As much as last week’s Justified was a filler ep, at least now we have a lot of fun things to play with. We pick up in the fallout of last week’s shootout, and the Marshals Office is buzzing with activity. Raylan totally does not care what the Army CID guy has to tell him about the two shooters, who are ex-Army themselves. The Army CID guy isn’t surprised that a lot of people might want to shoot Raylan. Obviously, he’s a quick study.
Gary shows up and he wants to pick a fight with both Raylan and Winona. He wants to know how much she’s willing to put up with, or if it will take her getting shot. He has a point. Raylan still thinks he’s an asshole, but that at least he’s a right asshole. Art breaks up the whole thing by sending Winona and Gary home, along with Rachel for protection. Furthermore, he assigns Tim (who has come back, along with Rachel, from their apparent vacation to parts unknown) to stay with Raylan, much to Tim’s amusement. Sometimes, I think Tim has made a hobby out of screwing with Raylan whenever possible.
This means Tim gets to spend the night at Raylan’s hotel. Raylan takes this opportunity to ask him what he knows about ex-Army contractors. Tim asks if Raylan is going to try and run off on him, and they both agree that he will eventually. “Either you let me go or I’m gonna have to give you the slip,” Raylan says without hesitation. At least he’s honest.
Raylan wakes up the next morning and isn’t thrilled to see that Tim is still there, unbothered, reading the paper. He tries to get Tim to let him make a phone call in private, but Tim gives him an Eyebrow of Doom, so Raylan slips into the bathroom to do it. There, he calls his old boss from Miami, so they can theorize over who might have made an attempt on his life. Dan asks him if he’s ticked anyone off lately…so of course we immediately cut to Dickie Bennett and his new team of misfits, who are all working on their aim. I mean, really, could that transition have been any more obvious?
Things are awkward at Gary and Winona’s house. Gary tries to talk to Winona about his recent bad behavior, claiming that “it feels like it’s not even me doing it.” I’m not sure if he’s trying to apologize or if he’s declaring that he has split personalities. Either way, it’s weird.
Tim and Raylan end up in a mini-mart, discussing the finer points of purchasing ice cream as a breakfast item. (Sounds like my family.) Raylan declares that he’s going to go use the restroom, and Tim realizes too late that the place doesn’t have a restroom. C’mon, Tim, he did give you fair warning…
In parts elsewhere, Arlo is having a chat with Boyd and his cousin Johnny. The Crowder boys want to know what Arlo knows about their father’s business, and there’s fun talk about drugs and hijacking. While this is going on, Ava has a more innocuous talk with Helen, who advises her that the less she knows about what they’re doing, the better. “There’ve been lots of times I wished I knew less about what he does,” Helen tells Ava, speaking from lots and lots of experience.
Raylan shows up at the general store to pay a visit to Mags Bennett, who’s repairing the place after an attack from people who weren’t exactly happy about her arrangement with Black Pike. He wants to know if she gave the order to have him killed, since he did shoot her son. She says that she intends to honor the deal she made with Helen to keep the peace, and asks about Loretta. Tim rolls up during this, rightfully ticked off about having to chase Raylan down. They don’t get to argue very long, as Doyle Bennett joins the party. Doyle has a little too much fun with the news that someone made an attempt on Raylan’s life.
Dickie and his minions are meeting with one of the family business partners. Said meeting is interrupted by Boyd and his minions, with guns. Boyd is going to take over Dickie’s marijuana trade, since Dickie declared an end to the agreement that Mags made with him previously. There’s nothing Dickie can do but watch it happen. His two minions decide to quit on him during his rant on this subject, so he shoots them. Yes, he’s officially lost the plot.
The next scene is like it’s out of the world’s most awkward sitcom. Raylan arrives at Winona and Gary’s house, so that he, Rachel, Tim, Winona and Gary can half-watch a movie. Gary apologizes before he makes his exit, and after he leaves, Winona tells Raylan that Gary also apologized to her. Tim and Rachel sit there and pretend they’re not listening. Raylan tries to get them to go home (especially after Tim makes a hilarious reference to The Big Chill, adding that no one’s dead yet), but neither of them will budge, especially after Tim brings up how Raylan gave him the slip earlier in the day. Arguing between Marshals ensues, until Tim tells Raylan that he gets the first watch. Raylan, you have just been pwned.
