Last week’s procedure-heavy episode “Cut Ties,” the witness protection program was featured, as were Art’s (Nick Searcy) Marshal skills, and the futile advances of Assistant Director Karen Goodall’s (Carla Gugino) towards Raylan (Timothy Olyphant). This week’s “Harlan Roulette” put the focus back on Harlan and the chess pieces continued to move around the board without any being taken off, but that doesn’t mean nothing happened. Boyd (Walton Goggins) got out of jail, and it looks like Dickie Bennett (Jeremy Davies) could follow. We learn more about the mysterious Ellstin Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson) and the enigmatic Robert Quarles (Neal McDonough). Raylan messes up, Boyd’s words are beginning to fall on deaf ears, and OxyContin is a drug that makes the world–well, at least Harlan–go ‘Duh.’ It was another superb week in what’s been a flawless third season of Justified.
The last time we saw Pruitt Taylor Vince he was being devoured by zombies as Otis on The Walking Dead. Eric Laden (Generation Kill) walked the tightrope of trustworthy and sketchy as the campaign manager on The Killing. It doesn’t matter what they’ve done before, actors jump at the chance to play the gritty, grimy filth of the world of Justified. In last night’s episode Vince played a cutthroat OxyContin dealer, Glenn Fogel and Laden played Fogel’s half of a partner, Wally Beckett. They had a good scam going on where they give addicts oxy in exchange for items to steal. Said items would then be sold through a pawnshop-laundering racket and yes, the paper trail led back to the Dixie Mafia.
Raylan Givens was able to turn a potential Mexican standoff with Fogel and Beckett to his favor with his smooth talk; he was even going to get the information he needed to put Wynn Duffy away for good; Duffy is played by another scum-sucker played by TV’s reigning scum supreme, Jere Burns. But as easily as it all came together for Raylan, it all fell apart. Drug addicts are the wild card, and we’ve seen it all go so well for Raylan so many times that once in a while, it’s nice to see that he’s human and can botch a job. It can’t be easy to determine whether to use his guns or his mouth to diffuse a situation. “Harlan Roulette” showed that it’s a real balancing act. Maybe Raylan is still a little rusty recovering from his gun wound. Harlan feels like Raylan is battling a hydra. He can shoot a head dead and there’s another to take its place.
Fogel had a name for an addict that could be used widely to describe these characters, “oxy-smoking gutter turds.” Whether or not they smoke Oxy, they all breathe life into Justified, they give the show its character and they are the reason why Justified is so magnetic. If they can make these actors look so good being so filthy, just imagine what they do to Olyphant?
Then there’s THE gutter turd of all turds, Dickie Bennett, played even more impressively this season than last by the great Jeremy Davies (Lost), who by the way, looks like he hasn’t showered since his first hobbling appearance in Season 2. He still has the big target on him for shooting Ava (Joelle Carter), locked up to ferment in prison, and this year the writers have given him a new best friend, our favorite Dewey Crowe (Damon Herriman) and a new purpose. Raylan isn’t the only one who gets to beat on this piñata. All of the attention is on him, and his mother’s savings. The prison guard (Todd Stashwick) is now up his gruff looking for the money. But Mags wasn’t stupid leaving her money for Dickie or anyone else. Nope. She left it in the care of one Ellstin Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson). Even when she’s dead, Mags is the smartest villain in Harlan.
Limehouse appears to be connected to all of the characters. The opening scene between he and Ava showed that she had gone to the holler to hide from Bauman when he would hit her. Ava proves that she can be quite useful in Boyd’s operation. Not only was she able to arrange an easy introduction between Limehouse and Boyd, but she was allowed on the holler because of her casual rapport with Ellstin.
Limehouse: Sometimes it comes better than others, when it do, boy. It is a sweet, spicy, smoky juicy tender piece of heaven if I do say so myself. Inspite of all that, I know it ain’t good enough for you to come all the way out here, alone, at this time of night to have some.
Ava: I’m afraid you figured me out, I ain’t here for the barbecue.
Limehouse: Whatever reason, it’s nice to see you again, Ava.
Ava: And you, Mr. Limehouse.
Limehouse: Mm-hmm. Well, you’re looking well
Ava: Better than the last time we saw each other anyway
Limehouse: You can bet that… but you do seem to be favoring your right soldier.
Ava: Ain’t anything because of Bauman if that’s what you’re thinking.
Limehouse: I heard what happened to your husband. Paper said you done it at the dinner table.
Ava: Shame of it, was wasting all that ham.
Limehouse: I was thinking, ‘Shame of it, I wouldn’t see you round here anymore.’
Ava: Well, that’s sweet.
Limehouse: And that young lady is the truth. So you got yourself a new boyfriend yet?
Ava: Funny, that’s why I’m actually here. I think you should meet.
