The ironically-titled “Coalition”, this week’s episode of Justified, the penultimate of the season, had a dizzying number of plots, counter-plots and shifting and false alliances (Dickie and Errol; Dickie and Errol and Boyd, though Boyd saw through that one in this episode; Wynn and Boyd; Limehouse and Quarles; Limehouse and Raylan).
As best I understand it, Limehouse tried to set up Quarles and Boyd to take each other out in the course of a bank robbery that he’d alerted law enforcement about, whilst also taking out Dickie Bennett and his irritating sense of entitlement to Mag’s money by having Boyd kill him. Furthermore, Boyd and Wynn were semi-allied to take down Quarles but Wynn was secretly planning to have Quarles take out Boyd first, before he claimed the entire reward from Detroit mob boss Theo Tonin. Unfortunately for Limehouse and Wynn, their plans failed to take into account the fact that Boyd is very smart and that Quarles is crazy. A sure-fire Wynn-win situation turned into a nightmare at the end!
Meanwhile, on the other side of the law, Raylan had three goals: get Dickie Bennett back in jail, arrest Robert Quarles and recover Mags’s money. He succeeded on one count, failed on a second and at least traced Mags’s three million, before he decided that rather than have the money languish in Federal impound (where it could be stolen by a Marshal in twenty years, perhaps), it was better for Loretta to keep it, as Mags intended. Just so long as she doesn’t plan on a van Halen concert for her birthday, of course! I absolutely loved Loretta and the teasing father-daughter relationship Raylan has with her, so I applaud Raylan’s decision.
The curtain was finally pulled back, and we discovered that Limehouse, the Wizard of Noble’s Holler, might talk the talk, but he sure doesn’t walk the walk of a Big Bad. Thinking back, during the course of this season, Limehouse never actually claimed to be anything more than the banker and keeper of secrets, even though he used lots of innuendo and gestures with meat cleavers to pretend at being a tough guy. I was one of the people who kept wondering all season when Limehouse was going to reveal his evil genius, and I think it’s a brilliant move to have him just be this guy with one foot in the criminal world because of the people he deals with, but who doesn’t actually have an appetite for being the Big Boss, like Bo Crowder or Mags Bennett (or what Boyd hopes to become). Limehouse just keep doing what he does best—making barbeque and taking care of the people who don’t matter to the rest of Harlan County.
It’s a brilliant move, because as a Big Bad, Limehouse could only ever have been a shadowy follower of Mags’s folksy cunning. But as the keeper of truths, Limehouse has a lot more mileage. (Although I wouldn’t go so far as Raylan did, in intimating that Limehouse is, like the Wizard of Oz, a pussy.)
If Limehouse was revealed as the Wizard, then Dickie Bennett was surely the Scarecrow, still searching for a brain, and vicious to the end. I have no doubt he would have hurt or killed Loretta for Mags’s money. Although I find Dickie (and his hair, which was in toned down “I’ma rob a bank and get my mother’s criminal proceeds back” mode tonight) hilarious, he’s also a dangerous creep. I don’t think Raylan shot to kill, so Dickie’s back to the Federal pen; with luck Dewey Crowe has gotten in with the popular crowd in Dickie’s absence, so they can resume their beautiful friendship and braid each other’s hair. Moreover, Raylan did Dickie a solid there, perhaps unintentionally, since he saved Dickie from the long and painful death Boyd had planned for him.
Robert Quarles is my candidate for the Tin Man; he’s indestructible and lacks a heart (although surprisingly, he didn’t kill his captors at the whorehouse after getting the better of them). At the end of this episode, Quarles knows he’s as alone as he’s ever been—there’s no refuge left for him in Harlan County or in Detroit. Every one of his erstwhile associates has sold him out; he’s a killer with nothing left to lose, which makes him more dangerous than ever. And, as we know, he sees Raylan as the author of all his woes. I have a horrible feeling that he’s going to kill someone close to Raylan next week, and I’m just hoping it isn’t Winona, because Raylan will never get over the guilt.
Also waiting in the crazy wings is Raylan’s daddy, Arlo, who has definitely gone of the deep end, having hallucinations of the late Helen and calling Boyd “Raylan.” If this were a different show, I’d almost imagine that Arlo will somehow save Raylan from Quarles next week, but this is Justified and Arlo is Arlo, so, although I cannot imagine how, I think it’s a safe bet Arlo will, in fact, screw things up even more for Raylan.
The one thing I found somewhat wanting in an otherwise stellar episode of the show was how easy Boyd made it for Quarles to escape. Why leave this man, whom Boyd knows just killed two meth dealers with great brutality, to be guarded by two drug-addicted hookers and one not-very-bright henchman? And if that is indeed the deepest part of the criminal talent pool, first of all, Boyd may want to rethink his aims to be a criminal mastermind, and secondly, he might want to get some shorter chains when he wants to hold people captive. I could sort of see why he left Johnny to guard Dickie and Errol (he was deeply worried about Ava) but I just didn’t think a man of Boyd’s brains would be so lax with Quarles, especially not with a share of $200,000 at stake.
Last but not least, RIP Trooper Tom. I liked his steady presence in the background and the way he sometimes made fun of Raylan. I hope he’s not truly dead!
Regina Thorne is an avid reader of just about everything, an aspiring writer, a lover of old movies and current tv shows, and a hopeless romantic.