In a season full of strange bedfellows, Justified managed to shuffle the deck again this week, with a rapid-fire series of deals, schemes, and setups. It all seemed to be barreling toward at least a few of Harlan's bad guys getting swept off the table. That it ended with everybody more or less intact (even the gut-shot cop at the end of the episode looks like he might pull through) makes me wonder if the show isn't super confident in any one antagonist at this point (besides Boyd, who is off limits when it comes to getting killed anyway). But it leaves us with no shortage of scenarios for next week's season finale.
Everything gets so intertwined this week that it's tough to break the episode down by story line, so let's just rock this out in chronological order: Errol presents Dickie to Boyd and the gang, and it doesn't go well. Boyd got a plastic bag over Dickie's worthless face within seconds, and it's only Ava's intervention that stops Boyd from killing him. Oh, Ava's still pissed about that whole incident where Dickie shot her, but she's playing the long game here: If Dickie and Errol are serious about this $3.2 million of Bennett money, that'd go a long way to making it up to her. Easily my favorite subplot this season has been Ava stepping up within Boyd's criminal empire, so obviously these scenes of Ava taking control of the room were big winners.
Errol tells Boyd that the money's being held at a plain old bank. It IS the 21st century, after all; nobody's hiding money beneath floorboards anymore. Boyd sends Ava and an increasingly agitated Arlo to the bank to do recon. Arlo has even more reason than Ava to see Dickie dead — he took his beloved Helen — and he's being a right pain in the ass about it. It's not like I don't know how he feels. I still haven't forgiven him for putting Helen in harm's way.
While all this is going on, Quarles is busy having an Oxy party with Kat and Minerva, the two whores "guarding" him. He's doing the whole frighteningly charismatic thing, shotgunning with an actual shotgun and generally seeming half a second away from committing mass murder. Obviously, it's not long before he gets the jump on the two girls (and poor, cute, faux-hawked Jimmy, who's guarding the trailer from the outside) and by the time Raylan tracks him down, he's gone.
But rather than dwell on the ineptitude of the local criminal class, how about a little credit for the fuzz? Because no sooner are Ava and Arlo casing the bank than the cops are out front, joined by Raylan, having tracked Dickie and Errol to Boyd's place, where they monitored all comings and goings. So the cops know about this impending robbery. Guess what? So does everybody! Particularly Limehouse, who accepts Quarles's offer of service by instructing the blue-eyed freak to lie in wait outside the bank and ambush Boyd on his way out. Meanwhile (See what I mean? You might want to be writing this down), Wynn is still trying to get Boyd onboard with this plan to take out Quarles and collect the reward from Theo Tonin. Boyd's eyes are on a bigger prize now that the Bennett millions are in play, but why not take out two birds with one stone? Blowing up Quarles with a car bomb in front of the bank would certainly be the diversion he needs to carry out the robbery. (Of course, Limehouse already knows that Boyd will attempt to use a car bomb in the robbery.) And after Wynn and Boyd make their plans, Quarles approaches Wynn with Limehouse's deal to take out Boyd. The criminal element in Harlan is certainly spoiled for choice when it comes to master plans.
On top of all THAT, Limehouse ends up telling Raylan about the whole thing — Dickie, Boyd, Quarles, all converging at the bank. As far as Limehouse is concerned, Raylan can let them all shoot each other to death or arrest them. Either way, it clears the table and leaves Noble's Holler once again to its own devices. It really says something about the confidence the Justified team has in its storytelling ability that it spends the first half of this episode setting up what sounds like the most bug-nuts action set piece of all time — a bank robbery with every player on the table looking to double-cross one another — knowing full well it would never pay it off. The second half of the episode is strong enough that I don't feel cheated, but I can't deny that visions of an eight-way shootout were dancing in my head. Anyway, Raylan can't help but be slightly charmed by Limehouse's strategic thinking, but he tells him that as long as the Bennett millions are hidden up in his holler, every law-enforcement agency in the state will be all up in his business.
The first thing that falls apart in Boyd's bank-robbery plan is that apparently he knew all along that it was a setup? Okay! Guess he sent Ava and Arlo to the bank in order to ... draw the cops out? Look, whatever, I'm cool with it, because it leads to Boyd confronting Errol about what is clearly now a setup on Limehouse's part. Poor Dickie realizes he was a pawn in a bigger game. God! It's like no one wants to hand him $3 million of his mama's money! Boyd looks like he's going to TCB with Dickie and Errol, until the second thing falls apart in his plan: Arlo goes nuts back at the house. With visions of Helen egging him on in destructive ways (hey, Linda Gehringer! WE'VE MISSED YOU!), Arlo totally flips out and locks Ava in the basement, drawing Boyd away from the house (and leaving Arlo as a wild card for next week, certainly).
