Justified Recap: Throwing the Bullet

JUSTIFIED: Episode 8: Watching the Detectives (Airs March 6, 10:00 pm e/p). Pictured: Neal McDonough.
Photo: Prashant Gupta

When Gary resurfaced at the end of last week’s episode, you just KNEW he was going to cause Raylan (and likely Winona) no shortage of aggravation and trouble. Unfortunately for the poor SOB, he manages to do so from beyond the grave. After Quarles and Wyn drive Gary out to the currently abandoned house last occupied by Winona and Raylan, they let him out of the trunk so he can “deliver a message” to Raylan. Poor dumb Gary apparently hasn’t seen enough movies, because he doesn’t realize that what comes next is Quarles shooting him in the chest and leaving his corpse on the walkway. R.I.P. Gary Hawkins. I’ll always regret that I only just now found out that you were Herman from Herman’s Head. Of course, Gary is death isn’t JUST a symbolic message. As Raylan finds out when he’s called by the Lexington cops to identify the body, he ends up right at the top of any thinking-person’s suspect list.

Quarles actually comes at Raylan from two directions this week, each of them setting a different law-enforcement agency after him. When twitchy Sammy Tonin dutifully starts spreading the rumor that Raylan is a dirty cop in the pocket of Boyd Crowder, it gets picked up by FBI wiretaps, and Agent Stephen Tobolowsky approaches a federal prosecutor about nailing Raylan for corruption. You get the feeling that it doesn’t take a whole lot to convince Agent Tobolowsky to go after Raylan, considering all the attitude he and Art threw Tobolowsky’s way when their paths crossed last week.

In fact, there’s quite a bit of chickens-coming-home-to-roost happening with Raylan this week. With two law-enforcement agencies questioning him for murder and corruption, the Raylan Givens permanent record begins to look less like the badass chronicle of a lawman who Gets Results (You Stupid Chief!) and more like a tale of repeated questionable actions. As the federal prosecutor helping Tobolowsky says to Raylan, it’s easy to imagine what’s in his file: just think of everything he’s done that he shouldn’t have. (Of course, all the things Raylan “shouldn’t have” done are what make up this fine television program, so you’ll excuse us, Mr. Assistant U.S. Attorney, if we’re not down with this whole federal-prosecution thing.)

Raylan’s complicated personal history with Gary and Winona starts making him seem like the ideal murder suspect. We’ve already seen throughout the season that Tim has been “joking” about Raylan having murdered Gary and ditched his corpse, and he’s not the only one who noticed the convenient sequence of events from last season, when Raylan found out that Gary had been behind the hit placed on him and Winona and suddenly Gary disappeared off the face of the earth. Besides, as the Lexington cops point out, the exes are always a great place to begin a murder investigation. So Winona gets called into the station, where she’s hit with quite the one-two punch: Gary is dead, and he’d previously been behind a plot to kill her. The grim reality of the latter part of that statement doesn’t wound Winona as much as the fact that she never saw it coming. “What does that say about me?” she asks Raylan, and you can see on her face the realization that as much as she thought she was justified in leaving Raylan and his life behind before, she wasn’t even close to aware of the depths of how bad things could get.

After Raylan catches on to the fact that Quarles and Wyn are trying to set him up for murder, Winona returns to the house and finds the planted murder weapon. Raylan manages to (with Tim’s somewhat reluctant help) slip past the two agencies looking to interrogate him and meets Winona for a handoff, the better for him to get rid of the gun. “This time,” she says, “really don’t come find me.” I like how capable Winona was this week, even (especially?) in the face of a whole lot of unpleasant realizations, but I also can’t blame her for fleeing.

