It’s hard to believe that after tonight, we only have three new episodes of Justified left. How the cable TV season flies when you’re having fun! “Debts and Accounts” is the episode that pulls together all the season’s storylines in preparation for the end, and while that keeps it from being the best episode itself, it accomplishes that task with relative ease.
Raylan walks into work, is immediately met by Art, and the two start talking over the aftermath of last week’s shooting of Coover Bennett. This is business as usual. We’ve seen it in previous episodes. But today Raylan is a little jumpy. Art calls him “emotionally crippled” before bringing up “that thing that never happened that we never talked about.” In his usual calm, laid-back manner, without ever raising his voice, Art pretty much lets Raylan have it for all the grief he’s caused over his time in Lexington, ending his spiel by saying that while he hoped they’d look back on it and laugh, he doesn’t think Raylan will live that long. It’s a monologue that’s perfectly understated, hilariously awkward, and oh so deserved – and Raylan has no real idea how to take that. (Timothy Olyphant has one of the best “WTF” expressions ever.)
Speaking of awkward, Raylan’s Aunt Helen is meeting Mags Bennett at a diner. Mags has come to said get-together with a bag full of money, which she says is “your share of Black Pike.” She plans to “weigh all my debts and accounts” – including the fact that Raylan killed her son. Mags is genuinely regretful as she talks about bloodshed. After Helen leaves, Mags is confronted by a guy who’s not too happy that she made a business deal with Black Pike, but she pushes him around pretty easily, because duh, she’s Mags Bennett.
Ava’s seen that Boyd has his bags packed, and calls him on it. He tells her “I’m embarkin’ upon a journey I can’t rightly ask you to be a part of,” being that she doesn’t condone criminal activity. Picking up on the inference, Ava retorts that her taking him in might have been a mistake, and tells him to get out.
Raylan finally gets a hold of Winona, who is is as tetchy as ever. She admits that she was ducking his calls because she believed he was still upset with her for the trouble she put him through, then asks him to drive her to her divorce attorney’s office. He wants to know why she didn’t tell him that she’s getting a divorce from Gary, to which she replies, “You know how it is.” Oh, burn. Between her stealing money from evidence lockers and finally being motivated to get the divorce she was once unwilling to, Raylan thinks that Winona just might be going crazy – but he’s more concerned with the car that’s following them. This being Raylan, he gives their new friends a polite warning, which they wisely heed.
Once they arrive, Winona tells Raylan that maybe they shouldn’t see each other for awhile, She still has a problem when he does things like confront thugs following them, so perhaps she hasn’t changed enough for them to have a real second chance. As they start to argue, Loretta’s social worker calls, needing to see him. They quickly part company.
Raylan arrives to check up on Loretta, who is being placed with foster parents. She’s not comfortable with the perfectly suburban home, and still trying to figure out why her father was murdered, even though she doesn’t miss him. At least the two of them can bond over having complicated fathers. Raylan gives her a morale-boosting speech and convinces her to give her new foster family a shot.
Meanwhile, Mags, Dickie and Doyle are having a family meeting. She’s giving Doyle what’s left of their marijuana business, and says to Dickie that “you and me are done,” adding that he ought to leave Raylan alone and focus on the threats they’re getting thanks to the business deal with Black Pike. Dickie doesn’t take any of this well, so his mom unloads on him, telling him that he’s not the future of their family. His brother concurs, saying that this new arrangement has “been in the works,” including that thanks to Mags, Boyd now has “free reign to pursue whatever business.”
Speaking of Boyd, he’s visiting his cousin Johnny, who’s not in good health and not living in a good place either. He wants his cousin to help “bring Harlan County back under Crowder control.” That would be the business in question. Their first order of business is to visit a poker game to recruit a guy appropriately nicknamed Devil and steal some operating funds. With him gone, Ava finds she’s gotten used to having him living under her roof.
Having not listened to a word that any of his surviving relatives have told him, Dickie is saying that he’s the one taking over the Bennett family business. He visits Boyd and tells him that he’ll be taking over, so Boyd can join him or leave Harlan County. Boyd is not impressed.
