This week, Boyd’s crew is not only snake-bit but mutinous, the marshals all have stiffies, the “widow” Thompson is a certified spiritualist, the FBI agent is crooked, and snake handling just got a lot more dangerous for Rev. Billy.
The most curious thing about this season is that we’re already three episodes into the story without Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) and Boyd (Walton Goggins) even mentioning one another, much less crossing paths. Makes me think things are going to get very combustible when all the story lines finally do converge.
Once Boyd realizes Cassie St. Cyr (Lindsey Pulsipher) is the real brains behind Rev. Billy’s hillbilly tent revival, he makes her an offer which she righteously rejects as “thirty pieces of silver.” He counters, suggesting she think of it as “a donation from a concerned parishioner who would like to see your brother’s focus shift away from me and mine.”
When Cassie makes it clear to Boyd that the relocation of the church will require a much larger donation, Boyd's response is, “I don’t get shaken down.” Cassie's counter: “Don’t think of it as a shakedown. You want us gone, build us a place to go.” She points out that, unlike the locals, she and her brother are not afraid of Boyd, to which he hisses, “In that case, ma’am, we’ve badly misjudged each other.”
After Boyd’s negotiations with Cassie fail to produce the desired results, he sends two henchmen into the darkened tent where they run into a nest of wriggling, biting serpents. Much to everyone’s surprise, Jimmy survives multiple snake bites, including a particularly grisly one to the face. This reveals a secret Cassie’s been keeping from her brother and gives Boyd what he thinks will be the ultimate upper hand in the situation.
Boyd returns to the tent church with a “gift of knowledge” for the congregation – “a genuine cane break rattler, pulled from a rock crevice along the Cumberland River” that hasn’t been “milked” like the snakes in Billy’s regular act. Boyd pushes Cassie until she admits to Rev. Billy (Joe Mazzello) that she’s been milking the snakes to protect him from the same horrible death suffered by their father. At first, Billy doesn’t believe her and ultimately intends to handle the snake anyway to demonstrate his faith.
Now even Boyd’s concerned, saying, “I’ve stood where you are, son, mistakin’ my own hubris for God’s touch, and that’s not religion, its self-glorification.” Unmoved, Rev. Billy takes up the snake, is bitten, and falls. The stunned look on Goggins’ face telegraphs that while Boyd definitely wanted his way, he didn’t wish death on Billy. As good as he usually is at reading people, Boyd is so distracted by the serpentine situation he doesn’t realize his mutinous cousin Johnny (David Meunier), the one-time heir apparent to the Crowder criminal enterprise, is planning to betray him to a possibly receptive Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns).
Over at the marshal’s office, Art reprimands Rachel (Erica Tazel) for the marshal stiffy that prompted her to take on a fugitive without back-up. Art then points out to Raylan that his own marshal stiffy is getting harder since he’s discovered Drew Thompson was the subject of a sealed FBI investigation when he supposedly died. Raylan’s stiffy for barmaid Lindsey (Jenn Lynn) has clearly blocked some of his brain function because he’s continuing to sleep with her even after she confessed to stealing from a series of men with her vicious ex-husband, a man Raylan acknowledges he “couldn’t knock down with a hammer.”
Art sends Raylan and Tim (Jacob Pitts) to interview Drew Thompson’s “widow,” Eva Munro (Julia Campbell). The “certified spiritualist” gives Raylan an eerily accurate psychic reading, saying, “There’s so much death around you. You’re meeting with a very bad person later today.” Tim deadpans that “he’s a marshal, meeting bad people’s part of his job,” before Raylan explains to both of them he’s got an appointment at the gym later with Lindsey’s ex.
Their conversation is interrupted by an FBI agent who also wants to talk to Eva now that everyone knows it wasn’t Drew Thompson who died in the old parachute accident. Eva slips out the bathroom window into the waiting clutches of a “Detroit hard case” who likes to describe to captives the method of their approaching deaths. We later discover he’s working with the crooked FBI agent and Detroit mob boss Theo Tonin (Adam Arkin from Season 3).
Luckily for Raylan, Eva’s a smart enough psychic to send her captors to meet him at the boxing gym and it doesn’t take him anytime at all the figure out the FBI agent is working with the guys who took her. The agent commits suicide before Raylan can stop him but the marshals are able to save Eva. Once she realizes she needs their help, Eva reveals that before Drew disappeared, he witnessed Theo Tonin kill a federal informant.
Eva gets protection from the marshal service and the story progresses a few steps, giving us several more threads in the tapestry, but still no picture that includes both Raylan and Boyd.
And Raylan’s got zip, because he returns to his apartment above the bar to find that Lindsey is gone and so is all that off-the-books cash he had stashed under his drawers. Brain-altering stiffies cause trouble every time.
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