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TV Diary | Justified – “Coalition”

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TV Diary | Justified – Episode 3.12 – “Coalition” – Original Airdate: 4/3/12

Episode Grade: B+

Tonight, people. One episode is all that’s left in Justified’s exemplary third season and based on how “Coalition” set that finale up [1] it most certainly looks like we’re in for a cuckoo-bananas finale which, really, is the only way that a story this sprawling, violent, and masterful could conceivably end. “Coalition” moved all of our principal characters into what feels like will be their final positions [2]. Raylan is still in pursuit of Quarles and, following the shooting of Trooper Tom, the war between the two men has been made all the more personal. Limehouse has revealed himself to be surprisingly decent and, frankly, true to what he says he is – someone who’s looking out for the well-being of Noble’s Holler, which is clear both from the way that he leads Raylan to Loretta’s house [3] and how he sets Quarles up to be squarely in Boyd’s crosshairs during the bank robbery that Boyd, Dickie, and Errol are attempting to pull off. Of course, this being Justified and with another episode to go, the robbery plot – originally brought to Boyd’s doorstep by Dickie and Errol – turns out to be a Limehouse plot to take Boyd out of the equation by getting him thrown into jail and in the ensuing chaos that sees a bomb detonated underneath Quarles’ car by Wynn Duffy and his henchman [4] eventually leads to Quarles gunning down Tom and escaping with Boyd in tow. It was a very exposition-heavy episode that’s definitely building to a grand-scale war in tonight’s finale. What we saw in “Coalition” – and likely what we’ll see in tonight’s finale – is all of the seeds that have been sown this season beginning to bear fruit. Now, that seems an obvious thing to say when talking about television shows because the majority [5] build towards their finales, but what Justified has done this year has been almost Wire-esque in its scope and we’re seeing what a smart, smart decision that was. Instead of one villain (Boyd transitioning to Bo in season one; Mags last year), this season has seen so many come through and be essential to the overall narrative – Limehouse (before the seeming reveal of his decency in “Coalition”), Quarles, Wynn, Dickie, Errol, Dodd, Ash – that the comparisons to the morally ambiguous characters that inhabited The Wire’s Baltimore are easy to make. That’s not to say that Justified is The Wire because The Wire occupies a level all its own in television history, but the storytelling and the ambition of the storytelling has had much in common for a lot of this season, and that’s made Justified an even better show than it’s been in the past. One episode left. I can’t wait.

[1] And that the episode is titled “Slaughterhouse.” I mean… Jesus.
[2] For clarity’s sake, I don’t mean “final” as in “dead,” although I still remain convinced that Quarles isn’t making it out alive.
[3] Also revealing that he didn’t steal Mags’ money from Dickie. He gave it to who Mags intended it to be given to – Loretta.
[4] Wynn has gone all in on the Theo Tonin plan of offing Quarles while also jumping into bed with Boyd. The alliances set up in this episode were dizzying to say the least.
[5] The serialized ones, anyway. And remember the rule of thumb, kids – if a show isn’t serialized, it probably sucks.

Miscellany:
*Forgot to mention, even with all of the other variables leading into the finale, we can’t discount Arlo running around half-cocked and with a loaded gun. He clearly wasn’t thrilled with Boyd’s decision to put money above vengeance and align with Dickie to the point that he breaks free of Ava’s watch by tying her up and throwing her in a closet. Oh… and he’s also hallucinating and carrying on conversations with a dead Helen. If there’s one wild-card heading into the finale, Arlo’s the guy.
*Speaking of Arlo, it’s clear that he views Boyd (or perhaps previously viewed Boyd) as a surrogate son after he tells him that he’s proud of him when Boyd mention Wynn’s plan with regard to Quarles. Hard to imagine him saying the same thing to Raylan.
*The look on Boyd/Walton Goggins’ face when Dickie ambles into the bar to propose his deal is a goddamn marvel of acting.
*Just as I felt every other time that Dickie Bennett was placed into a potentially lethal situation, I’m glad that Justified hasn’t offed him yet. He’s much too valuable to not keep around.
*Napier has clearly resolved his feelings for Quarles: “And Deputy, if you get a chance to put some bullets in that tow-headed son of a bitch, sure be nice if he knew one came from me.”
*Quarles was at his hedonistic best in partying with the whores in the trailer at Ava’s brothel. Even in being shackled by the ankle, he’s up for getting high and having fun with them. Of course, it turns out to be a ruse as a means of securing his escape but still… Also, the REO Speedwagon was a nice touch.
*Funniest moment of the episode: The loser, middle-aged bank manager trying (and failing) to secure a lunch date with Ava.
*Loved Boyd’s response to Wynn informing him about Theo Tonin talking into the ear that he carries around in his pocket: “And what does he say?”
*Wynn Duffy FTW: “Does Theo Tonin sound like the kind of man to whom you’d like to say, ‘I’m sorry, but he escaped from a disease-ridden whore factory up in Inbred Holler?”
*”Oh, I’m sorry. I probably should have checked with the proprietress.”
*”Boyd, (if) you don’t finish this pile of donkey shit I’ll do it myself.”
*”You ever see Platoon?” “That movie with the old people where they go to outer space?” “That’s Cocoon.”
*”We got customers inside waiting on mouths to get in there and blow ’em.”
*”Any noise out of that filthy whore mouth of yours and I will rip her head off with this chain. Do you understand?”
*”Now, are you sure you’re OK with this?” “$3.2 million? I might find a way to get right.”
*”What if when that car blows up there’s a man inside and say that man inside had brilliant blue eyes?” “And a big stupid baby head?”
*”You gonna bench me while Dickie Bennett sits out there eating all our pretzels? Hell no!”
*”Escort’s a nice touch. It’s like visiting the Wizard of Oz.” “Yeah… I never seen it. All them flying monkeys? Uh-uh.” “Well, you should stick with it. At the end they pull the curtain back, turns out the guy’s kind of a pussy.”
*”You rest easy, Dickie Bennett. You ain’t gonna die this night.”
*”You’re just a stupid, craven, hillbilly piece of shit.”
*”Marshal, do I strike you in any way as a Van Halen fan?”
*”Are you smoking OxyContin in my motor coach?” “I most certainly am.”

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