How can you resist a woman who talks so sweet like that? I wanted to highlight this conversation because I think this friendship between Limehouse and Ava could play a huge part down the line. Perhaps for the development of Ava’s character. She is dating a man with a swastika tattoo and he is not exactly warm towards men of color. Ava feels a debt of gratitude and respects Limehouse. We can’t assume that Limehouse and Boyd are going to be amicable all season long, can we? That’s another hard decision she’ll have to make. Limehouse also remembered seeing Arlo (Raymond J. Barry) working with Boyd. The last time he said he saw him was on the bridge. This after he finishes a story about how his father and grandfather kept armed guards at the bridge to protect the holler.
Limehouse: There are still those who wish my people harm… and there are those who advocate for the restoration of the white supremacy in the land.
Boyd: I didn’t come out here to discuss ideology.
Well, so much for first impressions and theseboys were supposed to play nice. If there was an ugly history with Arlo, you can bet that Raylan has history with Limehouse too. Ultimately, Limehouse’s position is behind Dickie out of respect to his departed mother. He appears to be a man of honor, but is not afraid to get his hands dirty as long as his holler is positioned to gain from the action. Limehouse seems to carry this larger-than-life reputation wherever he goes.
As for Boyd, he always seems so dangerous even when he’s doing little. I would love to get inside his head, but at the same time am glad we’re not given that kind of access. So far he sacrificed himself to be arrested so he could find out that Mags’ money is with Limehouse. He loses a big payday to sell the Bennett’s remaining pot because Devil stored it improperly. So far the only thing he’s done is take back Johnny’s bar. What could he be up to? Even Arlo and Devil (Kevin Rankin) are questioning Boyd’s actions. They’re scraping by with no payday. Boyd is literally holding it all together with his words, but now that we know that Johnny is alive, we know he has a powerful partner, even if he can’t stand on his own two feet.
Boyd: Protection, pills, robbing gambling… We will be meticulous; we will be clean. No more smash and grabs, no more bad decisions
Is this more of Boyd pomp and circumstance? Boyd convinced a dozen or so men to buy into his religious commandos, Devil being one of them, can Boyd fully convince him again? You know that Arlo is only going to stick around if it’s benefitting him. The minute it doesn’t though and he’s off like a vulture to the next carcass. They’re not happy with how he just left and put Ava in charge without any real direction or clue as to what their plan is. Boyd’s not the only one taking his time. Robert “Detroit” Quarles (Neal McDonough) finally revealed his ploy in running an operation to get Harlan addicts legal prescriptions for oxy, only to give them half the amount. The other half is run up to Detroit where it will sell for 10 times the regular price.
Quarles: That’s why they call it organized crime, Wynn.
Well, maybe Wade Messer (James Le Gros) can get his oxy yet. I don’t know what to make of Quarles yet. As he said, if his hidden guns lock, he’s screwed but he always has something up his sleeve. His plan is quite elaborate and is convincing enough. He at least has a plan, and has the panache to do it in Raylan’s face. Bonus points for Quarles’ style or stupidity, I don’t know which is more appropriate. Watching him use Wynn Duffy as his lapdog is damn amusing though.
A Few Scant Blades of Bluegrass
• As Raylan and Winona (Natalie Zea) continue to shop for houses, we get the end of a conversation where he requested a separate “commode area” because he felt it would add three to four years to their relationship. When she questioned he word choice, Raylan replied, “I thought it sounded better than ‘crapper.’
• I’m not the only one who was curious about Raylan and Winona’s house hunting:
Raylan: I’m thinking of buying a house
Fogel: Oh yeah? In what area?
Raylan: The greater Lexington area of kiss my ass!
• To enforce his ways, Fogel played the addicts who wronged him with a game of Harlan Roulette. Pull the gun and no bullet? Addict gets a pill of oxy. Unfortunately, no matter how luck the player was, they always lost.
• “Harlan Roulette” was one of the best scripts of this early season, made especially funny by this conversation Raylan had with Trooper Tom Bergen (Peter Murnik)
Trooper Bergen: So you come all the way out here to let Messer get away?
Raylan: No, your boys let him get away. I got the driver. Besides, these boots aren’t made for running.
Trooper Bergen: Yet chasing fugitives are a marshal’s primary function
Raylan: Ironic isn’t it?
[Trooper Bergen yells at his kids to stay put]
Raylan: Bring your kids to work day??
Tropper Bergen: Wife sicker than shit day.
Raylan: That explains the fried chicken for breakfast
What did you think of last night’s Justified? I thought it maintained the high standard we’ve come to expect and it’s got us picking sides, questioning characters’ motives and actions and keeping us in the dark for the whole journey. I don’t know which of these scumbags are going to give Raylan a run for the money as every week they grow more dangerous, more potent. What I do know is that a few bottles of Oxy is more dangerous to Harlan than a barn full of Bennett weed.
I’ll give bonus points for the most creative reasoning as to why Quarles had a half-naked man tied and gagged to a bed. Seriously, what the hell was that all about? Share your thoughts below!