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‘Justified’ Review: “Decoy”

Justified Decoy Review
FX

Justified’ season 4 makes a seemingly last stand with its eleventh episode of the year “Decoy,” as Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) and the Marshals try desperately to keep Drew Thompson (‘Supernatural‘s Jim Beaver) alive long enough to escape, while Boyd leads Nicky Augustine (‘Glee‘s Mike O’Malley) and his men in the pursuit.

Last week’s ‘Justified’ episode “Get Drew” saw Raylan racing against Boyd to find Drew Thompson/Sheriff Shelby, while the man himself fled with Ellen May and sought protection from Ellstin Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson), so what will the latest episode of ‘Justified’ bring? Will Drew Thompson survive long enough to testify?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Justified’ season 4 episode 11 “Decoy!”

With a chopper buzzing ominously overhead, Raylan, Art, Rachel and Tim hunker down with Drew Thompson at Arlo’s old house to plot their next move. Shelby/Drew (henceforth Drew) explains to Raylan how he originally gave the Waldo Truth ID bag to Arlo to burn, but Raylan shrugs him off and urges Art to help them find a way out of there within the hour. Elsewhere, Boyd takes punishment at the hands of Nicky Augustine, and insists that the mobsters will need his knowledge of Raylan in order to find Drew.

Pressing that a full-on assault of Arlo’s property wouldn’t get them much, Boyd realizes that Raylan will most likely attempt to drive Drew out of Harlan himself, and tasks Colton and a Detroit sniper to ambush the convoy at a specific point. Some time later, Tim and Art roll through a deserted pass with the convoy, but Tim comes to a sudden halt at the sight of abandoned cars nearby, his war training telling him that Colton has set up IEDs within the cars.

Back at the house, Drew explains how he first met Arlo in Vietnam while the latter was on LSD, as Raylan gets a phone call from Art telling them to flee to the alternate location. Art and Tim remain on the isolated road, with Colton and the sniper watching from the trees, as Tim has the idea to simply call Colton. The pair trade barbs over the phone about the situation they’ve found themselves in, Colton insisting they’ll die from being too scared to move, but Tim calls his bluff and quickly arranges all the men and cars behind a tow truck out of sight.

Boyd takes a call from Colton that the convoy was most likely a decoy, as Nicky sends the young torturer “Yolo” to double-check the house. Meanwhile, Raylan, Rachel and Drew set up in Raylan’s old abandoned high school, while Drew continues to bemoan his predicament. Raylan takes a call from Constable Bob (Patton Oswalt), who picked up motion detections at both Arlo’s place and Raylan’s high school, and notices Yolo’s truck approaching Arlo’s house.

Boyd assures Nicky that he can figure out where Raylan will land the chopper to evacuate Drew, shortly thereafter remembering how they once saw an astronaut land a helicopter on their high school baseball diamond. Boyd takes Nicky’s man Picker to the school, while back at Arlo’s place Yolo repeatedly beats Bob, who refuses to break or divulge Drew’s location. After a brutal assault, Bob gets a momentary drop on the young man and stabs him through the leg, wrestling with him to get the nearest gun. By the time Raylan arrives, Bob has already killed Yolo, and nearly passed out himself.

Raylan and Bob return to Drew and Rachel in the high school, but realize that the sounds of an approaching chopper are too soon for police forces. With limited resources, Raylan places Bob in the principal’s office and heads off to confront Boyd and Picker by an empty stairwell. Refusing to hand Drew over, Raylan urges Boyd and Picker to return with more men, before informing Bob they have about five minutes before reinforcements arrive. Back at the convoy, Art tosses a Molotov cocktail of Tim’s design to ignite one of the nearby cars, allowing them enough smoke and cover to escape. Colton fakes that he sees Drew in order to get the sniper’s gun, but promptly turns it on him and fires.

Back at the bar, Ava attempts to make conversation with a stone-faced Nicky Augustine, though Nicky quickly turns the conversation on her and implies she must have slept her way to the top of the Harlan whore chain. Johnny demands Nicky keep his mouth shut, but Nicky blithely fires back to Ava that Johnny attempted to have Boyd killed through Wynn Duffy, another pathetic way people try to get to the top. Ava plays the flirtatious card on Nicky for the moment, but promptly douses him in bourbon and threatens him with a lighter and a pistol. Johnny trains his gun on Ava and urges her not to do anything stupid, telling her he loves her, as she ignores him and makes her getaway from the bar.

Boyd, Picker and the reinforcements make their way through the school and up to the principal’s office to find Raylan and Bob, but Boyd knows Raylan will shoot at anyone who enters. Picker pushes Boyd to be the one to enter first, despite Boyd’s pleas that Drew must not be in there, but Raylan aborts the countdown and opens the door himself. Indeed they got Drew out, but rather than lapse into another standoff, Raylan urges the men to listen to the approaching sirens, and leave before they all wind up dead. On their way out, Boyd promises Raylan they’ll have another confrontation soon.

Afterward, the Marshals clean up the scene as Raylan reveals that Bob had an inspiration to get Drew out of Harlan, by putting he and Rachel on the next coal train out of town.

Well boy, if that wasn’t one of the better ‘Justified’ episodes we’ve ever seen! We still have a reservation or two how the series might keep the momentum going through two more episodes, but “Decoy” manages to deliver the series’ most tense hour to date, without losing any of the wit and crackle that make otherwise dramatic scenes come to life the way ‘Justified’ allows. It’s certainly given a nice payoff to the subplots between Colton (Ron Eldard) and Tim (Jacob Pitts), while promising another deadly Boyd/Raylan showdown to come, so hopefully all the effort put into finding and protecting Drew Thompson as part of the season’s ongoing mystery will find a satisfying resolution over the final two episodes. Otherwise, “Decoy” might simply prove the most exciting the series has ever been, firing relatively few shots over the course of the hour.

What say you?  How did you feel about ‘Justified’ season 4′ ante-penultimate episode “Decoy?” Do you think Raylan will manage to keep Shelby alive long enough to escape the Detroit mafia? Check out our interview with ‘Justified’ star David Meunier (Johnny Crowder) for a preview of the upcoming episodes, and join us next week for another all-new ‘Justified’ episode recap of “Peace of Mind” on FX!

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