You couldn't blame Raylan Givens for feeling a little bit helpless this week. Consider:
- After last week's "Dear John" letter from Winona, he spends a good deal of this episode searching for her in vain, only to discover that this isn't the first time she's tried to leave him in the past six months. Not only that, but Art, Tim, Rachel ... they all knew about it.
- He discovers that Boyd and Arlo have been running oxy out of Aunt Helen's house — still the one thing sacred to Raylan in Harlan.
- Owing to his lawman obligations, he finds himself in the position of having to snuff out Boyd's competition, effectively doing Boyd's dirty work for him (no wonder Quarles come to the erroneous conclusion that Raylan is in Boyd's pocket).
Raylan's not used to being bounced around by outside forces like this. Thank God he gets to take small pleasures in things like repeatedly punching William Mapother's sleazy pimp character, Delroy, in defense of recurring prostitute Ellen May. It's the little things sometimes.
Things kick off this week with Ellen May and her fellow trampy gal Trixie (the girl who we saw informing on Tanner to Limehouse last week) visiting the Harlan Oxy Clinic (formerly Aunt Helen's house), shamelessly sexing up Boyd's shady doctor for some free pills, until the place gets stormed by thugs and Doc Stern and Trixie (among others) get shot dead. Boyd figures it's one of the two major criminal players in Harlan behind it — Quarles or Limehouse. A meeting between Boyd, Ava, and Limehouse reveals that Limehouse basically knows everything about everything that has gone on around these parts since forever. It's the Noble's Holler way! He tells Boyd he didn't have anything to do with the shooting, but that he knows that there was but one survivor.
This Final Girl is Ellen May, a prostitute/drug runner whom Raylan has come across and showed kindness to a couple times in this series already. She's subject to violent intimidation by her pimp, Delroy, who sends her back to get oxy from Tanner (i.e., Quarles's operation) and when she freaks out at the sight of the people who shot up the Aunt Helen clinic, she gets a beating. Enter Ava Crowder and eventually Raylan, who manage to ride to Ellen May's rescue as their interests in finding out who knocked over the oxy clinic dovetail at the same time. It's nice to see the two of them working together, though Raylan's chilliness toward her is both understandable and not going away anytime soon.
Boyd ends up on Delroy's trail only after a barnburner of a meeting with Boyd, where Raylan vents his frustrations about Boyd running oxy out of his family's property, not to mention his resentment in having to do Boyd's dirty work by nailing his oxy-running competition for him. Boyd's response — "Well, I got a big tank, Raylan. It do save on gas." — is Boyd Crowder at his infuriating best. But Raylan manages to put him on notice with an equally representative Raylan line: "The next time you set up any operation in this county or anywhere else, it better not have my goddamn family name on the deed. Or so help me God, I'll lose this star, and the dance we do subsequent to that will not end with you finding Jesus in a hospital bed." THESE TWO, you guys!
Meanwhile, Quarles is getting updates on Raylan from Wynn and is greatly amused at what he sees as proof that Raylan is a dirty lawman in Boyd Crowder's pocket. He feels like this is the chink in Raylan's armor that he needed. Wynn's not so sure, though he does tell Quarles that Raylan's dad is part of Boyd's operation. The Quarles/Wynn relationship is an interesting one. Quarles seems to honestly appreciate the deference Wynn shows him (he's especially touched when Wynn calls him "Boss"). At the same time, Wynn is growing more and more horrified by the day. Particularly whenever Quarles disappears into that one bedroom with the guy tied up on the bed and hears punching sounds from the other side of the door. Oh, Bedsy — will you ever win?
So Raylan approaches the "community clinic," which is code for Tanner's Oxy Business He's Running for Quarles. Raylan goes to question Tanner inside the trailer, but once he's inside, Gus (Tanner's associate — not important) guns the engine and the trailer goes mobile. Raylan and Tanner struggle over a gun, Gus gets shot as he tries to drive the thing, and ultimately Tanner is thrown from the vehicle to fight another day. But at least Raylan got to the men who raided the clinic.
But one last visit to Noble's Holler reveals that the clinic raid wasn't ordered by Quarles but was instead engineered by the guy we somehow STILL have to call "Limehouse's henchman." Just give us a goddamned NAME, show! Anyway, the All-Seeing, All-Knowing Limehouse figures it out and just chastises the shit out of this guy. And for decent reason. As he explains it, this isn't as simple as pitting the Crowders and the Dixie Mafia against each other and hoping they take each other out. This is about kicking a hornet's nest and exposing Noble's Holler to decades, maybe centuries, or barely contained racial violence in Harlan. If it gets out that Noble's Holler is behind this, Limehouse's carefully cultivated isolation is ruined. Not to mention that he got Trixie killed — a girl who had been under their protection. Limehouse orders his henchman (Frank? Harold? Petey Ray?) to make things right with Trixie's family and then join him on the front lines, where he can witness the fallout of this war he's provoked.
Finally, Raylan's search for Winona leads him to her sister Gayle's house, where she's essentially hiding out. His amateur sleuthing led him to a few erroneous conclusions — like that she stole evidence money in order to make a getaway to Costa Rica. Yes, we get to revisit season two's stupidest plotline as earlier Raylan checked the evidence locker to find the money Winona previously stole is once again missing. But Winona didn't take it this time; it was Charlie. You know! Charlie the evidence locker guy! He turns up in El Paso for a rather unnecessary coda where we see him smooth-talking Mexican authorities and woo-hooing his way to a happy retirement with his ill-gotten gains. I mean, are we ever going to see Charlie again? Who cares about this?
Raylan and Winona have a refreshingly grown-up conversation about why she left. She knew he was never going to change. He was going to keep shooting bad guys and getting shot and getting sucked back into Harlan, and none of that is good for their baby. She knows she's still in love with him, though. That's for sure. It's a good development for the Winona character. Yes, her sole purpose on the show seems to be to entice Raylan away from the Marshals service, which would mean the end of the show, which means Winona wants to kill our show, which means we hate Winona. But she's actually taking active steps to remove herself from the situation rather than sticking around and giving Raylan a slow death by henpecking. They come to no resolution by episode's end, but at the very least I emerged from the episode pulling for them to get it together in a way I haven't for a long time.
Beloved Guest Star Update: This week saw the welcome return of Judge Stephen Root, even if it was for one scene in which he told Raylan he didn't know where Winona ran off to. Here's hoping he gets a more substantial episode later this season.
Sympathy for the Devil Update: There is quite literally nothing that will ever make me feel bad for Arlo — sorry, guys. But I did manage to raise an eyebrow or two as he puttered around his house, calling to Helen who obviously wasn't there, and later speaking to Raylan as if she were still alive. Senility's no fun. Of course, one of the things Arlo was yelling at Not-There Helen was a threat to beat her, so, again, I'm stopping well short of sympathy for the old bastard.
Ava Crowder Resourcefulness Index: A strong week for Ava, as she plays the part of the innocent and empty-headed Cut 'n' Color employee in order to get information from Delroy.
Timothy Olyphant Sex Rating: Henley shirts are not for everyone. We all should know this by now. Henley shirts are definitely for Timothy Olyphant.