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Character Development: Tim Gutterson is the BOSS, Justified “Decoy” 

Photo Credit: FX Networks
Photo Credit: FX Networks

Okay, so Jacob Pitts has always kicked ass as U.S. Deputy Marshal Tim Gutterson, but TPTB at Justified did a beautiful thing this season when they brought in Ron Eldard, as fellow war vet Colt, to play with him. Honestly,y’all, this whole season has been a run-up to their standoff and I wait for their final (and I’m gonna go ahead and assume fatal) confrontation. Tim is going to take Colt down, and he’s going to take him down hard. If that goes the other way, and Colt kills Tim, mama will be none too happy. So I’m going to think positive.

So we’ve had that arc brewing, and it escalated when Colt killed Tim’s friend, who was able to text out “Bagram” (for Colt’s faux Bagram lung claim) before he died. Tim has had Colt’s number from the jump, he’s already told Colt he knows what he did, and in last night’s excellent “Decoy,” that inside line on Colt’s bent ways saved him, Art, and a host of law enforcement from what could have been an ugly roadside mess.

The episode centers around getting Drew/Shelby out of Harlan and into federal custody while avoiding Theo Tonin’s crew. The decoy of the episode title is a convoy that would appear to be driving him out of Harlan, when in fact, Raylan and Rachel are holed up with him at the Givens home.

So we have Art and Tim in a lead SUV, being followed by other Marshals and local deputies in other trucks. When they get to a spot in the road with three abandoned cars, Tim’s rightfully suspicious. He guesses one, if not all three, are likely laden with IEDs. Art’s not feeling it but Tim explains in his usual smart ass fashion, lightening the mood with the suggestion that maybe it’s just his PTSD acting up.

To be on the safe side, he rings up Colt, and Colt, standing on the hill above the convoy with one of Tonin’s men behind the sight of a rifle, answers the phone. What follows is ridiculous and hilarious and all Tim as he matter-of-factly asks Colt in a what-if fashion (for a “movie he’s writing”) how this scene might have played out during the war.

Colt plays along (and even suggests that he be played by Gerard Depardieu) but doesn’t tip his hand, so they say their goodbyes and Tim responds by literally circling the wagons to protect everybody before he MacGyvers a Molotov cocktail to forcefully set off one of the IEDs. He works in a snit about how none of them is good for sh-t because with all the vehicles between them, everybody’s cigarette lighter is charging a phone and none of them smoke. To which Art makes a crack about that being truly ridiculous for a tribe in Kentucky.

So Tim just lights the damn thing with jumper cables (danger boy that he is) and tosses it. It lands, the car catches fire and then as Art is wondering why the explosion wasn’t bigger, he gets the boom he was waiting for, and off they go safely down the road.

The only downside is that Colt’s in the wind again. So we wait.

I LOVE that Pitts has stepped up. Gutterson has been such a background character who’s had these little snippets of swagger come through, and I’ve said in previous recaps that I genuinely didn’t know if they were trying to shade him as gay in the middle of a supremely cowboy job and location. I’m not getting that vibe anymore, so maybe they have a better handle on him now. Either way, Pitts looks like he’s having a ball.

At the end of “The Hatchet Tour” a couple of weeks back, Tim fell in behind Raylan as Raylan walked off and they matched each other step for step—men on a mission and badass. It was a perfect little moment that I may have rewound and replayed a few times. I admit nothing. If anyone has a gif of that, comment me!

There are only two episodes left this season (already)! Catch the next new episode Tuesday at 10 pm/9c on FX.

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