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Justified Recap: The Life and Death of Fancy Lance

JUSTIFIED: Episode 5: Thick as Mud (Airs February 14, 10:00 pm e/p). L-R: Timothy Olyphant and Erica Tazel. CR: Adam Taylor / FX.

Now THIS is the balance between intertwined criminal wheelings and dealings and Raylan Givens being charmingly badass that I've been looking for. And for an episode that is this much about organ harvesting, it was one of the funniest, most just-plain-entertaining episodes of Justified that I can remember.

To start with, even though Raylan comes home late from his day of tracking down Dickie Bennett, Winona is totally cool about it. In fact, she seems pretty resolute in her acceptance of Raylan's dangerous lifestyle. See, fans? Happy? She's not taking our Raylan away from us.

So let's start with the fate of poor Dewey Crowe. Turns out my fears of organ-harvesting last week were all too founded, as Dewey wakes up in a bloody bathtub with two hastily stitched-up incisions on his abdomen. Lance the prison nurse is quite the talking villain, as he explains to Dewey how he will die a horrifying and painful death without his kidneys, so he needs to get $20,000 before his body shuts down on him. It's all very intense and urgent.

This sets Dewey off on a spree of ham-fisted criminality all over town: carjacking, robbing appliance stores and strip clubs, and making himself awfully conspicuous ... but not really finding all that much in the way of money. "WHERE DO PEOPLE USE CASH???" he despairs, touching on one of the more underreported tragedies of this modern age. Where IS a lowlife criminal with no kidneys supposed to make some quick cash in this debit card age? Anyway, after knocking over a Fluff N Fold, he makes his way to what appears to be a combination mini-mart and liquor store (God love ya, Kentucky). There, he blasphemes one too many times for the owner's taste, and when he pulls out his gun, he gets shotgunned from under the counter for his trouble. He's only shot in the leg, so he manages to stumble his way to a door — a door to the storage room, which is where it looks like he'll have to make his last stand. Poor, dumb Dewey.

All this time, Raylan has been hot on Dewey's trail of burgled laundromats and making as many jokes about "Fancy Lance" the prison nurse as possible. He's particularly proud of "Lawrence Nightingale," though Rachel's reaction to it says he maybe shouldn't be. After getting some helpful intel from some strippers about Dewey's kidney stitches (in a scene that reminded me of Marge Gunderson interviewing the hookers who had sex with "the funny-lookin' one" in Fargo), Raylan heads to the hospital to (literally) lean on Ash for more information about possible organ-harvesting shenanigans. There, he engages in some flirty banter with nurse Layla about the proper procedure for kidney extraction (sexy!). Layla gets an awful lot of screen time and looks way too beautiful to not eventually reenter the story later, so let's stick a pin in her.

Raylan eventually catches up with Dewey at the mini-mart. He's locked himself inside the supply closet and tells Raylan all about how he's going to die. Raylan assures him dying of kidney failure is like falling asleep, which according to Dewey is not at all what Lance said. "Well, Lance sounds like a goddamn liar!" Raylan yells back. The theory here is that Dewey does in fact have his kidneys intact, and this has all been a ruse to get Dewey to round up some free money for Lance. Raylan has Dewey attempt to pee in order to prove that his kidneys exist (I believe this was one of Plato's ontological proofs) and since peeing in the corner of a storage room is like the one task Dewey Crowe isn't going to screw up, he successfully does so. He's overjoyed enough at his good fortune — "You mean I had four kidneys?!" — that he ends up going into police medical custody without a fuss.

So there's just a matter of loose-end Lance. After hearing that Ash died in the hospital of a stroke, Raylan gets suspicious of chatty nurse Layla. Only when he follows up at her house, and she starts to come on to him, suddenly Lance rounds a corner and sticks a needle into Raylan's neck. So Layla is Lance's moll, and after an argument about the hell they're bringing on themselves by taking out at U.S. Marshal, Lance snatches Raylan's gun, puts it in his back waistband, and drags him to the tub for some (presumably real, this time) organ-harvesting. Which is the organ that regulates how Raylan looks in a pair of jeans? I want that one. Anyway, surprise, Layla isn't interested in Lance's fugitive status dragging her down, so she gets the jump on him and shoots him into the tub, on top of Raylan. Ever the resourceful one, a woozy as hell Raylan manages to grab his gun from Lance's pants and shoot Layla THROUGH the corpse of her erstwhile boyfriend. Happy Valentine's Day to ALL of us! Permission to swoon granted.

In other news, under cover of night, Boyd and Arlo bury Devil, though not before Boyd fishes a cell phone out of Devil's pocket. Arlo's not sure Boyd is ruthless enough to run the show in Harlan; too full of ambivalence over things like killing former friends. Boyd does seem to be going through a crisis of confidence this week. He knows Devil wouldn't have turned on him unless he were defecting to a major player, and he admits to Ava later that he doesn't know if he's got it in him to take this guy on.

Boyd manages to use his purloined cell phone to track down Tanner, the recruiter who hooked Devil up with Neal McDonough (who finally has a name, Quarles), and in between Johnny clubbing the poor bastard in front of his own girlfriend, Boyd requests a meeting with this northerner. At said sitdown, Quarles immediately offers to partner up with Boyd, but Boyd knows better than to hitch his wagon to such a "carpetbagger." Boyd surmises that under such a partnership, "We do all the work while you make all the money." Quarles, his dead eyes unblinking: "Amen to that." They trade Thomas Jefferson and Saul Bellow quotes for a minute before parting as decided rivals.

Back to Raylan, still in a fog from getting shot full of tranquilizer. Art is frankly in awe of how Raylan was able to shoot himself out of this particular jam. Raylan's a touch more melancholy and begins questioning his desire to stay in this line of work. Art chalks it up to the drug haze, or perhaps to Winona, but Raylan tells him about how Winona's all cool and resigned to his dangerous lifestyle. And from the look on Raylan's face, he's not sure how to feel about that. Baby on the way and all.

Turns out, Winona wasn't sure how to feel about that either, since Raylan returns home to an empty house and a letter from his lady. Not-So-Happy Valentine's Day, Raylan.

Boyd Crowder Feminism Update: It takes a bit of prodding and scar-showing, but Boyd ultimately does open up to Ava about the goings-on in the business. It's been fascinating watching Ava fighting to maintain that toehold she's got as Boyd's consigliere. Here's hoping Boyd continues to honor their "marriage" of equals.

Raylan Givens Masculinity Update: We're prepared to give Raylan every benefit of the doubt, but an eyebrow or two was raised at Raylan's constant stream of cracks at the expense of "Fancy Lance." Real men can wear nurse's scrubs, Cowboy.

Dispatches From Noble's Holler: Turns out Limehouse lied to Dickie Bennett about all of Mags's money being gone. And while his henchman (Errol is perhaps his name?) is antsy to have Dickie taken out in prison, Limehouse is playing a longer game. He's also proving himself to be more resourceful than we realized. Turns out Tanner's girlfriend is a Limehouse informant, and she gives him the lowdown about Boyd requesting a meeting with Quarles.

Timothy Olyphant Sex Rating: Loving the T-shirt and bulletproof-vest ensemble, Raylan. Very S.W.A.T. Couture.

Photo: Adam Taylor/FX