It’s always difficult to discuss an episode of relatively straightforward television. After an episode which began as a stand-alone dovetailed into an exploration of how ambitious the Bennett family is, 2×04 ‘For Blood or Money’ reverted back to the familiar season one model of a stand-alone case. Thankfully the case provided some background on one of my most interesting characters, and began with a dynamite scene.
Let’s break it down…Had I been watching the episode in real time, knowing that I had waited a week and would have to wait another before the next episode, I imagine I would have been disappointed. Thanks to the miracle of marathoning, however, I was merely intrigued by ‘For Love or Money’. I do hope, however, that the show recognizes soon how much more engaging it is when it focuses on the escalating war between Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) and the Bennett family, headed by Mags Bennett (Margo Martindale).
The main crux of the episode centers on Clinton (Larenz Tate), a convict that beats up the Program Manager (Joel McCrary) of his half-way house in order to give his son Nick (Jakobe Dempsey) a gift on his birthday. Normally this is a half-baked, recycled storyline, but because Clinton just happens to be the brother-in-law of Deputy Rachel Brooks (Erica Tazel) I gave it the benefit of a doubt. And while I didn’t necessarily care about whether Clinton saw his son, or was shot by the Marshals after he stole a car, tied up at least two people and shot his old business acquiantance, I did want to know more about Rachel. So while it wasn’t the most original story, I’m hopeful that the interesting back story on Rachel (the death of her sister), and the fact that she fatally shot a criminal named Flex (Chadwick Boseman) will pay off further in future episodes. Side Note: Are we all in agreement that Flex would have made a lousy magician, even if he hadn’t been shot (first in the hand by Clinton and later by Rachel)?
While this storyline comprised the major story for the episode, in my mind the real story was in the first scene as Raylan stops in on a Bennett family lunch. Doyle (Joseph Lyle Taylor) plays the guitar, Dickie (Jeremy Davies) shoots cap guns with the kids and younger brother Coover Bennett (Brad William Henke) apparently just eats (thus far he’s definitely the least useful of the Bennett boys, although I do find his oafish stupidity amusing). After Raylan hands out Marshal trinkets to the many children hanging around the property (is the big plan to start a cult?), he sits down with Mags to warn her about moving in on the territory of Franklin Dixie gang. In so doing he reveals the truth that Dickie was the one behind the Oxycontin bus heist in last week’s episode, which infuriates Mags. As soon as Raylan has left, she angrily clarifies that they have “larger plans” and that she doesn’t need a federal Marshal snooping around. Dickie and Coover both interpret this to mean “knock off Raylan.” Doyle helpfully clarifies that they “Don’t do shit until you can run it by someone who can think.” At this point it is a wonder Mags hasn’t been forced to kill half of her sons since they’re such idiots.
All in all this was merely a so-so episode, although there were a few little interesting tidbits about Rachel in amongst the recycled storyline with her brother-in-law. The real juicy question is what are these larger plans Mags Bennett referred to? Clearly we’ll just need to wait to learn more.
- Boyd Crowder (Walton Groggins) spends the episode in the company of Ava (Joelle Carter) – ugh. At one point Kyle (Michael Mosley) appears with a group of good ole’boys and make Boyd an “offer.” We don’t hear the specifics, though Ava listens at the door, ever aware of any mention of possible criminal activity, or indications of a wig/hair emergency (Side Note: Of course she would work as a hairdresser). The episode ends with the suggestion that Kyle pitched a robbery (of the mine?) for a $40, 000 pay-off that will allow Boyd to get away without being caught, and get him treated as a hero. Note to Boyd: if the illegal criminal activity scheme seems too good to be true, it most definitely is!
- Raylan tries to track the other drug cartel – the Franklin Dixie gang – through Emmitt Arnett (Steven Flynn), the shady real estate agent that we met back in 1×09 when Winona’s (Natalie Zea) husband, Gary (William Ragsdale) was being threatened by loan sharks. It’s unclear if Emmitt will pass along Raylan’s message for the Dixie gang to stay away from Harlan and the Bennett family, but – this being Justified – I can’t imagine that there won’t an escalation between the two groups.
- Gary tells Winona that he wants to divorce her. Raylan immediately deduces that Gary did this knowing that she would feel guilty because their expensive house is now worth less than their mortgage and Gary would be stuck with it in a divorce. Rayland then delivers the best line of the episode (minus virtually everything from the always comedic delivery of Nick Searcy): he offers to cover the mortgage with his salary of “at least $800-900”. I love his jokiness!