Jeremy Likes TV

I like TV. Probably more than any human should.

TV Diary | Justified – “Cut Ties”

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TV Diary | Justified – Episode 3.02 – “Cut Ties” – Original Airdate: 1/24/12

Episode Grade: B

I was all ready to come here and say something derisive about “Cut Ties” – something along the lines of, “Hey, I went to watch Justified and an episode of In Plain Sight broke out.” – but then that final scene hit. Oh… that final scene. The one that introduces us to season three’s second big bad – Mykelti Williamson’s Ellstin Limehouse. Ho-lee shit was that one helluva introduction to the character. After learning earlier in the episode that Limehouse is holding the Mags Bennett fortune while Dickie is incarcerated, we’re introduced to Limehouse while he’s butchering a pig – BUTCHERING A PIG – and imparting some wisdom on a young underling. He warns the kid – who has failed him in some unstated capacity – that he will not take kindly to a second failure and offers the young man two choices: either he can have lye put on his hand and then have it put into water and vinegar, causing searing pain and an ugly, ugly scar but making him square with Limehouse, or he can promise to never – EVER – fail Limehouse again. However, if he chooses the second option, Limehouse makes it clear that the punishment will be far, far worse than lye on his hand. The kid – unwisely – chooses the latter option and as he’s being lead away by another Limehouse lackey, we see that man has chosen the lye option in the past. Williamson makes a meal of the soliloquy in this scene, which almost singlehandedly [1] saves “Cut Ties” from being a slightly above-average procedural episode into one that advanced the season’s arc in a very major way. I’d spoken last week at how happy I’d been that Neil McDonough had been cast as one of this season’s villains but damned if Williamson didn’t make Limehouse more intriguing and far more terrifying than McDonough [2] did in his debut in the season premiere. I also like how, with Boyd becoming somewhat of an antihero over the course of the last season and a half, he’s getting his own foil in the form of Limehouse while it seems that ultimately Raylan is going to tussle with McDonough but with this being a smart show like Justified, I’m sure that their paths will cross along the way. Being a fan of Jeremy Davies’ work as Dickie Bennett last season [3] it was also a smart move for the show to use him as a conduit to linking Boyd and Limehouse together, as the fight that Boyd initiated with Raylan in “The Gunfighter” was merely a way to get close to Dickie to exact revenge for his shooting of Ava at the end of season two. However, after Raylan’s realization of what Boyd was up to lead to his expediting Boyd’s release [4], Boyd maneuvers to take Dickie out before he’s released [5] but instead becomes interested when Dickie offers up the location of the Bennett fortune to Boyd. Boyd becomes more apprehensive when Dickie tells him who’s holding it and later, when Boyd is released, the mere mention of Limehouse’s name causes Ava’s blood to run visibly cold. Again, great setup for the introduction of the Limehouse character. While that aspect of “Cut Ties” was very well-done, I was less impressed by the self-contained storyline that saw Art investigating the death of an old friend, a marshal charged with protecting individuals serving in the Witness Protection program. Sure, it was cool to see Art kick some ass – literally – out in the field and Carla Gugino’s barely disguised guest appearance [6] as another Elmore Leonard character, Karen Sisco, was a nice nod to history [7], but too much of “Cut Ties’” main plotline had me checking the time and wanting the show to get to the point. Frankly, it was much more straightforward than I prefer Justified to be but I realize that episodes like this are a necessary evil early in the season as Graham Yost and his writing team set the table for what’s to come. Put it this way – the table looks nice and all, but I’m much more interested in eating so hopefully we’re getting closer to that point.

[1] Pun somewhat intended.
[2] Who was most definitely no slouch himself.
[3] As I mentioned in my review of “The Gunfighter.”
[4] There’s a typically great scene between Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins where Raylan – seemingly fully aware of why Boyd did what he did – compares their dustup to a disagreement between friends, leading him to drop the charges against Boyd and arrange for his release. At the same time, he takes measures to protect Dickie by having his cell tossed and contraband found, resulting in Dickie’s being placed in solitary confinement for his protection. Smart, that Raylan of ours.
[5] By arranging an ass-kicking by cozying up to some African-American inmates by showing them his Aryan tattoos.
[6] Justified didn’t have the rights to actually call the character Karen Sisco but, let’s be honest – she was Karen Sisco.
[7] There was a hugely hyped television adaptation of Karen Sisco that ran for 10 episodes back in 2003 before being cancelled. It was a pretty well-done series that no one watched. Of course, most people probably remember the Karen Sisco character from the excellent Steven Soderbergh/George Clooney/Jennifer Lopez 1998 film Out Of Sight.

Miscellany:
*Carla Gugino is pretty badass. Here’s hoping that this isn’t just a one-off performance.
*One cool touch in the Witness Protection storyline was the killer, a former mob goon, reaching for a pillow after Art showed up to his place to protect him. Since goon guy was revealed early as the killer, it was a nice callback to how he murdered Art’s friend by grabbing a cushion from the backseat of his car to use as a makeshift silencer. Not that killing a federal marshal is nice, mind you, but I liked how it mirrored what we saw last week with Fletcher Nix’s final confrontation with Raylan recalling his earlier interaction with the watch dealer. It’s the little things like this that make Justified what it is.
*Perhaps worth filing away: Is there any way that there’s actually gonna be a baby on this show? I realize that Winona is pregnant but Justified doesn’t seem like the type of show that can integrate an infant into its narrative that easily. Maybe Winona doesn’t make it out of this season? That would definitely be a cold move, but it would create a huge dramatic moment. Just thinking out loud.
*I like that Rachel having to take a life in the line of duty still affects her. Definitely helps humanize a character who hasn’t been clearly defined or given much to do in either of the first two seasons.
*”Least I don’t have to worry about you taking up with the realtor?” “Why’s that?” “Because she’s too old for you.”
*”Don’t come cryin’ to me when it comes bustin’ out of your ribcage.”
*”When did you get married?” “A few months before I got divorced.”
* “I never understood that whole “pet reptile” thing.”
*”Now, I’m gonna take my hand off of your mouth but if I think for even one second you’re gonna scream… you’re gonna scream.”

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