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TV Diary | Justified – “When The Guns Come Out”

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TV Diary | Justified – Episode 3.06 – “When The Guns Come Out” – Original Airdate: 2/21/12

Episode Grade: B+

“When The Guns Come Out” was a continuation of a season of Justified that, on a technical level, has been a rousing success yet is one that I’ve had trouble fully connecting with on an emotional level. “When The Guns Come Out” moved the season’s storylines forward in fine fashion, introduced some more conflict into the Raylan/Winona relationship, and delivered a fairly satisfying self-contained storyline. So why is it that I’m having trouble embracing this third season? I completely expect the show to right itself by the time we get to episode thirteen but for now there’s something – that I’m not entirely able to put my finger on – that’s keeping it from taking the final step towards greatness like season two did. Perhaps I’m impatient or maybe I’m expecting too much because season three has its fingers in a lot of pies, something that was evident from the way that “When The Guns Come Out” played things out. It continued to comingle the various principals of this third season as Limehouse’s number two went into business for himself by ordering the ransacking of Boyd’s oxy clinic, an act that Boyd ultimately attributed to Quarles. That the clinic was being run out of Helen’s house [1] eventually brought Raylan into the mix and ended up allowing the story to coalesce quite nicely. The episode gave us a further look into Limehouse, particularly the scene where he’s paid a visit by Boyd and displays his thorough knowledge of the white community of Harlan whereas Boyd has little to no insight into Noble’s Holler. He later brings up a fascinating – yet completely logical – fear after his second-in-command confesses to being behind the raid on Boyd’s oxy clinic, pointing to the fact that race relations between their community and Harlan at large are tenuous at best and that striking at Boyd in such a selfish way could end in deadly repercussions for Limehouse and the African-American community in Noble’s Holler. Limehouse deals with the situation very pragmatically [2] and introducing the powder keg that is racial politics in a place like Kentucky is, outside of some passing instances with a minor character like Rachel, a subject that Justified has shied away from in the past but a show as intelligent as this can do a whole lot with it and it’s a topic that I’d be anxious to see more of. Limehouse also seems like the type of character who could easily become a part of the world of this show in future seasons [3] as a wild-card for Justified‘s writers to use for either side of a conflict when necessary. As for Mykelti Williamson’s former Boomtown castmate, Neal McDonough continues to turn in a terrifyingly great performance as the sadistic Quarles. While some have criticized McDonough for portraying Quarles as a modern-day moustache-twirling villain, I see him as someone who’s so casual and nonchalant in his menace that he makes a sociopath like Wyn Duffy not only look tame in comparison but makes Duffy himself tremble in fear as he does in “When The Guns Come Out” after Duffy walks back into Quarles’ headquarters to hear him torturing the homeowner that he’s keeping tied to a bed in the home’s back bedroom. Later, his request to Duffy for more information on Raylan included the ominous line, “If the marshal keeps coming back and it becomes necessary to apply pressure, I want to know exactly where to squeeze.” And I have the sinking feeling that spot to squeeze? Winona. Can’t be a coincidence that in the same episode where Quarles issued this threat, Raylan was preoccupied with Winona’s exit and the seeming end to their relationship. “When The Guns Come Out” established that she’s his blind spot and I fully expect Quarles to exploit that blind spot by season’s end. If Raylan and Winona are no longer a couple, you have to wonder where, exactly, she fits in the universe of the show if not as the means for Quarles to strike at Raylan. I mentioned last week that my heart was pounding at the end of “Thick As Mud” thinking that Raylan was going to come home to find that Quarles had struck at him through Winona. I’m starting to realize that perhaps Justified was merely testing the waters for that move to be made later in the year. I’m still not sure if Justified is capable of making such a move but one thing is certain – if Justified goes down this road, it’ll damn sure evoke that emotional response that’s been lacking for much of this season thus far.

[1] That Arlo really is a special kind of asshole, though there could be another explanation for his involvement. More on that later.
[2] And this is another thread from the previous episode that’s expanded upon here.
[3] Assuming he survives this one, of course.

Miscellany:
*We learned that this isn’t the first time that Winona has run out on Raylan after Art confirms to Raylan that he put out a BOLO alert on Winona at the end of season two after Raylan’s shooting in the Bennett showdown. Much as I love Natalie Zea, it’s apparent that the show’s use for the Winona character has waned considerably. I do like how this action showed, regardless of how frustrated Art can get with Raylan, that he still continues to have his back.
*It also looks like Justified is setting up Arlo to be going through some sort of Alzheimer’s/dementia-like condition after he allows Boyd to use Helen’s house as an oxy clinic and then later has a very disoriented conversation with Raylan where he speaks like Helen is still alive and Boyd is just “a boy.” As Hitfix’s Alan Sepinwall notes, Raylan being stuck with taking care of the senile father that he’s always despised could be a fruitful road for the show to explore in the future.
*Even as I like how “When The Guns Come Out” continued this season’s theme of introducing a thread in one episode and then expanding on it greatly as the next episode’s standalone story, revisiting the stolen evidence money (that Raylan initially pins on Winona) via Charlie the evidence clerk’s theft isn’t one that I’m particularly looking forward to in the next episode, assuming that’s where things are headed.
*That Quarles initially thinks that Raylan’s dirty and is working with Boyd is a nice illustration of the fact that he immediately looks for the worst in people. Pure villainy right there.
*Lost’s William Mapother, perhaps best known as Tom Cruise’s cousin, shows up for the first time as Delroy, a pimp/oxy freak who mentions to one of his… um… charges that he was raised in a commune of sorts. Dharma Initiative, anyone?
*Liked seeing Ava continue to take on an active role in Boyd’s criminal enterprise while simultaneously playing off of her season one past with Raylan when it became convenient for she and Boyd to use Raylan for their own purposes. Unlike Winona, Justified has found a clear and successful use for the Ava character.
*Anytime Stephen Root decides that he wants to return as Judge Mike Reardon – even if it’s only for a quick scene like in “When The Guns Come Out,” I’m all for it.
*Raylan popping Delroy twice in the face was a pure Dewey punishment.
*”I don’t mind asking the FBI for favors on your behalf but I’m not gonna read the thing for you, too.” Tim after getting Raylan a file and reminding us that he does, in fact, still exist. And that he still has no use for Raylan.
*This might be my favorite quote of the season thus far: “The next time you set up any operation in this county or anywhere else it better not have my goddamn family name on the deed or so help me God I’ll lose this star and the dance we do subsequent to that will not end will not end with you finding Jesus in a hospital bed.”
*”Oh, shit… did she at least leave you a note?”
*”But why you don’t know us is a question you are welcome to ponder.”
*”The people who bank with me are the ones who have access to the things I know.”
*”Sneak up on a man like that it’s a good way to get yourself shot.” “By you in your boxer shorts there? I think I got the drop on you this time, Arlo.”
*”You know the position you’re putting me in here?” “Missionary.”
*”Please tell me you’re here for a job because I forgot to play the lottery this week and you, right here, are the winning ticket.”
*”Everybody, the next round is on me.” “You gonna pay for that with the money you made selling oxy at my aunt’s house?”
*”Taliban got you down?”
*”Shit. I didn’t bring a knife.”
*”Hold up… are you a bearded lady?”
*”I saw that Kenny Chesney on your computer, I thought you were capable of anything.”

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