'Justified' Recap: 'This Bird has Flown'
This week’s episode is kind of an odd duck. It doesn’t advance the Where’s Waldo/Drew Thompson/Panamanian diplomatic pouch mystery plot at all but does provide the opportunity for four female cast members to add some depth and shading to their characters. And as always, there's snappy dialogue.
Although where the men are concerned, their dialogue comes off somewhat smarter than their behavior. We start out with Rachel (Erica Tazel in some well-deserved screen time) helping Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) track down Lindsey (Jenn Lyon) and Randall (Robert Baker) and the “goodly sum” of cash missing from beneath his pile of boxers. Her questions about the situation get to the point without breaking his balls too much, and she does manage only a subtle roll of her eyes when his lame explanations for Lindsey’s departure end with the sheepish admission, “Kinda thought she liked me, is all.”
Rachel holds her own as they pursue leads through Joe Hoppus’ party house, where they discover the “fighters” Randall dreams of managing are actually fighting chickens. Tazel’s Rachel displays steely calm in scenes when they question the chicken breeder, refusing even to blink, much less flinch, when he waves a razor-sharp cockfighting blade dangerously close to her face, and whipping out her own switchblade the second time he ventures too close.
When Raylan and Rachel follow up on Lindsay’s call from the convenience store where she and Randall worked their old scam and left the clerk badly beaten, Rachel somehow manages to keep a straight face as the clerk muses “I think that blond girl set me up to take a beating,” and Raylan responds, “I get that.”
When the clerk tells them Lindsey said something about shooting pictures of horses on a farm nearby, it begins to dawn on Raylan he’s being left a trail of breadcrumbs. Rachel bows out of the search at this point, because it’s time for her to get to work and that’s just the kind of gal she is. However, she does give Raylan her shotgun full of non-lethal beanbag rounds, because that’s also the kind of gal she is. Rachel’s a keeper, and she deserves more story time.
Lindsey’s (Jenn Lyon) true character reveals itself in this episode: Her own survival will always come first. Sure, she enjoys sleeping with Raylan (what woman in her right mind wouldn’t?) but the bottom line is he’s a U.S. Marshal with a stash of ready cash. If his gun and badge can’t do away with Randall, his cash will come in handy for her next getaway. We see Lindsey working her feminine charms scam on the convenience store clerk, Randall, and eventually even Raylan, all with varying degrees of success. But it’s apparent at all times that she’s looking past the mark to her next move.
While Randall is beating the store clerk, she calls Raylan’s cell phone but tells Randall she dialed 911. When Raylan shows up at the horse farm, she shrugs her shoulders in wide-eyed innocence, saying “He’s a marshal, Randall.” For Lindsey, it was always coming down to playing these two men off against each other, and she’s ready.
Raylan lays into them at that point, putting Randall down with a beanbag round and excoriating Lindsey about the way she’d made use of him. (That speech included the first pop culture reference of the entire series that didn’t make sense to me: When Raylan said Lindsey kept men “all pixelated like Longfellow Deeds,” I couldn’t make that jive with Jimmy Stewart’s character in Frank Capra's immortal Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. Internet research revealed he was talking about the Adam Sandler character in the 2002 remake, which I’ve never seen.)
Regardless of her feelings for Raylan, once Lindsey recognizes the opportunity to get away from both of them during their brawl, she doesn’t hesitate. She comes out blasting that beanbag shotgun, shooting Raylan once to knock him down and Randall several times to make sure he stays down. Before she drives off in Randall’s muscle car, she leans over Raylan as he wanly gasps “I knew you liked me,” and tells him his money is in the van.
This brings about the best laugh-out-loud scene of the whole shootin’ match. Randall tries to affect some kind of bonding moment with Raylan over how no matter how badly beaten up they both are, there’s just something about Lindsey that makes it all worth it. He continues to blather on about his dream of managing fighting chickens while Raylan handcuffs him to the bumper. When he opens the back door of the van, revealing the live chicken cargo, Raylan shakes his head and sighs, “She said my money was in the van,” with almost no irony at all.
He looks down at the babbling Randall in disgust: “Randall, I know you're shackled and it ain't half fair, but if you say one more word about chickens, I'm going to shoot you again" ... and casually does just that when Randall keeps talking.
The other two women spend the episode dancing around each other. Ava (Joelle Carter) demonstrates that, unlike Boyd (Walton Goggins), she does have some semblance of a conscience, and hers is eating her up alive with fear about all the things Ellen Mae (Abby Miller) knows that have potential to do her harm. When Ellen Mae returns to the brothel, Boyd greets her saying “You look strangely out of place in this den of iniquity,” to which she childishly whines, “I got no place else to go, I just wanna come home.”
It quickly becomes apparent that even though Ellen Mae may not have anywhere else to go, she can’t really return to her former line of work. She’s become a volatile liability. She cries when johns come to her room and babbles to Ava in a bar full of people about how she knows she can never tell anyone that Ava killed a pimp to protect her.
At first, relocation to a “no-tell motel” owned by Boyd’s cousin in Alabama seems like a workable solution. Ava gives Ellen May $1000, saying “You’ll never have to give another blow job unless you want to,” and Colt (Ron Eldard) leaves to take Ellen May to the bus station.
At some point, however, fear gets the best of Ava and she realizes that letting Ellen May live is a risk she can’t afford to take. Boyd calls Colt during the drive and Colt tells Ellen May that Ava and Boyd have changed their minds and she can come home if she’s willing to work hard. The hapless henchman ducks into the nearest gas station bathroom to hoover up a line before dispatching Ellen Mae to her reward, and returns to the truck only to find he gone! (Shades of a popular Soprano’s episode here).
There’s a fair amount of speculation about when and how poor, stupid Ellen May figured out she was marked for death and some postulate that maybe Cassie St. Cyr (Lindsey Pulsipher) managed to spirit her away to use against Boyd to avenge the death of her brother. Thanks to the ladies, the plot is definitely thickening.