The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
SPOILER ALERT: If you have not watched the March 27, 2012 episode of Justified but intend to, do not read further.
All eyes are on Dickie Bennett (Jeremy Davies) now that he is out of jail.
His next move is obvious: He wants his late mother’s money. So does Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins). So does the law, i.e. Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) and his associates. Mags (played by Emmy-winner Margo Martindale) died at the end of last season, but it appears her influence will last all the way to the end of this one.
That’s OK. We like having her around in spirit. And I’m starting to think maybe the Emmy voters oughta pay attention to the way Davies is playing Mags’ boy. There also oughta be an award for the hairstylist who gets Davies hair to do whatever it is it’s doing.
Anyway, in addition a lot of people watching Dickie, a lot of people also want him dead. So this week’s episode, Measures, has Dickie playing a dangerous game trying to line up allies to help him get the money from Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson), who has it hidden up in Noble’s Holler somewhere.
Memphis pot dealer and critic Rodney Dunham (Mickey Jones) is his first attempted ally, but a meeting with him goes pretty much nowhere, and it turns out Dunham worked with Marshals Gutterson (Jacob Pitts) and Brooks (Erica Tazel) to locate the cash — or so they think.
It’s great to have Rachel in the story, because she always seems to run into some racist, sexist pig that ends up sorry he ever met her.
Anyway, when working with Dunham falls apart, Dickie turns to Limehouse’s henchman Erroll (Demetrius Grosse) who seems game, but tells Dickie he’s going to have to get help from Boyd who wants the money and he wants to kill Dickie — slowly. Dickie needs to live by that X-Files mantra: Trust no one.
Dickie and Quarles (Neal McDonough) wouldn’t seem to have too much in common, but Quarles has also lined up a long list of people who want him dead, including the Detroit mobster Tonin (Adam Arkin) who sent him to Kentucky in the first place. Tonin, we are told, carries a human ear — how Blue Velvet – around in his pocket and will occasionally pull it out and talk into it. I’m sort of afraid we might see this before the season ends.
Anyway, Duffy (Jere Burns) sensing Quarles is on his way out, contacts Tonin asking to take over Quarles operation. Duffy will have to prove himself, Tonin says, by killing Quarles. Duffy doesn’t come across as quite that level of criminal.
Quarles, meanwhile, pursued by two of Tonin’s goons that Raylan and Art (Nick Searcy) quickly neutralize, heads down to Harlan to try to scare up some cash by threatening outgoing Sheriff Napier (David Andrews), killing two drug dealers and trying to pass their goods off to Limehouse. But Limehouse deals in money, not drugs. So in an attempt to convert the drugs into cash, Quarles walks right into a trap set by Boyd, and as the episode closes, he is chained up naked in Boyd’s brothel.
And everyone is still looking for Mags’ millions.
Measures was sort of a Raylan-lite episode, though it began with an entertaining exchange between him and his new flame, Lindsey (Jenn Lyon), and the Detroit mobsters. But he spends most of his time with Art, which is always fun.
The revealed location of the money is a church, which most everyone knows is a ruse, including Raylan.
As he leaves the Lexington marshal’s office, Raylan tells Art that he’s going to Harlan, and if he trips over $3 million, he’ll bring it back.
Knowing Raylan, he probably will.
This is the point in Justified seasons where the intensity starts to ramp up as the storylines draw to a close. We learn more about our guest characters, and everyone begins to take their places for the grand finale.
For Dickey Bennett (Jeremy Davies) that place would be out of jail. As a pardon hearing draws close, Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) and Art (Nick Searcy) are trying to convince the judge to keep him in prison. But at the last minute, Raylan punts away his last chance to keep the little thug behind bars, and Dickey is a free man.
He may have been better off in jail, because between the episode and the preview for next week, Boyd (Walton Goggins) and Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson) both declare their intentions to kill him. How many lives does this cat get?