So Raylan’s clear of Gary’s murder. What of these corruption charges? While Raylan’s out disposing of evidence (another item for that permanent record he’s keeping in his head), Art is back at the station, keeping Agent Tobolowsky at bay. Yes, it’s another headache for Art in what has become a three-year Excedrin commercial, but you get the feelings Art’s not exactly NOT enjoying sticking it to this arrogant Fed. (Particularly not once Tobolowsky starts threatening Art with Walter Vondas’s claims of brutality from a few episodes ago.) As ridiculous as it seems to Raylan on its face, the circumstantial evidence for a Raylan-Boyd partnership has definitely mounted. Oh right! That one time that Raylan deputized Boyd and engaged in a shootout. Oh right! That time that Boyd took on the Bennett clan and subsequently the Bennetts were all incarcerated or dead by Raylan’s hand. Ultimately, Art presses the issue of where exactly Tobolowsky got tipped off to this idea that Raylan is dirty, and since Tobolowsky isn’t willing to give up the wiretap he’s got going, he’s forced to drop it. Don’t worry, Agent. I seriously doubt Raylan and Boyd are going to stop getting into line-blurring scrapes together.

Of course, Boyd’s got a whole lot of crap to deal with on his own this week. After Sheriff Napier barely escapes a car bomb, Boyd becomes the most likely suspect (Boyd is the guy bankrolling Napier’s opponent, after all). I loved the exasperated/resigned look on Boyd’s face as Napier and his deputy waited conspicuously for the local media to arrive before perp-walking Boyd into the station. Guess Napier’s better at the politics of holding a publicly voted position than we thought. Of course, it all leads back to Quarles, who is pulling all the strings. We find out Tanner, as an act of penance for the clinic shooting, planted the car bomb for Napier to narrowly avoid for the expressed purpose of putting Boyd in jail. Of course, the triple-cross Quarles — probably — doesn’t know about is that Limehouse sent Tanner back to Quarles, under the agreement that he pass information back to Limehouse. The waters are looking murkier.

The tentative alliance between Quarles and Limehouse (and Boyd Crowder’s incarceration) are about the only things that go right for Quarles this week. After Tonin informs him that the FBI has released Raylan, he also drops the bomb that the increased heat is making his father nervous, so Quarles is being effectively cut off from Detroit. This leads to Quarles whipping out his forearm-holstered gun mechanism and pointing his Derringer pistol right in Tonin’s face. Of course, reason prevails — as Tonin says, Quarles’s life will be “short and lonely” if he offs the boss’s son — but Quarles’s frustration is palpable. I wouldn’t want to be the next gay hustler who crosses his path.

The Quotable Lexington: A few really choice gems in the dialogue this week. From Raylan and Winona discussing the murder weapon found in their house (“Did you touch it?” “What am I, an asshole?”) to Wyn responding to Raylan’s warnings not to get sucked down with the current as Quarles goes under in a whirlpool (“I believe they disproved that on Mythbusters“) to Tonin’s matter-of-fact appreciation for Quarles’s cool gun thingie (“That’s awesome. Does it ever jam on you?”).

Raylan Givens Coolness Index: The Lexington homicide cops investigating Gary’s murder sure got an earful of wild stories, particularly about how Raylan’s prints ended up on the bullet casing. Raylan explains to them how he threw a bullet at Quarles once. You know, as a warning. Lexington Homicide Cop: “That might just be the coolest thing I’ve ever laid ears on.”

Overreaction of the Week: In response to Raylan insinuating that Wyn might be a “bottle blond,” we’re pretty sure Wyn threatened to bend Raylan over the nearest chair and rape him? Which seems excessive, for Wyn.

Robert Quarles Insanity Index: This episode kind of stacks the deck in terms of just how many kinds of crazy are swirling around in Quarles’s head. After getting excommunicated from the Detroit mob, we see Quarles driving in his car, listening to a brand of fire-breathing religious radio that is always code for fanaticism, popping some of his own stash of pills, and ignoring phone calls from his family. So … a religious zealot drug addict with family issues whom we already know likes to torture gay hustlers? All at once, huh? I’d be careful if I were Justified. It’s always tricky when you write your villain a blank check of crazy.

Justified Recap: Throwing the Bullet