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'Justified' recap: Complications ensue

March 28, 2012 |  7:30 am

"Justified": Art (Nick Searcy) insists on tagging along with Raylan for Raylan's own safety

In the end, I don’t think I ever would have predicted it would all come down to Dickie Bennett’s money on "Justified."

Yeah, the Bennett fortune — over $3 million, though Limehouse insists it’s only a little over $46,000 — has hovered on the edges of the story this season, but it’s never commanded center stage like, say, Quarles’ schemes to take over the Harlan Oxy operation or Boyd’s attempts to overthrow the local power structure. Instead, the show brought it up initially as a way to introduce us to Limehouse, then seemed to mostly forget about it, until it came roaring back in last week’s episode. And in Tuesday night’s episode, it turns out that massive chunk of change is going to be what unites a whole bunch of unlikely folks to take down Limehouse. With Quarles out of the picture — though only for now — this is an interesting twist to take, and it once again centers Jeremy Davies’ great, sad, soulful work as Dickie, the last Bennett alive and maybe the one least well-equipped to deal with what he has to do.

What’s also impressive is that the storyline gets more, not less, complicated in this episode, even though there are only two episodes left in which to resolve everything. Quarles has gone so far off the grid that the head of the Detroit mob, Theo Tonin (Adam Arkin, turning in a fun, weary performance in just a minute or so of screen time), sends in two hit men to “take out the trash,” as Art puts it. At first, Raylan confuses the two killers, who drop by the bar before heading off after Quarles, for people who might be in Quarles’ employ, and perhaps we do too. But it only takes a short while to realize that Theo’s had just about enough of Quarles’ instability. He sets the bounty for Wynn Duffy: $100,000 for Quarles’ dead body, or $200,000 if he’s kept alive, so Sammy can give him a talking to about sticking a gun in Sammy’s face. (Theo suggests that, knowing Quarles, Wynn just might take what’s behind door No. 1.)

This is a complicated episode, filled with shifting allegiances and characters doing things that seem like desperation moves only to realize they’ve got several more desperation moves ahead of them. Take Quarles killing the guys who seem like two petty criminals so he can make a quick score and give Limehouse the money that will allow him to hang out in Nobles Holler until the dust has settled. (Little does he know that Dickie Bennett’s launching his very own version of a Harlan County A-Team to head into the holler and take back what’s his.) The criminals, of course, are employed by Boyd, and when the news of their death gets back to Boyd, it only adds to his list of reasons he sees fit to eliminate the carpetbagger whose time in Harlan has caused nothing but trouble for all involved.

I’ve been waiting for the ultimate Boyd and Quarles showdown for so long that I was initially disappointed that their battle in this episode was anything but. After a while, though, I realized that it was a great way to show just how radically Boyd’s position has risen, relative to Quarles’ position, in just the last handful of episodes. Where Boyd might have had to scramble to evade Quarles just a few weeks ago, he’s now able to hide out in the back room of a trailer and wait while the prostitutes now working with him (thanks to Ava’s elimination of Delroy) distract Quarles just long enough for him to come up behind the guy and drop him with a stun gun. He leaves Quarles chained to a bed, passed out, watched over by the two women. While I’d like to think that means Quarles is out of commission, I do hope Boyd won’t leave the scene for too long, since we all know Quarles could find his way even out of this one.

While all of this was going on, the episode was also a great one for the staff at the marshal’s office. Rachel hasn’t been on the show for over a month, but she gets a moment to shine Tuesday night as she and Tim head off after Dickie and reveal just how well they work as a team when Raylan’s not around to steal the spotlight. (I love Raylan, but a team player he isn’t.) Meanwhile, Raylan tries to make sense of the two killers who’ve shown up in town and works his own angles on the Dickie thing, but Art insists on coming along, that he might be sure Raylan is safe. Art’s such a fresh and funny character that it’s disappointing to see how little he’s had to do this season, and every scene between him and Raylan was a lot of fun, in particular that one where the two sit in a car and discuss fatherhood, what with Raylan’s kid being on the way and all (assuming Quarles doesn’t have something to say about it, as I fear he might).

What’s amazing here is that I’m bumping up against making this article too long, and I still haven’t touched on a good number of things that happened in this episode (not least of which is Dickie’s scramble to keep his head above water). If the show’s going to be over-busy and crammed full of stuff this season, then it helps when it makes the episodes as hyperkinetic and fun as this one. “Measures” is yet another episode that moves pieces into place, but this one is getting the pieces in place for the season’s endgame, and with the various forces all about to converge on Nobles Holler, with everybody out looking for Quarles but Boyd tenuously in possession of him, and with Raylan and the other marshals trying to keep from getting too far behind everybody else, there’s every potential for the next two weeks to be explosive fun. I said last week that this season is going to be incredibly dependent on how it ends, and “Measures” sets the stage for something that could be fantastic.


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Todd VanDerWerff

Photo: Art (Nick Searcy) insists on tagging along with Raylan for Raylan's own safety on "Justified." Credit: FX