Man oh man oh man oh man.
Justified just keeps outdoing itself again and again, doesn’t it?
You all love the show. You don’t need me to explain. Let’s just jump on in, shall we?
A lot of the time, what happens with Justified is that the standalone stories are just a little less satisfying then those that span an entire season. This has been a problem (a minor one, but still) since the show began. But how do you fix a problem such as this?
It’s simple. Combine a standalone story with a season-long arc.
For an example of how to do this, just look at the stories in The Devil You Know. Devil being tempted by Quarles’ promises of money and power, the prison breakout with Dickie and the corrupt guard- they all feel like standalone stories (Devil’s especially, what with the gunshots and all) but everything in these stories ties into something that started in an earlier episode. Devil’s distrust of Boyd has been building for a little while now, and we started dealing with the prison guard last week (plus all of that ties into Mags’ money, which has been a hot button issue since the beginning of the season). And that prison break storyline isn’t even over- what the hell’s gonna happen to poor, startlingly stupid Dewey Crowe?
So what we get in The Devil You Know is this perfect mix of both worlds where everything is set up (pacing-wise) like a standalone episode but there’s nothing onscreen that’s not advancing the season-long plot forward. I mentioned the word “perfect” in the beginning of this sentence- that about covers it, really.
So let’s move on to what actually happens in The Devil You Know.
I guess it’d be appropriate to start with Devil’s storyline, as, you know, he’s in the title of the episode. And we’ve been seeing a lot more of Devil lately, watching him start to rub up against Boyd a little bit- even after Boyd’s big speech last week, I wasn’t one hundred percent sure Devil was still a loyal follower. It turns out that’s true- all it really takes is a nifty little presentation by Quarles (who’s clearly enjoying himself with that good ol’ fashioned country preaching) to set Devil on a collision course with Boyd.
And Quarles, for the most part, has spent these last four episodes biding his time and lining up all of his little pieces on the chess board that is Harlan, so it’s nice to see him get actively involved with another character. Yes, he sent the pawn shop owner after Raylan last week, but that was more out of convenience than anything else. Now that Quarles is starting to recruit people for his own dastardly deeds, he’s made a big dent in Boyd’s operation and Boyd might not be too happy about that if/when he finds out.
Also, I’m really enjoying the dark path Boyds taken this season. It seems like a lot of the wild card elements of his character are gone and he’s finally being true to himself- that true self just happens to be ruthless and shrouded in constant darkness and spilt blood.
Except for when Raylan walks into the Crowder family bar. Did you notice how Walton Goggins just lights up whenever he gets a bit of repartee with Timothy Olyphant? I sometimes find myself wondering just where those two characters will be in relationship to each other three or four seasons from now, or if at some point Boyd’s time will come and we’ll see a Justified with a Givens and no Crowder.
Kind of a sad thought, really.
But back to the episode at hand- by far, the other big development here is with Limehouse. We’ve been given little sneaks and peeks at who he is and how he operates, but tonight was our first big glimpse into just what Ellstin Limehouse is doing down there in Noble’s Holler.
Limehouse was promoted as a villain for season three. All the interviews and the press releases characterized him as a bad guy. Our first glimpse of him stays with that pretty well, what with the lye-burned hands and the general air of creepiness.
But ever since then, what other villainous deeds has he done? He does kill two of Dickie’s attackers, but that seemed to be out of a sense of duty towards the Bennet family more than anything else. And according to Raylan’s story about Noble’s Holler (holy crap was that fantastic- not only did Olyphant deliver that monologue perfectly, but now we’ve got enormous amounts of underlying tension anytime Raylan and Limehouse are in the same scene), Limehouse and the rest of the holler stood up to protect battered white women when no one else would. Mykelti Williamson still gives the impression that he’s hiding something, and that it’s something big and illegal- I guess we’ll just have to wait a little longer to see just what that is, exactly.
Originally, I was shuffling back and forth between my favorite villains, but now I think they’re about even in my mind- hopefully, it’ll stay that way. Quarles hangs back, pulls some strings and acts very cold and unsettling, and Limehouse acts as a sort of chaotic good and doles out heinous violence and good deeds wherever he sees fit. That’ll work for me.
A few quick points before I go:
- Justified doesn’t normally go above and beyond in the cinematography, but that close up of Raylan’s pistol as he enters the seedy motel? Incredible.
- Always good to see Loretta again- I wonder if she’ll continue to be a mainstay like Dickie or if this is the last we’ll see of her for a long while.
- And is it just me or is season three really upping the ante in the closing shots for each episode? The lye-burned hand, Quarles’ creepy cellphone photo, and now the combination of Devil’s screams and the gunshot- I could be wrong, but I never noticed endings that powerful in season two.
Well, that about does it for this one! Thanks for reading and I’ll see you all next time.