Wednesday, April 13, 2011
"Justified" recap: The long ride home
This is shaping up to be a better season of "Justified" with each episode, isn't it? Last week we had the amazing "My Brother's Keeper," which saw Raylan's heroic rescue of Loretta, and the death of Coover Bennett. This week, we had Mags and Doyle cutting ties with Dickie, Johnny Crowder returning from the (supposed) dead and that magnificent gunfight at the episode's end. You think I'd get sick of gunfights on this show, since so many episodes end with the exchange of fire. Plus, Raylan is the star of the show -- no one really thinks he's going to die in one of these fights, do they? But the action sequences on this show are so well-shot and tense, I still worry a little each time someone opens fire on Raylan or someone close to him. Also, while I know the show wouldn't kill off Raylan, I'm less sure about the supporting characters who usually end up getting shot at alongside him, like Winona or Arlo or Carol Johnson.
Anyway, I think we can all agree that everything leading up this installment of the "Justified Gunfight of the Week" was pretty awesome, too -- starting with that opening scene between Art and Raylan. If last week's episode had any flaws, it was that Nick Searcy was mostly absent. The show made up for it this week by giving him a juicy, tricky scene, in which Art tells Raylan -- without telling him -- that he knows about the stolen (and returned) money, and that he doesn't plan on discussing it with him. He also makes that heartbreaking statement about how he longer believes he and Raylan will one day look back on their misadventures and laugh because, "I don't think you'll live that long." I don't know whether that's because Art is convinced Raylan is fated for an early death, or because Art has finally decided that he can never really forgive or understand the way Raylan does business. Either way, it's a little sad. And Searcy, as usually, imbues each line with dry, world-weary authority. He's like the father who gets more results from his child with a simple "I'm very disappointed in you, son" than a spanking.
But the episode was full of emotional, tense scenes like that. There was the scene at the dinner between Mags and Aunt Helen, in which Helen delicately manages to dissuade Mags from killing Raylan to avenge Coover's death. Then we had Mags and Doyle shutting out Dickie due partly to his role in Coover's death, but mainly to his generally unreliable nature. I was pretty excited about this because this show has been kind of keeping Jeremy Davies on the shelf all season. His rage at his mama's betrayal gives Dickie (and Davies) an opportunity for some meaty solo material, and let's hope the show takes advantage of the fine, quirky actor they have in Davies.
However, the biggest development this episode was with Boyd Crowder. After successfully hoodwinking Carol Johnson and helping Mags broker her mine deal, Boyd is embarking on crime full-time. And who does he enlist in this endeavor? Why his cousin, Johnny Crowder -- last scene chawed in half by a shotgun blast. Huh. Johnny is worse for wear, but is willing help his cousin rob a poker game (and reconnect with Boyd's old non-Dewey Crowe running partner, who's name is either Devil or Neville. I'm not sure which).
Of course, his new career means leaving Ava, whom he doesn't want to embroil in his dangerous business. She's sad to see him go and later stares at his empty bed so wistfully that it's wonder the two are locked in an embrace by episode's end. It surprises me how invested I've become in this relationship. At the start of this show, Ava and Boyd seemed like a unlikely couple -- to say the least. Ava was thoroughly creeped out by Boyd. Also, she killed his brother and his daddy wanted her dead, so a romance between them didn't seem feasible. But I'll be damned if this show isn't making me kind of root for them.
I also loved the exploration of Raylan's relationship with Winona. It's a really poignant portrait of two people who love each other deeply, but still have a hard time making things work. And, I have to tell you, when Winona agreed to run off to Glencoe with Raylan after that gunfight, I sighed just a little.
Anyway, here are some more thoughts on "Debts and Accounts."
* Man, Gary is a weasel, isn't he? His breakdown in the lawyer's office was so pathetic. On the upside, it probably made her all the more convinced that, despite his anger issues, the solid Raylan is a more dependable mate.
* OK -- I have one quibble with this show. Does it seem to you that people survive seemingly fatal gunfire a little too easily on this show? First, Wynn Duffie survives his gunfight. Now Johnny Crowder is alive? Look, I like both characters and the complexity they lend to the show -- I just hope that "Justified" doesn't pull that bit too often.
* I haven't mentioned the lovely scene where Raylan goes to persuade Loretta to stay with the foster family. I guess I forgot how much Raylan has in common with this embattled young girl. Both are coal country kids who grappled with the death of their mothers, and the pain of neglectful fathers. Both were forced to grow up too fast. So it's no wonder Raylan has a soft spot for Loretta, and she for him. I also like the way he uses both logic and the prospect of having real love from her new foster siblings to get Loretta into that house. It's a really nice scene, wonderfully played by both Timothy Olyphant and Kaitlyn Dever.
What did you think of "Debts and Accounts"?