Justified: “Thick as Mud”

Raylan and Rachel
You’re telling me Dewey Crowe has managed to evade capture?
The latest episode of Justified opens with Limehouse and his sidekick counting the money that Dickie Bennett refused. Limehouse lied to Dickie about missing the better part of Mags Bennett’s $3 million, but he refuses his sidekick’s suggestion that he has someone shiv Dickie in prison and keep the money. His motives for both the lie and sparing Dickie’s life are unclear. In fact, I’m not sure whether the title of the episode—“Thick as Mud”—refers to Limehouse’s opaque motives or Dewey Crowe’s intellectual prowess. All I know is that Limehouse intrigues me.

Meanwhile, Raylan returns to Winona’s at 2 a.m., stumbling over a moving box as he opens the front door. He expects Winona to be upset about his late return and the job, but she says that she’s done trying to change who Raylan is and done “pretending that I could ever feel about anyone else the way I feel about you.” Raylan thinks this is the sweetest thing she’s ever said to him. Clearly he’s never read a romance novel, because I see trouble coming down the pike.

Trouble has already found Dewey Crowe who wakes up in a bloodstained motel bathtub with two fresh scars on his stomach. Lance the prison medic informs Dewey that he’s removed both of Dewey’s kidneys. As I’m thinking “hey, wait a minute, both kidneys, how is Dewey even alive?” Lance goes on to inform Dewey that he’ll die in four hours unless the kidneys are replaced which Lance is willing to do if Dewey brings him $20,000.

Dewey in the tub

As I’m still wondering how Dewey is still walking, he carjacks a van so he can embark on the funniest crime spree ever, which includes trying to rob: an appliance store where everyone uses credit cards, a strip club at ten in the morning and a fluff ‘n’ fold.

(I spent a lot of time wondering why Lance would imagine Dewey wouldn’t get arrested. I mean, the man is dumb enough to believe that he can function with no kidneys, so what are the chances he’ll outfox law enforcement and make it to the rendezvous where, I presume, Lance intended to then remove the kidneys? Maybe the whole thing was just a ploy so that police attention would be focused on Dewey instead of Lance. It was a loose thread in an otherwise fabulous episode.)

On the other side of the law, Boyd is drinking in Johnny’s bar and brooding over having killed Devil. Ava comes to find him, and they have a sweet bonding moment over their respective bullet scars. When Boyd expresses his doubts about being equal to the people who tempted Devil into treachery if they come in force to Harlan, Ava gives him a resounding vote of confidence. True love means never having to hide your bullet holes.

Ava and Boyd compare bullet holes
I’ll show you mine if you show me yours…

At the local hospital, Raylan leans on Ash (both figuratively and literally, on his two broken legs) and finds out that Lance and Ash had planned to strip both Dickie and Dewey of their organs to sell them on the black market. (Now I’m picturing a scene such as one in my old neighborhood where these guys used to sell steaks from coolers at the back of their station wagon)! A perky, pretty nurse comes in and provides some exposition about how Dewey would actually be dead already if both of his kidneys had been removed.

Back at Johnny Crowder’s bar, Boyd is talking to another doctor who apparently sewed up Ava’s bullet wound. I feel like I’m supposed to know who this man is, but I truly don’t. Apparently Boyd knows all about this doctor, however, including the fact that his mother doesn’t lock her door and makes jam cake. The doctor was Quarles’ contact for oxy prescriptions in Harlan, and Boyd tells him that he’s now “between a rock and a much, much harder rock.”

Dewey as holdup man
Gimme back my kidneys!
Meanwhile our feckless post-operative Dewey Crowe has wandered into a convenience store to ask for directions from an owner who doesn’t approve of blasphemy. He blasts a shotgun at Dewey the third time Dewey takes Christ’s name in vain, and Dewey barely manages to escape into a storage closet with no exits.

Poor Dewey now has a hole in his leg and has missed the four-hour deadline that Lance gave him. He’s convinced that “these are the end times for Dewey Crowe.” Raylan shows up and explains to a barricaded Dewey that if he can pee, he still has his kidneys. I haven’t been this tense about urination since my son was potty training!

To Dewey’s (and my) consummate relief, he is able to relieve himself though he’s still confused. “You mean I had four kidneys?” he asks before surrendering to the authorities. Stay gold, Dewey Crowe, stay gold!

Ash Murphy has died, apparently of a stroke. When Raylan arrives at the hospital, the ICU nurses are puzzled by Raylan’s insistence that the perky and cute Nurse Layla works with them. Uh-oh!

Raylan pays a call on Nurse Layla, alone. (When is Raylan going to learn to call for backup? Every time he goes charging off alone, there is blood shed, much of it his own. When he has Rachel with him, there’s no blood. QED, Raylan, take Rachel with you. Tim and Art are also people who work with you, although we haven’t seen them in several episodes.) Layla, it turns out, works in a transplant center. I think we see where this is going. Lance pops around the corner of Layla’s kitchen and sticks a needle full of sedatives in Raylan’s neck.

Lance and Layla argue over Raylan’s body, and Layla has Lance move Raylan into her tub in preparation for some non-consensual organ donation. After Lance does all the heavy lifting, Layla comes in and shoots him, just as Raylan wakes up. She’s regretful about shooting Raylan too, but Raylan manages to grab his gun from under Lance and shoot her through Lance’s body. I’m not sure that part makes any sense and I haven’t even been sedated.

In the aftermath of the shootings, Art finally turns up. Hey Art, I missed you!! Raylan is shaken by the fact that he shot a woman, and he has a small existential crisis about his career while Art is driving him home.

Boyd, whose existential crisis was last season, and who has now embraced his villainy, has a meeting with Quarles at Johnny’s bar. Quarles offers Boyd a partnership, which Boyd (I think) turns down after calling Quarles a “carpetbagger.” Quarles and Boyd exchange literary quotes showing that they’re both not just villains but also devoted readers of the Everyman series.

In the final scene of the episode, Raylan returns to Winona’s dark empty house, just as he did earlier in the episode, only this time there’s no Winona, just a note that he reads by the fridge light, which may or may not be a “Dear Raylan” letter. Happy Valentine’s Day, Raylan!

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.


  1. Lakis Fourouklas

    The episode you described is more or less one of the three interconnected stories in Elmore Leonard’s new novel, Raylan.

  2. Regina Thorne

    I had heard that they used some of the storylines from Raylan (which makes sense). I’m still on the waiting list for that at my local library so it’ll be a while before I get to read it, but I’ve read the other three novels featuring Raylan (well, two novels, one novella) and it’s interesting that the Tommy Bucks/fleeing dentist story and the bookie story from season 1 are also straight out of those books, but Raylan’s personal life is really different. (For example, in the books, Raylan’s dad died in a mining accident and he and Winona had two kids before they got divorced and she married Gary. In terms of the show, I’m very glad they changed both of those storylines.)

  3. Lakis Fourouklas

    I’ve only read Raylan and I’m still watching the first season, so I have a lot of catching up to do. I must say that I really enjoy these articles about the series though.

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    I also spend my time watching this type of series and I always admire the story writers. The concept is the thing that hit people when they watch something in their free time.

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  8. Luke Bryden

    Thick as Mud really appealed to me. I’d give it a 9 out of 10. Believe me, that’s a very high score. I couldn’t tear myself away until I had watched 5 episodes. And I don’t get that very often. Every episode gives me goosebumps. I only get that kind of feeling when I haven’t done my homework, come to class and get called to the board by the teacher.

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