Justified: When the Guns Come Out

If Justified had a secret word for each episode (like Pee-wee’s Playhouse, only with more gun violence), my money’d be on “assume” being the secret word for When the Guns Come Out. Everybody’s acting on some kind of bad information this week- Raylan assumes Winona took last season’s secret evidence locker cash, Boyd assumes Quarles is behind the hit on his Oxycontin clinic (after correctly inferring that Limehouse may also be in on the hit), and Quarles assumes Raylan’s in Boyd’s pocket.

Before I continue on, I’ll remind you all that today’s secret word (two words, really) is “Continue Reading.”

When the Guns Come Out is a bit of an odd duck- we’re at the point in this season (that point being episode six) where the standalone stories get kicked to the curb in favor of moving all of the important plot arcs forward. But, we’re not far enough into the season to see huge, game-changing events happening in those story arcs, so When the Guns Come Out feels more like preparation for greater things to come than it does a truly exquisite piece of television in its own right.

But this is still Justified we’re talking about, so a lower-key episode is still a beautiful, sparkling jewel in the rotting animal offal that makes up 99% of television today.

That’s probably a little harsh. My point still stands, though.

But When the Guns Come Out was still overflowing with great moments, and all the stories we’re seeing this season are getting more and more intertwined with every passing week- once things actually come to a head, it’s gonna be some absolutely spectacular television.

But for a change of pace I think I’ll go somewhere else with this particular review. Rather than just discuss everything that happens and what I liked and didn’t like (you know, like a review would), I’ll treat you all to my Top Five Justified Moments of the Week.

Sound like a plan?

You can’t answer yet, considering I’m still writing the review at this point and no one can read it, so I’ll assume that answer’s a resounding “yes.”

Number Five: Charlie Heads South of the Border

That was not the ending I was expecting at all. With a zanier comic tone than I’ve come to anticipate from Justified, tonight’s episode culminates with Charlie (from the evidence lockers) disappearing off into sunny Mexico with a brand-new convertible and a decent amount of exposed chest hair. Part of me was thrown off by how much of a shift this ending is, tonally, from the rest of the episode, but the rest of me got a decent laugh out of it and is glad to see Justified push its comic boundaries every once in a while.

Number Four: The Return of Steven Root

This one’s a quickie, but any opportunity to see Steven Root on TV is OK by me. Plus, having Judge Reardon (from way back in season one) reappear in the show’s universe makes everything feel a little more realized- here on Justified there’s no such thing as one-shot characters, only people who live and work alongside everyone else and who still show up now and again.

Number Three: Boyd and Raylan Have a Heart to Heart Chat

I recently read in an interview with Graham Yost (and, for the life of me, I haven’t been able to find it again) that in every scene with Boyd and Raylan, Walton Goggins imagines Raylan to be his best friend and Timothy Olyphant imagines Boyd to be his worst enemy. That idea seems so apparent in every scene these two phenomenal actors share, and it’s the relationship between Raylan and Boyd that lies at the heart of Justified. Family. Pride. Being true to who you are as a human being. Trying to get by in a place like Harlan. All these ideas come to a head every time Raylan and Boyd are in a room together, and with this episode it’s no different.

Plus it’s just fun to see the two of them play off of one another, and to see Boyd use Raylan’s heroic nature for his own benefit.

Number Two: Delroy Should Just Shut His Mouth

Raylan Givens tends to be a fairly cool and level-headed character, so any time we see real anger break through to the surface tends to be have a lot of extra weight to it. There’s no better example of this then when Delroy (the pimp who beat Ellen May and kept her alone in her trailer) repeatedly threatens Raylan and even whips out a knife, not realizing that Raylan’s a US Marshall with a firearm who’s legally within his right to talk to anyone, no matter what trailer he or she currently resides in. This wasn’t the most intense or the most plot-driven moment in When the Guns Come Out, but seeing Raylan’s repeated attempts to deflect the guy, then lose his cool just a tiny bit to knock the guy down a few pegs (and bash his head in for good measure) was a great little character note for Raylan.

Number One: “Oh shit, that’s awesome!”

There were a number of moments in When the Guns Come Out that mean big changes for the humble folks of Harlan. Winona and Raylan are officially split up once more (although, as she’s pregnant, I can only assume she’ll be a continuing presence on the show). The war between Boyd and Quarles has officially begun, with Limehouse joining the fray as some kind of long-form punishment for one of his underlings. Wynn Duffy looks to be fed up with the amount of crazy coming from his boss and has started feeding him a tiny bit of false information. Lotta stuff going on in this one.

But really, what stood out for me the most was that one little line Quarles has when he comes up with the idea of Raylan as crooked cop- “oh shit, that’s awesome!” Listen to the giddiness in his voice. He could pass for an intoxicated college student with his delivery on that line. He’s so confident and so sure of himself and his superiority over all these country folk that he can just sit on the front porch and giggle at everything these down home country folk do.

Honestly, neither of the big new villains of season three have measured up to Mags Bennett at this point, but little details like this really allow Quarles to stand out as a memorable bad guy. So far, Quarles feels like the major villain for season three- Limehouse really hasn’t done too much at this point besides waiting and gathering information (and pig butchery). I’m hoping to see more of him now that he’s fully invested in the Oxy war, but even without much Limehouse, Quarles feels like a real, fully-fledged villain who could drive the season on his own if he had to. Thankfully, though, he doesn’t have to, and we’ll be seeing some baddie-on-baddie action in the coming weeks.

Well, that about does it for my Top Five Justified Moments of the Week. It’s always good to change things up a bit, don’t you think?

Thanks for reading!

4 responses to “Justified: When the Guns Come Out

      • It’s those little bits of business, just visual things, really, that make this such a fantastic show. Everyone talks about the writing, which is fantastic, but there is such a richness to the visuals and an attention to details that elevates Justified to the top tier of TV.

      • I absolutely agree. I loved the way Wynn Duffy is always relegated to the background in his scenes with Quarles- we can see his resentment growing little by little as he gets frustrated and creeped out by his new boss.

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