FX’s Justified continues its second season this week with “Where’s Waldo?” Art (Nick Searcy) is drawn into the mystery of Waldo Truth, whose name and bag are found in Arlo’s (Raymond J. Barr) wall. When Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) realizes that Arlo killed a man in prison just because he overheard Raylan talking about the bag, the Marshalls decide that they need to pay Waldo’s family a visit.
The tale of Waldo Truth, and his connection to Justified‘s characters, seems to be the main storyline this season. By the end of “Where’s Waldo?” we know that Arlo probably helped cover up a fake death, and, for some reason, Art is interested in the case, which he seems to already know a little about. This is a deeper plot that first realized, with connections to the past of main players. It is a ripe fruit to pick.
Justified is sort of a cop series, but it’s much more about people than action. The show has always taken the time to let the actors really dig into their characters, and present complicated individuals with convoluted relationships. While law enforcement types will probably figure out what crimes have been committed and who has committed them in the end, that’s not really the point of the episode.
A great example of this is when Raylan, Art, and Tim (Jacob Pitts) go to confront Waldo’s family. At first, they meet up with punk kid Milo (Ethan Jamieson, The Hunger Games), who just deserves to be smacked so hard! Then, they talk to the matriarch of the family (Beth Grant, No Country for Old Men, Jericho). Instead of getting the information that they need and leaving, the scene lingers, letting the personalities clash in delicious ways.
The reason Justified can get away with this is because they are able to cast such fantastic guest stars. No one who saw it has forgotten what Margo Martindale did in season two. I don’t know if Beth Grant is being set up for a similar run, but she will most definitely be back, probably multiple times, and her bits this week are intriguing.
Besides the guests, though, watching Raylan, Art, and Tim is fun in and of itself. They aren’t often working as a team on the show, but when they do, it’s always superb. When one of the Truths tells them to get off their property in 10 seconds, and then five, Tim ribs Raylan that his line is being stolen. When Milo calls the Marshalls perverts, and then Raylan has to relieve the kid of his gun, the reactions among the various feds are great. These details are what keep viewers tuning in week after week.
I also love the increased story for Art. We know that he is nearing retirement age now, and he’s out in the field in “Where’s Waldo?” to prove he’s still fit enough to run his department. This is a man who has pride, who is not ready to be put out to pasture yet, and who thinks that only he can handle his cavalcade of unhinged deputies. The scene where he talks about his people, listing their issues without naming their names, is a particular favorite of mine in this episode, catching you up with some of the more minor characters’ stories, while also showing us something about Art.
The retirement plot isn’t laid out overtly, but rather, Justified gives you the pieces and the viewer is supposed to put them together. There is no line where Art talks about his motivations, and his possible pending resignation from the unit is just briefly mentioned a couple of times. Yet, Searcy conveys a lot that doesn’t need to be put into words.
Bottom line, it’s not smart to play on your phone while watching Justified. You’re going to miss something.
Across town, Boyd (Walton Goggins) makes a move against preacher man Billy St. Cyr (Joseph Mazzello, The Pacific, Jurassic Park), only to learn that the real threat comes from Billy’s sister, Cassie (Lindsay Pulsipher, Hatfields & McCoys, True Blood). We are just beginning to get a glimpse of the religious fanatics. Billy seems sincere, so it’s probably Cassie who is up to no good. We have not seen enough to figure out what she might want, though, and as Boyd is doing, it’s wise to bide one’s time and keep an eye on her, for now.
Besides, Boyd has other troubles when he finds drugs being dealt in his territory. It doesn’t take long for the Dixie Mafia to come after their dealer who Boyd has taken hostage, and they send Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns) to be their voice.
Wynn is a fantastic character, one whom Justified keeps finding ways to bring back. This latest tiff shows that Wynn is definitely a bad-ass again, his superior from last season no longer keeping him down and scaring the crap out of him. It is a bit thrilling to witness a villain returned to glory, even when we know it will only make trouble for the good guys.
Wynn’s method of dealing with the situation is awesome, but it’s a shame that he kind of shuts down Boyd. Boyd wants continued involvement with Wynn’s employers, which would be nice for fans of the series, as it gives Wynn an excuse to return on a recurring basis. After Wynn refuses Boyd’s offer, we’re left in the dark about how he might be back next. However, there’s the distinct impression that he will be, and sooner, rather than later.
I like that Boyd has Colt (Ron Eldard, Blind Justice, Super 8) working for him now. As great as Johnny (David Meunier) and Ava (Joelle Carter) may be as characters, they are not all that threatening, and with Boyd getting into plenty of scuffles, he needs a strong right-hand man to keep power. Colt is definitely that guy, violent and a little insane.
The only thing I’m not crazy about on this side of the series is the larger presence of Ellen May (Abby Miller) so far this season. It is likely because I’m not a fan of the character, and so I don’t relish her extra screen time. She is definitely a pawn in the game, so she may just be held up to be expendable. However, while she is still alive, I’m getting a little annoyed about seeing her so much.
The other side trip in “Where’s Waldo?” involves a man named Randall (Robert Baker, Grey’s Anatomy). He has a brief encounter early in the hour with Raylan, and then the episode continues to follow him, even though he is no longer interacting with anyone familiar. It is kind of odd, but it’s a good way to pique interest, teasing us with the certainty that Randall is important, but not revealing why until the end of the installment. I kind of wish that they’d kept the mystery going longer, but it’s still a cool way to handle things.
“Where’s Waldo?” doesn’t have a ton of action, but a few key scenes, as well as stellar acting (as usual) make it a fine installment. Two episodes in, and already I’m hungry for more, wanting to know the rest of the story that the show will patiently spin out bit by bit over the next couple of months. Justified is a very well-made show, and with episodes like this, it’s easy to see why.
Justified airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on FX.