Justified knows how to turn the screws. This week, everybody dislikes everybody, and we still end up winning.
Things are still not that great for Dewey Crowe (Damon Herriman), who's wandering around in the woods in the middle of the night looking for money he buried a long time ago so that he can use it to get away from his crazy relatives. Or at least that's the story he told Wade, who he shoots for stealing money from the whorehouse on Boyd's orders. When the bullet doesn't do the job, Dewey beats Wade with his own shovel. Now he's got to hide the body, butwhen he gets back, there's no Wade. In his haste to chase after his former friend, Dewey takes a nasty fall. Maybe those big pointy rocks will stop him. Nope, he's unconscious. And...credits.
At the Marshals Office, Raylan has a brain cramp when he's told that Wade has been a confidential informant and so, now that Wade is missing, it's his job to go find him. At least Art gives him Tim for company, which we all know is the most fun pairing that Justified has ever given us. Our two deadpan Marshals meet some Florida Crowes and their very unfriendly dog, while Dewey wanders around aimlessly like the "It's Man" at the beginning of Monty Python's Flying Circus. Just as he finds Wade, who's somehow still alive, a random family of Good Samaritans stops him from finishing him off.
Meanwhile, Boyd and Ava have a not-so-friendly meeting with his cousin Johnny Crowder (the underappreciated David Meunier), where they make it clear that they know he's turned on them. Boyd wants to know what Johnny is going to do to make things right, and suggests that they'd both benefit if they set aside their differences. An unenthused Johnny leaves, but not before telling Ava he'll be back for her if she changes her mind. Once he's on the road, we find out that Boyd has assigned him a tail already.
It's a good thing that Boyd goes back to the bar, as he'd pummel the prison guard who tries to get his hands on Ava. That's Danny Strong, who's now made a great screenwriting career with the likes of the Emmy-winning Sarah Palin TV-movie Game Change and the critically acclaimed motion picture The Butler, but who you still know acting-wise from Buffy The Vampire Slayer. And he gets put in his place by one of his colleagues later on.
Yet at the bar, Boyd has to deal with Raylan and Tim (other great things in Justified history: bar scenes between Raylan and Boyd), who theorize that he might have had Wade killed. Leaving Tim to keep watch on Boyd, Raylan gets the number to Wade's burner phone and sets out to locate it, leading him to a deserted bed and breakfast. That's also where Darryl is headed after having picked up a crying Dewey. Unfortunately for them, Raylan's found Wade first, but now he really is dead.
Boyd and Tim are playing Scrabble (how awesome is that?) when Raylan returns to inform them that Wade is no longer with us. Boyd later sees Johnny chatting with Hot Rod, the drug dealer that was giving Loretta problems two weeks ago, and decides this will not do. Oh, and Dewey is in the penalty box with Darryl.
Raylan finally strides his way back into the Marshals Office and declares to AUSA Vasquez (Rick Gomez) that one of the Crowes is responsible for Wade's death. He then wonders where Art is. The answer to that question is in Detroit, interviewing one of the Canadians about the night Nicky Augustine (Mike O'Malley) got gunned down last season. The dude tries to insinuate that the late Sammy Tonin had a "Kentucky lawman" in his pocket, and tells Art to go speak with Picker, who is hanging out with Wynn Duffy.
Art's absence doesn't seem to bother Raylan that much, because he leaves work and sleeps with Alison, who chooses after sex to tell him a sob story about one of her cases. The next morning, Raylan tells Darryl his family ought to get the hell out of Kentucky, which is advice Darryl doesn't plan on taking. When Raylan tries to take the youngest Crowe with him, everybody in the room gets up in arms. To prevent a brawl, Kendall agrees to go with our hero over his older brother's objections. And Boyd uncovers a whole lot of dead bodies, none of which we will miss.
"Over The Mountain" is one of those episodes which is not necessarily fast-paced on its own, but moves pieces into place for future story developments, whether it's the meeting between Boyd and Johnny we've been waiting for since last week, or Ava having something to do in prison other than converse with her husband-to-be. Aside from possibly needing an ID chart to keep track of all the Crowes, this is forty-five minutes where we're constantly saying, "Oh, I see where this might be going" or "Hey, that's interesting." It reinforces the fact that there is never such a thing as a meaningless episode of Justified.
Besides, at the heart of Justified are less the big plot twists and more the little character moments. The things that we're still talking about as the credits roll are the quotable lines, the not so infrequent laughs, or the connections where that character we met for two minutes weeks ago is suddenly relevant to another storyline now. The mere presence of Jacob Pitts for more than twenty seconds is worth applauding. The Justin Bieber reference is worth a laugh. And how cool is it that finally Joelle Carter gets a scene to remind us that Ava is just as tough as her other half?
This show found a perfect formula early on - vividly drawn characters, blunt drama and more than a dash of cynical humor - and it wisely hasn't messed with that equation since. It's just a shame that we now know there won't be many more trips down to Kentucky for us to enjoy.
Next week's episode is one of the most important in Justified history, so executive producer Graham Yost told us. Don't miss it next Tuesday at 10 PM ET/PT on FX.