It’s all about the money, money, money on Justified as our antagonists get fleshed out.
Let’s bitch it out…
If last week’s premiere spent a significant amount of time lining up Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) to take on Boyd (Walton Goggins), then this second episode is dedicated to fleshing out the others players that will drive the conflict until the pair are ready to go at it.
Chief among them is Ty Walker (Garret Dillahunt), the untrustworthy bearded man that we met last week when he tried to buy Arlo’s house. Turns out that he’s not just after one plot of land, he wants most of Harlan County. Over the course of ‘Cash Game’ Walker makes a number of offers, and even enlists a subsidiary – bank owner and patsy Calhoun (Brad Leland, so great in Friday Night Lights) – to help him. Unsurprisingly Walker isn’t exactly a nice man and saying no is apt to produce some unpleasant results (Justified has a history of wrapping its more nefarious characters in articulate artifice, which makes sense when talking your way out of a showdown may be the only thing that saves your life).
We learn over the course of the hour that Walker is the man pulling the strings behind a number of criminal activities. He’s using Calhoun as a shield, which makes last week’s bank robbery – and it’s damning blackmail ledger – all the more dangerous for Boyd. At this point it does seem as though Boyd’s offer to flee Harlan with Ava (Joelle Carter) was sincere; the bank job was part of $3 million split with Catherine (Mary Steenburgen) and Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns) and when the money doesn’t appear, Boyd resorts to blackmailing Calhoun to make a quick buck. Boyd’s interest in getting out of dodge may be wise considering that Walker doesn’t seem opposed in the slightest to bump off meddlesome folks (RIP Joyce the bank manager, who is dispatched offscreen after a humourous and uncomfortable discussion about omelettes).
What is unclear is why Walker and his paramilitary operative group have disguised themselves as a security organization named Tiger Ops and are trying to secure all of this land. All we know is that there are a lot of dangerous criminals circling one another, which suggests that we will see the bodies begin to pile up. Interestingly Ava and Raylan are almost removed from all this, as if their scheming to take down Boyd exists in its own separate show. Raylan is no closer to uncovering compelling evidence for the RICO case against his nemesis, but he does take the unorthodox strategy of telling Boyd about his impending departure when the pair meet outside of Calhoun’s office. The brief scene is electric, as usual, each talking around the other’s suspicions and accusations. The fact that they have such a history is part of what makes them so compelling (arguably each actor’s comfort playing their character for so long is another part of the enjoyment). With some of the cards now on the table, and the countdown clock inching forward, it’s just a matter of time before these two come to blows.
- Catherine looks much more world weary this season. Perhaps it’s just her uncertainty about Boyd’s truthfulness, but she seems a bit tired.
- Speaking of the matriarch of crime, we also meet her criminal husband Avery (Sam Elliott). Avery is an interesting new addition to the show: another quiet man who is unafraid of using violence and bribery to get what he wants. Guess now we know where Catherine learned her diplomacy skills.
- Choo Choo (Duke Davis Roberts) and Seabass (Scott Grimes) are seamless new additions, as well. If Justified loves one thing more than eloquent criminals, it is dumb ones. Choo Choo almost feels like a replacement for the late, great Dewey Crowe. His conversation about following Raylan is an episode highlight.
- If I had any concerns about Ava’s turncoat storyline, they were put to rest here. After panicking that Boyd may be testing her by leaving the deeds in her shed to see if she takes them, she confronts her fiancé with convincing wrath, then literally collapses as soon as she gets inside the house. I’ve always been a bit on the fence with Joelle Carter, but scenes like this remind me why Ava is a valuable asset to the series.
- Still not much for Tim (Jacob Pitts) to do, but he continues to get some of the best quips. I guess that’s something? Perhaps I should just accept the fact that he and Rachel will never be integral parts and will, in all likelihood, die before the end of the series?
- A pizza parlour in an old jail? Only in Harlan.
- Tim (looking at the video on Raylan’s computer): “Oh good so that is your kid. I thought maybe that was some random internet baby.” Raylan: “Yeah I got tired of cat videos.”
- Tim (asking Raylan about the car following them): “You want to flapjack him? You want to shortbus him? You want to special detention him?”
- Raylan (to Choo-Choo): “Are you saying you ain’t following me like you ain’t following me or are you just repeating this bullshit?” Choo-Choo: “I ain’t following you.”
- Seabass (when Tim asks if he likes the hills): “Nah, they’re like sissy versions of mountains.”
- Raylan (after Boyd pontificates about the meaning of a phrase): “Jesus Boyd I was just saying hello.”
Your turn: are you intrigued by Walker now that we’ve been more formally introduced to him? Is Choo Choo a comic dream? Are you intrigued by Avery and how he and Catherine fit into the mix? Are you drooling with anticipation for more Boyd/Raylan interactions? And how long before Ava has a complete meltdown? Sound off below.
Justified airs Tuesdays at 9pm EST on FX