Justified Recap: Northern Aggression

JUSTIFIED: Timothy Olyphant in JUSTIFIED airing Wednesday, April 13 (10:00 PM ET/PT) on FX.
Photo: Prashant Gupta/FX

Does Raylan Givens look like a dirty cop to you? I don’t even know how I’d quantify the appearance of a lawman who’s on the take, but certainly you took one look at Sheriff Napier tonight and you knew he was just waiting to be bought. Raylan doesn’t look anything like that! Raylan possesses the hardened scowl of a man whose only mission is to bust scum like you. (Universal/editorial “you” — I think you personally are a fine, upstanding citizen.) So why does Raylan spend the episode having to deny to pretty much everyone that he’s dirty? Perhaps this is the price one pays for being a loose cannon.

Raylan and Quarles start the episode on a contentious note when Quarles interrupts Raylan’s night of enduring the noise from the bar next door to his motel (he was just about to do Jager bombs, too!). They shoot some pool and make vaguely threatening statements to one another. Quarles is still convinced from last week that Raylan is on Boyd’s payroll, so he tries to make him an even better offer. Raylan is insulted, and maybe that’s why he makes a sideways allusion to Quarles’s history of “tooling up male hustlers” that’s gotten him into trouble before. So the picture of that guy tied up to the bed in the oxy house is becoming disturbingly clear. Quarles is clearly unnerved, but he comes back with a threat of his own: “I know where you live now.”

The next day, Raylan seeks out the assistance of Marshal Tim’s and Marshal Tim’s Short Sleeves. He needs Tim’s pal at the bureau to get him information on one Sammy Tonin, the scion of the Detroit mob who is effectively — and to Quarles’s great chagrin — Quarles’s boss. Tim has really developed an aversion to getting involved with any of Raylan’s investigations, and not entirely without reason. What’s Raylan going to have to do to get back on Tim’s good side? Take Tim out to a fancy dinner? Compliment him on the snug fit of his shirt? Maybe buy a second bottle of wine because conversation has been good but it could be better? Feign at ordering dessert before they both scan each other’s slim, hard frames and laugh at the notion that either of them would go for those extra calories? Let Tim drive him back to his motel because that third bottle of wine is what really did him in? Play it cool while Tim takes the unnecessary step of walking Raylan to the door? Do that thing where he tilts his head back just enough so the light from the motel parking lot peeks under his cowboy hat and illuminates for Tim a face that is ruggedly handsome in a way he hadn’t allowed himself to notice before tonight? Open the door to his room from behind his back, without even looking, because he’s that much of a smooth operator, and besides, his face is otherwise occupied at the moment? You tell me, you guys. How is Raylan going to make Tim like him again?

So it turns out that Quarles is no fan of Sammy Tonin — who, by the way, is played by Max Perlich, whom I’ve honestly not seen since I guess Homicide went off the air — and resents the fact that he has to kiss some ass in order to get a commitment of $50,000 to further fund his Harlan operation. There’s a bit of open hostility in the room as Quarles mocks the traces of an old stutter in Sammy’s speech, while Sammy is the second person to mention Quarles’s tendency to rough up rent boys within the last ten minutes. Still, Quarles promises Sammy a million dollars in profit a month from their oxy operation once they get going.

At the same time, Quarles is steaming over Raylan’s rejection of his offer. So he decides to do the next best thing and purchase the services of the aforementioned Sheriff Napier. The benefits aren’t as spectacular — thus far, Napier’s only task was to take his department on a tour of Johnny Crowder’s bar and declare it shut down for building-code violations. This is just how the Boyd Crowder version of Burlesque I’ve been imagining in my head starts.

Earlier, Boyd had been paid a visit by Raylan, who kind of took the bar over in a hurricane of nut-punching and wheeling Johnny violently out of his own office. He’s pissed at having been taken for Boyd’s man, and he wants information on Quarles. Boyd assures Raylan he would never sell him out to a carpetbagger, and he begins slyly positioning himself and Raylan on the same side of this battle, which has historically worked out pretty well for Boyd. Later in the episode, Boyd pays this visit forward to Limehouse, where he makes a “deposit” in the bank of Noble’s Holler and then essentially demands of Limehouse exactly what Raylan had demanded of him: any and all information on Quarles, the moment it’s in.