Boyd and his friends are discussing the events of the day, and Ava is not happy to be there. Boyd does his best to comfort her while continuing with his grand plan. She tells him that she doesn’t want him to keep anything from her. This is romantic in a slightly uncomfortable way.
There’s a guy in a car outside Winona and Gary’s house, and Raylan promptly confronts him at gunpoint in a very awkward moment. Once he has the man handcuffed to the steering wheel, he starts poking around to see what he can find. The vehicle belongs to a construction company in Frankfurt, and a quick phone call to his former boss (hi again, Dan!) tells him – and us – that said company is owned by Wynn Duffy’s sister. This leads to Raylan choking Gary awake. Once again scared to within an inch of his life, Gary tells Raylan that he tried to call the hit off, but that didn’t go so well. Hence why Gary is at the house hiding behind Rachel and everyone else.
Raylan gets Gary to call Duffy and set up a meeting. Duffy sends his henchman out for plastic and garbage bags, like he’s been watching one too many episodes of Dexter. On the other side of that phone call, Raylan decides not to call anyone because then Duffy would just get arrested. Oh, that’s ominous.
Taking the henchman at gunpoint, Raylan and Gary walk into Duffy’s RV for their meeting. Raylan wants answers about the hit, but Duffy is in no hurry to provide anything more than a Law & Order reference. Unamused, Raylan tells Duffy that he knows Gary can put him away for awhile, hence the shooter outside the house. He tells Gary that he is never to be seen again, and Gary takes off. Raylan talks about letting Winona see what he really is, except for that it would “tear her apart.” This completely anticlimactic scene ends with him giving Duffy the obligatory death threat. Great. The one time I want Raylan to shoot someone and he doesn’t.
Helen is awoken by Dickie Bennett and friends breaking into her house. Dickie has connected Arlo to Boyd and is out for revenge. An argument ensues. There are gunshots and she screams, and then blackout. It’s another Justified cliffhanger.
I see pros and cons with this episode. It can be argued that this is just as much a setup episode as “Debts and Accounts,” and that’s frustrating, especially when we’ve just had a whole filler episode last week, and when it’s this late in the season. I can’t help but feel like the plot could’ve been so much stronger. I don’t particularly buy Gary as the kind of guy who’d put out a hit; he’s always seemed far too spineless for that. I’ve never seen Gary as a particularly evil guy; he’s stupid, weak and a little egotistical, but I don’t think he’s as bad as Raylan keeps saying. It seems like the show was trying to paint him that way, the better to make the Raylan/Winona romance palatable. That leaves a bit of a bad taste in my mouth, not so much because I don’t care for the pairing and more because it all feels contrived.
And the confrontation between Raylan and Duffy was definitely a letdown; especially with the talk at the end of the third act, I expected him to meet a grisly demise, or at least get roughed up a little. He certainly deserved it. But…no. And if the show’s really killed off Aunt Helen, I’ll be sad – not to mention expecting one enraged Raylan.
What makes me love this episode more than “Debts and Accounts,” and kind of forgive it, is how many great character moments there are throughout the hour. In particular, I want to give a special shout-out to Jacob Pitts, whose Tim Gutterson is amazing and was sorely missed. I love how he does so much with little dialogue; just an expression on his face or the deadpan delivery of a line is enough. Tim and Rachel are great supporting characters, and after seeing so much of them early on this season, I was disappointed that they vanished. Let’s hope that they get a lot more screen time in these final two episodes.
Beyond that, though, there are plenty of memorable moments. Art and Raylan’s relationship is continuing to fray, and Nick Searcy is always spot-on. Boyd and Ava’s romance is developing, and it’ll be interesting to see how much Ava is willing to bend her standards to be with him, because she knows he’s doing the very kinds of things she didn’t want to be involved with. We get to see Ava with Helen for what I think is the first time. In her one scene, Margo Martindale is still fantastic. I always love to see more of Rachel. Even the Army guy is kind of cool. He has a point, and so does Gary: Raylan really does get shot at a lot. I love the guy, but I’m not sure I’d want to stand next to him for too long.
Plot-wise, I’d call this an average episode, but I’m going to put it over the top because of the character moments, memorable quips, and that darn cliffhanger that’s going to bother me all this week. The little things can still make an episode worth watching.