Justified, Season 4

Art Mullen Brilliantly and Succinctly Sums Up the Life of Drew Thompson
Talking television.
March 13 2013 12:35 AM

Justified, Season 4

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A brief biography of Drew Thompson, by Art Mullen

Jim Beaver as Shelby Parlow in Justified.
What happens to Shelby/Drew now?

Photo by Prashant Gupta/FX

In Slate’s Justified TV Club, Rachael Larimore will IM each week with a different fan of the FX drama set in Harlan County, Ky. This week she discusses “Get Drew” with journalist Niki Kelly.

Rachael Larimore:  Niki, welcome back to the TV Club! I think the big lesson from tonight's episode was to be careful in whom you put your trust. Shelby, under duress, put his trust in Ellen May, and Boyd chose to put his trust in Colt rather than Johnny, a decision that backfired on a number of levels. And now everyone in Harlan is on the run from Theo Tonin. What a great episode.

Niki Kelly: I'm glad you brought up Boyd choosing Colt over Johnny. It hasn't made a lot of sense to me that Boyd seems to have this blidn spot, especially after learning that Colt duped him and lied and caused some big trouble.

Larimore:  Early in the season, I didn't quite get Johnny's desire to kill Boyd. And even in this episode, when Johnny was reduced to asking his hooker girlfriend about Ellen May, and begging Wynn Duffy for help, he wasn't looking very competent, so you could almost forgive Boyd. But Colt has actual documented screwups on record—big ones!—and Boyd picked a weird time to offer Colt a chance at redemption.

Kelly: I do appreciate the trust between Ellen May and Shelby. It has brought me around to her more as a character, because I'm sure she has never had anyone care for her and ask for nothing in return.

Larimore:  It was such a sad and sweet and funny moment when Shelby/Drew saw that lonely dog walking in the road and realized that he had to go back for Ellen May. She’s nothing if not a lost puppy herself.

Kelly:  I also appreciated her reaction when Boyd and Ava chose him because she knew he would be killed. It was a wonderful moment of loyalty. And props to the writers for not going the obvious route of putting a wedge between the newly engaged couple by her wanting to buy Ellen May to save her hide and him wanting to buy Shelby to earn a big payday.

Larimore: The writers also do such a good job with making you like these characters that the episode presented a real quandary. You want Raylan to catch Drew Thompson and put to rest his demons about how Arlo was tied up in this case. And even though you know Boyd and Ava are criminals, you don't want them to end up dead. And Shelby might be Drew, but he’s still Shelby, so you don’t want to see him tortured by Theo Tonin.

Kelly: They do a great job of giving all the characters layers so they aren't one-dimensional, including Walton Goggins' subtle sad reaction to learning of Arlo's death. Goggins also had an insightful line into Raylan's entire psyche in the episode—noting Raylan should be an outlaw like Boyd and his daddy. Which is think is at the heart of Raylan's overall struggle in life. He has a little bit of darkness there.

Larimore: That was the first of many, many great lines in this episode, when Boyd said "Oh, you'd still be able to shoot people and be an asshole, your two favorite activities." Of course, Boyd said that and then the rest of the episode was pretty much dedicated to the downside of being an outlaw. Shelby is on the run but ends up trapped pretty quickly, and Boyd, who is normally so shrewd, is outshrewded by Limehouse and then totally screwed over by Johnny. It was only a couple of days ago, in Justified time, when Ava asked "And what are you going to do when Theo gives you trouble? Is there anyone bigger than Theo?"

Kelly: Theo Tonin is like Keyser Soze to me.

Larimore: This was the most intense episode of the season—the stakes are at their highest for Drew/Shelby, Boyd, and the marshals—but it was arguably also the funniest. I wasn't sure that anything would top Rachel's deadpan, "By the way, I have that same pair of panties," when Raylan remembered the "whore's underwear" at Shelby's place. But then Art proved me wrong seconds later. That monologue! Did you love it as much as I did?

Kelly: I did. I’m taking a moment to process the "bad-ass shit" of Shelby riding around with Raylan for two days looking for him. I think I rewatched it three times. (Congrats also to Wynn Duffy's previously mute bodyman who first asked if a passport was needed to get into Harlan and then said "I prefer not running away like a little bitch.")

Larimore:  We can only hope that Art's age-induced forced retirement does not mean he won't be on Justified next season. Nick Searcy is awesome, and Art is the father that Raylan never had, firm but loving. "I'm going to suspend you AFTER we catch Drew Thompson"

Kelly:  It would be a loss for the show to lose Nick Searcy. I also am hoping I read too much into some comments Rachel made to Raylan. Seemed almost like they were having her flirt with him and I'm not sure I'm ready for an inter-office romance. I think the team has great chemistry as is.

Larimore: I agree that would be bad. Tell me, when you saw Tim go after Colt, did you think we might get another showdown? There was enough going on in the episode that I think it would have been too much to take care of that, but I did wonder.

Kelly:  I couldn't get past the fact that Colt just left Drew and the kids there but didn’t stay to get Boyd’s money.

Larimore: Having not seen the scenes from next week ... do you have any predictions? Will Boyd and Ava go on the run from Theo or stay and fight? How will Raylan and Art protect themselves and get Drew shipped off to prison?

Kelly: I wish I knew! I presume the marshals will get Shelby out and get a big win but there will be some bloodshed among the criminal enterprises.

Larimore: Bloodshed on Justified? That is a safe bet.

Niki Kelly is the statehouse bureau chief for the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Journal Gazette.

Rachael Larimore is Slate's managing editor.