Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: guy walks into a bar, threatens to shoot a US Marshal, the bartender pulls a shotgun, kicks his ass out and then has sex with the Marshal!
Before we get to that punchline, we have a bit of business to take care of, like the actual episode. Let’s begin with Shelby, Boyd’s new-sheriff-in-town-waiting-to-be-elected, who is paid a nocturnal visit by a couple of Napier’s
henchmen deputies. Shelby catches them in the act of trying to plant…something…in his truck and comes out of his house with a shotgun. The deputies threaten to shoot him, instead, and he tells them to go ahead – he’s just been diagnosed with liver cancer and has only a few months to live so he might as well go out in a blaze of glory. Feeling a bit sorry for the old man, they slink off into the night. Later Shelby recounts this little story to Boyd and admits that he lied about having cancer. Johnny points out that things could get even messier in the race for sheriff and mentions that Napier has a sister who might be used for leverage. He offers to take care of the sister himself, but Boyd decides that he’ll handle the situation. He pays a visit to Limehouse, who introduces him to the County Clerk – who happens to be the man in charge of Quarles’s efforts to buy the Harlan County Sheriff election. They’re all one big happy family! Except, not.
Dickie Bennett, meanwhile, is about to be released from prison and Raylan is not happy about that. He pays a visit to Judge Reardon (hello, Stephen Root!) to ask him, as the presiding judge, to delay the release, but despite acknowledging that Dickie is that last floating turd that won’t flush, there’s nothing the judge can do to keep him in prison.
Having found out where Sheriff Napier’s sister, Hannah, lives, Boyd pays her an unexpected visit. She thinks he’s going to hurt her to make a point (and frankly, so did I) but once again, Boyd does the unexpected. Far from being there to cause her harm, he has instead come to offer her a job.
Raylan is not giving up on keeping Dickie in jail and pays AUSA Vasquez a visit to see if as the Commonwealth’s attorney, there’s anything he can do. There isn’t, but Vasquez does suggest that Raylan testify that Dickie hung him upside down from a tree and used him for batting practice.
Then it’s election day in Harlan County, and Ava’s working girls are busy exercising their constitutional right to vote while offering blow jobs and hand jobs to the men of Harlan County if they vote the way Boyd wants them to vote. While they’re discussing strategy Boyd finds out that Dickie Bennett is about to be released from jail.
Raylan is still trying to keep Dickie locked up. He has Jed brought in from federal prison and offers him a deal: testify against Dickie Bennett and get a softer sentence. Jed tells Raylan a story about an uncle of his getting on the wrong side of the Bennett family until his grandmother and Mags Bennett brokered a truce between the families. Jed draws his line in the sand – if his grandmother talks about the Bennetts, he’ll turn on Dickie. Obviously Raylan has to pay a visit to Grandma. Unfortunately, the old lady had a stroke and can only communicate by pointing to letters and pictures. When Raylan asks her about the Bennetts, she points to a picture of a milkshake and holds up two fingers. Dutifully, Raylan heads off to the local Frosty Q. When he comes back, Grandma dumps one of them in his lap and drinks the other one. She didn’t need any letters or pictures to tell him to fuck off.
Is it too soon to say “Raylan isn’t giving up” again? Because he’s not. He brings AUSA Vasquez the file of another criminal who goes by the name of Dickie Bennett. This particular Dickie Bennett has committed his crimes in Seattle. The Seattle that’s in the state of Washington, which is a hell of a long way from Kentucky, so naturally, Raylan needs a few days just to make sure that this new Dickie Bennett didn’t commit the crimes attributed to the other Dickie Bennett. Unfortunately, Vasquez points out that the new Dickie Bennett happens to be a black man. Raylan has struck out again. Vasquez again tells Raylan he should take the stand and testify against Dickie. Art thinks that’s a great idea, but Raylan’s not so happy about it because he doesn’t testify well.
