You know what I learned from this week’s Justified? Nothing good ever happens on a school bus. Especially if it’s stolen. That goes double if it’s got drugs inside. But as usual, when things go bad, it makes for great TV.
Dewey Crowe (remember him from the pilot?) is back in town, and trying to hang out with Boyd, who’s not interested in his company, especially when he starts talking about how he’s “going to be flush” and has “things lined up.” Those phrases are always loaded.
Meanwhile, Raylan and Winona are on a date outside of Lexington, which raises Raylan’s ire. “We drive to the middle of nowhere,” he says. “We lie to everyone we know.” She retorts that even though her husband knows about their affair, she’s still married. “Are you not divorcing Gary?” he retorts, and gets a further slap in the face when she says she’s not sure they can be genuinely happy together. As if that’s not bad enough, she spots Tim Gutterson at the bar, and decides to end their evening right there for fear of being caught. This scene is a perfect example of why I dislike Winona right now; it seems like she wants everything with none of the consequences. At least Raylan’s trademark bluntness comes in handy to ask the questions that one should ask when sleeping with one’s remarried ex-wife. It goes without saying that someone in this love triangle is going to get burned, and no one is going to come out of it looking good.
Back to that school bus. It’s masquerading as a church bus, but is full of a bunch of people I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near, including Dewey. Soon, a few more unsavory types start shooting out the windows and blow one guy’s head clean off. They invite themselves onto the bus and walk off with a whole ton of Oxycontin.
The next day, Tim and Raylan are told that the shooting of Jess Timmons last week was determined to be a clean shoot by the Assistant United States Attorney. Though Art allows Tim to leave his office, he asks Raylan if he should be concerned. Raylan assumes that Tim squealed to Art about the previous night at the bar, only to have Art ask him what he thinks he’s talking about. Art is concerned about Tim after the shooting, though he tells Raylan “you’re always a little off” and now decides to probe what Raylan let slip. “You were out with somebody and Tim happened to be there,” he deduces, and gleefully eliminates everyone but Winona. While he tells Raylan about the church bus incident, he also finds the time to laugh at his colleague’s bad decision-making. This is why I absolutely adore Art Mullen. He is so not your typical boss figure. I’d work for him any day, and probably love every minute of it.
Raylan heads back down to Harlan, convinced that Boyd is a prime suspect in the bus robbery since he was mixed up with Oxycontin last season. He arrives at the crime scene, where he’s met by none other than Doyle Bennett, who informs him that Boyd is living with Ava. At the same time, Dewey shows up at Ava’s house, also accusing Boyd of being involved in the robbery. Ava is not impressed and wants him gone; Boyd tries to talk some sense into him, but it fails miserably. Dewey decides that he’ll try to rob the people who robbed the bus. This may be the stupidest idea in the history of stupid ideas, as Boyd reminds him that he’ll have two sets of criminals after him if he makes that decision, but Dewey can’t be moved. Whoever thought Boyd Crowder would be the voice of reason on Justified? Yet he so is.
Ava is still unimpressed later when Raylan arrives at her house looking for Boyd. She tells him that she and Boyd have an arrangement which includes him staying out of trouble with the law, but lets slip that Dewey was there earlier. It’s clear that she’d just as soon hit Raylan in the face than actually help him. The one piece of information she gives him is where to find Boyd; when she says “Good luck,” you know she doesn’t really mean it.
Meanwhile, Dewey is out shopping for robbery supplies. When he can’t find a ski mask (or a goalie mask, or a catcher’s mask), he settles for a cowboy hat. I’m sure everyone sees where this is going.
Raylan arrives at the bar Ava directed him to, and sits down for a chat with Boyd, asking about Dewey and the robbery. “I thought I made myself fairly clear about my intentions,” Boyd retorts. “The real question is whether or not you will believe my answer.” He says that he had nothing to do with the robbery, but stops short of telling Raylan that he knows Dewey is involved.
This is probably a good idea, as Dewey is walking into the robbers’ place pretending to be a certain U.S. Marshal. After a lot of haphazard shooting and way too much bragging for his own good, he steals the pills, making sure to drop Raylan’s name on the way out the door. In other words, he does everything that he should definitely not do. Plus, he left a witness. Hey, no one said he was smart. I’m fairly sure his IQ number is in double digits.
