Two long simmering conflicts come to a head as Boyd (Walton Goggins) travels to Mexico to collect his heroin and Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) faces off with Art (Nick Searcy).
Let’s bitch it out…
Let’s start with Boyd, who gets the more sensational storyline of our two protagonists. ‘Raw Deal’ picks up right where ‘Kill The Messenger’ left off: Boyd and his crew of Crowes head to Mexico to intercept Cousin Johnny (David Meunier) and bring back a massive amount of heroin. Naturally things don’t go quite as planned and for a while it appears that Johnny has the upper hand. Longtime viewers of Justified, however, know that it’s much harder than it looks to pull one over on Boyd. By episode’s end it’s Johnny who is on his knees in the desert. More exasperating than shocking is the development that follows as Danny Crowe (AJ Buckley) opens fire on Johnny’s men, prompting Daryl Jr (Michael Rapaport) to follow suit. It’s not explicitly spelled out, but the Crowes are clearly motivated to take out the individuals who stand between them, Boyd and profits. It’s just frustrating that a moron like Danny continues to get away with murderous behaviour without drawing suspicion onto himself.
In a rare moment of ultra violent frustration (reminiscent of his savage attack on Lee Paxton), Boyd shoots Johnny when his cousin mocks him. It’s shocking, made all the more powerful by its suddenness. Johnny was clearly not long for this world, but he – like Boyd – has escaped death so many times that his unremarkable death via simple gunshot to the head is surprising. Justified excels at using its violence in ways other crime dramas can only dream of, but these quietly unspectacular deaths are the ones that always get me. They remind me of just how easily a life can be taken, even one as significant as a cousin (and regular recurring character). RIP Cousin Johnny.
On the flip side, we have Raylan and his amusing case of the week. On the surface ‘Raw Deal’ is a silly caper episode – one that requires Raylan to do little more than crack one liners and follow the trail of clues left by idiot criminals. The case of the one-legged computer hacker who antagonizes Raylan is rather amusing, harking back to some of the series’ lighter escapades (despite the fact that one character gets a bullet to the head). In reality, however, this is a serious episode wrapped up in an amusing one. What’s happening behind the scenes is far more significant as Raylan is continually given demeaning jobs and spoken to by Art via proxy (aka Erica Tazel’s Rachel and Jacob Pitts’ Tim). It’s the next humiliating step in the downward spiral of Raylan and Art’s relationship and it’s not long before they have a painful, uncomfortable confrontation that leads Raylan to go on leave and demand a transfer to anywhere.
This is some heavy shit and Olyphant and Searcy both excel in one of the most challenging emotional scenes between these two yet. There’s always been a weary, sarcastic tension between Raylan and Art, but in many ways, Art has come to realize that Raylan – for all of his d-baggery – is following the appropriate code of ethics. The fall-out from Raylan’s involvement in Nicky Augustine’s death has driven an unspeakable wedge between them: one expressed in violence last week and refusal to engage this week. When the floodgates finally open, it’s hard not to take Art’s side (Raylan’s petulant point of view is reflective of his unwillingness to accept that he did something really wrong). At this point, with nearly half of the episodes left in the season and S6 still to come before the show signs off, I don’t know how this relationship will proceed, much less survive, until the finale.
- After Wendy Crowe (Alicia Witt) gets Allison (Amy Smart) suspended, she sets her sights on Raylan. Unfortunately she doesn’t really understand how he operates and Raylan refuses her advances (tramp stamp be damned!). Though not before asking for her to consider helping to put Daryl Jr away.
- Kendal Crowe (Jacob Lofland) calls his “Uncle Jack” when he becomes increasingly frightened by Danny and no one else will listen to him. So there’s another Crowe we haven’t meant yet? Maybe they should have been called Rabbit…
- As Alan Sepinwall suggests, Ava’s (Joelle Carter) storyline is on a collision course with Boyd’s now that she’s told Judith (Dale Dickey) that she can provide heroin for the prison. Good thing Boyd’s Mexico adventure was successful or the missus would be in a shiv-load of trouble!
- Side Note: Ava’s self-administered haircut sure looks awfully tasteful and perfect in the back. I realize Joelle Carter probably didn’t want to have to walk around with a terrible haircut, but this new do is a wee bit unrealistic for a prison hack job.
- It’s a small moment, but I absolutely loved that Chris the IT guy (Kinsey McLean) refused to give Tim a fist bump, instead asking if he can go home.
- Finally, the Richard Kimble (The Fugitive) reference in a case involving a suspect with a missing limb is pretty clever. Give yourself a point if you caught that one.
- Raylan (to himself, when the walk-in abruptly walks off): “Or you could just leave.”
- Boyd (seeing Johnny at Yoon’s house): “Well look at you. Even vultures fly south for the winter.”
What are your thoughts on the impending collision between these storylines? Were you surprised that Johnny died? How uncomfortable did you find Art and Raylan’s confrontation? Will Wendy see the light and help send her brothers to jail? And who should we cast as “Uncle Jack”? Sound off below.
Justified airs Tuesdays at 10pm EST on FX