I’m afraid I haven’t been as enamored of this season’s “Justified” arc as I was last season. So far, none of the villains except Boyd have had the sheer presence of Mags Bennett. Also, Raylan seems increasingly isolated from his colleagues in the Marshals’ service and I enjoy his interactions with his law-enforcement colleagues as much as I enjoy his one-liners at the hapless criminals who cross his path. The last two episodes have gone some way to address these two complaints, although I do still have some quibbles about the “Big Bad” of the season, Robert Quarles.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to write up my review of “Justified” last week, so I’m just going to run down the main things that happened in “When the Guns Come Out.” (Episode 6.)
First and foremost, Limehouse’s underling Erroll planned an extremely hostile takeover of Harlan County’s oxycontin business by raiding Boyd Crowder’s clinic (body count: 3) and making it look like the action was taken by Robert Quarles, whose own distribution facility was raided by Raylan. Erroll’s actions force Limehouse into a more active role in the impending war between Quarles and Boyd. Although Limehouse is a reluctant participant in this particular game, he is the only one operating with full information, as several of our villains may learn to their cost.
Secondly, there were a couple of important developments in Raylan’s personal life. His father Arlo appears to be succumbing to dementia, talking to one or both of his deceased wives, Raylan’s mother Frances or his Aunt Helen, wandering around in his boxer shorts, appearing to be confused about how old Raylan is exactly, and forgetting Boyd’s name.
Also, we find out a little more about Winona’s note from the preceding episode, which consisted of two sentences so terse that Raylan claims he thought she might have written them at gunpoint.
You know, I was initially a Winona fan, but she’s been slowly losing points with me for the last two seasons, first by stealing the evidence money last season and then getting Raylan to help her fix the situation—which could have cost him his job and which led to the first serious rift that he’s had with Art. Finding out that she’s run away from Raylan twice in the last seven-eight weeks (the first time without even a note, however terse) was the final straw for me.
I understand her concern about Raylan’s job, and the constant danger to which he is exposed (and to which he needlessly exposes himself), and I sympathize with her concern for her own safety, given that she’s nearly been collateral damage in Raylan’s career a couple of times. Nevertheless, I think she owed it to Raylan to have that conversation with him in person, not write him a note and take off, especially they managed to have a polite, adult conversation about the situation at the end of the episode.
And lastly, Quarles drew a series of wrong conclusions about Raylan’s actions in the episode, finally believing that Raylan was a corrupt officer in Boyd Crowder’s pocket.
All of which set the scene up nicely for Episode 7, “The Man Behind the Curtain.”
Limehouse is engaged in a spot of hog-butchering and dealing with the fallout of Erroll’s attempted takeover of Harlan County’s oxy business in the last episode. Quarles’s man Tanner is not as dumb as he looks, and has sought refuge with Limehouse, who tells him that he can rest up in Noble’s Holler and then go back to Quarles and make him think that the oxy raid was all his own idea. In return for Limehouse’s not using Tanner in one of his lye experiments, Tanner is to become Limehouse’s spy in the House of Quarles.
In the midst of this important business, Limehouse is called away to deal with Arlo, who has turned up at Noble’s Holler, shouting for his long-dead, long-suffering wife Frances, who, long ago, sought shelter there. When Arlo tries to pull a gun on Limehouse, one of his goons whacks Arlo over the head. It’s hard to feel terribly sorry for Arlo, given his own enormous backlog of violence against those more helpless than himself.
Raylan has taken up residence in an even more depressing place than his old motel: a room above a busy and loud bar, where he can’t even get a good night’s sleep (although the rent is cheap and his first drink of the evening is on the house). Quarles shows up to offer him a bribe: double what he thinks Boyd is paying Raylan.
Raylan is insulted and reveals some information about Quarles gleaned from the FBI file that Tim Gutterson pulled favors to get in the last episode: Quarles has a penchant for beating up (and possibly raping and murdering) male hustlers and, like Raylan, has been exiled by the higher-ups to Kentucky as punishment for his sins. This finally explains the poor prisoner in Quarles’s house and makes me shudder thinking about all the sounds that Wynn Duffy heard in the last episode. At the same time, I think this was a bit of an unnecessary development in terms of Quarles’s character. He’s almost toocrazy, with no redeeming features whatsoever. And while I’m sure that there are plenty of real-life criminals without redeeming features, I think such characters make for less interesting television.
