First of all, let’s just go ahead and get this out of the way: Wynn Duffy looks fucking weird without his mustache. I mean, Jere Burns is one unique-looking dude either way, what with those impossibly arched eyebrows, but the mustache was the bow on the Wynn Duffy package. Losing it? A crime, I say. Now, don’t get me wrong — I’d rather have mustache-less Wynn Duffy than no Wynn Duffy. He is Justified‘s great secret weapon after all, but the bare upper lip has left me reeling. Okay, got that off my chest. Moving on …
“Where’s Waldo?” continues playing out the two primary stories that were introduced last week. In one, Raylan attempts to track down Waldo Truth, the guy whose name was on the driver’s license that Raylan found hidden in that bag in Arlo’s wall. (We learn this week that it’s a Panamanian diplomatic bag.) In the other, Boyd goes on a fact-finding mission to figure out why he’s losing hookers and dealers to preacher Billy and his makeshift backwoods church. Neither is exactly edge-of-your-seat compelling from a plotting perspective, leaving this episode to coast by on the simpler pleasures. Tim and Art join Raylan on his quest to find Waldo, and watching the three of them on a boring stakeout is just as entertaining as you’d imagine. Then there’s an amusing extended sequence where the trio track down Waldo’s incredibly shifty white-trash family to a dilapidated trailer park. (First the Truth clan is itchin’ to have a shootout. Later they sit around smoking weed while Waldo’s wife tries to pull a fast one on our Marshals. Watching Raylan, Art and Tim carefully attempt to extract some basic information from these people without incident is a riot.) And we also get to see Boyd and Billy wage verbal battle in front of Billy’s congregation, which the show treats as sort of a draw, even though everyone watching at home realizes that Joseph Mazzello doesn’t stand a chance in hell of out-orating Walton Goggins. That’s just not going to happen. Not today and not ever.
They’re all good scenes that highlight an episode that’s largely an info dump, as the characters piece together the mysteries proposed in the season premiere. Raylan discovers Waldo is the dead parachutist from last week’s flashback and that he was doing a job for a pilot named Drew Thompson, a missing drug dealer who Art remembers from his younger days. Boyd learns that the one really pulling the strings behind the Last Chance Holiness Church is Billy’s quiet sister Cassie (Lindsay Pulsipher, who you might recognize from the Kevin Costner-led Hatfields & McCoys that aired on the History Channel last year). Also, Art is set to retire but appears none too happy about it. It’s all very meat and potatoes. Things perk up at the end, though, when Wynn Duffy shoots one of his dealers who had been infringing on Boyd’s territory and asks Boyd if he’ll find out why Arlo killed a Dixie Mafia soldier in prison. It’s the first hint of how Raylan and Boyd will once again find themselves in each other’s path, as they inevitably do.
There’s another storyline at play in “Where’s Waldo?” though I don’t have much of a choice but to given it an effectiveness grade of “incomplete” right now. You know the hot bartender Raylan is sleeping with? Well, it turns out she just might be married to a scruffy redneck guy named Randall (played by Robert Baker), who earns spare cash by participating in backyard MMA fights. The character is introduced at the beginning of the episode in a tough-guy sequence that felt a little flat. The backyard-brawl stuff in the middle, which ends with Randall putting a beating on some sore losers, is entertaining enough, though completely devoid of context since you don’t yet realize his relationship with Raylan’s current flame. That bit of info is saved for the episode’s closing seconds, but by that point, it’s a comedown from all the Wynn Duffy goodness. Now, I have complete faith that Graham Yost and the show’s writers have more up their sleeve with Randall other than “Raylan has to contend with a jealous ex-lover,” and there are already a few hints dropped in this episode that that’s the case. But his introduction left me a little underwhelmed.
A few more thoughts on “Where’s Waldo?” …
– Line of the night gold-medal winner: Wynn telling Boyd, “I don’t even trust the way you just now said I could trust you.”
– Line of the night silver-medal winner: Randall’s “I know you can’t breathe, dumbass. I got you in a choke hold.”
– Line of the night bronze-medal winner: Art admitting, “That mystery bag thing’s giving me a little bit of a Marshal stiffy.”
– Jim Beaver returns as Shelby Parlow, the unassuming mine worker who Boyd turned into a sheriff. Shelby considers his debt to Boyd now paid. Boyd doesn’t seem as convinced. I’d bet on Boyd here, especially since Beaver tweeted this on Tuesday: “Three DEADWOOD alums and Patton Oswalt in a hellacious gunfight today on the JUSTIFIED set. Whoopi-ti-ay-aay!”
– The show continues having fun with making Raylan and Boyd’s stories mirror each other when possible. “Where’s Waldo?” opens with liquor being stocked in both the bar underneath Raylan’s apartment and the bar that serves as Boyd’s HQ. And both men go about the tasks at hand this week flanked by two of their best.
– I like how Boyd is very uneasy about the religion stuff, obviously thanks to his failed dalliance with preaching the good word back in season one. Good shows practice strong continuity.
Follow Bob on Twitter: @robertbtaylor