Friday, 16 March 2012
'Loose Ends' (Justified, Season 3, Episode 9)
In a sense the episode title is apt. 'Loose Ends' is about unfinished business and the attempts by Delroy (William Mapother), Sheriff Napier (David Andrews) and Ellstin Limehouse to make sure their deeds won't come back to bite them. Like 'Watching the Detectives', the episode has the characters' messes catch up with them. And like that episode, it also moves the plot forward and reveals character in a couple of absolutely outstanding setpieces.
'Loose Ends' opens with Delroy the pimp and his girls bungling a robbery that leaves Krystal (Erin Anderson) dead. Delroy attempts to kill Ellen May (Abby Miller) too, but she seeks shelter with Ava Crowder. Meanwhile, Raylan, told by Art to leave Quarles alone, attempts to track down Tanner Dodd (Brendan McCarthy), the fugitive responsible for the car bomb that put Sheriff Napier ahead in the polls. Boyd, who pointed Raylan in Tanner's direction, seeks to reinvigorate his man Shelby's (Jim Beaver) campaign for Harlan county sheriff.
It all culminates in a terrific setpiece as Boyd crashes a town hall meeting and excoriates Napier for being a 'company man', while stressing his own criminal career began with his arrest for trade union work. It's a scene reminiscent of Mags Bennett's greatest moment of glory in Season Two, and Walton Goggins does as well with it as Margo Martindale did. Portraying a character performing a character isn't easy, and Boyd's speech is obviously disingenuous - his character is not reducible to blue-collar folksiness - but it's rousing all the same, and another of the by now alarmingly regular proofs that keeping Walton Goggins on board beyond the pilot was the best decision Justified ever made.
The other stuff is great too. Ava Crowder's rescue from the Season One scrappy heap continues to do wonders for me, as her transformation into hard-bitten crime queen runs up against her compassion for brutalised women, a product of her own history. Raylan, meanwhile, gets to share a wonderfully written, terrifically acted final scene with Limehouse, in which he proves no match for the butcher. The anger and hurt in Raylan's insistence that Limehouse telling him insulting stories about his mother 'would upset [him]' is something else. All in all, a great episode on the way to what I hope - not against hope, I think - will be a stunning finale.