Justified: season three, episode four

Jeremy Davies as Dickie Bennett, who takes a licking but keeps on ticking, on "Justified." © FX photos by Prashant Gupta.

SPOILER ALERT: If you have not watched the Feb. 7, 2012 episode of Justified, but intend to, do not read further. 

My favorite TV show of all time was the Masterpiece Theatre series I, Claudius, which chronicled the life of unlikely Emperor Claudius including the reign of insane and depraved Caligula. What makes Claudius’ rise unlikely is that he was a stutterer and therefore considered  an idiot by most around him.

As he takes the throne, Claudius (the brilliant Derek Jacobi) tells a gaggle of haughty senators, “As for being half-witted, what can I say except that I have survived to middle age with half my wits while thousands have died with all theirs in tact!” (Click the link. It’s great.)

I thought about this line watching Dickie Bennett (Jeremy Davies) on Tuesday night’s episode of Justified. He is much more legitimately half witted than Claudius. But like the unlikely emperor, Mags’ idiot son has lasted a lot longer than you would rationally assume. There, at the end of this week’s episode, Dickie sits alive while numerous fitter goons around him have fallen. Take that, Darwin.

Erica Tazel as Rachel and Timothy Olyphant as Raylan attempt to get some information from Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson, unseen).

Dickie gets sprung from prision at the beginning of this week’s episode to lead a crooked guard and some of his accomplices to Mags’ money, which is hidden with Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson). This, as many of the half-baked plans of lower-tier Justified thugs, goes awry fairly quickly, in large part because Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) and the U.S. Marshal’s office is onto the scheme.

Another scheme is Devil (Kevin Rankin), who has been dissatisfied with his financial compensation by Boyd’s (Walton Goggins) criminal enterprise, being recruited by Quarles (Neal McDonough). This becomes an issue between Devil and Boyd. But really, it feels like the first direct conflict between Boyd and Quarles – I am at the end of episodes I have previewed, so I am itching like everyone else for the first time we see Boyd and Quarles face each other down.

There is also a brief reappearance of Mags’ young ward, Loretta, now in foster care, leading us to wonder where her character may go this season, if we see her again.

The main focus of this episode though is the quest for Mags’ money, an episode that in its resolution leaves us curiouser about where Limehouse is coming from. There’s a lot less money than Dickie expected. Is that just the way it is, or did something happen?

We leave Dickie sitting in his family’s shuttered store with a shotgun and no cash. He might need that shotgun though, because Boyd still has a big issue with Dickie. As we see in the episode’s final scene, another delicious piece of acting from Goggins, Boyd Crowder does not suffer half wits gladly.

Extra: If you, like me, are an I, Claudius fan, there’s a 35th Anniversary edition of the series coming out on DVD. Click that link for more information.

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