The verdict I came to after weighing the arguments for and against my subplot and its villain was that it was unnecessary. Not only that, but cutting it and having a particular event near the end happen for a different reason actually made it more powerful a motivator for my hero to make the decision he does.
I am going to worry about removing and/or rewriting the affected scenes in edits. I have to rewrite the beginning already; why not three or fours others, as well? I think the bigger challenge will be backshifting all references to reflect the new versions of the scenes.
In the meantime this is what my muse feels like (I can feel him whistling–he is very pleased with himself for this one):
Yes, indeed. He’s a lumberjack, and he’s okay.