Justified – The Gunfighter
Grab a can of Kentucky fried whoopass, gents. Justified is back! After the mind numbingly awesome season last year, Justified made its much awaited return to FX last night. And "The Gunfighter" didn't waste any time in getting down to business. For those of you with a fuzzy memory, season 2 left us with Raylan Givens (apparently unable to sweet talk his way out of a bullet) being shot after a dramatic confrontation with the Bennetts. To keep things short, Mags Bennett is dead and so is Doyle. As for Dickie, he's cooling off his heels in prison, but we'll get to him later. Is everybody up to speed? Perfect. Now onto the good stuff!
It's been three weeks since Raylan's shooting and our hero is still in the process of getting his bearings back. But Harlan County and its neighbors are a restless bunch, and Raylan has an uncanny knack of being in the thick of things. The death of Mags Bennett was the final step in the downfall of the Bennett clan, and while most of her assets have been seized by the authorities, a sizable chunk is still missing along with an even more sizable amount of marijuana. One guess as to who might have taken it. It was probably Raylan's first order of business to bring Boyd in for questioning. Justified is known for its crisp and witty dialogue, and any conversation between Raylan and Boyd is bound to be a mouth watering scene. The fact that the two ended up beating the crap out of each other was an added bonus! So with Boyd temporarily out of commission after his tussle with Raylan, the job of getting rid of all the weed they stole from the Bennetts fell into the 'capable' hands of Devil, Arlo, and a convalescent Ava. However, Ava has made her intentions pretty clear. Until Boyd gets back, there's a new Queen Bee in town. And it required a frying pan to the face for Devil to realize that. As for Boyd, it's more than a likely possibilty that his fistfight with Raylan was just a ruse to close in on the one that got away, Dickie Bennett. Did you notice the twinkle in Boyd's eye when he spotted Dickie in prison? An even more exciting theory is that both Raylan and Boyd orchestrated the whole thing! Remember, Dickie shot Ava AND killed Helen last season. Boyd is twisted enough to hold a grudge, but Helen's death might have hurt Raylan a lot more than he's making us believe.
This episode also introduced us to the big baddie of the season, a dapper and manipulative sociopath from Detroit named Robert Quarles (portrayed by Neal McDonough. Finally! A role he can sink his teeth into!). You remember Emmitt Arnett? Yeah, he's dead. It didn't take long for Quarles to establish that he means business. Justified is a treasure trove of memorable characters and Quarles already made the shortlist for coolest villain ever. Or maybe I'm still mesmerized by the awesome sleeve gun he was carrying. Speaking of cool villains, Emmitt (before he got his head blown off) enlisted the services of Fletcher "The Ice Pick" Nix to steal a set of expensive watches in order to pay off his debt to Quarles (or to be more specific, his employers). Fletcher (played by Dexter's Desmond Harrington) it seems, is called "The Ice Pick" for a reason. In what was a jaw dropping moment, "The Ice Pick" gave us a demonstration of his talents. But if you thought that scene blew your mind, the showdown between Raylan and "The Ice Pick" was a stroke of TV brilliance, reminiscent of the very first episode of the series where Raylan shot Tommy Buckley. Raylan's subsequent remark about ruining Winona's tablecloth simply established that in season 3, the best is definitely yet to come.
- Can you honestly envision Raylan Givens as a family man? At the cost of being a buzzkill, I don't think I can. Something tells me that it's only a matter of time before Raylan and Winona's plan to settle down receives an unexpected wet sock to the face.
- Have we seen the last of "The Ice Pick"? I hope not. He was too cool to be a one-off character. I'd rather see the last of Joey Quinn.
- If the promos for season 3 were even remotely accurate, Boyd should be out of prison in no time. The question is, how long will Dickie keep breathing? And which side is Dewey Crowe going to be on? Not that it makes a difference. It's Dewey Crowe.
- When was the last time Raylan paid Arlo a visit? If all that weed was indeed sitting in Arlo's house for three weeks, the conversation between the two would have been an awkward one. That WAS Arlo's house, right?
- I was thrilled to see Wynn Duffy again! As the newest member of Quarles' posse (I'm guessing he has one), let's hope we see a lot more of him. Raylan still owes him a 'conversation'.
It's rare for a television show to captivate the audience which such uniformity. As a series, Justified knows what it is and doesn't try to skirt the boundaries it has so delicately created. Tuesday cannot come soon enough!