Justified: "The Man Behind the Curtain"


    Photo courtesy of FX.

    “Whatever Boyd Crowder’s paying you, I’ll double it. You’re an undervalued asset.”

    Robert Quarles exposed a lot of weaknesses this episode. Not only was he foolish to think Raylan was working with Boyd, he was especially clumsy to offer Raylan a deal of his own. For that, he and Duffy were evicted from their “home sweet home.” Worst of all, Raylan has an inside man in Quarles’ own family because of it. The only thing Quarles was right about is that whatever Raylan’s getting paid, it’s not enough. Which should have made it all the more clear to him—if you’re going to show Raylan Givens your cards, it would be wise to make sure they’re any good beforehand.

    Raylan’s living above a bar, working as a bouncer for cheap rent and free NFL Sunday Ticket. He’s not happy, but he’s content for the moment—once again we see a picture of a man who wants no part of the mess he’s being dragged into. And once again, Raylan’s bottled up resentment for the fact he’s still involved in Harlan’s oxy trade erupts on Boyd. Raylan stops by the Crowder bar, punches Boyd in the gut (payback for what happened back in the season premiere, of course), and punts Johnny out of his wheelchair so calmly it’s like a scene out of Walker: Texas Ranger. So when the FBI cut him off later on, it was all the more surprising and frustrating.

    Believe it or not, two more teams stepped onto the field. It’s starting to get a little crowded. The FBI (“the feebs,” as Art so lovingly calls them) is keeping an eye on Raylan. And sooner or later he won’t have a barn to hide in when he wants to interrogate a suspect. Elsewhere, Quarles dragged Sheriff Napier and the local police into the fight, who shut down Boyd for a payoff. That’s a lot of headaches for Raylan and Boyd respectively. But while Raylan’s only recourse at this point is to try to keep the FBI at arm’s length, Boyd is a little more headstrong. He enlists his old pal Shelby to help depose (or dispose of) Sheriff Napier. Boyd makes a second power grab while he’s at it. He tells Limehouse to keep him in the loop, rather than asking him. The message appears to have gotten across.

    Still, Limehouse is sitting pretty. He’s got an inside man with Quarles now: the one who hit up the clinic last week. No matter how “disgruntled” Boyd gets, Limehouse still holds the cash. Dickie and Dewey are out of the picture. Raylan and Boyd have a lot more to worry about in Quarles than Limehouse. In fact, the only direct threat posed to Limehouse’s safety for now is probably Arlo’s sanity. In the frightening, expertly shot opening scene, Arlo confronted Limehouse about his deceased wife Francis as though she were missing nearby. Of all the wildcards in the mix, Arlo may be the wildest and most potentially volatile.

    For once, Neal McDonough’s turn as Robert Quarles did the heavy lifting, and he pulled it off excellently. This was the first episode I really felt they had his character fleshed out, perhaps because of the extended screen time and dialogue he was given. Finally, it clicked. He seems more comfortable in his skin; he feels like a real person. Normally, because he was mostly relegated to a couple short scenes per episode, it was as though the writers felt obligated to dial him up a few too many notches. Now that he’s been getting around town, he feels a lot less like a cartoon villain that sits behind his desk stroking his cat (or in this case, beating his prisoner). At first, he was asking for trouble out there—Raylan didn’t take too kindly to his offer, remember.

    But Quarles has a few more cards up his sleeve and then some (don’t forget that Travis Bickle rig). His “friend in Tulsa” turns out to be none other than Winona’s ex-husband. Thanks to Wynn Duffy, Quarles has an inside man of his own. And thanks to that, Raylan risks being caught in a bluff of his own someday.

    Raylan’s Cowboy Hat Corner: It’s back! Did you see it? Of course you did.
    Raylan’s Zinger of the Night: “I was thinking I was gonna have to put a horse’s head in your bed.”
    Bonus Reminder: Robert Quarles went to U of M (“Go Blue!”), confirming every suspicion I’ve ever had.


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