FX’s Justified has been a winner all season long – so does that hot streak continue with tonight’s new episode?
Of course it does. While obviously working on setting up further plotlines, the show takes what could be a filler installment and uses it to give some backstory to the underrated character of Rachel Brooks.
At episode’s beginning, everything looks fine…but of course, everything is far from fine, or we wouldn’t have a show. Raylan arrives at the Bennett residence, having followed up leads on last week’s bus robbery, and followed them directly to Dickie Bennett. Needless to say, that does not go over well with Mags, who doesn’t know who to be more upset with. Her flying off the handle is a sign of more troubling times ahead, something the audience is made well aware of this episode, thanks to Raylan’s usual determination to ask all the pointed questions. If I haven’t mentioned it before, I love how he says all the things that most of us would never have the courage to voice.
In fact, it seems everyone is feeling uncomfortable: Winona has an overdue conversation with Gary, and Boyd seems perfectly fine after his meltdown, which now feels like that quiet moment in a horror movie just before the serial killer is revealed. He has to deal with the aftermath of his little road-rage incident. The episode does a great job of setting up things that we’ll surely need to know later on, but it establishes those quickly and efficiently, devoting the bulk of its time to telling an honestly good story.
Said story concerns Rachel’s brother-in-law Clinton, who savagely beats the program manager at his halfway house and then escapes. When Raylan asks how bad Clinton is, we find out that he was responsible for the death of Rachel’s sister. Now, he’s out to reunite with their son, if the man he attacked doesn’t find him first. Like the season premiere, this is an opportunity to spend more time with Rachel, and like that episode, Erica Tazel runs with the opportunity, giving a great performance that shows just how well-cast Justified‘s supporting players are. You’ll really get a sense of who Rachel is and how she came to be that way from this episode.
In the same vein, there’s also some good work here by Jacob Pitts and Nick Searcy, whose characters exist mostly for comic relief this week – and said comic relief, aided greatly by their deadpan delivery, continues to be funnier than the majority of sitcoms I’ve seen.
Every show with long-term storylines has that episode where necessary things have to happen in order to move the plot along; this is that episode for Justified. However, it’s to the credit of everyone involved that it is not at all like every other show – while you’ll see the needed parts, they don’t slow everything down. Rather, the writers have smartly used the rest of their time to tell a compelling, standalone story about a character that we want to know more about. This is why Justified is in a category all its own: even its slower episodes are still engaging entertainment.
You can see it for yourself when “For Blood or Money” airs on FX tonight night at 10 PM ET/PT.