With Boyd gone, a wounded (emotionally speaking) Dickie gets the jump on Johnny and then pulls gun on Errol, looking for answers. He's all "SRSLY, where's my money??" and compels Errol to take him to where it really is. Of course, they're immediately followed by a cop car AND one of Limehouse's snitches, because Dickie is the smoothest.
(The nice thing about this episode is that you never have to get confused about who knows what, because everybody knows what everybody else is doing at all times.)
After Boyd deals with Arlo, he gets a call from Johnny saying Dickie and Errol took off, but he overheard where the money is — it's with "some girl Loretta up in Lexington." Now, Loretta McCready was in the "previously on ... " scenes, so it wasn't that much of a shock to hear her name brought back into the Justified universe, but it was still a nice shot in the arm. If nothing else, you know it would give Raylan good motivation to take things personally. Which he totally does. It's kind of comedic how easily Raylan foils Dickie's plan. Dickie breaks into Loretta's adopted home and Raylan's just ... there. He toys with Dickie a bit, taunting him about how much prison time he's going to serve. He breaks a window by the door to solidify the breaking-and-entering charge. He tells him that kidnapping Errol (currently cooling his heels inside Dickie's trunk) will get him a few more months. Dickie says he won't go back to prison and ends up drawing on Raylan, which never turns out well for anyone.
It seems like Dickie will survive the gunshot he gets, but he'll do his recovering in prison. After Dickie gets blown out onto Loretta's back porch, Raylan steps out and gives a nod to Limehouse, who apparently put this whole ambush together. As Raylan explains to Loretta at the police station later, he made a deal with Limehouse to "respect Mags's decision" to leave the money with Loretta. He just doesn't want to hear about her shelling out for a new Lexus or Van Halen playing her birthday party. Loretta, cool as ever, asks Raylan, "Marshal, do I strike you in any way as a Van Halen fan?"
So Limehouse has gotten law enforcement to deal with Dickie Bennett. One piece off the board. He's still got more than a few hanging around. So he calls up Quarles, who is busy freebasing in the trailer under Wynn's disapproving eye, and mentions that even though the bank robbery won't be happening, it would still be good if Quarles took out Boyd Crowder for him. So when the high-as-fuck Quarles heads out to find Boyd, Wynn decides to hold off blowing up Quarles's car with a bomb. Why not let Quarles take Boyd out first? I certainly don't expect Boyd Crowder to get killed this season, but why do I have a sneaking suspicion that when all is said and done in Harlan, Wynn Duffy is going to be the cockroach that survives?
Once again, the local cops are on top of their shit, staking out Boyd's bar and fully aware that Quarles is lying in wait. They call in Raylan, but before he can get there, it all goes down. Boyd and Johnny realize that Quarles is snorting Oxy in the car and is thus not in optimum shape. So Boyd takes it to the man from Detroit. For some reason, Wynn decides to wait until after Quarles is out of the car (but before he and Boyd settle matters) to detonate the car bomb. Boyd is knocked out by the blast, and Quarles is on fire, but they're both alive. Not great, Wynn. The police move in after the bomb, however, and we end up with a showdown between Quarles and the local fuzz. We all know how that one turns out. Raylan shows up to find the cop on death's door and Johnny yelling that it was Quarles who did it. It's unclear whether Boyd is still knocked out at the scene, but the partially burned Quarles (Qurispy Quarles?) has certainly fled, in anticipation of next week's showdown/season finale.
Raylan Givens's Thinly Veiled Metaphor of the Week: As you would expect, the conversation in Noble's Holler turns to The Wizard of Oz, where Raylan encourages Limehouse's associate to power through the flying-monkey weirdness and watch the rest of it. "In the end, they pull back the curtain, turns out the guy is kind of a pussy." Raylan, you deserve that side-eye Limehouse is casting your way.
Harlan's Hot Hits of the Seventies, Eighties, and Today: As Quarles proved in his captivity, there is no better soundtrack to an Oxy party with two hookers than REO Speedwagon.
Film Society of Harlan County: More movie chatter from Kat and Minerva — "You ever see Platoon?" "That movie where the old people go up to space?" — at least gives me hope that they have options outside of hooking for Boyd and Ava.
Line of the Night: Boyd explains to Wynn that he plans to explode a car in front of the bank as a diversion. "And what if the man in that car had brilliant blue eyes?" Wynn: "And a big stupid baby head?"
Mortality Predictions for the Season Finale: Boyd: Alive. Quarles: Dead. Wynn: Alive. Limehouse: Alive. Arlo: Dead? Ava: DON'T EVEN JOKE, YOU GUYS.