SPOILER WARNING: This post will appear following a new episode of Justified. It is intended to be read after seeing the show’s latest installment as a source of recap and analysis. As such, all aspects of the series up to and including the episode discussed are fair game.
The season’s big mystery has officially been solved. The answer to the question of Drew Thompson’s identity has been answered: It’s Sheriff Shelby Parlow, hiding in plain sight this whole time. At first I was a little disappointed in this discovery. In part because I hoped all those hints last week were red herrings. It seemed silly to devote one episode to the audience figuring things out and another to having the characters do it. I felt like the writers were just serving up more delays to stretch out a storyline that really isn’t big enough to command a whole season, because it’s the best they could come up with. We know who Thompson is, all that’s left is to cuff him, and they’re going to drag out that out for four more episodes? I felt cheated.
Then, something occurred to me which put it all in perspective. This season wasn’t actually about figuring out who Drew Thompson was. Not really. As I’ve mentioned, one of the big themes has been Raylan’s preparing for fatherhood and Arlo’s influence on just what kind of Dad he’ll be. What I didn’t put together until this week, however, was how that was actually a smaller part of another, greater theme, perhaps the season’s most significant. And that’s how the history of Harlan, its people and their ancestors, impacts its future. The Arlo/Raylan/fatherhood idea is just a smaller piece of that greater puzzle.
The biggest sign pointing us in the direction of this idea was Raylan’s recollection of an old feud between the Givens and another Harlan clan. The way Raylan remembers it, Arlo got pinched for assault after he beat the crap out of a man named Johnson McClaren because his dog was shitting on their lawn. The thing escalated, the Givens are gearing up to go after the McClarens and calling on their allies, the Crowders, to go after the Sorensens, who were kin to the McClarens. That is, until Raylan’s mother Frances called a meeting for all the clans to get together and hash it out. Frances, who Raylan says had some French blood in her, once told her son that the term “hash it out” comes from the french word “hatchet,” like an axe, to “cut through the bullshit.”
Only, that old story didn’t really go down the way Raylan thinks it did, as Shelby points out. In truth, “the dog was incidental,” and Johnson McClaren had “verbally assaulted” his mother, making “implications around town as to her proclivities,” and pushed it too far. That’s when Arlo “saw fit to shove a pound of dog shit down his mouth.” But Frances “took the high road, called a truce, although she had every right to be affronted. Your daddy was protecting her honor.” Raylan looks at Shelby with a look of disbelief, saying “Arlo did that?” It goes against everything he believes his father to have been.
Tags: Arlo Givens, Art Mullen, Ava Crowder, Boyd Crowder, Brent Sexton, Colton Rose, Ellen May, Elmore Leonard, Erica Tazel, Hunter Mosley, Jere Burns, Joelle Carter, Johnny Crowder, Justified, Justified Blog, Nate Kreichman, Rachel Brooks, Raylan Givens, Raymond J. Barry, Ron Eldard, Sheriff Shelby, Timothy Olyphant, Walton Goggins