While Justified always does an artful job of using of violence for the sake of story and character development, the real treat in last night's episode was not the "Shot of the Week," but rather a far less bloody element.
"Harlan Roulette" -- aside from its actual name -- was filled with more complex set-ups than actual bullets ... let's face it, a three-person kill count for this show is basically the Diet Coke of Justified episodes. Instead, we were treated to many a set-up for the rest of the season: Boyd hashing things out with Ellstin Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson), Quarles setting up his oxy kingdom as the new head of the Dixie Mafia, Dickie remaining a solid idiot through and through and Raylan constantly reminding us that we're safe in his hands.
Tonight's spotlight, for me, goes on Boyd's double-time heist on the bar. What I love about this show is that each character is more clever than the last and that while Boyd would never go into a bar without backup -- or double backup -- even the most minor characters aren't assumed to be stupid (provided they're not junkies). I was wondering why the men in the bar during Boyd's takeover were so deathly silent, and I found myself yelling, "Oh shit!" when the scene unfolded. Quarles reached Breaking Bad levels of being a bone-chilling evil criminal when we saw the dude tied up in the bedroom of Dixie's new HQ, but I was too busy covering my eyes to appreciate that scene.
What we're left with, now that Raylan has already caught up to Quarles -- to a certain degree, anyway -- are dead pawns in what's clearly going to be a long, complex con of a season. And if you want to play with Raylan and Quarles, you best be smart enough to keep up. (Or, to quote The Wire's Omar Little, "You come at the king, you best not miss.") Stupid Wade wasn't even quick enough to remember his own damn alibi.
Moments like that made "Harlan Roulette" -- like every great Justified episode -- pretty hilarious when it wasn't chilling. Laugh-out-loud moments of the episode include: The conversation between J.T. and Wade re: Michael Vick's dog-fighting ("I know dudes killed people, got less than two years for it!" "...Who do you know that killed people and got less than two years for it?"); Dewey and Dickie making for an "awfully cute couple"; Dickie yammering about the "roos"; Fogel's relentless insults, my favorite being "You are a stupid, selfish, oxy-smoking gutter-turd"; and Raylan's epic burn about drug addict Wally stepping on every twig and branch in sight, as well as the reveal of his new town of residence -- Greater Lexington area of Kiss My Ass.
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