The maneuvers to keep Dickey in jail did put a bit of a drag on this episode. But there were some moments of unique Justified cool and the resolution of a minor drama: the election of a sheriff in Harlan County. The episode paints a lovely portrait of Harlan politics where votes go for a shot of whiskey or a sexual favor. In the end, Boyd’s candidate loses to Quarles’ (Neal McDonough) man, the incumbent Sheriff Tillman. But then Boyd, as Quarles puts it, “slipped that hillbilly rug right out from under my feet,” by trapping Tillman in a nepotism charge that gets him tossed from his office and puts Boyd’s man in charge.
Cue Justified-cool scene one, when Quarles stalks out of the sheriff’s office. Boyd is waiting to gloat, telling Quarles, “You are a conquistador, but we are not your savages,” and that he is lucky to get out of Harlan alive.
Quarles is now a very different character from when he joined the program as a criminal corporate executive. Now, without his backers in Detroit and Boyd outmaneuvering him in Harlan, he is simultaneously turning into a much more vulnerable and dangerous man. He’s becoming the junkie he used to work to create, and in one scene we hear a very sad, disturbing story about how his father prostituted him as an early teen, and he eventually took the chance to kill his father at age 14. Is it true? Quarles seemed convinced, but then he was also trying to keep a man from shooting him — a man he was preparing to, uh, let’s just say the final scene of this week’s episode was one of the most disturbing things we have ever seen out of Justified – like father, like son.
Quarles has more to say in Justified cool scene two, the one we saw in the single scene preview for this week’s episode, appropriately titled Guy Walks Into a Bar.
Quarles walks into Raylan’s bar and tells him he will kill him. Raylan says let’s go, and for a moment it looks like we may get the showdown four episodes early until Raylan’s new flame, Lindsey (Jenn Lyon), intervenes. Quarles backs off, which was probably good for him because he was so jacked up in that scene, he would have been an easy mark for Raylan.
The way Quarles is going, who knows what his actual endgame will be as he is getting more manic by the episode, and apparently some more heavies from Detroit will be coming in next week.
Quietly becoming the biggest heavy is Limehouse, who is holding a lot of cards — read cash — and has a number of associates, but no real allies.
The big Lexington namedrop was Masterson Station Park, which orange jump-suited Jed (Richard Speight Jr.) jokes he was driven through on his way from prison to the marshal’s office, where they hoped to strike a deal to keep Dickey in jail. It’s plausible. But then Raylan says they ordered pizza for him from Vitello’s, a pizza joint that doesn’t appear to operate in Central Kentucky, though there is one in Murray. In Justified Kentucky geography, that could be close. But Goodfella’s Pizza would have been a cooler namedrop.
SPOILER ALERT: If you have not watched the Feb. 21, 2012 episode of Justified, maybe because you were watching a basketball game, but intend to, do not read further.
This was an episode where Raylan decided to stop putting up with people’s … uh … stuff.
Frustrated after Winona left him again, Raylan wanted to take a few days off. But, as usual, events down in Harlan keep him on the clock. This time, a pill clinic set up in Raylan’s late Aunt Helen’s house gets shot up as the episode opens, and Raylan has to go down and look into it.
That brings into play this week’s intriguing guest star, Tom Cruise’s cousin and yet another Lost veteran William Mapother, as an Oxy-addicted, prostitute beating pimp who amusingly likes to talk to people about accountability – the ethics of criminals seems to be a recurring theme this season.
Speaking of the bad guys – and there are plenty this season – this is an episode where we are really seeing Boyd (Walton Goggins), Quarles (Neal McDonough) and Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson) start to plot against one another. The obvious conclusion about the pill clinic shootout is that it was Quarles taking a shot at Boyd. But Boyd knows that would be rather obvious and doesn’t jump to any conclusions or action. And he’s right. We find out none of these crime bosses went after the clinic. It was one of Limehouse’s associates, trying to push their operation from the background to the foreground.
