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'Justified' recap: Here comes trouble

JUS-ep210_20110203_PG-0032 After three episodes of ever-increasing tension, “Justified” turned it down a bit this week, if only because pushing things any further likely would have resulted in Dickie Bennett setting off a nuclear bomb in Harlan or something. “Debts and Accounts” isn’t as good as the last few episodes, but it’s a necessary one, letting the audience in on how the characters are feeling about everything that’s happened and getting them in place for the big finale to come. Not a lot actually happens in terms of plot movement in “Debts,” but by the end, it’s hard not to feel like everybody’s in grave danger.

To that end, let’s sum up where all of the characters sit at the end of the hour.

Mags: Mags Bennett’s deal with Black Pike has gone through. She has money to burn, and she’s decided to leave behind the world of crime as best she can. She’s handing off giant bags of cash to Helen and weathering the cruel words of people who come up to her in the diner and tell her her sons will have to die because of how she’s betrayed the people of Harlan by selling out. But Mags is less of a presence here than she has been, though she’s still terrifying. She’s mostly just trying to make sure that everything is on the up and up, though that means cutting off …

Dickie: Dickie finds himself the recipient of his mother’s wrath, as she blames him for the death of Coover, no matter how little that makes sense. He went against the family, she says, and that means he’s not a part of her life anymore. As she makes the family legit, Doyle’s going to be the only Bennett son to prosper, while Dickie will take over the family’s criminal operations. Mags is washing her hands of the drug trade, and she cautions Dickie that he needs to stay out of everything but the marijuana business because, well, she’s given free rein of Harlan’s criminal world to one …

Boyd Crowder: Boyd’s been wrestling with which side of the line he’ll land on all season long, and in this episode, we finally get to see him in all his terrifying, bad-guy glory. After Mags all but hands him the county on a silver platter, he begins to consolidate his power as quickly as possible, overthrowing a local card game, calling on the cousin he put in a wheelchair to help him out and just generally drawing up plans to wreak havoc and make money off of being one bad dude. Walton Goggins is terrifying here, as Boyd realizes his full power, but he’s also unexpectedly tender, as something about his new enterprise stirs something in Ava, who finally plants the kiss on him that’s clearly been coming all season. But if Boyd’s trying to batter the other criminals of Harlan into servitude, Dickie’s having none of it, setting up a potential war between the two. And that war will almost certainly involve …

Raylan: OK, Raylan’s probably not going to get directly involved in a war between Dickie and Boyd. But it’s hard not to imagine he won’t get caught up in the crossfire. Wednesday night, Raylan deals with the fallout of the last few episodes, particularly in regard to how he helped Winona cover up her theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars. He’s wrestling with what it all means, and he finally comes to a realization: He loves her. And he’s finally willing to change his life for her, to move to Glynco and get involved in a much less life-threatening job. He’s had enough of dancing around just what Art knows about the Winona situation (and Art lets on exactly how much he knows without saying anything in specific in the episode’s best scene). He’s maybe even had enough of putting his life on the line. Winona’s reticent, for whatever reason, but she changes her tune after she and Raylan run into …

The mysterious gunmen: Two men follow Raylan from the marshal’s office to the spot where he’s dropping off Winona so she can finally begin the process of getting a divorce. He goes back to confront them, and they go on their merry way. But they return at episode’s end, firing on Raylan and Winona and forcing them into some sort of machinist’s shop. The gunmen, of course, are unable to get Raylan, and he protects his girlfriend in the end as well, but he doesn’t get a chance to find out just who sent the two men. Mags? Probably not, since she reaffirms what sounds like a Bennett-Givens truce with Helen. Boyd? That’s almost certainly not it. Dickie? Like he has those kind of connections!

No, I think those two gunmen are one of the season’s long-suspended shoes finally dropping: The Dixie Mafia is in town, and they’ve got no time for anyone else who might be horning in on their game. They’re the only organization that would feel at all comfortable with eliminating a marshal (and could deal with the federal storm that would come down upon them if they did), and they have ample reason and motive to get rid of Raylan before moving on to the Bennett boys or Boyd. This could feel cheap, since bringing in yet another adversary for Raylan might seem a bit too abrupt. Instead, it feels like yet another problem that Raylan’s been putting off all season has come to make his life torture.

And I haven’t even mentioned some of the other great scenes in this episode, like Raylan’s pep talk to Loretta, designed to get her to leave the social worker’s car and enter the foster home she clearly doesn’t want to go to. Really, what Raylan says to her there could stand in for the lessons of this season as a whole: Sometimes, you do things you don’t want to do because they’re the right things or because you care about the people involved. And sometimes, you just hang on for dear life and hope for the best. After “Debts and Accounts,” it sure seems like everybody’s hanging on as best they can. I can’t wait to see how it all shakes out.

