In last week’s Justified, Raylan apparently kept Winona out of a world of hurt after she swiped money from an evidence locker. I say “apparently” because this week, we find out that things can always get worse. The end result is a fair episode that won’t stick long in my memory.
Winona wakes up with a start when she realizes that Raylan didn’t recover the right hundred-dollar bill after all. “It was never here,” she tells him. “The one I had, had a corner torn off.” He points out that she didn’t mention it before that moment, making all the work he did the previous episode a huge waste of time. Cue groaning. Raylan has no idea what to do now, but he’s got to find some way to fix the situation. Her remorse is the only reason he’s not beating her over the head with the phone book. (He might not do it, but I will.) When she asks if he’s angry, he replies, “What do you think?” Well-deserved burn.
Meanwhile, Winona’s hapless soon-to-be-ex-husband Gary (William Ragsdale), having not fared well explaining his newest business proposition to his wife, is meeting with Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns), whom I still want to hit in the face just as much as I did when he appeared in “Hatless.” This meeting doesn’t go well either.
In case you forgot in all the Winona drama, Boyd also thwarted a mine robbery last week, only to be “mistakenly” let go from the mine. Great thank-you there, huh? But not all is lost: Carol Johnson, the company’s vice president, is there with her big limo and wants to hire him as part of her security team. Given his criminal background, Boyd is more than skeptical about this proposition, but she’s not taking no for an answer.
Raylan arrives at work to find that he forgot to bring coffee for the office, making everyone else cranky. Rachel informs him that they’re assisting the FBI in the paperwork and such that now lurks in the aftermath of the bank robbery. Art tells him that he sucks for not bringing coffee, then is surprised when Raylan asks if Frank Reisner said anything about spending any of the money, which he did not. Raylan then makes a call, finding out that one of the other robbers had money on him when he was arrested, and decides the missing bill must be there. He goes down to retrieve the money, only to find that Tim has beaten him there by about ten minutes. Oh, Tim. You and your awesomeness.
In the back of Carol Johnson’s limo, stuffed into a new suit that he is obviously not fond of, Boyd sees a video relating to an upcoming legal case – the mining company is being sued for the death of a miner. She tells him that they’re already getting death threats, which is why she hired him, “among other things.” No, that’s not ominous at all.
Catching up with Tim at the office, Raylan convinces him to let him take the money down to the evidence vault. Riding the elevator, he checks and finds Winona’s missing bill, replacing it with another one. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Rachel joins him on the elevator and asks if he’s scanned all the bills into evidence, per the FBI. This means our boy has to go back upstairs. Yet when he reaches the scanner, Tim informs him that he’s already done all the scanning, too – and sent the files to the Secret Service. It’s too late.
That night, Raylan explains to Winona that he had to put the bill she stole back into evidence, otherwise the scans wouldn’t match what’s in evidence. She immediately starts crying, forcing him to try and convince her that it’s not a big deal. “It’s not gonna be okay,” she insists before she produces a gym bag containing the rest of the money from the evidence locker. “You took all the money,” he says, like he wonders when she had her lobotomy and if it was painful. I can’t blame him. I thought stealing one bill was stupid enough; now, she’s multiplied that stupidity exponentially. She offers up a long-winded, rambling explanation of how she did the deed and how she’s not really sure why she did it, which I admire Natalie Zea for being able to deliver but honestly don’t care about. It doesn’t make a bit of difference.
The sanest thing she says is that she doesn’t want to get him involved and drag him further into the problem. He points out that if she has any chance of saving her bacon, she needs his help, so there’s no choice in the matter. With that in mind, he adds that they’d better make sure the situation doesn’t go to hell.
Arriving at the federal building the next day, Winona picks up the gym bag after Raylan has taken it through the Marshals’ back entrance. She doesn’t get far, however, as she’s stopped by Judge Michael Reardon (Stephen Root, who will always be Bill Dauterive from King of the Hill to me), who demands that she come with him immediately. He’s also asked to see Raylan, so there’s an awkward moment where they’re both in chambers with two lawyers and the judge, who are discussing (shocker!) the mining trial. The judge wants Raylan to sweep his courtroom for potential threats. When Raylan walks into the courtroom, he runs into Boyd and Carol Johnson, who informs him that his old nemesis is now part of her security team. The idea of this gives Raylan a headache, especially when Boyd offers to help him do his job.