This leads to the episode’s most compelling scene, where Limehouse berates the bad lieutenant for stepping out on his own, telling him this could bring a great deal of trouble to Harlan’s black community. In a chilling moment, Limehouse says he will have to make things right, and it doesn’t sound like a it will be easy or pretty.
Speaking of chilling, Quarles has almost as great a scene with Duffy (Jere Burns) where we can see the wannabe white collar criminal is a getting wigged out the more he sees Quarles’ sadistic side. Quarles also thinks he’s pegged Raylan as a bad cop doing Boyd’s bidding. We know that’s not the case, but we can also see how it may seem that way, and setting this up as the city slickers vs. the locals, Raylan and Boyd could end up on the same side of this fight.
At the end of the evening, we do see Raylan and Winona back together, and yes, she did leave because, with a baby on the way, the nature of Raylan’s job is getting to her. Adding an ominous tone to this is Quarles interest in going after Raylan seems to be leaning toward attacking the things Raylan loves, so we can see a situation arising soon where he goes after Winona or even Arlo (Raymond J. Barry). While saying Raylan and his dad are estranged is an understatement, you still have to wonder how Raylan might react if Arlo is attacked, which the scenes from next week seem to indicate could happen.
One mystery reopened is the money in the evidence locker that Raylan put back for Winona last season. It’s gone again, and this week’s final scene gives us a plot twist far from Kentucky.
Right now, midway through the season, Justified episodes are giving us a lot to take in. It starting to feeling like time for some of these situations to start sorting themselves out.
SPOILER ALERT: If you have not watched the Jan. 31 episode of Justified, stop reading. This post does talk about what happened.
If you are hired for a guest role on Justified, odds are you may not be getting a long-term contract. Several characters were one-and-dones in Tuesday’s (Jan. 31, 2012) episode of Justified, including yet another character that looked like he might have been fun to have around for a while.
Pawn shop owner Glenn Fogel hid his lethal side under a drawl, a smile and some witty banter, particularly when Raylan showed up sniffing around. Unfortunately, Glenn surrounded himself with unpredictable drug addicts who got to carry guns, so he won’t be back again this season … or ever.
But fear not. He may have been one bad guy too many this season, and this was the episode that set up the bad guys.
It started with Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson) and Boyd (Walton Goggins) meeting on a bridge to discuss Mags’ missing money, but Limehouse had a trump card informing Boyd that his lackeys had not followed his orders to burn the marijuana he had that had gone bad since they had taken it from the Bennetts.
There is an order of natural selection in the Harlan criminal word, and sidekicks like Devil (Kevin Rankin) aren’t in the positions they’re in because they couldn’t get tenure at UK. Scenes like the one this episode, Harlan Roulette, was named after are actually great stay off drugs messages because the addicts invariably make very bad, often fatal decisions.
One of the things that makes the show cool is the mutual respect guys like Boyd and Limehouse have for each other because, despite their differences, they know they’re the smartest guys in the room – or on the bridge, as it would be. And everyone knows Raylan is smart … well, everyone except Quarles (Neal McDonogh), this year’s city-slicker bad guy who fancies himself the smartest in Kentucky.
We got to know him a bit better this episode and know his plans for setting up what sounds like a fairly sophisticated operation for running the pill pipeline through Harlan. The scene where he details his plans to Duffy (Jere Burns) has a brilliant look behind the mask. While Quarles is on the phone selling his son on what a great place Kentucky is going to be to live, Duffy goes looking for a bathroom in Quarles new home but finds an oxy addict tied up in a bed. It’s up there on the creepy scale with Mags serving apple pie at the end last year’s season premiere.
The episode ended with a game-on exchange between Raylan and Quarles that indicates things are about to get explosive. And some more one-and-done characters won’t be making it to the end.
The exception to the smart rule would have to be Dickie (Jeremy Davies), who we’ll be talking about at length next week.
