Justified – ‘The Man Behind the Curtain’: Going all Raylan on him

Justified: Season 3

Episode 7 – “The Man Behind the Curtain”

Aired: February 28, 2012

Writer: Ryan Farley

“Hell is empty and all the devils are here.”

– Boyd Crowder

This week’s episode title – “The Man Behind the Curtain” – is wonderfully ambiguous.

It could be referring to Theodore Tonin, the head of the Chicago mafia, who sends his son Sammy down to Harlan to check on Robert Quarles. Thus far this season, Quarles has positioned himself as the head of the Dixie Mafia and has looked to grab all the power he can, but at the end of the day he still has to answer to Theodore.

Courtesy of Sammy’s visit and Raylan’s FBI file, we are also beginning to get a clearer picture of who Quarles is and why he was sent down to Harlan. It seems Theodore was once grooming Quarles to take over the business until he fell out of favor at least, in part, because of his tendency to tie up and beat down “hustlers,” which he apparently has continued to do in Harlan.

The man behind the curtain could also refer to Boyd Crowder, who Quarles believes is pulling Raylan’s strings. Misunderstanding Raylan’s motives and his volatile relationship with Boyd, Quarles assumes Raylan is on Boyd’s payroll. Robert doesn’t know Ellen May was the one who tipped the marshal off about the Dixie Mafia’s oxy clinic, so he assumes Boyd was the one who told him. Arlo’s involvement in Boyd’s gang and the fact that Aunt Helen’s house was where Boyd set up his oxy clinic only further supported Quarles’ theory.

This week we see Quarles attempt to turn Raylan and get the marshal working for him. When that fails, Quarles turns to Sheriff Tillman Napier to put the squeeze on Boyd. Napier and his men show up and shut down Johnny’s bar, which is no doubt only the beginning of the pressure they’re going to be applying.

In response, Boyd decides to be the man behind the curtain in Shelby’s campaign to run for sheriff. Since his old buddy from the mine (last season) is now stuck spending his days as a Walmart greeter, Boyd decides to call him in and set him up as a puppet candidate who will be loyal to him and his operation.

We also have the FBI, hiding behind a curtain watching Sammy Tonin and building a RICO case against the Chicago mafia. They are nonplussed to see the good Marshal Givens muddying the waters with his own investigation.

Finally, there’s Ellstin Limehouse and his crew. Limehouse has always been the true man behind the curtain in Harlan. As he said so eloquently last week to Boyd, “it’s always been our business to know you.” Limehouse is the unseen hand in Harlan, laying low in his holler, playing the banker and subtly influencing the course of events in the county. He knows who everyone is and what they are into and is content to sit back and wait for his opportunity to capitalize.

I loved how this week’s episode showed us all the various factions attempting to outmaneuver each other. Everyone thinks they are one step ahead, but every action they take causes an unexpected response in someone else – Raylan enlisting the help of Sammy to take down Quarles after Quarles shows up and bribes Raylan, Boyd fronting Shelby for sheriff in response to Quarles buying Napier, Quarles going to Tulsa to find Gary in response to Raylan’s eviction. These are all smart, calculating men looking to take each other down and with Limehouse in the shadows waiting for the right moment to make his play, it makes for a very exciting and unpredictable season. I like where things are headed.

And another thing …

  • It’s odd to see Robert Quarles in a leather jacket instead of a three-piece suit. Also, I can’t help but wonder if he still had the Derringer hid up the sleeve in his more relaxed attire.
  • So it looks like I was right last week with my guess that Arlo’s going senile. This week he shows up at the holler thinking Frances is hiding out there and he once again gets a beating for his troubles (but this time he doesn’t have Raylan to drive him home).
  • It turns out Limehouse is quite a liar, isn’t he? After lying to Dickie about how much money Mags left him, this week we find out that Quarles does indeed remember Arlo and the ass kicking he gave him, though he feigned ignorance when Raylan asked him about it earlier this season.
  • “Last I checked, you were a marshal too.” It was great to have Tim featured prominently this week. I really love the idea that while we follow Raylan each week on the show and view him as the hero, Tim and Rachel are annoyed to get sucked into his drama and be his supporting cast. I also love that they hate his corny jokes.
  • I appreciated Raylan’s description of Quarles as a “big toothed Albino looking son of a bitch.”
  • Why does Limehouse think he can trust Tanner to go back to Quarles and claim the hit on Boyd’s oxy clinic was his idea? Right now, Tanner needs Limehouse to hide him out in the holler and to keep him alive, but once he leaves, why wouldn’t he sell out Limehouse’s crew in order to get back in Quarles good graces?
  • I always appreciate a good Stephen Tobolowsky sighting. I really hope his role as Agent Barkley is a reoccurring one.

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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