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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

"Justified" recap: Mags Bennett is your number one fan





Spoilers for this week's "Justified" below. Don't click through if you don't want to know.

Good Lord is Mags Bennett a terrifying woman! I mean, we kind of already knew that, what with her poisoned moonshine and creepy blow-ups at her sons. But crushing your son's hand? That's a whole different kind of evil.
"Justified" has not yet shied away from depicting violence (last season's finale, "Bulletville," concluded with a vicious bloody shootout that left most Western shootout scenes in the dust), but I still wasn't prepared for Mags going all Kathy Bates on Coover'a non-gun hand. Yes, her sons were stupid and yes, they did heighten Raylan's suspicions about the family's involvement in Walt McCready's disappearance. But, dude -- he's your son!
At any rate, the sequence in which Mags punishes Coover for his stupidity was another fine moment for Margo Martindale, as she countered Mags' violence with gentle reminders that her sons had given her no choice in the matter. Kudos, too, to Brad William Henke, whose blubbering apologies were absolutely gut-churning.
I present "Justified" as an example to every action fan who believes that it's a genre driven by violence and visual effects, with no room for nuance or meaningful performances. "Justified" is, in many ways, an action drama. Yet it's also a character drama that employs excellent actors and gives them meaty dialogue and characters. A scene like this one wouldn't be nearly as effective without skilled actors like Martindale and Henke who drive home the anguish and creepiness of the moment. Just another example of why "Justified" is one of more finely tuned machines running on TV today.
As for the rest of the episode, we finally learned that, try as he might, Boyd is a criminal at heart and will always be one. He gets involved with the plot to rob the mine, and still goes through with it after he realizes his team plans to kill him. He cleverly manages to blow them up instead, with a small assist from Ava.
Yet, I like that the show has settled on making Boyd something between a good guy and a villain. He's a crook and a killer and a born criminal. But he won't kill an innocent man as part of the robbery plot. And blowing up his cohorts was basically self-defense. I like that the show has decided that Boyd can be both a criminal and a likable, sympathetic character.
The scene in which he explains his actions to Ava and apologizes for involving her in his exploits was another fine tete-a-tete between Walton Goggins and Joelle Carter. They have a really nice, easy chemistry together and I enjoy watching their relationship deepen and evolve.
Anyway, here are some more thoughts on "Cottonmouth":
* Of course, we got another, fantastic glimpse of Arlo, who showed up to finally turn over the sting money. Well part of the sting money. But, I guess it's the effort that counts, right? But just because he brings over the money doesn't mean he needs to help with his investigation. It's Raylan's aunt, yet again, who gives him the tip about Bowman.
* Yet Auntie is still pretty insistent that Raylan not bother the Bennett family. Why, I wonder? Just what is up with their families? Clearly, one of the Givens clan did something to Dickie's leg (assuming it wasn't Mags who did it, and found a way to blame it on the Givenses). But what?
* Yay! More Dewey Crowe! And I love that he's bonded with Jimmy Earl Dean. Do you think, if this show goes long enough, they'll do a season where all of Raylan's surviving enemies team up and come after him? I'm torn between thinking that would be idiotic pandering and thinking it would be the most awesome thing ever.
* Not too much Art Mullens this week, but he does have that great line when Raylan is, yet again, called to Harlan because no one else is able to deal with the burg's citizens. "You're like the hillbilly whisperer," Art marvels. Heh.
* I'm glad that I'm not the only one worried about poor Loretta McCready. Here's hoping that Raylan can help her before she gets poisoned or hobbled or forced to listen to more of Doyle's fiddling. She's just a kid, for God's sake!
* OK, I'm guessing Raylan doesn't do a lot of reading, but I'm pretty sure he's a big fan of Steig Larsson's "Millenium" series. Why? Not only does he Tase the forger in the crotch, a la Lisbeth Salander, but, in his conversation with Loretta, he admits he's "kicked a hornet's nest." The evidence speaks for itself.

1 comment:

JodyD said...

As to your last point, I thought the exact same thing. There are just so many ways they could have gone instead of kicked a hornet's nest ... and yet.

I also love Boyd Crowder, living in this no man's land of integrity and crime. But aren't the best 'villains' the complex ones? And I'm thinking of great shows like The Wire and Deadwood. Both the Mags Bennett and Boyd Crowder compare well to those amazing shows.