“Crystal was a soldier!” Delray declares (I wonder if she was named after her drug of choice). “She knew the risks and would want us to… soldier on.” Yes, we saw what you did there. Delray and the other call girls dump Crystal’s count in a slurry pit — and given the body count on this show, I’m surprised they didn’t have to take a number. Afterwards, Delray decides to ensure silence by killing the prostitutes, but one of them gets away. It turns out she’s Ellen Mae, Ava’s friend from before.
Speaking of Ava, she shows up at the honky-tonk where Raylan spends his off-hours, and he plants a boozy kiss on her. (Hey, Winona just broke up with him — what’s he supposed to do, NOT have sex?) She’s not there for Raylan, but acting on behalf of Boyd, of course, and seems to have no illusions about Boyd’s criminal nature: “I’m not tryin’ to change ’im, I’m tryin’ to help ’im.” Raylan visits Boyd, in the lock-up on trumped up charges for bombing Sheriff Napier’s car, and Boyd fingers Tanner for various crimes, including, probably, the bombing.
Speaking of Sheriff Napier, Quarles shows up in Noble’s Holler to ensure that his election gets fixed. He drops his g’s like Mitt Romney campaigning through a Southern state, and smiles with hilarious insincerity as Limehouse praises “Shoo-Fly Pie.” Quarles can’t just drop off a suitcase full of money, but must hire a “campaign manager” who knows all the ins and outs of local graft. He gives Quarles an amusingly convoluted lesson in how to bribe his way to electoral victory.
The scene about the complication of a county sheriff’s campaign is part of a through-line on “Loose Ends” about the pressures to abide by the rules. Raylan gets caught up by the rules at the beginning of the episode, when his boss orders him to drop the investigation into Quarles’ rent-boys if he doesn’t have any hard evidence. Later, when Ellen Mae shows up on Ava’s door, Ava learns one of the rules of the underworld: since Delray pays protection to the Crowders, the criminal code of conduct suggests that instead of acting against Delray, the Crowders should turn Ellen Mae over to him, even though she’ll be killed. Even the mother of fugitive Tanner Dodd knows the rules of dealing with cops. When Raylan comes by looking for Tanner and acting all smooth, she at first seems completely addle-minded, but balks at cooperating: “The first time some no-dick lawman came around ran that line on me, Tanner was 10 years old.”
The rules, however, only stay in place when people agree to abide by them. With an excuse to track down Tanner, Raylan finds an opportunity to keep investigating Quarles, given their connection. Ava seems to be prepared to turn Ellen Mae to Delray, going so far as to demand a “finder’s fee” for her. There’s another unnerving scene with Ava binding Ellen Mae’s wrists together and pointing a rifle at her, as she marches her to meet Delray. Instead, Ava shoots Delray and, off-camera, disposes of the body with Ellen Mae’s help. We never really thought Ava would betray her friend, but Ava surprises us later by suggesting to Boyd that she take over Delray’s business running the prostitutes. She might be turning into one of those reluctant-criminal female characters from “Breaking Bad” or “Boardwalk Empire.”
Tanner finds himself on the wrong side of angry men much smarter and more powerful than he is, including Napier, Limehouse and Quarles — I honestly lost track of who was plotting to double-cross whom. It ends up with Tanner and Limehouse’s lieutenant, Errol, attempting to rob a backwoods bomb maker, only Tanner stands on a mine that’ll explode if he moves. Tanner and Errol tensely point their guns at each other, but Errol flees with the money, promising to call the cops. Which he apparently does, and Raylan arrives at the same time as the ATF bomb tech. Raylan quizzes Tanner about his criminal activities, but Tanner confirms nothing and drops his gun, arming the mine. “I’m going to get the robot,” the bomb tech says, fleeing the building. Raylan leaves too, and Ka-boom! So long, Tanner.
The contenders for sheriff field questions at a public meeting and Napier ridicules Boyd’s candidate (I think of him as Ellsworth, from the actor’s “Deadwood” character) for working as a greeter at a big box store. Boyd comes in and delivers an impromptu speech about Napier looking like a “company man” and harking back to the fateful miners’ strikes: “I know that you weren’t there, Mr. Napier, but there were a lot of men you looked like you.” You know, gun thugs. Boyd rallies the crowd against Napier.
Raylan runs a couple of errands that night. Errol drops off the money he owed Tanner to Tanner’s mother, not realizing that Raylan was there, too. Raylan realizes that Tanner had connections to both Quarles and Limehouse, and goes to pay a visit to the Butcher’s Holler BBQ joint. Raylan presses Limehouse to give up Quarles, but Quarles refuses to play along, and instead mentions how he perfectly recalls giving Raylan’s father a beating, and hints that he could reveal an unpleasant secret about Raylan’s late mother. With no moves to play, Raylan exits the game.
In the opening scene, Raylan hid the gun used to kill Gary somewhere in his room, but it was so dark, I couldn’t tell where. Under the window? Beneath a floorboard?
The debate scene unmistakably evoked last season’s big town meeting, which featured Mags Bennett’s memorable stemwinder against the coal company. I like to think that instead of imitating itself, “Justified” was showing that Boyd learned from her how to work a crowd.
Old guys get the best lines this week. Raylan asks “You been checkin’ up on me?” and Art replies, “Yes! Duh!” And when Tanner robs the old bomb-maker, he says, “You do anything squirrelly, you get a bullet in the back of your head!” and the bomb-maker, magnificently unimpressed, says “Uh-huh.”
Speaking of Elmore Leonard’s Raylan, the only major plot in the book that hasn’t yet emerged on “Justified” involves a hot coed who happens to be an aspiring professional poker player. I wonder if this character will show up before the end of Season 3, perhaps to take Raylan’s mind off Winona?
Lynyrd Skynyrd playing at the bar when Raylan meets Ava. Whoo-hoo! Skynyrd!
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