Justified: A Rousing Game of “Harlan Roulette”

Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens
Look out boys, the badge is back!
[NOTE: You know by now we’ll be spinnin’ SPOILERS, don’t you?]

This week’s episode of Justified focused primarily on the criminals, who can be divided into three groups: the smart, the focused and the terrifying masterminds (Quarles, the nattily dressed Detroit baddy; Boyd Crowder; and Limehouse), the middle-managers (Wynn Duffy and Glen Fogle), and the hopelessly outclassed underlings. In fact, other than Raylan, the only non-criminal who appeared was Winona, in an extremely brief scene about house-hunting, which I mention only because Raylan charmed me (and Winona) so much by referring to a toilet as a “commode.”

And now, back to the criminals. In the featherbrain underling division, we have the federal fugitive Wade Messer, last seen setting Raylan up to be Dickie Bennett’s piñata in Season 2. Wade is now an Oxycontin addict who trades stolen goods for pills.

Messer and his fellow addict/underling J.T. drive off the road in an attempt to evade a roadblock, leading to the arrest of J.T. (and a great line from Raylan in response to the Kentucky State trooper’s asking him why he didn’t chase Wade through the woods:”these boots aren’t made for running.”) When J.T. is released on bail, he leads Raylan right to his boss, the pawnshop owner Glen Fogle. (Unfortunately poor J.T. doesn’t benefit from Raylan’s intervention, because he’s already played and lost a game of “Harlan Roulette.”)

Jere Burns as Wynn Duffy
Make no mistake, he always Wynns.
Wynn Duffy, Glen’s superior, tired of having Raylan all up in his business, orders Fogle to kill Raylan. Rather than attract unwelcome attention by killing Raylan himself, Fogle delegates the responsibility to Wade. Wade is hopelessly outclassed in the intelligence department and Raylan sees right through his little plan. Incredulous that the man who strung him up and left him for dead believes that this is the basis for a friendship, Raylan forces Wade to call Fogle. When Wade complains that he thought that his betrayal of Raylan was all “water under the bridge” I revise my initial belief that the Oxy has addled Wade’s brain. I think he really is just that stupid.

Fogle turns up with Wally, another drug-addled minion (when are you going to learn, Fogle?) and Raylan’s plan to resolve the situation without violence goes well until Wally and Fogle start a game of informant one-upmanship that ends with the two shooting each other. Raylan’s exasperation at the fecklessness of these criminals made this scene the comic highlight of the episode (with a grace note of Wade having to remind himself how to dial 9-1-1.) 

Pruitt Taylor Vince as Glen Fogle
Fogle played one too many games of Harlan Roulette.
Fogle’s death deprives Raylan of a witness/informant about the Dixie Mafia, but he does tie Wynn Duffy’s name to the attempt on Raylan’s life before expiring. And that brings us back to Wynn and his terrifying new boss, Robert Quarles, the snappy dresser from Detroit. Quarles and Duffy have apparently been house-hunting themselves in order to set up a headquarters for Quarles’ plan for growing the illegal Oxycontin business. This part was a bit confusing for me, but it sounded like Quarles intended to set up a system of mobile clinics that would issue prescriptions to addicts in Kentucky, sell them pills at the regular price on the condition that they’d give half of them back, and then sell the pills at a steep markup in Detroit.

To be honest, that explanation sort of flew by me because I was so horrified by the reveal that followed. After last week’s introduction of Limehouse, I was getting ready to anoint him as the Scariest Live Guy in Kentucky (Mags is still the undisputed Queen of Scary), but I take that all back after the revelation that Quarles has someone (perhaps the unfortunate owner of the house that will become Oxy Headquarters) bound and gagged in one of the bedrooms of the house. You know it’s creepy when Wynn Duffy, who wrote the book on creepy, is alarmed.

Raylan turns up at Duffy’s trailer as Quarles is demonstrating his wrist holster and for a tense few minutes I was convinced that Raylan was going to get shot again., but the only shot fired is from Raylan’s iPhone; he takes Quarles’s picture.

Mykelti Williamson as Limehouse
Let’s make a Limehouse deal.
In the B (for Boyd) story this week, Boyd made the first moves to reclaim Harlan for the Crowder clan. First Boyd has Ava set up a meeting with Limehouse, who apparently knows Ava from way back. Boyd makes a play for Mags’s money, mentioning that if Dickie were dead, Limehouse would have no reason not to share the cash with Boyd (or, possibly, just keep it all for himself).

