Thursday, April 7, 2011
"Justified" recap: 'You pick the devil you run with
Spoilers for this week's episode of "Justified" below. Don't click through if you don't want to know.
I think "Justified" might have just run the best hour of television to date this year.The season so far had been excellent, but this episode "Brother's Keeper," brought everything to a new level.
You had the unholy alliance of Boyd and Mags; you had Mags craftily outwitting Carol Johnson at her own game and, of course, you had the slow burn of poor, neglected, doomed Coover. Just amazing stuff and, once again, this highlights how wise Graham Yost and company were to give the role of Mags to veteran actress Margo Martindale.
The scene in which she calmly gains the upper hand on Carol -- and then mocks the young woman for being manipulated by her own company -- gave Martindale another fine, sassy monologue that she nails like gangbusters. But it's that final scene, when a mournful Mags begs Raylan to see Loretta, that ripped my guts out. Watch the way Martindale goes from brokenhearted tears to icy acceptance when Raylan forbids her to speak to Loretta. That's not your average TV guest star appearance. That, with apologies to Jon Lovitz, is ACTING!
Yet, as much as everyone raves about Martindale, she's not the only guest actor who tore it up this season on "Justified." Though often overshadowed by the show's stars -- and by better known guest stars like Martindale and Jeremy Davies -- Brad William Henke's performance as Coover was just as good as any of the other work on this show. Even as it marked his final appearance, "Brother's Keeper" gave Henke an excellent showcase, particularly in the scene in which a stoned Coover tells Loretta how much Mags cares for her. In a few bitter words, Henke delivers a perfectly poisonous cocktail of pain, anger and confusion that's riveting to watch. And never before has a Spicoli impression been quite so terrifying.
Anyway, here are some more of my thoughts on "Brother's Keeper":
* Almost forget to mention one more fine performance on this week's episode -- Kaitlyn Dever as poor Loretta McCready, who finally needs Raylan to come save her after she learns that the Bennetts killed her father. That scene when Loretta angrily rips off the dress and hair clip Mags gave her was as good as any work the adults have done this season, as was her shock at seeing her daddy's watch on Coover's wrist.
* Any guesses as to whether Coover put on the watch out of simple stupidity or out of a desire to unsettle his mama's new pet? I firmly believe it was the latter. Coover sure looked like he knew what he was doing when he slid on that watch.
* I really liked the way the show has been using music this season. We get more scenes of Doyle fiddling at the party, and then that great moment of Mags warbling along in that big, big voice of hers. And, though I'm not entirely sure Walton Goggins did all his own dancing, that see where Boyd triumphantly pulls Ava to the dance floor was glorious.
* Show of hands -- did anyone else think Coover had killed Dickie on the floor of the Bennett house? I sure did, and it seemed a little cheap when Raylan roused him with the bong water. Of course, had Dickie died, we wouldn't have had that badass scene of Raylan torturing him into revealing where Coover and Loretta were.
* For the second week in a row, Raylan has resisted the charms of Ms. Johnson -- despite his increasing frustrations with the inaccessible Winona. But something tells me that if Carol Johnson ever came back to Kentucky, she might be able to wear Raylan down.