Justified has been pleasantly understated and understatedly pleasant over the first episodes of this already-impressive season; even moments like Boyd cleverly poisoning (and, as we found this week, killing) his preacher rival felt almost light-hearted.
“The Bird Has Flown” brings some weight and consequence back with two plotlines, each wringing genuine pathos out of situations that could have easily had a lighter tone. Raylan’s search for his ladylove has some funny moments, but the show makes it very clear that he has real feelings for Lindsey he can’t deny – feelings that put his guard down, for once, in a confrontation that’s far more tense than most on the show, thanks to Randall’s established fighting pedigree. The setbacks for Raylan here – both emotional and financial – are real.
Ellen May’s storyline was the highlight, though; it felt like a reinterpretation of Adriana’s storyline from the classic Sopranos episode “Long Term Parking,” the kind of plot line that puts a cold rock of fearful anticipation in your chest. It seemed apparent from the first moments that Ellen May appeared on the screen that things would not end well for her, but the show cleverly bucked expectations in the final minutes. A great episode.