More to read:
- Justified returns for third season with a new major villain
- Justified might exaggerate, but many in Harlan like the TV show
If you assault a law enforcement officer, you will go to jail. That fact is reinforced in the third-season premiere of Justified.
In the episode debuting Tuesday, Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) goes after deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) in the marshal’s office in Lexington. But a few days later, in the second episode, Raylan visits Boyd at the jail and tells him he has thought better of the situation.
At the time of the fight, Raylan tells Boyd, “I couldn’t see that you weren’t assaulting a federal officer. You were just havin’ a dust-up with an old buddy.”
It’s the depths of those ties to the days before Raylan was a lawman and Boyd was trying to become the crime king of Harlan County — and the chess game being played in these scenes — that tell us Justified is still at the top of its game in its third year.
We are starting to see a more humanized Raylan in the season premiere. He has been shot in an attack to which we are not yet privy, but we are quickly reminded that as last season closed, he and his ex-wife, Winona (Natalie Zea), were expecting a baby. Now they are getting all domestic, looking to buy a house and settle down: Should they get two sinks in the master bathroom?
While nursing his wound, Raylan is assigned to desk duty. But this is Justified, and this is Raylan, so we know that won’t last long.
Pretty soon, he’s being drawn into this season’s central story: The Detroit mob has come to set up shop in Harlan, aiming to control the pill pipeline between Florida and Kentucky, directing a portion of the action and most of the profits back to the Motor City.
Heading the action is Robert Quarles (played as a silver-haired devil by Neal McDonough). We probably aren’t going to warm up to Quarles the way we did to last season’s beloved villain Mags Bennett (Margo Martindale). But by the end of the third episode, I’m fairly certain, we’re going to love to hate this guy.
Quarles is confident he will have no trouble controlling Harlan, but that means controlling Boyd.
Quarles and Boyd are on a collision course, and the big question is, where will Raylan end up in all of this?
With a number of complex relationships to navigate, the season is poised to give Olyphant another good shot at an Emmy nomination. Raylan and Winona’s domestic bliss gets early challenges when the couple find themselves at gunpoint. Then, an old flame of Raylan’s shows up in the second episode. (In a fun twist for Elmore Leonard fans, she is Marshal Karen Goodall, played by Carla Gugino, who played Leonard heroine Karen Sisco in a short-lived ABC series. We are quickly told that Goodall has not always had that last name. Hmmm.)
As Boyd, Goggins gets back into delicious line deliveries and takes control of almost every scene he’s in. Joelle Carter is very much at home as Ava, another of Raylan’s old flames, who is now Harlan’s crime queen on Boyd’s arm. Zea has acquired some warmth as Winona, which might make fans more comfortable with her and Raylan.
But the strength of Justified is its writing: The story is definitely going somewhere, although we can’t say where. That’s why we’ll go along for another ride.
Justified, the critically acclaimed Central and Eastern Kentucky-based series on FX nabbed four acting nominations Thursday morning in the 2011 Emmy Awards.
Timothy Olyphant received an expected best actor in a drama series nomination for his role as Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens and Margo Martindale also got an expected nomination for best supporting actress in a drama series for her performance as mountain crime boss Mags Bennett. Emmy prognosticators had generally not foreseen a nomination for Walton Goggins as Raylan’s nemesis/friend Boyd Crowder, but the Alabama native will be in the running. Jeremy Davies also scored a nomination for best guest actor in a drama series for his performance as Mags sad sack son Dickie Bennett.
These are the first Emmy nominations for the series, based on Elmore Leonard’s short stories about Raylan Givens, which had its second season this past winter and spring.
Justified failed to get a nod for best drama series, and its nominated actors will face stiff competition in each category, particularly from leading drama series nominee Mad Men, which received 19 nominations. The ceremony will be at 9 p.m. Sept. 18 on Fox.