Back in the Marshals’ office, Raylan asks Tim for a favor, namely some more information on Quarles from Tim’s friend in the FBI. At this point, I barely remember the last time we saw Tim (I think it was in episode 1) and Tim apparently bears considerable resentment. “Maybe you should make some friends of your own,” he tells Raylan. Awww, and I thought those boys got along so well!
Meanwhile, Quarles tells Wynn Duffy that he was unsuccessful in bribing Raylan and Duffy wisely refrains from saying “I told you so.” (But he did! He told Quarles that Raylan wasn’t dirty). Wynn has news for Quarles too: Sammy Tonin, the boss’s son, is coming to Kentucky. Quarles expresses his bitterness that Sammy’s father had once groomed him to take over his business, but now it’s Sammy, whom Quarles likens to a masturbating monkey, who will inherit the criminal empire. When Duffy asks what happened, Quarles falls silent.
Back in Harlan County, Raylan pays a visit to Boyd’s bar, where Boyd tells him that Arlo’s in bad shape, a piece of news that doesn’t seem to bend Raylan out of shape at all. Who can blame him? Raylan punches Boyd in the gut and drags him to the back office, where he demands that Boyd share all his knowledge of Quarles.
Quarles takes the money with which he was going to bribe Raylan and instead bribes the Harlan County Sheriff Tillman Napier, telling him he’ll earn the money if he goes after Boyd Crowder.
In the marshals’ office, Tim’s latest favor for Raylan comes through the fax machine: it’s a fax of the Tonin crime family tree. Meanwhile, the weakest sprig of that tree, Sammy Tonin, discusses the oxy operation with Quarles. Sammy mentions something about Quarles’s rent-boy and cleaning up what Quarles’s did to him, and Wynn Duffy is all ears until Quarles shuts that conversation down.
Boyd’s bar is raided by corrupt Sherriff Napier, and shut down over fire hazards and gambling violations. Quarles has made his opening gambit. Boyd gets some more information from Limehouse and then tries to persuade Shelby, the former mining security guard from season 2, to run for sherriff of Harlan County against the corrupt incumbent.
At the Marshals’ Service HQ, Raylan and Tim are being raked over the coals by an FBI agent who doesn’t want them contacting Sammy because the FBI are conducting operations against the Tonins. But after he leaves, Art gives his tacit approval to Raylan’s pursuit of Quarles.
Raylan manages to track down Sammy at the local racetrack and convinces him to withdraw the funding he’d promised Quarles for his oxy operation. He also gets a warrant to shut down Duffy’s house/oxy operation/den of iniquity because there’s a piano teacher within range, which means that Quarles is suspected of selling drugs in a school zone. Well played, Raylan!! He tells Quarles that if he isn’t gone within 24 hours, everything inside the house Quarles is staying in will belong to the US Marshals’ Service.
Quarles confronts Sammy about the missing money and instructs him to plant the rumor that Raylan’s in bed with Boyd Crowder. He tells Sammy that the answer to their Raylan problem will be found in Tulsa, which makes me rack my brains to figure out who Raylan knows in Tulsa.
I don’t have to rack them for long: we cut to sleazy Gary, now sleazy Walter Parks, who is trying to sell copies of his pamphlet on flipping foreclosed houses to the would-be realtors of Tulsa. The whole scene is the hilariously wrong-headed Gary in a nutshell. Nothing this guy touches is ever going to work out and it’s hard to even imagine that Winona traded in Raylan for this fellow. Quarles befriends the hapless Gary, and they have a couple of drinks together, followed by the appearance of a henchman whom Gary vaguely recognizes and Wynn Duffy, whom Gary definitely recognizes. Uh oh! Gary, I hope you have at least four kidneys and many other duplicate body parts, because I do not foresee any acquaintance with Quarles ending well for you.
And with that the episode ends, leaving us to wait for next week for another move in this four-dimensional chess game!
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.