Last night’s “The Bird Has Flown” was a bit of a slow episode of Justified. Just when I was really buying into the ongoing mystery format . . . they leave it out entirely for an episode. And there wasn’t exactly a case of the week, either.
Instead, the case of the week basically took place within Raylan’s personal life, as he tried to track down Lindsey and Randall. His motives here were never quite clear, even to himself: Was he trying to get his money back, or was he trying to “save” Lindsey? Probably both, to some extent. He and Rachel eventually track the couple down – I don’t think we ever really doubted that they would – but not before Randall has spent Raylan’s money on fighting gamecocks and almost killed a gas station clerk who showed interest in Lindsey while being conned. (Wouldn’t you think by now he would learn that he’d get caught less if he changed his con to something that didn’t result in people going to the hospital? Be more competent, criminals!) When Randall and Raylan finally fight, it’s different than most of the fights on this show because Raylan can’t just shoot and kill people: Rachel gives him a shotgun loaded with beanbag ammunition. “An associate of mine thought non-lethal force might come in handy. I figured what the hell, I’ll give it a shot.” Ha. By the end, Lindsey has run off and Randall is under arrest, and honestly, I never bought into the relationship between Raylan and Lindsey enough to really care about this plotline, so I’ll be happy enough if this is the end of it.
Elsewhere, Boyd Crowder continues being the most terrifying man on the planet in the wake of Billy the preacher’s death. I’d sort of forgotten last week that a large part of the reason why Boyd wanted Billy dead was not just because of the way his preaching was eroding the drug business, but because Boyd and Ava were worried Ellen May would tell Billy about the murder she witnessed. This week, Ellen May returns and makes a fairly heartbreaking case for the fact that as awful as her life at Ava’s brothel undoubtedly was in many ways, it was also basically all she had, and people form makeshift families wherever they can. “I just want to come home. Can I come home, please?” They sort of say yes, but then make plans to send her to Boyd’s relatives in Alabama to get her out of the way; Ava tries to convince Ellen May that this could be good, that it’s the chance to get out of Harlan County that she herself never had, and I don’t think she’s entirely lying. But while Colt is driving Ellen May to the bus station, he gets a call that he claims is from Ava, telling him to bring Ellen May home after all. The call was actually instructing him to murder the woman, though it’s a little unclear whether it was simply confirmation or a new instruction. And even if Ava technically made the call, she’s clearly less than thrilled about it; this is Boyd’s decision, but Ava seems to understand that it’s necessary. When Colt stops at a gas station to fiddle with his gun and do some drugs to shore up his courage, Ellen May runs. Good girl. I have a feeling she won’t be able to run from Boyd for long, but I hope she makes it.