Justified continued its strong fourth season with the help of some of its friends in "Kin."
Whether it was those we knew, a la Agent Barkley and Constable Bob, or fresh faces like Mike O'Malley and Gerald McRaney, the onslaught of guest stars was a welcome treat as the search from Drew Thompson continued.
Also back in attendance was Natalie Zea as a very pregnant Winona. While I am enjoying her presence much more on The Following, this return put the biggest smile on my face.
It wasn't anything Zea did, but rather seeing Raylan being there for Winona and the baby, and then getting a kick out of feeling kicks, couldn't have made me happier.
And then all the happy times stopped... quickly.
With Arlo ready to give up Drew Thompson for a deal that would let him walk, everything went into hyper speed as Raylan had about 24 hours to find Thompson on his own.
That's when Raylan ran into Constable Bob, who was just as funny as in the premiere although only on our screens for a short while, the flashing teen from the premiere, and eventually Gerald McRaney as the flasher's stepdad, Josiah.
Here's the interesting thing. Josiah sent Raylan, and at some unseen point Boyd, up the hill so that the hill people would kill them. But either he assumed they would escape, or he thought the rest of the Marshals would soon be onto him, because the old dog was up and gone when Raylan came back down the hill.
Seeing that ankle bracelet on the ground, my first thought was that this guy is some kind of genius. I asked myself, how on earth did he get that off of his leg? Of course the better question would have been, how did he get his leg off of that bracelet? Wow. That was gruesome.
You know the stakes are at an all-time high when dudes are sawing off their own feet to make sure they aren't questioned again.
Surprisingly enough, that wasn't the most shocking moment of "Kin." Meet Nick Augustine. You might know him as Kurt Hummel's dad, Yes Dear, or if you're from my generation, the host of Guts, but this version was a lot scarier.
Things started out so joyously as Nick and Stephen Tobolowsky's Barkley brought Wynn in on the fact that the two men on opposite sides of the law were childhood friend. Barkley talked about how he protected Augustine at all costs, and Nicky smiled. But once Nick realized Barkley had no intent or ability to keep Drew Thompson alive, he shot his former friend right square in the forehead.
I almost fell out of my seat. I know that is Justified's M.O. - having the bad guys turn on each other - but still, I never saw this coming. It proved once again that Theo Tonin is the real deal, and that's exactly why everyone on this show is stopping at nothing to find Drew Thompson.
While all of this was going on, Colton was still trying to figure out where Ellen May could have run off to. His combination of skill in finding her actual location (he kept going back to Shelby's place), and his amazement at the fact that he actually lost her, was a joy to watch. Hearing him ask Tim for advice was even better.
"Kin" also gave us Raylan and Boyd teaming up once again to fight back against the hill people, the many issues with Boyd's crew (Johnny's betrayal, Boyd attempting to cut a deal with Wynn, Shelby now coming after him), and Arlo's deal falling through.
With the search for Drew Thompson as aggressive as ever, Justified Season 4 will likely be as exciting as ever as we look ahead to the coming weeks.
But what do you think? Did you enjoy "Kin?" What were your favorite moments? Who were you favorite guest stars? And what was more shocking; Augustine's shot, or Josiah's foot?
Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.Tags: Justified, Reviews