Back at Johnny’s bar, Boyd takes a phone call and learns that the election is over and Napier won. It looks like Shelby is not going to be sheriff and all of Boyd’s machinations have failed. Napier certainly thinks so, as he and Quarles are celebrating in his office when the County Clerk – the man who ran Quarles’s crooked campaign to get Napier reelected and the man we last saw Limehouse introducing to Boyd – appears in the doorway, followed by Shelby, the failed also-ran-for-sheriff guy. Boyd, you see, is a fucking genius. That job he offered to Napier’s sister Hannah? Well, it was on the County Clerk’s staff, and because Kentucky has rather stringent nepotism laws, the fact that she’s a state employee disqualifies Napier for public office which means…wait for it…Shelby takes office temporarily while a new election is called. Did I say Boyd was a genius? Imma say it again. Boyd is a fucking genius.
When Quarles walks outside, Boyd is waiting for him, but not with a gun. Boyd’s weapon of choice is – once again – his words.
You’re a lucky man, Mr. Quarles. You get to come all the way down here, a place you got no right being. You get to eat our food, you get to drink our whiskey, you get to look at our women as you try to take it all for yourself. Why, you know what you are? You’re a conquistador, only…we are not your savages. And now you get to leave with your life. Well, I’m hard pressed to remember the last outsider in your line of work could say that. I hope you’ve enjoyed your stay – and you never forget who packed your bags.
As sincerely sinister and frightening as Boyd’s soft-spoken menace can be, the really scary thing about this scene was what Boyd didn’t know, namely that Quarles has that little sliding gun under his sleeve. When he turned abruptly to face Boyd, I was sure he was going to aim and fire, but instead, he smiled and walked away without saying a word. Somehow, Quarles smiling makes me just as nervous as Quarles with a gun.
The Detroit mobster heads to Duffy’s Winnebago. He takes a seat and is chewing on Oxy tablets like they’re M&Ms when a young man forces his way by gunpoint into the RV. His name is Duncan and he’s a friend of Brady Hughes, the street hustler whose blood ended up spattered all over the room Duffy had to repaint. Quarles is obviously higher than the proverbial kite and while Duffy looks on (and his facial expressions while this all happens are fabulous!), Quarles tells the horrible story of his life as a teenager, when his father sold him to pedophiles to get the money to feed his own drug addiction. That was Quarles’s life until the mob boss, Theo Tonin, picked up his father, put a gun in Quarles’s hand, and gave him the opportunity to take revenge and kill him. Donovan is in tears and Duffy is in horror when Quarles steps forward and embraces the young man. If Neal McDonough wins an Emmy, this is the scene that did it.
Unaware that any of this is going on, Raylan is sitting on a stool at the bar attempting to write down his testimony and succeeding in flirting with the pretty blonde bartender, Lindsey, when Quarles and Duffy walk in. Quarles is still high and Duffy is still shell-shocked and Raylan just files it all under “who gives a shit” until Quarles goes too far and promises that one day, he’ll shoot Raylan in the back. Raylan being Raylan, he fires his gun into the ceiling, clears everyone out of the bar, and says “Why wait?” Before the two of them can go all OK Corral, Lindsey stands up from behind the bar holding a shotgun. Quarles lets his hand puppet say his good night and exits. Lindsey and Raylan barely make it through the door of Raylan’s threadbare little apartment before the clothes come off and they’re screwing like jackrabbits. Hello, Lindsey! Goodbye, Winona!
As it turns out, Raylan wasn’t lying about being bad at testifying. In court the next day, he’s a mumbling disaster until he finally gives up. I could almost see him literally throw in the towel and say, “Fuck it.” Of course, he doesn’t use those exact words; basically he tells the judge to go ahead and release Dickie because he’s such a fuck-up, he’ll break the law again in no time and end up arrested and back in jail before he knows it, and in the meantime, following Dickie will lead directly to Mags’s money. Win/win.
Speaking of Mags’s money, Limehouse is definitely not a happy camper when he finds out Dickie is getting out of jail. When he sends a pig to be slaughtered, it’s more than a little obvious Dickie might be facing the same fate.
Lest anyone think this is all over, it’s not. Quarles has moved from Oxy to cocaine and in between snorting lines, takes off his clothes, folds them neatly, gives himself a long, rambling pep talk about how wonderful he really is and what a great future he really has…and then strides naked into the bathroom where Donovan is crouched on the floor, tied up and terrified. And by the way, Neal McDonough has a great ass.
Unfortunately, I could not find a photo of Quarles’ sweet ass. You’ll just have to take my word for it.