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February 22, 2012 - 7:02pm

'Justified' RECAP: The oxy wars continue and a heartbroken Raylan gets mad

BY KAYLA UPADHYAYA AND KAVI SHEKHAR PANDEY

FX

FX's original country-crime drama “Justified” and its leading lawman Raylan Givens are back for a third season. Daily Arts's Kayla Upadhyaya and Kavi Shekhar Pandey recap “When the Guns Come Out.”

Kayla: It would have been hard to top last week’s brilliant episode, but “When the Guns Come Out” still managed to impress, mainly by focusing in on some aspects of the Harlan power battle that we haven’t had much time with this season. Namely: Limehouse. I thought the development we got for this character this week certainly makes him the more complex and compelling villain than blue-eyed, sadistic Quarles. And we also got more of Raylan this week than we have in a while.

Kavi: Right, it was an interesting juxtaposition too — Quarles got even more insane this episode. Doing violent things to a man tied up in a bed one minute and chillaxing on the porch the next. The most startling revelation about Limehouse for me is that he’s scared. Imposing villains like Limehouse aren’t supposed to be cowardly, but he acts cautious out of fear losing his community. Also, enough with Limehouse cutting meat while getting mad already. We get it, the butcher knife is intimidating.

Kayla: Yeah, I definitely feel like the show still ascribes Limehouse to these somewhat cliched scenes, like the butcher knife ones. But they certainly did a great job of making him seem less like a villain and more like a person just trying to ensure the survival of his community. He doesn’t want to just take over the entire oxy bizz in Harlan — he knows that such a goal would place the people of Holler at risk and incite racial violence. He’s much smarter than his associate dude who orchestrated the hit on Boyd’s oxy clinic (although, I imagine that did take considerable smarts ... and I'm still not 100% sure as to the details of he set it up, but I suppose that’s not too important). And like you said, the show only demonized Quarles more this week, making it seem rather impossible that this man has any human qualities at all. When Duffie looks like an upstanding individual ... something is definitely WRONG. I did love the bizarre moment after Duffie called Quarles “boss.”

Kavi: Yeah, the shot made sure to feature an eye exam on the fridge? Not a typical home decoration, so was the show trying to tell us something about Quarles? Or was it just another prop to accentuate is insanity?
 
Kayla: I noticed that too ... “Justified” writers are known for their unbelievable attention to detail, so I hope it meant something.

Kavi: Speaking of the writers, just when I think they can’t top themselves in the construction of the “Justified” community, they do it. They brought back Stephen Root as “The Hammer” judge for a brief scene, the random prostitute from two episodes last season (I must confess, I didn't remember her character), and Charlie the evidence locker guy. The way characters are beginning to flow in and out of seasons and episodes is making Harlan come alive. “Parks and Recreation” does a similar thing with the goofballs that populate Pawnee, and that’s one of the reasons I adore it so.

Kayla: Well put. The continuity of “Justified” is impeccable, and it’s much more impressive for a show to recycle small characters here and there than to just invite new ones in every week. It makes us forge connections even with the smallest of characters and, like you said, brings Harlan to life. And in a show like this where the setting is so crucial to the stories, that’s important. Let’s talk about our favorite U.S. Marshal. Like I said, we saw much more of him this week than we have been seeing lately. As for me, I’m very glad that the Winona arc has finally taking a definitive turn. Instead of her always being so hot and cold with Raylan, she has made her decision. She can’t raise her baby around a man who is in constant danger. How exactly they will move forward is unclear, but at least they’ll be moving forward.

Kavi: Right, and as we mentioned last week we get to see a new side of Raylan. We’ve witnessed Supremely Pissed Off Raylan, Insoucient Raylan, and now it’s Heartbroken Raylan. He’s sarcastic and hilarious as ever, but his dialouge seemed terse and he was a little extra violent — his scene with Delroy the Pimp encapsulated it all. And Delroy the Pimp was great! Keep the “Lost” guest stars coming, please.

Kayla: The way he was talking to Winona’s sister frightened me a bit, too. Did you know that the actor who played Delroy is Tom Cruise’s cousin? Fun fact. I also love that the show is finally making Ava a part of things. And I liked Boyd’s investigative work. He knew that jumping to the conclusion that Quarles hit his clinic was too easy. Granted, he never was able to tie it to Limehouse’s guy, but he still knew something was up.

Kavi: Ethan from “Lost” is Tom Cruise’s cousin? Somebody hoarded all the attractive genes. But I want to get back to Ava and the treatment of women in this episode. Ava takes control and TCB in lieu of Boyd, even though the head of the whorehouse turns out to be a man. +1 for women empowerment. But then you have the scene of Delroy beating Ellen May. I think it was pretty clear that he was going to hurt her, but the show still chooses to include a shot of the punch, complete with a sickening "thwak". Am I the only one that thought it was too much?
 
Kayla: It was hard for me to watch, too. One of my consistent complaints about “Justified” is the way it treats its women. Women are always portrayed as victims on the show. This was even true for Ava up until recently. Winona isn’t always shown as a victim, but the show has definitely confined her to Raylan’s domestic/home life. The only time she really left that sphere was with the tampering with evidence side plot (and I’m not so happy that storyline has reopened again). I know the show strives for a sense of realism, and I respect that, but I agree that the scene with Ellen May was too much.

Kavi: Yeah I wasn't sure if the Chris Brown/Rihanna resurgence just had me in a tizzy. Also notice how Ava still needs Raylan’s help to talk to Ellen May. When he shows up, she doesn’t really do anything. As for the evidence locker storyline — I actually think it’s closed for good, with Charlie driving off into the distance. Bizarre ending for sure.

Kayla: It was ... I actually did a double take when they started rolling the “next week on ‘Justified’ ” clips because I didn’t realize it was the final scene. But if that story is over for good, then I am content. And yes, you’re right about Ava ultimately needing Raylan’s help. I feel like that happens just about any time any of the female characters of “Justified” steps up, and itis troubling. Hopefully that’s an area of the show that will improve.

Kavi: Yes, and we shouldn’t end on a down note, so how about that trailer scene? Most elaborate action set-piece in “Justified” so far, if I’m not wrong. Michael Bay should direct an episode of “Justified.” Or better yet, James Cameron.

Kayla: Ha, I know you’re just saying that because you are oh so aware of my James Cameron hatred, but yes the trailer scene was awesome. I love that the show is finding more creative ways for Raylan to take down the bad guys instead of him just drawing and shooting first. We had that brilliant tablecloth maneuver, the time he ran over the guard twice and now a moving trailer, topsy-turvy fight scene that reminded me a bit of the “Inception” no-gravity scene. Hey, maybe Christopher Nolan could direct an episode of “Justified!”

Kavi: That hack? As if. Maybe on Opposite Day.