Photo: Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) finds himself stalked by two mysterious gunmen. Credit: FX

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'Justified' recap: The best episode of this show yet

'Justified' recap: Mags Bennett's finest hour

Complete Show Tracker 'Justified' coverage

--Todd VanDerWerff (follow me at twitter.com/tvoti)

 
Comments () | Archives (11)

I agree that it's the Dixie Mafia, but what's their motivation? Their only interaction this season has been Raylan telling Wynn to forget about the meth bus. Seems like that issue would be more with the Bennetts than Raylan. Maybe they wanted to kill Winona on behalf of Gary.

Art and Raylan was definitely the best scene.

Best written show on TV and the characters are outstanding. Horrible stories of death and destruction amongst the Harlan County people. Most of the tales seem to be true to what really happened in Kentucky in the early 1900's. The players are so real that you want to get into the set and shoot them or tell them to behave. I'd like to think that those days are over but still interesting enough to watch on TV. I knew four brothers in Calif. who came from there in the 1940's and became upstanding citizens. Never quite believed their stories. Now they are all dead and gone and their offspring has blended into society. I hope the stories keep on going for a long time.

A great show getting even better.

You criticize too quickly about the Dixie Mafia: given (1) weaselly husband no. 2 is mixed up with the bad boys and that the pending divorce may impact whatever he has got going; (2) both times involving the gunnies Winona was present, and (3) twists are de rigeur in these kinds of shows, I fully expect Winona to be the target of the hit.

Personally I think I must have liked this episode more than you did because I would have a hard time describing any episode of Justified as 'necessary'.

Maybe you chose that word because not a lot of the story arc of this season was advanced. However, what I thought was great was the very nuanced performances of pretty much everyone.

The interaction between Raylan and Winona was great and their emotions were palpable and rang true for an on and off again couple.

Raylan's scene with Art was great too.

Once Boyd decides what side he's on you can just see him smoldering as he embraces his true self.

Maybe I am falling for a red herring here but I am guessing that Raylan was not the true target of the hitmen but that they were sent by Gary for Winona. I say red herring because of the fact that insurance beneficiaries were a point of contention in the scene at the divorce attorney's office.

We'll see how it all works out.

Sorry if this post shows up twice...

I think I like this episode more than you did as I would never describe an episode of Justified as 'necessary'. Maybe you chose that word because the season long story arc was not really advanced much.

Lots of very nuanced performances by everyone on the screen though. Lots of angst,regret and indecision from Art, Winona and Loretta.

I also thought Boyd smolders in intensity as he embraces his true criminal self.

My guess(maybe confirmed by the IMDB synopsis of next week's episode) about the hitmen is that Winona was the target and that Gary sent them. The red herring is the scene as the attorney's office when insurance beneficiaries is a point of contention. We know Gary is in serious debt here.

Looking forward to see how things pan out this season.

I think it's obvious they were after Winona.Pay attention.Her husband is strapped for cash and approachs the dixie mafia.The next time we see him he is lawyer is with him arguing about "policy benificiaries" and later in that same episode somebody is trying to kill her.Pretty clear to me the husband is trying to cash in before the divorce SHE initiated clears.

This show is just terrific, and I'm sorry I only started watching a few weeks ago. Boyd has got to be one of the best tv characters in recent history.

Anyway, I agree with the others who said that Winona was probably the target of the hit. Gary is a total weasel, and he broke down during the meeting with the lawyers, saying that she gave him no other choice.

Looking forward to next week, and sorry there's only 3 episodes left in the season.

“ ‘Debts and Accounts’ isn’t as good as the last few episodes, but it’s a necessary one, letting the audience in on how the characters are feeling about everything that’s happened and getting them in place for the big finale to come.”

Not to sound harsh, but it’s people like you that get under my skin. Thinking like this is what makes great writing turn cheap, which inevitably cheats audiences.

One of the best qualities of an Elmore Leonard story (the foundation of the ‘Justified’ series) is its reliance on the character driven narrative. In fact Leonard himself has said as much about this being a staple of his and Graham Yost has made it a point to follow his philosophy . . . that is until the last two episodes that preceded this one. I hated the “The Spoil” and only half hated “Brother’s Keeper.” Seriously, “The Spoil” was a huge departure from Leonard’s artisanal attention to detail. It was bloated with plot points and the pacing was just screwy.

I watch “Justified” BECAUSE of the great character detail and the smart way the writers illustrate the way they feel. When they briefly abandoned that, I felt ripped off. This last episode’s return to Leonard’s true style made it one of my favorites.

That is all.

Margo Martindale is an absolute gem and I love her in everything she appears in, but Mags Bennett is a superb creation. The way her face changes from light to dark is a thing of beauty. If Margo does not get an Emmy there is no Justice for justified.

This show is SMOKIN'! Great writing, acting, editing, etc. Can't get enough of it!


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