This week gave us yet another episode where the writers attempted to somewhat de-mythologize the awesomeness of Raylan Givens. “Hatless” gave us a half-cocked Raylan, one whose chivalry is misplaced at best and plain old fucking stupid at worst. The episode was bookended with Raylan encountering a couple drunks at a bar, first fighting the twosome over an over-heard sexist remark only to lose his hat, second time around getting his hat back through non-violent, sober means. But though Raylan didn’t have to beat some ass to get his ten-gallon back, did he really learn anything during the time that passed between the confrontations?
“Hatless” didn’t concern itself with police matters in the least, opting to, as I had predicted earlier in the season, give Raylan some shit to do on his forced vacation following Vasquez’s investigation into his multiple shootings. But though the episode had nothing to do with the Crowder storyline, it did put to bed the Duffy shit that perked up my boner last week. It was a solid episode, but though it addressed shit from earlier episodes, it still felt relatively disposable – a sad turn after last week’s especially kick ass episode.
It turned out that Winona’s husband Gary owed Duffy’s employer Arnett a solid chunk of change over a development deal, money that he was having trouble paying back. But instead of just tackling these events head on, we got a whole bunch of piddly shit that didn’t really matter, like Gary hiring ex-NFL star named Toby to be his back-up for when he tells Duffy he doesn’t have any money. Granted, you don’t want to make “dude owes a dude money” much more complicated than it needs to be, but adding a cool character simply because you can’t fill up forty-five minutes with the story you came up with seemed sort of cheap. If they needed to pad the episode out, why not let us hang out with the characters we already know a bit more? Toby was a decent character, but he didn’t even pay off in an interesting way – a dude we didn’t even know just got beat up. Who gives a shit?
Duffy proved an awesome bad guy, though I was hoping to get a number of episodes with him instead of just two. Also, the final confrontation between Arnett, Duffy, Raylan and Gary was pretty clever, a nicely down-played climax proving that for Arnett it came down to dollars and cents more than being nefarious – a position that Duffy could gain no percentage of, thus making him irrationally pissed and getting his ass shot.
Yet like I said, what struck me most about “Hatless” was Raylan’s straight-up un-coolness. He defends the honor of some woman he’s never met while drunk in the first minutes of the story, then gets his ass soundly handed to him. Then he sticks his nose into business that is no longer his to stick it in (ha!) with his ex-wife for the rest of the episode, though he’s sobered up enough to realize he can think his way through the situation rather than shoot it out (as evidenced by the “just give him the property” shrug of a resolution). He uses a similar tactic to get his hat back in the end, appealing to their sense of decency, but also letting them know he’s capable of some shit within sajd appeal. Whether getting his hat back symbolizes getting his dick/dignity back or simply his ability to police properly is up to your interpretatio, but still, I’d say he was humbled and learned from his mistakes somewhat in “Hatless.”
After this fun but lazy, breather-ish episode I hope next week we get back to the Crowder story. Yeah, it was nice learning some more about Ray and Winona’s relationship, but the Duffy story really didn’t pay off as strongly as I was hoping for. Shit, after his major fuck-up, what do you think will happen with Gary and Winona’s relationship? Think Winona will run to her burly protector Raylan toot-fucking-sweet?