The “previously on Justified” segment that precedes the show made all viewers feel purty’ smart this week, way smarter than Raylan at least. By teasing us with a bunch of Gary backstory and showing a little Wynn leg, it was obvious (even if you hadn’t figured it out from the classy cars last week) that the hit was on Winona and tied to the Frankfort boys rather than on Raylan and having to do with the Bennetts. The “previously on” is a staple of heavily serialized television and sometimes even on not-so serialized television and it is indeed a useful, but here we saw first-hand how it fucks shit up for the devoted, careful-eyed fan. (I recall The Sopranos back in the day using the “previously on” trope in bizarre, hilarious and misdirecting ways, putting old scenes in the quick segment that would have nothing to do with the episode to follow.)
But though we knew where the “who ordered the hit?” storyline was going the whole time, it was not without its pleasures. Knowing ahead of time that it’s Gary’s fault that Winona’s life was in danger made many of his scenes funny and pathetically smarmy, like William H. Macy’s character in Fargo. When he chastises Raylan at the courthouse for putting his ex in harm’s way and his play at being a good host to Rachel and Winona when really he was using them for the free protection helped to make him the most punchable face on the show. Naturally, you want Raylan to call him out in front of Winona, expose him for the little shit he is, but bloodlessly working out Gary’s disappearance with Wynn Duffy is mildly satisfying and cleverly misdirecting enough, I guess.
The Duffy storyline also gave us some nice moments for Tim and Rachel’s characters, folks we haven’t seen get much to do in many weeks. Raylan’s being upfront with Tim about how he’s gonna ditch him and then his follow-through on that promise? Fantastic stuff. Their scenes, in addition to Art’s admitted apathy toward Raylan at the beginning of the episode, show a general distrust of our hero setting in on the US Marshals office, the question being just how Raylan is going to regain it all back by the end of the season.
But we all know that the Nerd has just been fucking stalling this whole article, holding off on talking about the true point of interest for the episode, that being the escalation of the Dickie and Boyd feud. Early in the episode we see Dickie futiley hiring two decidedly non-hardassed dudes onto his crew, being awfully encouraging and swell towards them even though they can’t fight or shoot, being just as positive about his shit position in the underworld as can be. Then Boyd had to come in and steal his weed business and major client, Rodney “Hot Rod” Dunham of Memphis (played by that bearded dude who is in damn near everything ever made), in the most embarrassing fashion ever. But like Boyd said, Dickie himself already reneged on Ma’s deal so all’s fair if Boyd wants to fuck with that deal as well.
But this leads to Dickie really losing it, taking out the two lightweights in his crew when they decide to call it a day following the takeover, Dickie popping them both in the face with an awesome little flourish of his shooting arm. Knowing he can’t go after Boyd directly, he drops in on Helen and Arlo, who he recognized from the heist by his considerable limp. (If anybody knows limps…) Helen ends up (presumably) shot in the fracas, and now I can’t fucking wait till next week to see Raylan get some fucking getback.
But before I go, let’s not short-change Ava and Boyd’s transformation over the last few episodes. We see Boyd loving the bent life like he did when we first met him in the pilot of the series, tonight’s episode even reminding us of his past by prominently displaying his swastika tat in his pillow talk scene with Ava. That he would go so dark again so quickly after so much growth is suprising and exciting for sure, but think about the change in Ava of late. She’s now acting how I’d imagine she did when she first got together with Boyd’s late brother, thrilling on her man’s power and talking over with Helen about how it’s best not to know too much about her boyfriend’s business for safety reasons. But then there’s the scene of her unease when Boyd and the fellas are holed up following the pot heist and her admission that the place holds no fond memories for her. Will she be able to stick it out with Boyd and properly slip into the old rhythm as easily as he has?
That’s alls I gots, Justifans, so lets us both leave the fucking table. Lest you’ve got something to say, in which case, you know, speak your piece below.