Thursday 23 February 2012

'When the Guns Come Out' (Justified, Season 3, Episode 6)

'When the Guns Come Out' is a breather episode dealing with the aftermath of the fairly momentous happenings of 'The Devil You Know' and 'Thick as Mud'. But it's far from filler: the episode allows us to get to know our hero better, brings back some of the Justified's trademark humour, and pushes the plot forward in ways that will surely pay off down the line. It isn't particularly suspenseful, but I can deal with that.

But before we get to all that: Tim is back! I've complained repeatedly about Jacob Pitts being absent from Justified for much of this season, seeing it as a general problem the show has with ignoring some of its recurring characters to focus on colourful one-offs. And while Tim Gutterson is a one-scene wonder here, he popped in just to remind me why I kind of love his character: he's wry, pragmatic and not in awe of Raylan, to whom he may well feel superior. (And as a marshal, he probably is.)

In 'When the Guns Come Out', one of Boyd's travelling oxycontin clinics is hit by gunmen who kill two men and a working girl, but her colleague manages to survive unnoticed by the murderers. Boyd and Ava, realising that Quarles, the obvious suspect, is too smart to make such a move, suspect Ellstin Limehouse. Meanwhile, Raylan has to cope with Winona's departure at the end of 'Thick as Mud', and we see an angry, hurt man whose request for some time off is not initially granted by Art, who wants him to sort out the oxy situation in Harlan.

The oxy plot never gets too tense: there's no real sense of danger as Raylan faces down the gunmen, although the episode also features one of Justified's best action sequences, in which Raylan and a criminal wrestle in a moving trailer. Instead, the episode reveals character: Raylan, who channels his heartbreak into suspecting Winona of theft; Winona herself, who has accepted she cannot raise her child around Raylan's job; Boyd and Ava, calculating but perhaps overmatched; and Limehouse, who sees his caution - always being in the know, not openly waging war lest white people threaten his holler - threatened by a hotheaded subordinate. And then there's the hilarious final twist, one of the most fun moments on this show in quite some time. No complaints from me, no sir.

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