After eight long months we're finally back in Kentucky, back in Lexington and back in Harlan, Bloody Harlan. I'll be taking up the recapping reins this season and I figure it's my job to hit the highlights and your job to chew it all over down in the comments. Feel free to disagree with my take, correct me when I get a name wrong, and lose your sh*t over the relative hotness of Timothy Olyphant, Walton Goggins, Deputy Tim or the vilified/misunderstood Winona Hawkins. Honestly, my favorite thing about a recapping gig is how much insight and analysis you all have to bring to the table. (And the excuse to rewatch said hotness.) So giddy-up, here we go.
Things We Learned:
The gunshot wound in Raylan's flank has taken the edge off his sharp shooting. There's nothing finer than Nick Searcy's Chief Deputy Art Mullen giving Raylan sh*t. His native North Carolina accent sounds like bourbon-soaked pecan pie.
I could watch Raylan and Boyd crack wise at each other all episode long. "Raylan, if a book could only be judged by its cover, you'd be a best seller."
Emmitt Arnett likes a "little kick" in his coffee. The ice cold Robert Quarles? Not so much. Neal McDonough, with his crazy blue eyes and snappy suits is a great addition to the cast.
The producers know their audience. Just under four minutes: shirtless Olyphant. Just over fifteen? Pantsless.
It turns out Desmond Harrington (Quinn from "Dexter" and Fletcher "The Ice Pick" Nix from last night) is not a terrible and terribly bland actor. All he needed was an eccentric character, a good script and a jaunty hat. He should have stolen one off Batista years ago.
The magnificent Jere Burns as Wynn Duffy will have an expanded role this season. He was a complete delight, all but ignoring Deputy Tim and staring Raylan down until he squirmed. Here's hoping nearly all of Duffy's scenes take place in or around that RV with Women's Tennis on in the background.
Both Devil and Arlo Givens have gotten exponentially stupider over the hiatus. Consequently they get to fill the hapless idiot roles Dickie and Coover Bennett left vacant and allow Ava to be even more badass this season. She's like a little Gemma Teller in training; punning about lethal fried chicken and thwacking idiots with Aunt Helen's cast iron skillet.
Winona's brand of "sass" still grates ("Jiffy Pop Givens") but she did keep her cool during the showdown. So, grudging credit where it's due.
Raylan only winged Fletcher Nix. I'm hoping he shows up again somewhere down the line. After all, this episode saw the return of Dewey Crowe.
Which brings us the final sequence in jail, where it's revealed that Boyd Crowder was playing a long con in order to maneuver himself within shivving range of good ol' Dickie Bennett. (Looking cooly disheveled in that orange jumpsuit.) I briefly considered that Raylan might have been complicit here (he does like his gray areas), but, in all likelihood, this was all Boyd. I pity the cavalcade of characters who are lining up to take him on this season.
Delmar Coats and The Sloveny, Bearded Pizza Boy. (Cause of Death: Fletcher "The Ice Pick" Nix's Anton Chigurh Impression.)
Emmitt Arnett (who does look like a less hot Peter Dinklage) and Yvette, the easily manipulated secretary. (Cause of Death: Robert Quarles' Wrist Gun And The Ice In His Veins.)
Literal Black Hat vs. White Hat Quick Draw Contest
"There's still a sizable amount of money missing."
"How sizable, Raylan?"
"Well over ten dollars."
"Well now, if found that kind of money I'd be in Mexico by now."
"Boyd, I've been to Mexico, I don't think you'd like it."
"There's a lot of Mexicans."
The Gist: While the first season of "Justified" was good, the second season was flat-out fantastic. I'm a bit nervous that too much of that greatness came from the much-missed Margo Martindale. But, as long as the writers eschew the "case of the week" stuff that slowed the first season down a bit and focus, as they did this episode, on weaving a season-long conflict, then I am all in. I cannot wait for Boyd Crowder to reassume the role of Big Bad and they did a great job in this episode fleshing out his competition. Next week we'll see yet another big player vying for Mags Bennett's throne in Harlan. I guess it takes three Big Bads to fill Martindale's shoes. I'm not complaining. Also? P.S.? More of this please.