Wednesday, February 1, 2012

"Justified," Season 3, Episode 3

Posted By on Wed, Feb 1, 2012 at 11:09 AM

IM NOT CALLING YOU A PAWN, BUT THIS *IS* A PAWN SHOP: Pruitt Taylor Vince and Timothy Olyphant
  • Courtesy of FX
  • "I'M NOT CALLING YOU A PAWN, BUT THIS *IS* A PAWN SHOP: Pruitt Taylor Vince and Timothy Olyphant
“Justified” switches focus away from law enforcement and toward outlaw enforcement this week, as we see various extralegal factions flex their muscles and find their limits. Compared to “Boardwalk Empire” or “Game of Thrones,” the various crimelords rule their fiefdoms from deceptively modest seats of power, like Mags’ general store last season. This week we get another look at Limehouse’s homestyle cookin’ barbecue joint, while Boyd’s gang reclaims its old clubhouse and Quarles reveals plans to turn an ordinary residence into a front for oxycontin operations. Should we call the show “Backporch Empire?” “Game of Homes?”

“Harlan Roulette” opens with Limehouse grilling up a heap of savory meat as Ava visits to broker a meeting with Boyd. They seem to go way back and quip about Ava shooting her husband at the dinner table: “The shame of it was wastin’ all that ham.” Segue to the bridge that, I take it, separates the local African-American enclave from the rest of Harlan. In a classic pulp-crime image, Limehouse and Boyd’s team face off across the bridge in the glare of their respective headlights. Limehouse shrugs away Boyd’s claim on Mags’ moolah, as well as Boyd’s offer to off Dickie Bennett, and says that he figured Boyd needed help with his other problem — i.e., the big heap of rotting marijuana. Boyd withdraws, lacking a move, and clouts Devil for refusing to burn the pot before they drive off.

Raylan and Winona are still talking about buying a house, but duty calls, and Raylan joins a state trooper roadblock to find Wade Messer (James LeGros), the guy who handed him over to Dickie last season. Wade's riding in a truck full for stolen goods, but he and the wheelman get while to the cops and try to turn around, only to topple the truck into a ditch. Cue the wah-wah trombone.

Wade takes shelter with his boss, Mr. Fogel, whom Pruitt Taylor Vince superbly plays as a sadistically authoritative good ole boy, or maybe a small-time Southern equivalent to Marvel Comics Kingpin. Wade and the bumbling truck driver are both oxycontin addicts, and Fogel, holding out the promise of pills, orders the driver to play Russian roulette with himself. The driver aims the gun at his head and pulls the trigger twice, then fires at Fogel, only to discover that the gun has no bullets. “Think I’m gonna let you shoot yourself in my office?” Fogel asks. Wade and Fogel's weaselly underling refrain from pointing out the irony.

Running pills and a fencing operation out of his pawn shop, Fogel reports to Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns) of the Dixie Mafia, who reports in turns to Quarles, providing an example of the chain of command. Quarles outlines to Duffy his plans for an Oxy Empire: "See, Wynn, that's why it's called 'organized' crime." At the base, Duffy looks for a bathroom and instead finds a fellow bound and gagged to a bed. Duffy's shocked when Quarles enters the room while chatting on the phone in a grim gag worthy of David Lynch.

Boyd sells the rotting pot to Limehouse and explains to Devil that it wasn't worth the $5,000 they got for it. Then, with Ava and Arlo, he outlines his own vision of organized crime, which includes “Protection, pills, robbin’ and gamblin’,” but no whores, mostly due to Ava’s objections. Boyd resolves to work smarter than his father. He and Devil next move to reclaim their favorite roadhouse, which has a new owner who's understandably reluctant to share. (Boyd particularly dislikes the Christmas lights.) Devil draws a gun on the owner, but a-ha! Some of the customers whip out guns to protect the owner. Then, double-a-ha! The other customers, clearly on Boyd's payroll, whip out guns on the protectors! Boyd wins the stand-off and the bar. Later, Devil alludes to the personal changes in Boyd’s life and asks, “I just wanna know which Boyd Crowder I’m being asked to follow.” Boyd assures him that his apparent changes — like claiming to have found God after being shot — do not indicate inconsistency or weakness.

After Raylan pays Fogel a visit, Fogel calls Duffy in a panic. The Dixie Mafiosi decide to order Wade to offer to surrender to Raylan and then shoot the Marshall — assuming that Raylan will just shoot Wade, solving their problem. The fugitive arranges to meet Raylan at Wade's house, and Raylan gets there first. Raylan matter-of-factly shares a story about how when he was a boy, his mother faced down and was knocked aside by some brutal strikebreakers, to show how he won't enter a house uninvited. But when Wade looks for the gun, Raylan reveals that he has it, and that he, in fact, did enter the house uninvited, to show how he's capable of violating his own principles.

Raylan pressures Wade to draw out Fogel and his wormy assistant. They both show up at Wade's house, and when Raylan gets the drop on them, they each offer to betray the other. The crooks get so riled up, in fact, that they shoot each other before Raylan can stop them. That night Raylan goes to Duffy's and gives him a neck-stomping thrashing. Quarles, unflappable, asks, “How fast do you think those bullets will be when they’re heading back at you?” Raylan doesn't reply, but merely takes Quarles' picture with his cell-phone. Click.

Small world: James LeGros, who played Wade, starred as Raylan Givens in the 1997 TV movie of Elmore Leonard's Pronto.

I like how Quarles credits the movie Taxi Driver for his spring-loaded wrist holster, which he admits has to be calibrated perfectly. I can see it misfiring spectacularly in a future showdown.

At the hoosegow, a prison guard who looks like a young Powers Boothe tries to shake down Dickie for Mags’ fortune: “You give me that money or your life will take a turn for the dee-sasterous,” the guard says.

I enjoyed lines like "The Greater Lexington area of Kiss My Ass," and "Where else would I be, cornholin' a pig?"

Something interesting about "Justified" is the nature of Raylan's relationships with the criminals. Wade and the rest seldom treat him as just another marshal or law enforcement officer. It's like, Raylan's not an instrument of the criminal justice system, but its embodiment.

frequently sets up a relationship with the criminals he tracks and arrests. They refer to him as "Raylan Givens," not just the long arm of the law. It's amusingly personal.

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