Despite some of the stereotypes – few of which have been refuted on Justified - we do have a healthy respect for fine writing here in the Bluegrass State. Wasn’t that our own Wendell Berry getting an award from the President recently?
And that may be a big reason why, advancement of some stereotypes noted, there is a healthy admiration for Justified here, Wednesday night’s season finale being a prime example.
This was not the blazing finale of Season 1 or the one last week’s penultimate episode seemed to portend.
But in terms of storytelling, it was beautiful. There was an echo of last season’s finale in which Boyd Crowder (played by the brilliant Walton Goggins) told Raylan (played by the steadily growing Timothy Olyphant), “I’m going to bet my life on you being the only friend I have left in this world,” before the lawman let the outlaw go take care of some business. This time around, Boyd got Raylan out of a jam, and then let Raylan have his prized quarry, Dicky Bennett, though Boyd had several scores to settle with Bennett family’s idiot son.
It was a scene that reaffirmed the deep bond between Raylan and Boyd, which should make life interesting next year because this season finale sealed Boyd’s status as the crime boss of Harlan County.
That came in a scene that affirmed some Justified writers love The Godfather – but they love a twist more.
Mags and her “sheriff” son Doyle were having a surrender-your-arms pow wow at a church with Boyd and Raylan’s father, Arlo. The Bennetts were feeling pretty good about themselves and their ability to outmuscle the Crowder clan and had dispatched their henchmen to do in some of the key Crowder faithful while they met. Mags as Don Corleone in the baptism/revenge sequence, eh? You could see that bullet going right through Mo Green’s glasses.
But Boyd was wise, and had ambushes set to begin the end for the Bennett family. By the last sequence, we had Mags sitting with Dickey left as her only living son after Doyle was shot through the head as his gun was trained on a helpless Raylan. She also had to admit to Loretta that she was the one who killed the girl’s daddy at the end of this season’s first episode. Bringing this season full circle, Raylan and Mags sat down for a final drink, and she poured herself a glass of her dreaded Apple Pie.
Sadly, we will not have Margo Martindale’s brilliant performances back for Season 3.
But there will be a lot of questions to be answered, including will Winona be waiting for Raylan when he gets back to Lexington?
Does Ava survive Dickey’s gunshot?
What shape does Boyd’s new empire take, and will it bring him in stark conflict with Raylan?
And maybe the easiest to answer: Does Raylan step away from the Marshal’s service to become a firearms instructor? The bet is no, because Justified wouldn’t be what it is without its Kentucky roots, which include fine writing.
I never, ever, ever, ever believed that Mags was just going to let the whole crime boss, revenge killer thing go. Never.
In Margo Martindale’s performance that should win her a best supporting actress Emmy, Mags seemed to have somewhat convinced herself that she had. She even sold out her idiot son, Dickie, to Raylan Givens, the deputy U.S. Marshal that had shot her other idiot son, Coover. What she got in exchange was money from a land deal to secure her and her family’s future.
But then, in the final moments of last night’s penultimate episode of the second season of Justified, this mysterious woman - who looked a lot like the Log Lady from Twin Peaks – showed up. She said something to Mags, then visited Jed, Dickie’s accomplice in the murder of Raylan’s Aunt Helen, and Jed recanted his testimony against Dickie.
The episode ended with little Dickie crying to his mama that Raylan had held a gun to his head in this episode’s most brilliant scene in which I think we all worried Raylan was going to go completely rogue and execute Dickie (Who, we will remind you before those crocodile tears generate a lick of sympathy, killed three people in cold blood in last week’s episode).
That scene, where Raylan had Dickie handcuffed out in the woods, was representative of the whole episode, which was a bit of a reset for most of the characters.
Raylan, whose whole adult life was getting away from the bloody, outlaw life of the Givens, Bennetts, and Crowders, was perilously close to giving himself over to that very world.
Arlo is a self-serving louse (being kind), Boyd is charismatic crime boss, and Ava likes her Crowder men – as my cubicle mate says, she either loves them or shoots them.