The next day, Raylan meets with Doyle, who has talked to said witness and thus accuses Raylan of being the perpetrator (while also offering to help him out in exchange for a later favor). This makes Raylan cranky, especially when the CI tells him point-blank that he does not resemble the guy she saw. Instead, she tells him enough that makes him figure out it’s Dewey, who is at that point bragging and trying to pick up chicks. After he adds that he used Raylan’s name, Boyd warns him again that he needs to get out of town. When Dewey would rather keep the party going, Boyd calls Raylan to tell him where Dewey is.
And so it comes to be that Raylan is the world’s most badass party crasher. He walks in on Dewey and his new girlfriends without knocking, and the look on his face is priceless, as if to say “Are you serious right now?” This is confirmed when he refers to Dewey as “a special kind of idiot,” among other laugh-inducing insults. Unfortunately, that’s the time that the robbers show up, and having been duped by a fake U.S. Marshal, they have no respect for the real one either. Shooting ensues, with a late assist from Doyle Bennett, who shoots the robbers after they tell him that his brother Dickie ordered the bus robbery. Having been holed up in Dewey’s trailer, however, Raylan wil never know that.
Doyle is really upset about this, and drags both his brothers out of their own trailer to have a chat about this, since the bus belonged to some very nasty people. The even more unsavory conversation, though, is another chat between Raylan and Ava. It starts with Raylan dropping by to tell Ava that while Boyd is innocent of the robbery, he doesn’t believe Boyd can change and wants her to kick him out of her house. He accuses her of trying to get back at him by allowing Boyd in, and she basically tells him to shove it, while reminding him that he cheated on her with Winona. “You are choosing not to be a part of my life, so you don’t get a say in how I live it,” she adds, and despite my deep love for Raylan Givens, I can’t help but smile. He absolutely deserved every word of that.
As for Boyd? He still can’t get any peace and quiet. Pursued by someone else who wants him to revert to his old ways, he finally snaps and drags the genius along with his truck, until he’s an injured heap at the side of the road. There’s a moment of genuine fear when he thinks the guy may be dead, but when he sees him get up, his conscience abates and he leaves him behind. One gets the sense that, to use an old phrase, Boyd Crowder didn’t jump. He was most definitely pushed.
I continue to love Justified head and shoulders over everything else I’ve seen this TV season, because it continues to outperform other shows, just like it did in season one. The reason why is that it works on multiple levels all of the time, rather than one or two some of the time. Yes, because it’s a show about a U.S. Marshal, there are crimes to be investigated, and those “case of the week” plots are interesting. That’s one thing. More importantly, though, this is a show about characters and their journeys – fathers and sons, friends and enemies. This is an episode that shows us just how far these characters have come since we were introduced to them last year; we can see how they’ve changed, and how those changes have affected them.
More than anything, this is Walton Goggins’ episode. It’s a pretty neat thing that after a season in which Boyd was our antagonist, the one to be rooted against and stopped by the hero, here he is the person we can’t help but feel for. Boyd kept saying he was going to be a changed man all through this season, but almost no one (with the exception of Ava) believed him; Raylan pressed him on it, Dewey was skeptical and the random third guy seemed to be the last straw for him. You can’t blame them for being a little wary given his past, but as an audience, we get to see that Boyd really seemed to be making a legitimate attempt at a normal life, and yet he got almost no credit for that. It’s no wonder that he finally lost it at the end of the episode – and now the question is where he’s going to go from here. He could come back and be an even worse villain than he was last year, and Raylan would probably just believe his initial opinion of Raylan was right all along. Boyd just never caught a break, and Walton Goggins played every moment perfectly, up to and including that chilling last scene of his.
Another standout this episode is Joelle Carter, who earns the word “badass” this episode. I’ll be the first to admit that I was not really a fan of the Ava Crowder character in season one, but in season two she’s back and she has a spine. She’s no longer a damsel in distress. She’s an independent woman who’s not taking crap from anyone and who’s willing to stand up to Raylan, and call him out on his own decisions. I’m actually really liking her in this episode, and I hope this trend continues.
“The I of the Storm” is a great Boyd Crowder episode, and it certainly sets up lots of future story possibilities. What is Boyd going to do next? Who will he become? What does that mean for his newfound relationship with Ava? What choices will Raylan make in his relationships? Every time Justified gives us an answer, there are a half-dozen more questions to chase down, and I don’t know about you, but I am really enjoying every last one of them.