Friday 23 March 2012

'Guy Walks Into a Bar' (Justified, Season 3, Episode 10)

'Guy Walks Into a Bar' is a very good episode, and yet I didn't like it. I suppose that happens sometimes. I can't pinpoint anything particularly wrong with it, except that as a character episode it feels like stalling in the build-up to what is bound to be a very busy finale. But it's a good showcase for Robert Quarles, so I don't quite know what the hell my problem is. A weak B-plot, perhaps; but we'll get to that.

In 'Guy Walks Into a Bar', the election for Harlan County sheriff comes to a head. Napier wins by numbers, but Boyd Crowder manages to smuggle Napier's sister (Bonnie Borroughs) into a position at the county clerk's office, leading to the incumbent's disqualification thanks to nepotism laws. An angry Robert Quarles, taunted by Boyd and advised to leave Harlan by Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns), decides to confront Raylan at the bar where the marshal works as a bouncer while flirting with the owner, Lindsey Salazar (Jenn Lyon).

Meanwhile, Dickie Bennett (Jeremy Davies) is about to be released on early parole. Raylan attempt to keep him in jail by persuading Jed Berwind (Richard Speight Jr.) to change his testimony exonerating Dickie from Aunt Helen's murder fails, so it's back to Plan B: give a convincing personal testimony in front of Judge Reardon (Stephen Root) to convince him Dickie shouldn't be released.

That second plot strand is a bit of a drag, frankly. The Quarles storyline - in which we learn of the man's depressing life of heroin addiction, child prostitution, and parricide - is much better. The standoff between Raylan and Quarles in Lindsey's bar, featuring the by now customary shotgun-wielding woman as a third party, is as taut as anything this season; and seeing Quarles unravel mentally into a lost man with nothing but vengeance on his mind was worth it. The Detroit man's comeuppance will be satisfying, I hope.

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