Limehouse nixes Boyd’s idea and makes a counter-offer of taking Mags’s rotting pot plantation off of Boyd’s hands. Apparently, Devil, who has recovered from Ava’s skillet to his face, didn’t follow Boyd’s orders to destroy the plants, which earns Devil another belt across the face from Boyd. I bet the frying pan hurt a lot more.

When Limehouse’s men come to collect the pot from Arlo’s house, Boyd tries to refuse the cash, but one of the men tells Boyd that Limehouse doesn’t like being indebted to anyone and hands over a very small package of money. Devil starts to backchat Boyd a bit, until Boyd points out that he doesn’t feel like going to prison for $1000.

When Devil and Arlo question where Boyd intends to get money from, Boyd lays out his crime philosophy for them. Although he doesn’t witness either Duffy’s humiliation or Fogle’s death in this episode, Boyd recognizes that being a middleman a dangerous business, claiming that this position got his father killed (with a little help from Boyd, I must point out). Boyd plans to bring all the crime in Harlan back under the control of the Crowders, starting with the recovery of Johnny Crowder’s bar. Luckily, Johnny seems to have a better record in hiring underlings, so Boyd doesn’t have to rely solely on Devil and Arlo for help and they take over the bar without shots being fired.

Walt Goggins as Boyd Crowder
One of the many faces of Boyd Crowder
Devil, despite being unable to follow orders, actually does have a moment of insight, asking whether the Boyd he’s following is the White Power executioner we met first, or the Bible-quoting man who found religion after Raylan shot him. Boyd contains multitudes, apparently, and tells Devil that he’s all those men. All the Boyds and their underlings appear to be on a collision course with Quarles, and although Quarles has more money and muscle, I wouldn’t write Boyd’s sharp intelligence and deep knowledge of his town off too easily.

I can’t say that I loved this episode, though, and it wasn’t just because my beloved Art didn’t make an appearance. It’s clear that we’re seeing the various threads of upcoming conflicts (Boyd vs. Quarles; Quarles/Dixie Mafia vs. Raylan; Limehouse and Murphy the corrections officer as wildcards) but perhaps because of the amount of plot that needed to be laid out, I didn’t personally find it nearly as compelling as the first two of this season (and none of them have yet measured up to the heights of Season 2.)

Get the dirt on all this season’s episodes at our Justified feature page.


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.

Comments

  1. chelseagirl

    It’s more one of those episodes where you rub your hands together and say “things are *getting* good” than “that was good.” I’m not sure anything could ever equal Mags, but I’m intrigued.

    I just, um, justified buying the DVDs of first season because I’m planning to teach the short story “Fire in the Hole” in my crime and punishment in lit class this semester. Really looking forward to seeing it again from the beginning.

  2. Laura K. Curtis

    When Wally and Fogle shot each other, my husband said “Look at that! Self-cleaning oven!”

  3. Mary Saputo

    I LOVED the part where the two bad guys shot each other with Raylan standing between them with a look of (I was going to say incredulity but that’s too high falutin’ a word for this show) shock on his face. I burst out laughing. I do have to say that I disagree with you Regina about this season not being as good as last. To me it’s better. Something happened to my cable, too, this past week and it didn’t tape the program so I’m on the lookout for the rerun. Hope I find it before next week’s show.

  4. Regina Thorne

    @chelseagirl – Yeah, I think “Justified” is working really well as a mystery/suspense show where we’re waiting for all these different threads to come together (and unlike season 1, there’s really very little emphasis on the “case of the week” format, it’s much more of a long game. Which I love.) But in terms of Raylan’s new antagonists, I’m still not as gripped by them as I was from the very first time we met Mags. Of course, his relationship with Boyd continues to be awesome, although it seems to me that eventually if Boyd is successful in his bid to be the crime king of Harlan County, Raylan will end up finishing what he started in the pilot episode.

    @LauraKCurtis – Hahaha! Your husband is awesome! Raylan’s look of utter disbelief at their stupidity is still making me laugh. (Though not as much as Dewey does.)

    @bitsy08 – I agree that the show is firing on all cylinders in terms of the plotting and the dialogue which is absolutely priceless. I think it’s one of the best-written shows on TV (the only other one I’d put in this category is “Breaking Bad” – haven’t seen too much of “Mad Men”, though I understand the writing is great there.) I’m just not quite as emotionally gripped as I was with Mags, who was a stunning villain, and at the end of each episode I’m not thinking “how can I possibly wait until next week?” (But I might get there yet. I do think this season is better than season 1 for sure, and the writing is, as I said, superb!)

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