The third season of Justified comes to a satisfying, if somewhat disarming, end. The writers definitely deserve a big hand for this one. I’d give my left arm for more Justified right now. They’re so good at this, I bet they could do this one-handed. Too much? Okay”¦ moving on.
Last week, the final image we were left with was Trooper Tom bleeding on an asphalt parking lot while Johnny yelled out that Quarles was the man who shot him. As this episode begins we find out that he didn’t survive. Inside the bar, Johnny is still insisting Quarles was the triggerman when Raylan walks in determined to ask Boyd some questions of his own. Boyd is somewhat insulted that Raylan would think so little of his pyrotechnic skills as to assume he’d blow up a car he was standing right next to and tells Raylan that the bomber was Wynn Duffy. Arlo, who hasn’t been seen since he locked Ava in the basement, walks in as Raylan is leaving to hunt down Duffy and the two have what for them passes as a tender father/son moment when he mentions that he heard a cop in a hat got shot. That almost sounds like a bit of fatherly concern but it’s Boyd who calls an end to his police questioning by referring to Arlo as a family member he needs to talk to. That conversation leads to the revelation that Arlo is seeing the ghost of Helen more and more and believes she is deliberately hiding his psychiatric medicine from him. He locked Ava in the cellar, he tells Boyd, to shut Helen up and so that he could take care of business.
State troopers have stopped Duffy’s RV as he tried to get out of town and are holding him and Mike, his hired muscle, so that Raylan can have a bit of one-on-one time with Our Man with the Eyebrows. Raylan’s anger is barely leashed and when Duffy answers one of his questions with a quip about being on his way to midnight mass, that rage slips free. Raylan loads the pistol the troopers took off Duffy with one bullet and introduces him to the game of Harlan Roulette. Duffy doesn’t quite realize how serious Raylan is until he smartasses his way through the first question and Raylan pulls the trigger. Lucky for Duffy it was on an empty chamber but that was enough to prove that Raylan ain’t playin.’ Raylan’s own grief shows when he mentions Trooper Tom’s widow and children and says that he’s now playing by the same rules Duffy and his ilk use – shoot first, ask questions later. After another non-answer earns another trigger on an empty chamber, Duffy is all but pissing his pants (although come to think of it, he’s probably doing that, too) and eager to tell Raylan everything he does know. Even if it’s not the specific information on Quarles that Raylan is looking for, he knows that Limehouse arranged the whole thing, that Quarles likes young boys (and reveals that it was he who called in the tip about the boy Quarles killed in the first Oxy house), that he (Duffy) did try to kill Quarles by blowing up the car and that now Quarles wants to kill him and Raylan. Since these revelations pour out while he’s staring down the barrel of a gun with only four chambers left held by a man looking at him with eyes that promise death, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say he was telling the truth. After a few minutes consideration, Raylan is satisfied, too, and leaves Duffy to count his blessings that he’s still alive – and probably to change his drawers.
All of that before we even hit a commercial break. As the ever-quotable Bette Davis once said, “Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.”
Speaking of Limehouse, he and Boyd have a midnight meeting on the bridge into Nobles Holler, during which Limehouse returns the money Boyd has “deposited” with him. With everyone aiming a gun at everyone else, Limehouse also manages to mention Devil’s absence, a sneaky way of letting Boyd know that he knows what happened to the former right-hand man.
When Limehouse returns to his BBQ restaurant/office, he finds Raylan waiting for him. The conversation quickly goes sour and quicker than Limehouse can raise a meat cleaver, Raylan is holding him and Errol at the business end of a pair of pistols only to find out in turn that Limehouse’s men now have all of their own guns trained on him. Raylan’s got big brass ones, though, and instead of lowering his weapons demands Limehouse deliver what he promised: Boyd and Quarles. Quarles, Limehouse says, is out of reach. Boyd, however, is a possibility.
The police are combing the hills and valleys and backwoods barns looking for Quarles. They don’t find him, but he does find a mother and her two sons where they’ve camped for the night on the way home from a Christian rock concert.
Boyd is enjoying a quiet day at home when a call from the temporary Sheriff-elect Shelby warns him that a warrant for his arrrest has come across the wire. The U.S. Marshals got a tip about Devil’s murder and are looking for his grave at that very moment. If they find a body, Shelby warns, one of the troopers watching Boyd’s house right then will knock on his door and put him under arrest.
Quarles has forced the young family into their car, the oldest son behind the wheel. Quarles attempts some really uncomfortable small talk before borrowing Mom’s phone to call up Theo Tonin. He begs the mobster for a chance to come home. Tonin quotes him a price of half a million dollars but that only buys his life; he makes it clear that Quarles is out of his organization.
Shelby’s phone call tells Boyd that he has a snitch in his group. Boyd immediately knows that the tip to the Marshals came from Limehouse but what he doesn’t know is who told Limehouse. He first suspects Johnny, who deflects the accusation. Boyd then turns to Arlo who also insists he didn’t tell anyone”¦ except maybe Helen. Who doesn’t exist. Ava is panicked and searching for a way to either destroy any evidence they might have left behind or escape the house. It’s left to Boyd to talk her down from the ledge. (I know they’re both killers and technically “bad guys” but I love Ava and Boyd. Team Bava! Team Avoyd? No. Team Bava.)
Back in the family van, Quarles orders it to a stop, forces Mom out and drives off with just the two boys. Knowing Quarles’ history with young boys, this cannot be good.
