Wednesday 11 April 2012

'Coalition' (Justified, Season 3, Episode 12)

'Coalition' features something we haven't seen in a while: Raylan being totally awesome. In the last couple of episodes, Marshal Givens not only became a bit player, but was regularly one step behind the ever-shifting criminal goings-on. 'Coalition' gives him a chance to do what he does best, even if there's a bitter aftertaste as Raylan realises he may merely be doing Ellstin Limehouse's dirty work for him.

'Measures' ended with Boyd Crowder at last capturing Robert Quarles. In 'Coalition', the Detroit man finds himself naked and shackled - much like his victims - and guarded by some of Ava's prostitutes. Alas, Boyd's people prove no match for Quarles, who manages to flee and, now desperate and friendless, seeks asylum with Limehouse in Noble's Holler.

Limehouse - whom we now recognise as the smartest player around, and thus the most dangerous - knows exactly what to do with Quarles. You see, Dickie Bennett and Limehouse's man Errol (Demetrius Grosse) have joined with Boyd Crowder and his gang to rob the bank where they believe Limehouse keeps Mags Bennett's money. If he'll wait outside and blast away at Boyd's men, Limehouse assures Quarles, all his debts will be forgiven.

Meanwhile, the fragile alliance between Wynn Duffy and Boyd is fracturing as Duffy realises the dangers inherent in Quarles's escape. In parallel, Raylan is working with state trooper Tom Bergen (Peter Murnik) and his men to foil the robbery, untangle the mess of people trying to kill each other, and bring in Dickie Bennett by intercepting his attempt to take the money from Loretta (Kaitlyn Dever).

That 'Coalition' does not end in the bank robbery everyone is preparing for is the episode's smartest move, symptomatic of this season's twists and turns. The return of the great Loretta McCready - whose teenage exterior belies her tough nature - provides an elegant and emotionally resonant way of wrapping up the mystery of Mags's money. (And how great is it that much of this season's plotline follows directly from Season Two, Justified having dispensed with the reset button?) A season highlight, 'Coalition' sets us up for one hell of a finale.

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