So what do you think the deal is with the bag in the wall? Here’s what we know so far:
- In the season opening scene we see a flashback to a parachutist crashing into the street.
- The only thing in the bag was a Kentucky driver’s license belonging to Waldo Truth.
- Arlo, from prison, arranged for the drug kids to break into his house and retrieve the bag. (This isn’t spelled out exactly, but Raylan asks the kids why they did it and later he asks Arlo why he had the kids do it, so presumably they spilled the beans.)
- Arlo pretended not to know anything about the bag, but he tripped up and said the bag came from the wall when Raylan hadn’t mentioned that fact.
- A prison trustee overhears Arlo talking about the bag and lets on that he knows something about it. Arlo immediately kills him with a shiv.
- Last night the marshals tracked down Waldo, only to find out he’s an imposter who was helping the family collect Waldo’s “draw check.”
- According to Waldo’s wife a pilot took Waldo away ages ago.
- Raylan’s boss Art helped her remember the pilot’s name, Drew Thompson.
- Art was familiar with the case and wants to be the one to wrap it up before he retires.
- Based on an injury his wife gave him (she stabbed him in the butt) and the coroner’s report the marshals confirmed that the parachutist was Waldo Truth.
- The bag was a Panamanian diplomatic pouch. Diplomatic pouches are immune to inspections at airports and border crossings, so they’re sometimes used unscrupulously for smuggling.
- Anything I missed.
I’m wondering if the bag is tied, not to Arlo, but to his wife Francis, who’s long estranged and supposedly dead. Here’s why I say that. At one point Raylan and Arlo talk about whether Raylan will have a son or a daughter. Raylan hopes it will be a daughter so the line will end and his troubles will stop. Arlo tells him that he’s not the only source of turmoil, that Raylan’s mother’s name was Francis, not Saint Francis. Too, Waldo’s wife portrays as a ladies man, so I wonder if he drew Francis away from Arlo.
The Real Life Parachute Drug Smuggler
A few readers suggested Graham Yost based this on a real Kentucky case, outlined in a book called “The Bluegrass Conspiracy” — which Yost confirmed when I asked. He says, though, that they really only bothered [sic - borrowed] the image of the parachutist in the street, and the first name of one of the figures from the real case, so if you know the story, you shouldn’t be spoiled on where this is going.
The real life smuggler was Andrew C. Thornton. My wife remembered the case, since it had a Knoxville connection. (And in the first episode of the season they called out Knoxville by having the the fugitive on the run from killing two people there.)
On a smuggling run from Colombia, having dumped packages of cocaine off near the Blairsville, Georgia, Andrew jumped from his auto-piloted Cessna 404. In the September 11, 1985 jump, he was caught in his parachute and ended up in a free fall to the ground. His dead body was found in the back yard of Knoxville, Tennessee resident Fred Myers. The plane crashed over 60 miles away in Hayesville, North Carolina. At death Thornton was wearing night vision goggles, a bulletproof vest, Gucci loafers, and a green Army duffel bag containing approximately 40 kilos (79 lbs.) of cocaine valued at $15 million, $4,500 in cash, knives, and two pistols. Three months later, a dead black bear was found in the Chattahoochee National Forest that had apparently overdosed on cocaine dropped by Thornton.
The story of Andrew C. Thornton II was examined in Dominick Dunne‘s Power, Privilege, and Justice and in Sally Denton’s The Bluegrass Conspiracy. Robert L. Williams, Cowboys Caravan, looks into the death of his son David, and his skydiving relationship with Drew Thornton. Andrew “Drew” Thornton was also detailed in a Discovery Channel double-length episode of “The FBI Files” named “Dangerous Company” in 2003.
His life, and demise, apparently form the basis of a story line in the TV program Justified on the Fx channel [Season 4, Episode 2, 'Where's Waldo?'], in which a character is referred to as “Drew Thompson…pancaking into that driveway.
So on the show they switched Drew Thompson from being the parachutist to being the pilot.