Justified: Season 3
Episode 8 – “Watching the Detectives”
Aired: March 6, 2012
Writer: Graham Yost
“Raylan may be a lot of things, but I never got a whiff of dirty.”
– Art Mullen
Last week we saw all of the various factions in Harlan manuevering and looking to position themselves to make a play for control of the county. This week, Robert Quarles decides to make his move and goes full steam after Raylan and Boyd, looking to the authorities to put away his competition.
Since he truly believes Raylan is a dirty cop, Quarles could have been content with simply having Sammy Tonin make his well-rehearsed phone call tipping the FBI off about Raylan’s “partnership” with Boyd Crowder. That would have been enough to bring Agent Barkley and Assistant U.S. Attorney David Vasquez to Raylan’s doorstep.
But Quarles isn’t one to leave these things to chance. While he hopes that tipping off Barkley will uncover a connection between Raylan and Boyd, he also has a Plan B. Quarles brings Gary back to his own front lawn and executes him, using the bullet Raylan threw at Wynn Duffy back in “Full Commitment” last season. That causes the local PD to make the obvious connection, that Raylan must have killed Gary over Winona.
However, while he succeeds in giving Raylan a very unpleasant day, Quarles plan ultimately fails because of two fatal flaws. The first being that Raylan isn’t actually on the take, so any investigation into him by the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s office will ultimately come up empty. Secondly, Quarles apparently sucked at hide and seek as a child because he leaves the planted gun in plain sight in Winona’s house, making it easy for her to find and remove before the cops get a chance to look around.
What continues to fascinate me about this show is its examination of Raylan’s gunslinger ways. Deep down, we want Raylan to be the cowboy who shoots first and asks questions later, but time and time again on this show, there are consequences for him coming unhinged. Most shows like this tend to reward Raylan’s actions, but here things aren’t so black and white.
Threatening Duffy last season by laying him out and tossing a bullet on top of him was incredibly bad ass (and the retelling of it impresses the investigating officer this week), but that move gives Duffy and Quarles a bullet with Raylan’s fingerprints on it, allowing them to frame him. And Raylan’s decision to handle Gary’s attempted hit on him and Winona by himself without alerting authorities contributed to Gary’s death by leaving him out of jail and vulnerable. Also, Raylan’s convoluted history with Boyd, including deputizing him at the end of season one, casts enough of a doubt to give some merit to the FBI’s investigation.
Of course, Raylan wasn’t the only one Quarles attempted to frame this week. He also orchestrates a fake hit on Sheriff Napier to run Boyd’s name through the mud and ruin his chances of propping up Shelby for sheriff. It’s doubtful that this will lead to criminal charges for Boyd, but it could certainly hurt his campaign. Still, I imagine Crowder’s response will be calculated and brilliant.
While Quarles was attempting to take out Raylan and Boyd, he had the rug pulled out from under him by Sammy Tonin. It looks like the Tonin family has decided to pull his pursestrings, presumably content to let him fend for himself in Harlan, far away from their operation in Chicago. This causes Quarles to turn to Ellstin Limehouse for help.
Limehouse shows up on Quarles’ doorstep, warning him about Boyd’s plans for the sheriff’s office and offering him help. But while Limehouse tells him that he wants to back the winning side, it’s becoming clear that his plan is to back both sides so that whoever wins feels loyal toward him. It’s a dangerous game Limehouse is playing – if Quarles figures out Tanner is spying on him or that Limehouse’s man was behind the Oxy clinic hit or Boyd figures out Limehouse is leaking his plans to Quarles, they could easily turn on the man looking to play the middle.
And another thing …
- I like that even though Tim and Art often seem frustrated with Raylan (and rightfully so) that they still stick by their man when the heat is on. Watching both of them be as unhelpful as possible to Agent Barkley provided some of the best comedic moments of the episode.
- When Raylan playfully suggests that he froze Gary’s body to alter the timeline of when he killed him, Tim brings up Richard “The Iceman” Kuklinski, who did just that. Kuklinski was the subject of a HBO documentary called Confessions of a Mafia Hitman, which is captivating, though quite disturbing. You can see a clip of it here.
- I would imagine Gary being killed on the lawn would have to hurt the resale value of their house while it’s on the market.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.