We’re just under a quarter of the way through season three of FX’s Justified and those concerns that everyone had about the show having difficulty topping last season’s saga of the Bennett clan? Yeah…they were unfounded.
Let’s bitch it out…Although the episode primarily centers around the prison escape of Dickie Bennett (Jeremy Davies) and Dewey Crowe (Damon Herriman), the real drama happens in the B-storyline. The episode opens with Devil (Kevin Rankin – a personal favourite) meeting with Quarles (Neal McDonough – selling the creepy nice guy routine for every penny). Quarles proposes a business partnership: he wants Devil to leave Boyd (Walton Goggins) and co. to man his new oxy operation. Like most of the transactions on this show, Quarles appeals to Devil’s wallet, so you knew as soon as Devil shows up to collect his tiny cut from Boyd that he’s going to try and make a move.
Now anyone who’s been watching this show for more than a few episodes knows that you do not try and outsmart Boyd. He may have gone through about five different personalities, but he has always been ahead of the curve when someone tries to pull a fast one on him. The only question was whether Johnny Crowder (David Meunier) would side with his cousin or follow the money. Despite their trying relationship – remember that Johnny is in the chair primarily because he sided with Boyd long ago – Devil ends up on the wrong end of the equation and takes a bullet in the chest. His death, which closes the episode, is really well executed (forgive the pun): Boyd’s speech to him, Devil crying and the gurgling stream of blood that creeps out of his mouth all contribute to a powerful, sad end for the second tier flunky. It just goes to prove that Quarles may have the right sales pitch to convince folks to side with him, but he still doesn’t know who he’s dealing with in Harlan County.
Our A-story, which feels slightly reminiscent of last season’s ‘The Life Inside‘ deals with Dickie, Dewey and a prison escape. Although it sort of operates as a standalone, this is more in line with the kind that we saw in season two, where several aspects of the standalone remain integrated into our overall season-long arc. Here the focus is on busting Dickie out of jail in order to gain access to Mags Bennett’s stash-o-cash, which is being held by the other season three villain, Ellstin Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson). Overall this is an entertaining story, but feels a bit obvious: we know that Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) won’t have much trouble tracking down Correctional Officer Ash Murphy (Todd Stashwick) and his accomplices. As much fun as it is to watch Raylan run Ash down with his car (twice!) or witness Dewey Crowe’s inept attempt to escape at the gas station, this storyline is really only fruitful for the tiny tidbits of information it conveys about Limehouse. For example: the Bennett relationship with Limehouse ends when the money is delivered to Dickie, Limehouse uses the old underground railroad to get out of Noble’s Holler, and Raylan has a personal connection to Limehouse from his youth when Limehouse beat his father up in order to protect Raylan’s mother.
Although we have yet to fully understand Limehouse much beyond what other characters say or do around him, I still think he’s destined for great (terrible) things as season three develops. Mark my words!
- How nice is it to see young Loretta McCready (Kaitlyn Dever)? Oh sure it’s only a quick scene as Raylan stops by the foster home to see if she knows or has Mags’ money, but it’s further proof that the show has built a universe full of colourful, interesting characters that continue to exist even when they’re not the focus of an episode. It’s good continuity and I appreciate that.
- My favourite ill-used supporting character, Rachel (Erica Tazel) gets to ride-along with Raylan for his visit to Noble’s Holler. It is a fun call-back to season one when she used Raylan to get into Harlan County. Here Raylan flips it around and plays the race card to get into Noble’s Holler. Again, a nice bit of continuity and it establishes the somewhat jokey relationship the two share.
- While we get Loretta and Rachel, there is a whole host of people missing from this episode, including Winona, Ava, Art and Arlo. I can’t say I really missed them, though, so clearly the episode did what it needed to do.
- We learn that Mags’ stash is $3 million, but Limehouse only delivers $46, 000. He explains that all of the receipts are included, and that Mags spent the majority of the money on property, but I wonder if there’s more to that story? This is one of those “could go somewhere or may not even be addressed again” storylines, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Limehouse still has that money. We’ll see if it turns up later this season.
Next week the prison escape storyline goes to strange places as nurse Lance (Clayne Crawford) reenacts an urban legend territory and cuts out Dewey’s kidneys. I’m a little unsure how this will play out since it is beyond weird, but we’ll see. What do you folks think: anyone else believe that the Bennett fortune will turn up? What is Limehouse’s agenda? And how peeved is Quarles going to be when he learns that Boyd has killed Devil?