Wednesday, March 7, 2012

"Justified," Season 3, Episode 8

Posted By on Wed, Mar 7, 2012 at 10:01 AM

WASNT THIS GUY IN GROUNDHOG DAY? Timothy Olyphant and Stephen Tobolowsky
  • Courtesy of FX
  • WASN'T THIS GUY IN 'GROUNDHOG DAY?' Timothy Olyphant and Stephen Tobolowsky
“Get a pen and paper and write down all the shit you shouldn’t’ve done,” a lawyer suggests Raylan do if he wants to know what’s in his official file. This episode, “Watching the Detectives,” shifts focus from the Harlan County power struggle to pause and consider the things that Raylan — and fictional law enforcement officers in general — should and should not do. Having skirted (not to say flouted) police procedure on multiple occasions, Raylan abruptly finds himself held accountable for some of his actions on the season’s smartest, shiftiest episode so far.

“Watching the Detectives” mostly finds Raylan trying to outmaneuver some bogus charges concocted against him. First, Sammy the Junior mob boss (the Godson?) claims Raylan’s in Boyd’s pocket in a phone conversation, knowing the FBI’ll intercept it. More horrifically, Quarles and Duffy pull up to Winona’s old house and remove her ex-husband Gary from the trunk, a hook over his face. They explain that he’s there to send a message to Raylan Givens, and shoot him on the front walk.

Knowing Raylan’s history with Gary and Winona, the Lexington homicide detectives find Raylan to be a likely suspect, especially when they discover Raylan’s fingerprints on a shell-casing they find at the scene. Raylan figures out it was the bullet he threw at Duffy earlier this season, with the remark, “The next one’ll be coming faster.” Raylan just shouldn’t throw his bullets around willy-nilly when crafty crooks can use them against him. (I hope you’ve learned your lesson about keeping track of your belongings, young man.)

Winona shows up at marshal’s office, Raylan gets to tell her that Gary was killed. She asks, "What did he do?” and for a minute, it seems like she believes that Raylan killed him in the line of duty, although I think that comes more from the performance than the dialogue. Homicide officers tell her about Gary’s involvement in the failed hit on Winona and Raylan, and she’s shocked. “I thought if you knew, it’d kill you,” Raylan says. I hope you’ve learned your lesson about keeping secrets, young man.

Then Agent Barkley (Stephen Tobolowsky) barges in: “We’re here about Raylan Givens being a dirty cop.” Barkley even turns suspicion to Art and his beat-down of the witness earlier this year. (Sure are a lot of birds coming home to roost this week.) Art briefly aims corruption question at Raylan, in the episode’s best bit of Elmore Leonard-esque dialogue: “Is it?” “Is that a real question?” “It had a question mark.”

Raylan realizes that the murder weapon might have been planted in his car, and tells Tim he wants to check it out. Tim seems reluctantly to let him go and they have a tense stand-off on elevator — will a fight break out? But Tim lets Raylan leave elevator and take care of business. It turns out, though, that nothing’s in his car beyond his usual shotguns and such. Winona calls, having found the murder weapon at her former home. She gets it out under the police's notices, gives it to Raylan and tells him, “This time, seriously, don’t come find me.” She kind of owed Raylan this one, given her money-theft from last season. Since neither investigation against Raylan has a smoking gun (literally and figuratively), they seem to get shelved by the end of the episode.

What were rural Kentucky's would-be crimelords up to this week? Well, after Quarles & company shot Gary, they went home and were greeted by Limehouse, who informed them that Boyd Crowder has his own candidate for sheriff and adds, “I likes to back the winning side.” The next day Napier, Quarles’s candidate, gets in his squad car, then leaves and the vehicle blows up. Napier and his deputies arrest Boyd and wait for the TV news press to arrive for a perp walk. Boyd, this one time, was innocent — Tanner (the guy who shot up Boyd’s Oxy clinic) planted the bomb with Napier’s knowledge.

A Lexington cop shows up at Quarles’ mostly abandoned residence, but Quarles and Duffy distract him from entering the carpetbagger’s apparently blood-stained bedroom. That night, Duffy paints the room when Raylan walks in. They talk tough a little bit, Duffy remarks that Raylan would never plant evidence and Raylan says, “More like returning evidence.”

At the end of the episode, Sammy tells Quarles that they’re severing his ties with the Detroit Mob, and Quarles almost blasts him with a Bickle-bullet, but thinks better of it. Quarles goes for a ride that night, ducking a call from home (he has a wife and two kids, remember) and takes an Oxy pill. At the end he shows in Noble’s Holler, and tells Limehouse, “You said you like to back the winning side.” So Limehouse is officially playing the ends against the middle.

On Entertainment Weekly’s post-episode interview with Graham Yost, the show creator points out two lines that were improvised on the set: Tim's off-hand, “I mean, she’s older for a Victoria’s Secret girl, but that’s how you know she knows what she’s doing" and the Lexington cop's reaction, "That's one of the coolest things I've ever heard," to Raylan's "The next one'll be coming faster" line.

But speaking of the bullet toss, what’s the legality of a police officer making that kind of physical threat to a suspect? Could Raylan get suspended for that kind of thing?

The episode makes a point of mentioning that a suspicious character was hanging around Raylan’s trunk, but the Lexington police find no evidence, planted or otherwise, so that must have been a red herring.

Character actor and raconteur Stephen Tobolowsky has a podcast.

Raylan suggests that Duffy will get pulled down in the whirlpool when Quarles fails, and Duffy quips, "I believe they disproved that on 'Mythbusters.'" Zing!

Country crooner Lynda Kay does a wonderful job at the top of the episode with “Jack and Coke” at the honkytonk. Raylan admits to Art that he’s been drinking more than usual. At times “Justified” unfolds like country & western song tropes playing in the early 21st century.

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