The Importance of Service
S3 episode 4 Aired on July 12, 2018

Bob Lee Swagger (Ryan Phillippe) approaches Red Bama Sr. (Gerald McRaney) again with questions about Phoenix and Atlas. Bama suggests that Earl Swagger was having an affair with Edie Poole and the Pooles killed Earl for it. Bama offers to leave Swagger alone if he turns over Harris Downey (Jesse Bradford). Instead, Swagger puts Downey on a bus to Dallas, but Bama doesn’t give up that easily.  

An Atlas target provides a well-timed clue

When the secure Atlas phone rings, Nadine Memphis (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) and Isaac Johnson (Omar Epps) split up to cover the possible locations of the next target, an arms broker named Lee. Memphis grabs Lee before Atlas can get to him and leaves him in a hotel room with Johnson to go collect Downey from Dallas. Memphis is outside the bus station on the phone with Downey as he gets off the bus, but she never makes it to him -- he’s snatched up. When Johnson hears the news, he hangs Lee off the hotel balcony. Upside-down Lee names the places he’s set up explosives for Atlas, including a place in Missouri called Five Mile. This means something to Johnson, but he doesn’t think very highly of Lee’s occupation. He drops Lee to the ground below.

Swagger pays another visit to the Poole farm

When Swagger rolls up, Johnny Poole thinks he has come to cause trouble for their opioid operation. While Swagger is distracted, another Poole knocks him out with a stun gun and he wakes up tied to a chair with Johnny throwing darts at him. Johnny’s daughter, Suzy, tries to intervene, and gets hit in the head for her trouble. Swagger is more annoyed than worried about his situation. He quickly cuts himself free and tackles the bigger Poole to the ground, twisting his arm and demanding answers. The man insists that if a Poole had shot Earl, they never would have kept quiet about it. Swagger is about to leave when he hears them yelling at Suzy, so he doubles back to throw the Poole men around and let them know he’ll be watching if anything happens to her. When he reaches his car, there’s a note saying “Daley’s feed and saddlery.” Swagger remembers his dad taking him there to see Edie.

Downey is delivered to Bama Sr.

At Red Bama Sr.’s farm house, Downey is offered a job in exchange for an item that Hayes had in his safe. Bama Sr. says it belonged to him and shows Downey a picture of something he calls the “god box,” a small white thing that looks like a thick keycard. It was made by a German mathematician and can decrypt something. Downey tells him truthfully that he’s never seen anything like it.

Downey’s rescue operation takes shape

Johnson, Memphis, and Bob Lee Swagger make plans to rescue Downey. Johnson initially holds back, but then confesses that he’s been to the Five Mile location where Lee sent explosives. It’s owned by the Department of Agriculture, meaning Red Bama Sr., and Johnson went to a meeting a few years ago with CIA Agent Hugh Meachum. It’s where they decided to set up Swagger.

Operation Downey rescue begins

The next day, Swagger sneaks up to the remote property. He takes out one guard and watches as Bama has Downey taken away to a mineshaft entrance. In the dark tunnel, Downey babbles for his life and then remembers Swagger’s self-defense lesson and fights back. When the wounded guard returns to Bama with a bleeding face, Bama orders him to blow the mine. Swagger hears the order over the radio and finds Downey in the dark. Above ground, Memphis tries to tackle a gunman -- instead of shooting him -- and is losing when Johnson arrives and shoots him. Before Johnson can lecture her on needing to be more ruthless, she recovers her gun just in time to kill the man sneaking up on Johnson. The ground starts rumbling with the explosion and the mine entrance shed is blown to smithereens. A few moments later, Swagger and Downey come sputtering out of another exit – smoky but unscathed.

Reset back at the ranch

Julie Swagger (Santel VanSanten), who is feeling shut out by Bob Lee, reveals that she paid Edie Poole a visit. Edie told her it was all true. It started as pen pals while Earl was in Vietnam and developed after Earl arrested Jimmy a decade later. Julie gives Bob Lee a stack of Earl’s letters that Edie gave her. In the Swagger’s panic room, Johnson and Memphis take stock of what Bama Sr. was looking for. They realize that if they don’t have the “god box” keycard from the safe, then Patricia Gregson (Beverly D’Angelo) must.