Johnson asks Raylan if she can trust Boyd. Raylan tells her that while Boyd has tried to kill him, and he’s shot and imprisoned him as a result, Boyd has also had his back on two other occasions. “Sounds like a love story,” she quips, causing Raylan to get mildly nauseous.
Winona eventually makes her way down to the evidence vault with her bag but there’s no one there, so she runs back into the courtroom looking for Raylan. He’s not happy to see there at all, and they barely have a chance to talk before the judge arrives, having his assistant take the bag for her. On top of that, the Secret Service is looking for Raylan. “One of the bills from yesterday’s bank robbery popped,” Rachel tells him. Now the Secret Service wants a word. They ask him a few questions, then Tim walks in holding the evidence bag from the other day. The agents check the bill, determine that it’s real, and then blow out quickly, not too worried about where such an old hundred might have come from.
It’s Rachel who’s got the really bad news. A friend at the FBI tells her that the suspicious bill was from a bank robbery 20 years ago, and that the money had been in their vault, prompting Art to take everyone down there to follow up. The money was ordered back to the bank, but Charlie the evidence guy points out that just because it was ordered doesn’t mean that it was ever sent. Touche, Charlie. They decide to check where the money should have been just in case. Art’s convinced it’s empty, and Raylan knows it is. Tim suggests they should take the money and start a cult. Okay, that’s even better.
Just as Raylan heads downstairs and finds Winona, someone calls in a bomb threat, forcing everyone to evacuate the building. He thinks on this for a minute (you may as well have just put a lightbulb over his head) and realizes that the threat is a hoax: it’s intended to flush them all outside where the key players are much easier targets. It’s fairly easy for our guys to search the area surrounding the courthouse and find one big sniper rifle. Inside the courthouse, however, the bomb squad has mistaken Winona’s bag for a potential bomb threat. They’re just about to open it when the all clear comes. Another close call.
Crisis averted, Raylan is finally able to get Winona back into the evidence vault to replace the money, taking care to walk her through exactly what to do this time. She barely gets the job done by the time Art wanders by, and though he doesn’t press the issue, you can tell that he’s a little suspicious of what he’s just stumbled onto.
Back in the limo with Carol Johnson, Boyd finds out what those other things she was talking about were: the Bennett clan is getting in her way, and she needs someone to deal with them. This ensures that Boyd’s storyline is guaranteed to intertwine with almost everyone else’s, and not a moment too soon, as we’re heading into the back half of the season.
“Save My Love” isn’t necessarily a bad episode, but it’s not a great one, either. As I mentioned in my advance review, I really think your enjoyment of it depends on two things: how much you care about the character of Winona, and how much you can suspend your disbelief. As I’ve stated before that I’m not a fan of her, I really didn’t care what happened to her here. The suspension of disbelief comes if you know anything about the business of television. If you do, you probably could guess that she’d get out relatively unscathed – after all, Natalie Zea has a contract, and they’re not going to do the rest of the season without her, or with her character in jail. It wouldn’t make sense from a production standpoint. By the very nature of my job, I’m always thinking about such things, so there likewise wasn’t much suspense in the episode for me.
That also leaves me with mixed feelings over the episode in general. On one hand, I’m a little ticked off that Winona could do something so idiotic and get away relatively unharmed. Yet on the other, I can see why, given the production concerns I’ve just stated above. So while I’m not exactly happy about it, I can understand why the episode turned out the way it did, much like while I may not be a fan of the Winona/Raylan storyline, I agree that it was the one way that she could remain relevant to the series.
If anything, the episode serves as filler to move all the other pieces into place. We now know how Boyd’s storyline is going to come into play with the Bennett clan and everything going on there. We can guess that Wynn Duffy is probably going to rear his head again at some point. You can see how things are going to come together for the second half of the season, if nothing else.
This won’t go down in history as one of my favorite Justified episodes, but even on its lesser days, the show is still above most others out there. Even the best shows have an average episode or several in the bunch.