Justified Review: "The Man Behind The Curtain" (Episode 3.07)
“Hell is empty and all the devils are right here.” -Boyd Crowder
Somebody should have warned Quarles before he came down to Harlan County and started stirring up trouble. There are certain rules and regulations to dealing with folks in Appalachia, but there’s only one that you really need to remember. Never make things personal.
It seems that from here on out, everything on Justified is going to be personal.
Arlo’s senility appears to be the real deal, and he spends half the episode off his meds. The best part of that situation (aside from Arlo getting his head cracked by Limehouse’s goons) is that it provides an opportunity for Ava to show up and play Mother Hen between pouring shots at the bar. Sadly it’s the only glimpse of Ava we get this week.
In exchange we get several solid minutes out of Tim Gutterson this week. It seems that the writers are content to use the other marshals as a rotating panel of sounding boards for Raylan with each of them dealing with Raylan’s shortcomings in their own way. Tim chooses to match Raylan quip for quip, and there’s something of an older brother vibe going on there that I enjoy when they get it right. It worked nicely this week.
Things aren’t going so well for Carpetbagger Quarles and it appears that he’s about to start compounding his mistakes. When his attempt to buy Raylan’s loyalty fails, Quarles buys off the local sheriff to close down Boyd’s operation. Meanwhile, we get to meet the son of the big boss from Detroit. Sammy Tonin, played by the ever dependable Max Perlich, is the antithesis of Quarles, stuttering, spineless, and weak.
Raylan’s attempts to get close to Tonin highlight two long-running themes of the show, namely Raylan’s ability to piss off everyone he comes in contact with and secondarily his ability to circumvent the bureaucracy is highly creative ways when it serves his purpose.
Most of the drama this week comes from characters lashing out because they feel that they have been slighted or otherwise insulted by another character. The highlight of almost any episode is any faceoff between Raylan and Boyd. This week was no exception. The fact that Raylan’s indignation was not solely Quarles’ suggestion that Raylan was on Boyd’s payroll, but mostly that he appeared to working on the cheap was priceless. It’s one thing to be accused of bring dirty, it’s something else to be accused of being easy. That’s what makes it personal.
Quarles’ feelings toward Tonin are entirely personal. Having long thought he would be the heir apparent in Detroit, it absolutely destroys Quarles to see a man that he considers to be a waste of life having the respect and power that he believes he so richly deserves. That Raylan is able to actually use Tonin to disrupt his plans drives Quarles right to the edge. Raylan and Quarles have been circling each other for several episodes now, and the circles are getting really tight at this point. Something has to give and it has to give soon.
Right now every major player on the show is backed into a corner. These are dangerous people on the best of days, but when they all turn desperate, I have a feeling that all the morality lines I like to talk about are all going to get reset in a hurry. There’s not a character on this show that I would trade places with right now.
The episode wraps up with the return of some old friends. Boyd’s former foreman at the mine (Deadwood’s Jim Beaver) returns as Boyd’s choice to go up against the standing sheriff in the next election. I’m know sure exactly how Boyd plans to illegally rig the election, but I won’t be surprised when it includes Ellstin Limehouse. More important is the return of Winona’s ex-husband, Gary, who is now travelling the Midwest as a third-rate motivational speaker. Bringing Gary back into the mix is a direct assault on Raylan and shows just how personal things have become on both sides of the equation is this is the level that things have dropped to. We’re just one level above ‘Your Mama’ jokes.
Now that is personal.
Some closing thoughts:
-I don’t care what the role is, it’s always good to see Stephen Tobolowsky show up in anything. Never would have pegged him as a dickish FBI agent, but it’s always fun to see him nonetheless.
-I got something wrong a few weeks back. It seems that it was a guy that Quarles kept tied up in the bedroom, not a woman. I’m not sure the gender makes it any less creepy. Without a doubt, the creepiest line tonight was Quarles’ order to Duffy once it was obvious they’d have to find a new headquarters: “Paint the room.” Yeesh, that dude makes my stomach turn.