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TV Diary | Justified – “Loose Ends”

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TV Diary | Justified – Episode 3.09 – “Loose Ends” – Original Airdate: 3/13/12

Episode Grade: B

It was kind of inevitable that after the kinetic rush of “The Man Behind The Curtain” and “Watching The Detectives” that Justified would need to take a step back to reset itself before ramping up for the finale (just four episodes away). In that respect, “Loose Ends” definitely served as a palate cleanser and moved some pieces around the chess board in preparation of the season’s final showdown. Quarles is suddenly down one henchman after Dodd went boom courtesy of a landmine. Ava has made a play to become a more active member in Boyd’s criminal enterprise, a decision with which Boyd doesn’t seem to be completely on board. And Limehouse has definitively thrown his lot in with Quarles, and thus finds himself squarely in Raylan’s crosshairs. “Loose Ends” really was true to its name in clearing up some loose ends and moving out some dead weight. Justified has shown in the past that it likes to utilize a large roster of criminal henchmen and, if you register an impression the show is more than willing to keep you around for future use in the right situation. Just think how characters like Wyn Duffy, Dickie Bennett, Emmitt Arnett, Wade Messer, and the criminal lowlife MVP, Dewey Crowe, have been used throughout the series’ run. Hell… if you want to extrapolate it out a step further, Boyd Crowder is the ultimate example. Walton Goggins was supposed to simply be making a one-off appearance in Justified’s pilot but his performance was so strong that Graham Yost and his writing staff kept Goggins on and I think most would agree that Justified wouldn’t be Justified without Boyd Crowder in the mix. However, the other side of that coin is that if you DON’T really register much of an impression you’re as good as gone. And, more than anything else, that’s why Dodd and Delroy are no longer drawing breath in the Justified universe. Dodd never really rose above the level of generic henchman so his death didn’t really resonate above, “Oh, yeah… goodbye, indistinguishable grimy lackey.” While he’d been used as Quarles’ in into Boyd’s operation and was also tangentially associated with Limehouse, Dodd was never really anything more than a simple plot device and now he’s gone. Whatever. Delroy, on the other hand, perhaps doesn’t deserve to be lumped into the same category with Dodd because – all due respect to Brendan McCarthy, who played Dodd – William Mapother’s quite a bit better actor than McCarthy is, but again Delroy never felt like an essential (or potentially essential) part of the show running his little harem, but at least his death had a purpose and that was to nudge Ava even deeper into Harlan’s criminal underbelly. After Ellen May [1] ends up involved in a fatal robbery-gone-bad at Delroy’s behest, she seeks refuge at Boyd’s bar where a sympathetic Ava takes her in as a means of keeping her safe from Delroy. But after Johnny informs her that Delroy pays Boyd protection money, thus necessitating Ellen May’s return to him Ava draws Delroy to the bar under the pretense of delivering Ellen May back only to gut him with a shotgun blast and then pitch to Boyd her idea to take over Delroy’s prostitution ring herself. Boyd seems uneasy with Ava essentially going into business for herself, but ultimately does grant his approval. While we already knew from season one’s “Fire In The Hole” that Ava’s well-capable of wielding a shotgun, her play against Delroy shows that she’s learning from Boyd’s influence and opens up a whole host of options with the character going forward. And the last (but certainly not least) of “Loose Ends’” chess moves was Raylan taking the temperature of Limehouse to see exactly where he stood in the heightening conflict between Raylan and Quarles. In a dynamite final scene, Raylan shows up at Limehouse’s barbeque joint to cast a line to see how strong Limehouse’s ties to Quarles actually are [2] and whether it’s just that Limehouse is naturally distrustful of lawmen, that he’s actually placed his faith in Quarles as the ultimate winner of the Raylan/Quarles cage match, or that he legitimately believes he’s doing what’s best for Noble’s Holler. Whatever the reason, he gives nothing away and instead takes little digs at Raylan by admitting that he does remember him from the Arlo incident back in the day before chillingly adding, “If you like, I can tell you what I remember about your momma.” Damn. That line clearly hits Raylan hard and he eventually leaves empty-handed while Limehouse has positioned himself as yet another Raylan adversary. The war is coming… and it’s coming soon.

[1] The meth tweaker/hooker seen earlier this season in “When The Guns Come Out.”
[2] In perhaps his most declarative statement about Quarles yet, Raylan tells Limehouse, “I’m either gonna put him in prison or in the ground.”

Miscellany:
*Not a ton of Boyd in this episode as early on he’s still dealing with the frame job re: Sheriff Napier’s patrol car blowing up, but towards the end there’s one helluva scene where Boyd walks into a town hall meeting – run by a moderator bought and paid for by Quarles to favor Napier – between Napier and Shelby and takes over the entire proceeding like some Southern preacher, completely swaying the collected Harlan citizens towards his… er, Shelby’s side. I especially appreciated the callback to season two by mentioning Black Pike, which is still apparently a sore subject among Harlan-ites. This was Walton Goggins at his best.
*Raylan… why the hell are you keeping Quarles’ gun that was used to kill Gary in your apartment? Nothing good can come of this.
*Art does his best to try to shut Raylan’s vendetta against Quarles down after seeing the turn (and attention it brought to the Marshals’ Office) it took in “Watching The Detectives.” He tries to get more information on the hustler-beating angle while asking what concrete evidence Raylan has against Quarles at that moment, before letting Raylan know that nothing else is to be done until there’s Marshal business to be had. Anyone think that’s actually gonna stick? No? Good.
*Drunk Raylan still has a thing for Ava, it would appear. He also tries to warn her of the dangers of her association with Boyd – “You do know what Boyd is, right?” – making me wonder if, with Winona seemingly out of the picture, season four could see a bit of a tussle between Raylan and Boyd over Ava’s affections.
*Not a whole lot of Quarles this time around (Booooo!) but Neal McDonough predictably killed in his scenes, especially after being summoned to Noble’s by Limehouse to discuss election strategy. Condescending Quarles = Awesome Quarles.
*That Raylan Givens… he even sets up TVs for old ladies.
*”You been checking up on me?” “Yes. Duh.”
*”I hope you had a pleasant time. But not too pleasant.”
*”How is Devil? I haven’t seen him.” “Well… he’s calmed down a good bit since last you saw him.”
*”You ever had shoofly pie?” “No. But judging by the name I’m sure it’s delicious.”
*”Mr. Limehouse, I’m sure you didn’t invite me up here to discuss the sociology of baked goods.”
*”I don’t know. That’s an acceptable answer if I ask you why the sun come up each day. Or why God chose to give man dominion over the animals. But if I ask you if your friend Tanner left any loose ends that can point probing fingers back at this holler, you should know. You understand me?”
*”Social awkwardness is often the curse of genius.”
*”Believe me now?”
*”And — although I haven’t done forensics yet — I’m pretty sure that’s a dead body at your feet there.”
*”Mr. Napier, I’d like to think that if I was behind an attempt on your life that at the very least I would have messed up your hair.”
*”No, he’s right Cousin Johnny. Harlan County elections ain’t over until the dead have voted.”
*”Well, Ava… I appreciate your thoroughness.”
*”I see to it myself that my kitchen’s so clean, the Virgin Mother herself would eat off of it.”

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