Even more than in past years, Season 4 of “Justified” has been about family.
Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) has of course been caught up in a cold case that involved his father, and Boyd (Walton Goggins) and Ava (Joelle Carter) have gotten engaged. There’s another family angle at play as well, though — Johnny Crowder’s (David Meunier) resentment of Boyd for bringing in an outsider, Colton Rhodes (Ron Eldard), to help run his criminal enterprises.
Johnny has made no secret of his dislike for Colt, and in last week’s episode he carried out a plan to prove Colt had been lying about killing Ellen May (Abby Miller), who had in fact escaped from him and, as the audience knows, is hiding out with Sheriff Shelby Parlow (Jim Beaver).
“The driving force behind the animosity in that relationship in the first place was that Boyd brings in this outsider who Johnny doesn’t know,” Meunier tells Zap2it. “He’s not even family, he’s someone nobody’s ever met. And basically Johnny feels like his position in the crew had been usurped by this stranger. So Johnny’s sort of had it out for this guy from the get-go.”
The situation with Colt and Ellen May has put Johnny in a rare position — “he actually knows something that Boyd doesn’t,” says Meunier, who also had a memorable guest arc as the sadistic Sgt. Strausser on NBC’s “Revolution” earlier this season.
Starting with Tuesday’s (March 5) episode, “That will play out,” he says. “There’s some resolution there. Without giving away too much, I know it’s not exactly the resulotion that Johnny would like, but there is some conclusion to it.”
In addition to trying to entrap Colt, Johnny has also gone behind Boyd’s back with Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns) and the Dixie Mafia, hoping to convince Wynn that he and not Boyd should be the mob’s point man in Harlan. Meunier says that when he found out Johnny would be doing that this season, it gave him pause.
“I think I’ve said in other interviews that sometimes as an actor, you’re concerned about job security,” he says. “When you see things like that, it’s, ‘Well, I’m going to have to look for another job, because Johnny’s not going to live to see the end of the day.’
“But I like the duality that it’s created for me this season. I have one face that I wear in the company of my kin, and then I’ve got another face that I put on when I walk out of the bar. I think at some point I’m referred to as ‘duplicitous,’ and I liked that. … In terms of story, I think it makes good sense. It’s sort of the only play Johnny has. There’s nothing really locally that Johnny could do that Boyd already hasn’t [done] or that Boyd wouldn’t know about. If Johnny wants to make a move, and it’s got to be a big move, going to the outside, to foreign territory, is really his only play. It’ll probably cost him a lot, but you know.”
Meunier wasn’t willing to say where “Justified,” which wrapped filming last week, is headed in its final episodes this season, although he jokingly says people can expect “pure mayhem.”
“It’s a great season,” he says. “I’m biased of course, because I got a lot of bones to chew on this season. It’s been a lot of fun for me. But I think at the end of the season there might just be more questions than answers, which is a good thing. It’s going to be a great thing. But there are definitely some conclusions to the stories they’ve built up.”
“Justified” airs at 10 p.m. ET Tuesday on FX.