If the season 4 premiere felt a bit different to you, it was supposed to. The writers are trying something new this year: There's not a "big bad" (RIP, Mags and, presumably, Quarles), there's a big mystery. They're also giving Raylan and Boyd very separate story lines, at least at the start. Since Raylan has to keep his moonlighting a secret because bounty hunters aren't allowed in Kentucky and Marshals aren't allowed side jobs, that means his colleagues were nowhere to be seen this episode -- after Rachel appeared just long enough for Raylan to make a Big Lebowski reference. Art and Gutterson have great scenes with Raylan in next week's episode as the three of them search for Waldo Truth, so that'll feel more familiar. This hour was about setting Boyd and Raylan off in their respective directions and introducing new faces. Let's dig in.
In a series first, we began with a flashback. On Jan. 21, 1983, a man fell from the sky with a streamer parachute and a bag of cocaine. All we learned before cutting to a snoozing Raylan being stirred by his ringing cell phone at his desk was that the man wasn’t Santa Claus and the cops were called.
Raylan’s phone call was a woman named Sharon Edmunds who does bail bonds in Knoxville, Tennessee. Another flashback, this time to a law enforcement expo in Miami where she met Raylan a few years ago, revealed she likes to stand in front of hotel room windows naked. “You want another one,” Raylan asked her, meaning a drink. “Not of that,” she said, staring at him in his towel. Yes, now he remembers her. She needed help bringing in Jody Odair, a 41-year-old man charged with double homicide. He's out on $250,000 bail, but skipped town two days ago and has an ex-wife who lives in Lexington. She wanted Raylan to find him, then she’d have Lexington PD bring him in and pay Raylan $3,000. Rachel told Raylan not to get caught -- does she know he's playing bounty hunter or just guessing that he's breaking the rules because he's Raylan?
Conveniently, Raylan made it to the ex-wife’s house in time to see Jody show up with a bag of hamburgers. She wouldn’t let Jody in, so he went back to his vehicle to get a gun. Raylan, already annoyed at Jody for littering, eventually broke the driver’s side window and pointed a gun at his head. Jody was calm -- he was confident the gun he had pointed at Raylan could shoot through the door and that lawman Raylan wouldn’t shoot him. He was right -- Raylan shot the air bag instead. Awesome. In our weekly postmortem with EP Graham Yost, he assures us that could happen. Raylan cuffed Jody on the ground and called Sharon to suggest he’d better just bring him in.
Our first glimpse of Boyd this season came as he calmly tried to figure out why Hiram, one of his Oxy dealers, had stopped selling. “People are gettin’ off drugs and hooked on Jesus,” the recently saved Hiram said, crediting Preacher Billy and his Last Chance Holiness Church. Boyd reckoned Hiram either owed him $10,000 for his last delivery before his conversion, or the Oxy, which Hiram said he’d flushed. Boyd kept checking his pocket watch, and that was because his passion to blow s--- up has been renewed. Hooray! Boyd moved away from the window just before a firecracker blew outside. Boyd said Hiram had until the next night to give him his money or a firecracker would go off inside the house next.
NEXT: Patton Oswalt pops in