Justified – What a tangled web we weave

Justified: Season 3

“Cut Ties”

Aired: January 24, 2012

Writer: Graham Yost

“When a person spends enough time lying for a living, it gets to the point where you realize the only thing he doesn’t mean is what he’s actually saying.”

– Winona Hawkins

After last week’s premiere episode, which showed us the fallout from season two’s finale and set up the overarcing story for season three, this week we get a standalone episode with the serialized moments existing only on the perimeter. Unfortunately, the overarcing bits proved to be much more interesting than the standalone plot.

The self-contained story ended up giving us a few nice moments for Art and Rachel, but overall it was a bit of a dud. Terry Powe wasn’t a very memorable villain and his plot to get cash by selling out his fellow relocated witnesses was a bit too convoluted and implausible. Even if he followed Nichols to one of the other witnesses’ houses, how would he know who the woman was or which gang to reach out to to give her location? It would seem idiotic to put Mary Archer and Terry Powe in close proximity to each other if there was any chance of either one of them figuring out the other one’s true identity. I just don’t buy that Powe would be able to put two and two together and sell her out to Alazar’s people simply by following Nichols to her house. I guess we could assume he got the information out of Nichols before he put the second bullet in his head, but that certainly wasn’t his original plan. And his original plan doesn’t make much sense. Also, when did he have time to get the cash from Alazar’s people if they hadn’t even gotten to town to put the hit on Archer yet?

That being said, it was nice to see Art quickly figure out Terry was Nichols’ killer and to use any means necessary to find out who Terry sold out. I also liked Rachel getting to protect Mary and her kids in the attic with a well-placed shot to the hitman’s head. Spotlighting them again allowed Raylan to have more of a supporting role this week as he continues to convalesce, which was nice.

Having Carla Gugino as a guest star certainly helped as well. Her role as Assistant Director Goodall was clearly a tribute to her role as Miami-based US Marshal Karen Sisco in the short-lived TV series based on an Elmore Leonard book. Making it clear Goodall was the character’s married name allowed the writers to imply the character was Sisco without coming out and saying it. And, either way, the moment where she and Raylan simultaneously took down the two thugs in the hotel hallway was a thing of beauty. Hopefully this isn’t the last we see of Gugino.

Still, most of the most interesting moments in the episode had to do with the larger overarcing plot. First we had Raylan figuring out Boyd’s ulterior motive for getting incarcerated and quickly springing into action to protect Dickie Bennett. I loved the scene with Raylan and Boyd where they both talked about the strange and twisted particulars of their current romantic relationships. Plus, it was great seeing Boyd clearly flustered as he realized Raylan was one step ahead of him. Of course, Boyd’s desperation move to get himself beat up and put in a cell next to Dickie was a nice Plan B.

We were also introduced to Ellstin Limehouse, the man holding what’s left of Mags Bennet’s fortune. While Neal McDonough got a whole episode last week to introduce us to his as-yet-unnamed villain, Mykelti Williamson gets just one scene to sell us on Limehouse. Thanks to great writing, the scene had him butchering a pig and threatening to burn an underling’s hand with lye, which Williamson was able to take and run with. His calmly delivered but absolutely chilling speech was a thing of beauty.

Overall, this is an episode that is likely to be forgotten as the season unfolds. But there was at least enough fun moments with Art, Rachel and Goodall to make it watchable and enough extracurricular activity that advanced the season-long plot that this didn’t seem like a wasted episode the way some of the season one standalones did.

And another thing …

  • Like Neal McDonough, both Mykelti Williamson and Frank John Hughes (who played Powe) had roles on Graham Yost’s former show Boomtown. Williamson had a starring role as Fearless and Powe had a two-episode guest stint playing Vincent Manzani, a cop who turned mole.
  • Was I the only one who thought of Tyler scalding Ed Norton’s character with lye in Fight Club during the Limehouse scene?
  • I like that Art referred to Hughes’ character as Terry in the beginning of the episode and then Walter (his pre-witness protection name) once he knew he shot Nichols. That was a nice little detail.
  • Also, apparently Art and cops everywhere who enjoy giving out old school beatings are all lamenting the decreased popularity of phone books.
  • Interesting to note that Raylan and Winona are now staying in her place after the incident at the motel with Ice Pick Nicks. Also, it’s funny that the relator mistook him for Winona’s current husband. I guess that’s easier than having to explain what’s really going on to her.

Written by Joel Murphy. If you enjoy his recaps, he also writes a weekly pop culture column called Murphy’s Law, which you can find here. You can contact Joel at murphyslaw@hobotrashcan.com.

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