Sure, Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) and his U.S. marshal cohorts got to long-lost criminal Drew Thompson before Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) and the Detroit mafia did. But as Raylan told boss Art (Nick Searcy) at the end of last week's episode, now the real challenge begins: getting Drew, aka local sheriff Shelby, out of Harlan County alive.
And in tonight's typically terrific new episode, "Decoy" -- which we have an exclusive first look at right here -- Raylan is proven right, as Boyd and mobster Nicky Augustine's (guest star Mike O'Malley) henchmen take on Raylan and the marshals with just one goal in mind: getting their hands on Drew/Shelby (Jim Beaver), so they can exact their own, very painful, revenge on him before the marshals get him to jail.
That results in an episode that is tense, violent, and yes, funny, and as well-written and acted as the best "Justified" episodes. Consider "Decoy" the "Justified" version of "The Sopranos" gem "Pine Barrens."
And "Decoy," like "Pine Barrens," is full of surprises. One of the biggest: the performance of guest star Patton Oswalt as Constable Bob Sweeney.
Constable Bob has been a minor player so far this season, but he steals "Decoy" from the award-worthy cast of regulars and guest stars in this action-packed installment. That Walton Goggins alone does not currently possess at least a pair of Emmys for "Justified" is a major oversight on the part of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences folks, so it is not a frivolous statement to call Oswalt's performance a standout.
Without spoiling any details, Raylan -- a man not given to hyperbole, or even the dispensing of compliments -- sums it up best when he tells another character, "Bob's a tough son of a …" -- you get the idea.
Meanwhile, "Decoy" ends with developments that kick off new complications for several of Harlan's most colorful characters, which should make for a great run to the April 2 season finale.
Get another sneak peek at tonight's "Justified" right here:
"Justified" airs Tuesdays at 10 PM on FX.
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- Raylan Givens