After one disastrous meeting with their divorce lawyers in which Gary cries, Winona meets Raylan so they can argue over the status of their relationship one more time. She admits that she also questions her sanity. He suggests they run off together and go back to Glynco, so maybe they’re both crazy. But whatever their plans are for “happily ever after” are ruined when they’re driving along and set upon by the same thugs from earlier in the episode – who have come back for more with guns. Raylan gets Winona into an office building, where it’s the usual “you keep down and I’ll go take care of this, unless I don’t” routine. I’m all for anything that involves Timothy Olyphant and a shotgun. Winona nearly gets herself shot, but it’s Raylan to the rescue once again. The near-death experience convinces her that she should run off with him. It’s a surprise – if anything, doesn’t it also prove that wherever he goes, somebody’s likely to try and shoot him, which might make him less attractive? Women, help me out here.
Speaking of relationships, Boyd comes back to see Ava one last time, and the two finally kiss. Not surprising, not at all.
There’s nothing truly huge that happens in this episode; I feel like it’s the kind of episode that can be easily summed up in next week’s “previously on” segment. From a writer’s standpoint, I’d look at it as a filler installment; it’s setting up plotlines (Mags’ intended retirement, Boyd’s new ambitions) to be paid off and furthering ones that need to be tended to (Boyd and Ava, Raylan and Winona), but when you look at it outside of that bigger picture, it doesn’t stand as a complete story on its own. I think that’s what keeps me from raving about it; while it’s not a bad episode, the best episodes are the ones that leave me saying, “I’m glad I didn’t miss that.” This isn’t one of those.
And there are certain people in this episode that I miss – namely, the characters of Rachel and Tim, who are apparently on a bit of a vacation, as they were absent last week as well. After seeing a lot of them earlier in the season, I’m disappointed that they’ve faded off down the stretch.
What we learn in this episode itself is hit or miss for me. I don’t think anyone who’s been a regular watcher this season is unsurprised by the Boyd/Ava kiss, because that’s been in the works all season. I think it happens at just the right time, too, as it really had to be earned and not rushed into, especially since it’s undoubtedly a little weird to fall for the woman who killed your brother. I’m okay with this, and interested to see where it goes, especially since – as Boyd himself pointed out – she’s dead-set on staying out of the criminal way and he’s heading right back in. This is not going to be an easy relationship and I want to see how it holds up under the strain. What I like, too, is the performance of Margo Martindale; her Mags this week is subdued, resigned, almost broken. We can see how the loss of her loved ones (I’m counting Loretta here) really affects her. She might be capable of inspiring fear, but she is still human, and I think Margo Martindale plays both aspects very well.
Being that I’m lukewarm on the idea of Raylan/Winona anyway, it’s hard for me to get too excited about their relationship, but this week my hesitation is strictly about their impact on the overall story. We know they won’t run off together – if they did, there’d be a vastly different show in season three – so the TV cynic in me, unable to turn off that part of my brain which thinks about production issues, doesn’t care about that part of the episode because I know it’s not going to go anywhere. I am intrigued as to what Gary meant when he tearfully told Winona that she didn’t give him a choice; it sounds like she initiated the divorce, so I’m guessing he doesn’t mean that and may have something else up his sleeve to hurt her with. He has to feel a little ticked and maybe inadequate that she’s leaving him to go back to the man she left for him in the first place.
I’m also not quite excited about the Dickie versus Boyd showdown, if only because Dickie has proven again this episode that he’s a colossal idiot that deserves whatever he has coming to him. His bluster this episode reminds me of that moment where you say to someone “I wouldn’t do that if I were you” and they do it anyway. It’s the same thing. His family told him not to mess with anything and now he’s really stepped in it. Whatever happens, he asked for it.
With only three more episodes left, Justified is running out of time to get to its conclusion. But with the way it’s been running all season, I don’t doubt that it’s going to be a good one. The only question I have is if it can possibly top last season’s amazing final episode. I do love a challenge.