode does provide some positive things, like yet again giving another showcase to Jacob Pitts and his wonderful line delivery. Nick Searcy is no slouch in the quip-delivering department either, and the two of them together make an entertaining combination. It’s also a fun surprise that Constable Bob survives, as this episode would have been an interesting way to dispose of him – both understandable and letting him go out with dignity. One wonders if the fact that he didn’t die means there are bigger plans for him in the endgame. There are only two episodes left, so let’s see if Justified will up the ante next week.