Cool as the proverbial cucumber, Boyd opens the door to the men who are there to arrest him, including Art and Raylan. Before Raylan leaves, Arlo apologizes to him for being such a bad father – an apology, he explains, Helen insisted he make. Before Raylan can really make sense of the moment, Art gets word that the mother Quarles just put out of the van has been picked up. Ava is still trying to figure out a way to save Boyd and calls Johnny out to the front porch for a brainstorming session. Johnny points her toward Ellen May, mentioning the visit Dickie paid the prostitute and intimating that Ellen May may have been smart enough to pretend to be Helen in order to get Arlo talking.
Art and Raylan are among those questioning Camper Mom about her experience with Quarles. She mentions the phone call he made to Tonin and the $500,000 he needed in order to go home. Raylan tries to talk to Art about where Quarles might get that kind of money but Art tells him to go back to the office and get all of the files they have on Quarles. We all know there’s no way in hell Raylan is going to allow himself to be sent out of the field like that but as it turns out, this time he has a really good excuse for ignoring an order from his superior – he gets a phone call from Mitch, the youngest of the boys Quarles has kidnapped. Mitch is speaking for Quarles, who wants Raylan to join his party.
Raylan follows instructions and drives out to meet Quarles. Seeing that he’s more than a little worse for wear, having been blown up and set on fire the night before, Raylan plays it tough when Quarles comes out with a gun to Mitchell’s head until that nifty little sleeve gun comes out to play (finally!). Raylan thinks the weapon is cute but he also recognizes that the odds have changed and does as ordered. Searching him, Quarles also discovers Raylan is carrying an extra piece tucked into the back of his jeans and then forces him into the van, too.
At the BBQ restaurant, Limehouse takes a moment to expound on a recipe for pig’s tongue that you’ll never find in a Paula Deen cookbook before ordering Errol out of Noble’s Holler. Limehouse has obviously not forgotten that it was Errol’s mistake in having Boyd’s Oxy clinic raided that led to the Holler being involved in the clusterfuck that the Crowder/Quarles territory fight became. For his part, Errol seems to recognize his good fortune in being given the opportunity to leave instead of ending up in the pig slops. Limehouse worked with Errol’s father, though, so he’s already not a happy camper when Johnny calls up to complain about Limehouse turning in Boyd – because Johnny was the snitch who went to Limehouse with that information to begin with, wanting revenge on Boyd for the shooting that left him in a wheelchair.
Mad enough to piss nails, Ava heads off to confront Ellen May. She interrupts the girl at work, sends the john packing without his happy ending and then loses her shit completely when Ellen May denies having told Dickie Bennett anything about Boyd. In a matter of minutes, the abused wife becomes the abusive madam when she punches the hooker after Ellen May forgets herself long enough to threaten to reveal what she does know: that Ava killed Delroy.
Now driving the van himself, Raylan arrives at Noble’s Holler at the same moment Errol is leaving it. The two men make eye contact as Raylan passes by on his way to the butchering shed where Limehouse is working. He is predictably not all that thrilled to see either one of them. Quarles lets Raylan explain that they’re there for money. When Limehouse, ever the businessman, asks what kind of collateral he has to put up, Quarles threatens to kill Raylan and Mitchell. Limehouse is unperturbed: “Not my people, not my problem.” Raylan points out that if all Limehouse wants is to be left alone, giving Quarles the money he needs to get the hell out of
Dodge Harlan will buy that peace and quiet. Giving in with ill grace, Limehouse slices open a smoked pig hanging from a hook and out falls wrapped bundles of cash – It’s a piggy bank!!! Limehouse is bumfuzzled that one minute, Raylan is threatening him because of the death of Trooper Tom and the next, he’s helping the man who killed him. Quarles cries foul but before he can answer Raylan’s question about who really did kill Tom, Errol pops up from the back of the room and shoots him. Quarles downs him with a shot to the chest. Raylan grabs his gun hand so Quarles pops out that cute little sleeve gun. Raylan grabs that hand, too, and before you can say “Cleaver!” Limehouse uses his to chop off Quarles’ arm at the elbow. He falls to the floor but before he bleeds to death, tells Raylan that it was Arlo who shot the trooper.
Raylan himself goes to arrest his father.
At the Marshal’s office, Art pulls Raylan aside to tell him that one of the guns Quarles was carrying with him was the one that killed Gary Hawkins, which doesn’t surprise Raylan since it’s the same gun he’d let Quarles find tucked into the back of his jeans. Raylan then has a moment with Boyd, telling him that Arlo has been arrested for the murder of Trooper Tom and that since Arlo is part of Boyd’s “crew,” that murder will come back on Boyd as well. Boyd explains that Arlo isn’t part of his crew, that he’s become more a father to him than his own was and as such, Boyd considers him family.
While Arlo is being questioned he admits not only to having killed Tom but also confesses to killing Devil, and explains that he did it all to protect Boyd.
Needing someone to talk to, Raylan pays a visit to Winona and tells her the whole story, including that since Arlo confessed to the murder of Devil, Boyd has been released. Despite telling Art otherwise, it’s obvious that Raylan is upset, not because Arlo may have killed two people but because when he killed Tom all he saw was a man in a hat pointing a gun at Boyd. He might have thought it was Raylan and even so, he pulled the trigger.
I’m sad to see the end of another brilliant season of Justified. Even though it’s not the kind of show market research says “women” want to watch, if you like your TV raw and gritty and edgy, I hope you’ll look it up sometime. I wholeheartedly endorse it!!
If you did watch, what did you think of the finale? With a few threads left dangling, what do you think will happen in Season 4?
It’s going to be a long summer so the least I can do is leave you with one more shot of Boyd and Raylan to get you through.