Meanwhile, Raylan is still begging Tim for any help in tacking Sammy down, and Tim still wants nothing to do with any of it, lest Raylan “go all Raylan on him.” But before Raylan even gets the chance to go all Raylan on Sammy, he’s waylaid by the Feds. Guest star Stephen Tobolowsky shows up as the lead FBI investigator and wants them to back off. He demands to know what case they’re working exactly, and Raylan bullshits something about an Anthony Turner, a 1997 fugitive who is most likely in South America. Art, to his credit, backs Raylan and Tim up, mostly because he’s no fan of “The Feebs.” So in pursuit of this notorious Anthony Turner, Raylan finally corners Sammy at the stables of a local horse-racing establishment. He does in fact “go all Raylan on him,” by which I mean he opens by smacking Sammy around. Turns out, Sammy also thinks Raylan’s on the take, this time for Quarles. This pisses Raylan off, of course, but it also makes him realize that, much like him and Boyd, he and Sammy are on the same side of this Quarles situation.

It’s a small but significant victory for Raylan when he finesses Quarles out of his current oxy palace by interpreting the piano lessons taking place up the block as a “school,” and thus no drugs may be dispensed in proximity to that school. That is decidedly not “going all Raylan” on Quarles, but it’s early yet. He also gets Sammy to pull that $50K in funding, which infuriates Quarles. He tracks down Sammy, rages at him, and ends up leaving him with instructions to spread the word to any and all that Raylan’s in Boyd’s pocket.

Quarles does have one other avenue to explore when it comes to getting to Raylan, and that avenue takes him all the way to Tulsa where — and I’m going to give you some space here to get your groaning out ahead of time; don’t think I don’t sympathize — we find Winona’s ex and all-around weasel of a guy, Gary. Gary is delivering a sparsely attended seminar on buying and selling foreclosed properties (“The Power of You: Turning Your Personality Into Profit”), and the few people who are there are openly hostile to him. When all of a sudden, who should ask a question from the front row but Quarles. He allows Gary space to get his presentation back on track, which is why Gary had drinks with him at the bar later. Quarles butters him up before laying the hammer down, and for the first time in his life, I’m betting, Wynn Duffy gets to be that hammer, as he sidles up next to Gary, who realizes the mess he’s in. Again. Fucking Gary.

Noble’s Holler Update: Limehouse has instructed his henchman — whose name is Errol, by the way — to tie up all his loose ends from the clinic shooting. This means getting rid of Tanner. But when Tanner shows up in the holler, limping and bloodied from jumping out of the trailer during his fight with Raylan last week, Limehouse decides against simply snuffing him. Instead, he wants Tanner to return to Quarles, tell him it was his idea alone to shoot up the clinic, and then spy on the ol’ carpetbagger and report back to Limehouse. Always thinking, this guy.

The After-Hours Adventures of Arlo Givens: The onset of dementia continues to hit Arlo hard this week, as he wanders up to Noble’s Holler in the middle of the night, yelling for Limehouse to return his wife to him. Of course, he’s replaying events that are decades old, and he ends up getting knocked out by the Noble’s Holler welcome wagon for his troubles. And then, to add insult to injury, Ava won’t let him booze while he’s on his meds anymore. Old age is filled with such indignities.

Boyd Crowder Job-Placement Services Update: Boyd has a rather successful sitdown with his old pal Shelby from the mine (Shelby is played by the wonderful character actor Jim Beaver, who in many ways will always be Ellsworth from Deadwood to me). He wants Shelby to be the new sheriff of Harlan County, and I just can’t WAIT to see the subtle ins and outs of Harlan electioneering.

What the Hell With the Naked Man Tied to the Bed? Update: Obviously big developments in this front all week, as we learn about Quarles’s penchant for doing terrible things to rent boys. So that clears up a lot of the mystery. Now it’s left to Wynn to paint over the blood stains — ugh — in The Room before they have to vacate. I know having any kind of job in this economy is a blessing, but ponder Wynn Duffy’s life for a moment. Not fun.

Justified Recap: Northern Aggression