Justified – ‘Thick As Mud’: Kidney thieves

Justified: Season 3

“Thick As Mud”

Aired: February 14, 2012

Writers: Elmore Leonard, Jon Worley, Benjamin Cavell

“Have you been futzin’ around with men’s organs?”

– Raylan Givens

This week’s episode of Justified gave us a variety of strange moral codes.

First there was Limehouse, who we discovered did indeed steal three million dollars from Dickie Bennet. But Limehouse seemed almost offended when his righthand man suggests having Dickie shived in prison in order to keep him from coming after them. Limehouse clearly still feels obligated to protect Dickie because of his agreement with Mags, but that moral obligation doesn’t keep him from stealing the cash.

We also saw the moral code of Robert Quarles, the man from Detroit who has his eye on taking over the Dixie Mafia. For Quarles, everything he does seems to come down to business. Last week, he was trying to recruit Devil over to his organization, but when that failed, he’s perfectly willing to sit down with Boyd Crowder to try and hash out a deal with him this week. For Boyd, last week’s betrayal was incredibly personal, but for Quarles it was nothing but business. He’s ever moving forward.

Boyd himself, who is always a mix of such bizarre codes and contradictions, gave an interesting glimpse into his own soul by refusing to steal money from Devil’s corpse. He had no problem pulling the trigger last week, but he still clearly cares about this man who betrayed him and refuses to rob his grave. Of course, we also see that Boyd is wiser and more guarded than Devil when it comes to Quarles. While his underling was won over by the man from Detroit’s promises of greener pastures, Boyd accuses Quarles of being a “carpetbagger” coming down from the North looking to fleece the backwater southerners.

Then there was Lance, the twisted prison nurse, who flirted with the idea of organ harvesting for profit, but instead was content to simply make Dewey Crowe believe his kidneys had been stolen to extort as much cash from him as possible. Whether this was Lawrence Nightingale growing half a conscience and refusing to kill his dimwitted captive or whether he was planning on stealing his kidneys in the end regardless, we’ll never know. (Whichever of those two ways you choose to interpret his motives radically changes the character, doesn’t it?) Of course, while he doesn’t take Dewey’s kidneys, he seemed ready to take Raylan’s, either out of jealousy or because he knew the marshal was a much larger threat than the escaped convict.

Speaking of Raylan, we learned that while he has no problem taking out a bad guy with a gun (and has, in fact, had to work to be less of a “shoot first, ask questions later” type of marshal over these past three seasons), he is uncomfortable shooting a woman. Killing Layla seemed to really bother him in a way none of his previous shootings have.

And finally, there’s Winona, the adulterer/almost thief who got back with her marshal ex-husband (while still married to her second husband) knowing exactly what type of man he is and then attempted to change him. Then, once she’s pregnant, she disappears in the middle of the night, leaving him a “Dear John” letter. I don’t hate Winona the way a lot of other people out there on the Internet seem to, but she certainly didn’t come out looking great by the end of this episode. It’s hard to try and take the high moral ground on the guy you’re having an affair with who had to bail you out when you stole money from the evidence locker.

And another thing …

  • We finally learned Neal McDonough’s character’s name – Robert Quarles. Apparently, the writers have said his identity was never a big secret, they were simply waiting for an organic moment for another character to refer to him by name.
  • Fans of Psych no doubt recognized Maggie Lawson, who played Layla. I love her as Juliet, but it was fun to see her get to play a villain. Also, Layla is now the second woman this season who distracts Raylan with her charms. (The first one being Yvette, the secretary who gives Raylan information about the drop off per Quarles instructions.) Raylan is good at cutting through male villains’ BS, but he seems to have a blind spot when it comes to attractive women with big smiles.
  • Raylan had a number of great one-liners in this episode. In addition to dubbing Lance “Lawrence Nightingale” and his great line to Ash that I used at the top of this review, “Just dying to smash something, aren’t ya?” to the tactical guy and “Your kidneys are for pissing” to Dewey both cracked me up.
  • An appliance store, a strip club and a laundromat – I liked Dewey’s random assortment of locations he robbed while trying to scrounge up enough money to save his kidneys.

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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