I was initially skeptical of ‘The I of the Storm,’ the third episode of Justified‘s second season. It seemed as though things were going to play out like just another stand-alone episode with the Bennett family nowhere in sight. And then somewhere between the hijacking of the bus full of Oxycontin and Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) driving down the road with a man hanging out of his truck, I realized that this episode had caught me completely by surprise. This was one of those episodes that starts off so-so but is secretly laying groundwork for future conflict.
Let’s break it down…
The episode centers around Boyd’s old associate Dewey Crowe’s (Damon Herriman) attempt to make some quick cash by joining an Oxycontin bus tour, which is promptly hijacked. He figures that Boyd is behind the hit, but soon learns it is some other two-bit criminals. Despite Boyd’s warning, Dewey steals back the pills by posing as US Marshal Raylan Givens. Given that the two have a relationship and that Dewey is one of the dumber criminals in Kentucky, it doesn’t take long for the real Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) and the criminals to track him down at his trailer. Raylan ends up in a gunfight , trapped in Dewey’s flimsy trailer after the criminals refuse to believe that it wasn’t him that ripped them off. The stand-off ends almost as abruptly as it begins when local lawman Doyle Bennett (Joseph Lyle Taylor ) shoots the criminals, but not before learning that his brother Dickie (Jeremy Davies) is responsible for hiring them to take out the bus originally.
It’s strange that I recognize Doyle, but not when he is in uniform. It isn’t until he shoots the Oxycontin thieves and confronts his brothers Dickie and Coover (Brad William Henke ) that I realized it is the older Bennett brother. In hindsight it seems pretty obvious, given his probing conversation with Raylan about officers on the take. At the time I just figured he was a shady cop (there doesn’t seem to be a lack of them in this portion of the state – remember the first season?).
The whole Oxy bus affair starts off as an enjoyable but seemingly unimportant story involving Dewey. Then suddenly when Doyle Bennett gets involved, ‘The I of the Storm’ works to continue establishing the Bennett family as the Big Bad of season two. At this point we’ve had only a few interactions with them, but it’s clear that they’re big time criminals, complete with petty side projects like hitting up an Oxycontin bus. By no means are they the only criminals around, but Boyd’s warning to Dewey and Aunt Helen’s warning to Raylan in ‘The Life Inside’ indicates that everyone knows them as a family to steer clear of.
Speaking of Boyd, there was an enjoyable amount of crazy going on with him. His living arrangement with Ava (Joelle Carter) was clarified as strictly familial (since she needs help paying the mortgage on the house). He’s also suffering his own share of problems: aside from defending his criminal retirement to Raylan, he’s being approached Kyle Easterly (Michael Mosley), a fellow employee at the mine. Kyle corners him at Audrey’s, the local dive bar (complete with old lady lampshades and beaded curtains) to convince him that they share the same Jew-killing values (this is something to be proud of?). The fact that Kyle travels around with a few friends looking to cause trouble belies his true intentions, however. What he’s after exactly remains unclear, but Boyd’s decision to drive off down the road with Kyle hanging out the driver’s window will probably not result in any future goodwill. I really liked how the episode ends: with Kyle’s fall to the side of the road from the moving truck and Boyd stopping to survey the body in his rear-view mirror. Boyd realizes that despite his proclamations of turning over a new leaf, he might have just killed a man. Thankfully Kyle slowly gets up and Boyd drives away. It’s clear that the same Boyd we saw fire a rocket launcher into a church in the pilot is still lurking beneath the surface and all he has to do is let his inner crazy out to become dangerous once again. No one said the straight and narrow would be easy, Boyd!
- Comedic highlights abound in this episode: the Chief (Nick Searcy) trying to guess Raylan’s drinking companion is a hoot. First he guesses Rachel, then himself (assuming he had been roofied) and then the look of triumph on his face when he gets to Winona (Natalie Zea) is priceless. He looks just like a child who had just got the correct answer in front of the whole class.
- Runner up was Dewey hanging out in his briefs, cowboy hat and boots watching his Oxy-intoxicated hookers make out. When Raylan shows up to bring him in, he tells Raylan he will do anything he asks if Raylan will give him five minutes to finish up with the girls. Needless to say, he is denied.
- Despite the lack of Margot Martindale’s Mags, we learn that mama Bennett’s presence looms large over her sons. Although Dickie may not be afraid of the other drug dealers in the county, he shuts up quick when his brother inquires what Mags would say if she found out Dickie was knocking over Oxy trucks. It’s interesting how much they’re afraid of/intimidated by her.