And Mags wants revenge.
The big question about next week’s undoubtedly explosive season finale is who gets out alive.
Safe bets: Raylan and Boyd. Justified has been renewed for a third season, and it just isn’t a show without these guys. It will be interesting to see how they line up in the finale, because there actually isn’t a conflict between the two of them at the moment.
Iffy: Mags and Arlo. Bo Crowder was the big crime boss at the end of last year’s episode, and he bought it. Arlo is starting to have more lives than your average cat, and he’s been at the center of events this year. But if they go, the show is giving up two great, pivotal characters. One thing on Mags’ side is she’s been the one calling shots this year, not taking them. Just don’t accept her apple pie.
Gone: Dickie, and probably a group of disposable henchmen, possibly including Doyle, Mags remaining favorite son. As brilliant as Jeremy Davies’ performance has been, Dickie just seems too stupid to survive, and Mags has already written him off several times, so you have to wonder how hard she’ll work to protect him.
Those are guesses, but Justified has constantly rewarded us by watching this season and being surprised.
I do believe the Justified season finale was the finest season closer I have seen in quite some time.
The moment that solidified that for me was when Boyd’s dad, Bo, got shot from the trees in the standoff in Bulletville, and you knew the opening scene of the series really wasn’t just some cowboy stunt. The series, of course, opened with our hero Raylan Givens blowing away a slimy Miami drug dealer in swanky SoFla restaurant.
Raylan’s questionable actions earned him a reassignment to his old Kentucky home where he faced off against an old friend, Boyd; was pursued by an old flame, Ava; and gave his chief headaches.
The show took a procedural turn for a few episodes, which was amusing, and for those of us who know the show’s neighborhood, gave us funny concepts like a shot being fired in Ashland Park and no one noticing.
But in the final few installments of this first season, Justified returned to the serialized story of Raylan struggling with his no-good father, the overall drama of sons of bad fathers going good and that Miami score coming back to be settled.
We also got outstanding performances that should be remembered come Emmy time from Timothy Olyphant as Raylan, Walton Goggins as Boyd and M.C. Gainley taking just a few episodes to turn Bo, Boyd’s father, into a really loathsome villain.
The final episode answered a lot of questions:
Yes, Boyd really has had some sort of spiritual conversion.
No, Raylan’s father is not that bad.
Yes, Raylan’s enemies are willing to hunt him down to kill him.
But we also ended with Ava running for her life into the woods; Boyd chasing down the woman who killed his father (even though he had intended to kill him himself), and Raylan chewing over news his ex-wife (who he just slept with in the last episode) has left her husband.
And we were left with a fantastic last line from Boyd to Rayland:
“Raylan, I’m going to bet my life on you being the only friend I have left in this world.”
Arrrrgh! Rescue Me and Royal Pains may make it a bit easier to wait for season two, but not much easier.
“Raylan Givens has a past he’d like to leave behind. Harlan, Kentucky, has a problem.”
Thus begins the trailer for “Justified,” the new FX series set to premier in March. The story, based on an Elmore Leonard character, is about United States Marshal Raylan Givens who is reassigned from a sunny, tropical post to his old Kentucky home when he gets in some trouble. The press release describes Raylan as, “a modern day 19th century-style lawman, enforcing his brand of justice in a way that puts a target on his back with criminals and places him at odds with his bosses in the Marshal service.”
The show comes with a sweet pedigree: It was developed by Graham Yost, executive producer of NBC’s critically acclaimed “Boomtown,” and stars “Damages” and “Deadwood” star Timothy Olyphant as Raylan. The show is a partnership between FX and Sony Pictures Television, which have teamed up in the past for “Rescue Me,” “The Shield” and “Damages.”
An FX representative said that portions of the trailer (above) were shot in Harlan, but the show is shot in Santa Clarita, Calif. The show will premier in March, though a solid date has not been set.
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich