We find Raylan shacking up in the back room of a bar and paying the rent by working as a bouncer, a detail from Elmore Leonard’s novel Raylan. While the hotties at the bar tease Raylan for his age, Robert Quarles unexpectedly shows up in a black leather jacket and propositions him: “Whatever Boyd Crowder’s paying you, I’ll double it.” Raylan’s extremely ticked off that Quarles assumes that his history with Boyd means corruption, and deflects the mobsters offer. He also reveals that Quarles’ “propensity for tooling up male hustlers” has sent him into “exile” in rural Kentucky. That guy Quarles has trussed up in the bedroom apparently isn’t his first.
Raylan shows up at Boyd’s bar, sucker-punches Boyd and smacks around the guy in the wheelchair — how heroic! He expresses his fury to Boyd that Quarles thinks he’s a corrupt cop, and Boyd deadpans “Well, I can see how that might be very upsetting.” (Goggins deadpans his dialogue like nobody’s business.) Boyd also confirms his belief that Quarles is a carpetbagger and that Southerners shouldn’t turn on each other.
At the Marshal’s office, Raylan snarls, “I want to bury that long-toothed albino-lookin’ sonofabitch,” and spends the episode hectoring his co-worker Tim for leads in pursuing Quarles’ connections, as well as to cover Raylan’s regular casework. Tim doesn’t disguise his irritation, but helps Raylan anyway, and reports that the Detroit boss’s son Sammy Tonin (Max Perlich) is in Frankfurt to keep tabs on Quarles.
Tim reluctantly uses an FBI pal to reveal Sammy’s whereabouts, and urges Raylan to be discrete. “I’m not gonna grab his nutsack or any other part of him,” Raylan protests. Raylan can spill Quarles’ misdeeds to the gangster, the FBI intercept him. The area FBI boss (Stephen Tobolowsky) chews out Raylan and Tim for interfering with their surveillance, and Tim majorly regrets helping Raylan out. Will Raylan’s disrespectful treatment of his fellow law enforcers have long-term consequences? Probably not. Will the FBI/Sammy subplot continue? I hope so — Perlich and Tobolowsky are great character actors.
“The Man Behind the Curtain” doesn’t build to big shoot-outs or revelations, but entertainingly resets the game and adds some new players. Quarles bribes crooked Sheriff Napier to be an ally while the mobster pursues a scheme of lowering the price of Oxy in Harlan County, which can be expected to reduce crime and have other win-win-win benefits. At Quarles’ bidding, Napier shuts down Boyd’s bar on minor technicalities. Boyd has his own crooked cop, but Quarles’ sheriff trumps him. Boyd goes to Noble’s Holler to express his displeasure at Limehouse, who didn’t warn him about the crooked cop.
Limehouse mostly lays low this week. His lieutenant Errol (he has a name!) catches Dodd — the fugitive who robbed Boyd’s Oxy clinic last week — and threatens to butcher him up. Limehouse instead makes Dodd promise to claim credit for the robbery to Quarles, and keep Errol’s involvement secret. Errol also cold-cocks Arlo, who shows up in Noble’s Holler off his meds and calling for his dead wife, in a replay of the scene from their youth. Raylan, incidentally, couldn’t care less about his dad; it’s like Boyd has become Arlo’s surrogate son and keeper.
Back at the A-plot, Raylan sneaks onto a racetrack to have a word with Sammy. The FBI are on the lookout for him, and one questions their competence, given that he’s still walking around in that white Stetson. (You’d think Raylan would at least dress as a jockey to go undercover.) When he finally confronts Sammy, the wormy mob princeling thinks Raylan’s one of Quarles’ hired goons. Raylan and Sammy realize that Quarles is their common enemy, so Raylan finds a pretext to shut down Quarles’ neighborhood Oxy clinic, and the mobster cuts off Quarles’ financial support.
Seeking leverage against Raylan, Quarles goes to Tulsa. Why? Because that’s where Winona’s ex-husband has landed, and he holds a hilariously unpersuasive seminar about the secrets of buying and selling foreclosed properties. Talking to Quarles, the ex extols the power of building up personal connections, but gets a refresher in his old connections to the criminal element when Wynn Duffy shows up. Presumably the ex will sic Quarles on Winona, and Raylan will go rogue as a cop on the edge. Even more roguey and edgy than he usually is.
Speaking of character actors, “Deadwood’s” Jim Beaver returns, reprising his role as the oil company security guard. He was apparently fired after the attempted robbery and works as “a greeter,” presumably at a Wal-Mart-type superstore, but Boyd suggests that he could run against Napier as Sheriff of Harlan County, and thus give Boyd some juice with the local cops. A crooked sheriff’s election could provide a lively subplot.
This episode reveals the skeleton (or bound and tortured rentboy) in Quarles’ closet. Although Raylan makes a vaguely gay-baiting remark to Quarles, “You’re more of a wood-wind man,” mobsters and law enforcers alike seem less concerned with his sexuality than his indiscrete sadism.
Twice on this episode, lawmen use minor legal infractions against criminal figures, and in each case, they seem like temporary solutions to serious problems.
I wonder if local law enforcement, in real life, refers to the FBI as “The Feebs?”
The racetrack scenes instantly reminded me of HBO’s “Luck,” although I actually haven’t seen any of “Luck” yet.
I wonder if Theodore Tonin, the boss of the Detroit Mob, will show up on “Justified,” or if he’ll remain a distant figure in the shadows.
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