January 29, 2013

Episode Review: JUSTIFIED, "The Bird Has Flown"

I've been praising the start of Justified's fourth season, but "The Bird Has Flown" was the first episode that had me torn because there was a lot to like about it but not much to love about it.

Raylan and Rachel take it upon themselves to head out after Lindsey and Randall, which takes them on a meandering journey that involved the backyard MMA promoter, a flirty female fighter, a beat up grocer, and cock fighting. When Raylan finally caught up with the backwoodsy Bonnie and Clyde, he finally went toe to toe with Randall and was taking a beating until Lindsey shot her hubby with a beanbag shotgun that Rachel gave Raylan just in case he needed it. The two had some closure as he let her go while she left him with Randall's gamecocks in lieu of the money they stole from him. A very zen-like Givens figured that being left with chickens was a sign that he shouldn't have had the cash or Lindsey to begin with.

Meanwhile, an aimless Ellen May returned home now that Pastor Billy was dead thanks to Boyd's rattler. Of course, the Crowders were not quick to welcome her with open arms and wondered if she had cleansed her soul by admitting all of the sins she witnessed. Boyd was able to rope Shelby into helping him find out what Cassie did or didn't know about his enterprise. When it sounded like Ellen May kept her mouth shut, Boyd and Ava decided to help her start a new life in Alabama, but changed their minds as Colt drove her to the bus station. They ordered him to kill Ellen May, but he had reservations and ended up losing her while he got his wits in a gas station bathroom (while snorting coke).

Usually, I don't mind when a show like Justified changes things up in order to flex its creative muscles. For example, last season's "Thick as Mud" was probably one of my favorite episodes because it kept the larger story arc humming while putting Raylan in his own side adventure involving Dewey Crowe and organ thieves. At first glance, "The Bird Has Flown" could've been just as good but for some reason it didn't resonate with me like its predecessor. I guess one reason it didn't work was it felt like the show went out of its way to chicken fry the episode more than usual. I can go along with illegal MMA, but adding cock fighting to the mix was a step too far in my opinion.

There were also some character beats that didn't land like Colt's hesitation about killing Ellen May. For one, he's never been painted as the type of person who would struggle with offing someone at the drop of a hat (as seen when we first met him), so him fighting with his conscience rang untrue. On top of that, I don't think we've ever seen him interact with Ellen May, so it's not like he was asked to kill his friend. That said, I did enjoy most of the Crowder B-plot even though I can't help but wonder what's in store for them now that Billy's dead.

Other Odds and Ends:
  • Again, I'm happy that Rachel's been given more to do and I liked seeing her tag along with Raylan, but I'm still hoping the show doesn't take the lazy and predictable route with these two.
  • It looks like we might be done with Lindsey and Randall for now, and I can't say that I mind. It was a fun detour but let's get back to the bigger mystery.
  • On the flipside, I hope we're in store for more from Cassie.
  • How much longer can they keep Raylan and Boyd apart? Will Ellen May be the catalyst that brings them back together?
Had the writers pumped the brakes in terms of making sure that we all knew that this story was taking place in the South, and maybe fleshed out some of the minor characters before giving them crises of conscience, then "The Bird Has Flown" would've been a much stronger outing. Instead, it has to be content with being merely a pretty good one.


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