Not a whole lot of shit in “Thick as Mud” pushing the season arc forward (though there were some small developments on that front, surely) but the throwaway story more than made up for it, far as I’m concerned. Then again, something about major surgery in a shitty motel has always gave the Nerd a chill down his spine, the urban legend of waking up in a dirty bathtub packed with ice and some fresh scars long been an irrational fear I keep locked down tight in the brain basement. So when the male nurse guy laid out Dewey’s options for him, that unless he got twenty grand for him in just a few hours, (very Crank-esque premise), I was more hooked into that story that I normally would be. (Well, that and who doesn’t want Dewey to keep popping up on the show?)
After some botched robberies and a run-in with convenience store owner with a shotgun behind the counter and low-tolerance for blasphemy, Dewey’s trapped in a closet and busted by Raylan. (Anybody else feel mildly embarrassed that they were duped into thinking the male nurse was being straight with Dewey about how kidney failure worked?) Then Raylan realizes the nurse he’d talked to earlier was shady, goes and visits her, ends up drugged by the needle-happy male nurse and dragged into a bathtub. She betrays the male nurse, guy falls in the tub, Raylan shoots the nurse through the male nurse, case closed. (I keep thinking the writers are done coming up with cool twists on the stand-off convention but I am gladly continually surprised.)
Afterward, Raylan is shaken up by the killing, his first woman, apparently. Even though he and Winona have a talk early in the episode about how she has resigned herself to the fact that she can’t change him, his talk with Art makes it seem like maybe that shooting instructor at Glencoe situation might come up again. But then we close out the episode with Raylan reading a Dear John, a development that will most likely on further plunge Raylan into work instead of taking him out of it. I had been wondering what they were doing with Winona this season, was curious why she didn’t give him shit after the first episode of the season that put both her, the baby and Raylan in jeopardy. She apparently had an endgame in mind, looks like, but I doubt we’ve seen the last of her.
Speaking of relationships, we got to see Ava give a nice little Lady MacBeth speech to Boyd after he’s down in the dumps following Devil’s betrayal and murder. (My fears about Arlo being talked about a lot but not seen were put to bed this week as he helps Boyd bury Devil and then challenge Boyd’s ability to lead.) With the help of her confidence boost, Boyd kicks Tanner’s ass and gets Quarles’ attention. Quarles swings by the bar, then proposes a partnership. Boyd brings up the history of carpetbaggery and Quarles, ever so fucking coolly, lets him know that history will not change with him, that the Northern boys will get all the money while the Southern ones will do all the work.
But while Boyd and Quarles may be very aware of one another, neither knows that Limehouse is getting into this fight too, at the moment through an informant who is dating Tanner. What Limehouse’s move will be we can’t know yet, but his lurking in the shadows and ripping off the Bennetts promises to pay off in an interesting way sometime soon. His whole thing about betrayal came up again this episode in the beginning when his right hand man was pointing out that too many people know about the Bennett money, making me curious when that whole paranoia angle is gonna finally hit as well.
No sign of Dickie or Loretta this week but that was probably to be expected (it’s unclear where either of their storylines are headed at this point) but we got to check in on the three major bad guys and watch a pretty cool single episode plot as well. All in all, what more do you want from a first-half-of-the-season episode of Justified? Interesting, isn’t it, how the show still follows the same formula after now three seasons with these characters: first half of the season there’s a new disposable story to dominate every episode while the players of the main arc is set up around the edges of the episode, second half of the season everything’s serialized. I used to have a problem with that but now I enjoy it, wish more cop shows would try something similar to bridge the gap between Breaking Bad fans and, say, NCIS fans.