“Loose Ends” is an incredibly apt title. We’ve only got four episodes before the finale, and very little happens in this episode to really push the overall story forward this season. Instead, what we get is the wrapping up of so many… well, loose ends. Gone are the relatively minor villains of Delroy and Tanner Dodd, while Limehouse and Quarles secure their partnership and Boyd all but secures that Shelby will be Harlan’s new sheriff.
In essence, “Loose Ends” puts everything in place for what I assume will be four episodes filled with nothing but frenzied, plot-driven suspense.
And even with all that, it’s still a pretty fantastic hour of television.
So one of the biggest question marks I’ve had about this season is Graham Yost’s overall plan for Limehouse. He seems like someone who’s content to sit on the sidelines and play everyone against everyone else, and I got the impression that he could become a recurring character on the show- hobnobbing with Boyd and Raylan and each season’s new villains, all while curing cuts of pork and spouting off folksy, somewhat threatening remarks about dog training and shoofly pie.
After “Loose Ends,” I don’t see that happening. Not after Limehouse dredged up memories of Raylan’s mother with the specific purpose of pissing Raylan off. With that one moment, Limehouse went from being the crafty outsider to securing his place on Raylan’s shit list, and that’s something very few people can survive.
This brings me to two points.
One, that Timothy Olyphant knocks it out of the park when he physically recoils to Limehouse’s words. Seeing all of that rage jump to the surface of Raylan’s face, combined with a subtle, static-like sound effect on the soundtrack, really turn that moment into something intense and ugly (and I mean “ugly” in the best possible way).
And two, that I’m expecting big things from the final confrontation between these guys. We’ve already got the background of Limehouse beating the tar out of Arlo, and I can only assume that these two will end up in a fight that mirrors that old memory in some way. Heck, I’m getting shaky with anticipation just thinking about it.
The only big question I have left is this: which villain do we save for last? Unless Quarles and Limehouse are eliminated in the same scene at the same time, we’re going to have one dispatched, and then the other, and I’m not quite sure yet who’ll get the final climactic moment at the end of the season. Quarles has been given far more screen time, and there’s been some serious foreshadowing involving his Taxi Driver sleeve gun, but Limehouse and Raylan have that personal antagonism going on, which ultimately could be much more satisfying in a final fight.
Although, not to venture into spoiler territory or anything, but the title of the season finale is “Slaughterhouse.” Kinda lends itself to a Limehouse-centric episode, doesn’t it?
Now, I should probably get to the other elements of “Loose Ends” at this point. Ava deals out some serious punishment to the sleazy Delroy, and takes it upon herself to head up a Crowder-sanctioned prostitution ring. Tying up Ellen May like that to get Delroy’s guard down was pretty vicious, and I’m wondering if this is the start of a more ruthless Ava. She’s been steadily progressing this way all season, from when she bashed Devil’s head in with a frying pan for disobeying Boyd’s orders back in the season premiere, and it’s not at all infeasible that she could end up being Boyd’s equal in terms of cunning criminal escapades.
And Boyd has a pretty stellar moment when he hijacks the sheriff’s town meeting to tear down Sheriff Napier far more eloquently then Shelby ever could. It’s a stirring scene that evokes both Mags’ similar Black Pike speech last season and the vigilante preacher Boyd used to be all the way back in season one, and Walton Goggins proves once again what a marvelously talented speaker he can be.
Oh, and one final thing before I go- even though Quarles got almost no screen time this week, his conversation with Limehouse (where he over-dramatically responded to every word out of Limehouse’s mouth like he was a southern preacher) was enough to make me actually laugh out loud. I’ll miss Neal McDonough’s unique brand of crazy when he’s gone.