Justified – “Guy Walks Into A Bar”: The Wild Card

Justified: Season 3

Episode 10 – “Guy Walks Into A Bar”

Aired: March 20, 2012

Writer: VJ Boyd

“We’ve all got skin in this game.”

– Boyd Crowder

Since Mags death, there has been a power struggle in Harlan County. Boyd Crowder and Robert Quarles have been looking to outmaneuver each other in order to secure the oxy trade in the county, while Elstin Limehouse has played both sides as he waits for a clear winner to emerge.

But just as Boyd gave Quarles’ campaign a crushing defeat, a wild card emerged this week to further muddy the waters. Though he was mostly unseen, Dickie Bennett was very much the focus of this week’s episode as Raylan tried desperately to figure out a way to keep him behind bars. Unfortunately, Dickie found a way to use his forced prison break to his advantage, leveraging it to get an early release in exchange for not suing the state.

So as Raylan implodes on the stand and not only fails to give Judge Reardon a compelling reason to keep Dickie behind bars, but actually encourages him to release Dickie so Raylan can capture him again, the last remaining Bennett is set loose into an already uncertain landscape. Dickie hasn’t quite put the pieces together yet that Limehouse has stolen his family’s money, but he certainly has his suspicions. And he definitely has made an enemy in Boyd. So whether he would actually team up with Quarles or just be out on the margins looking for the right moment to strike is yet to be seen. But his presence definitely shakes things up in a really compelling way.

Of course, Quarles himself has now become a wild card too. Boyd finds a loophole in the law that ensures that even though Napier got the votes, Shelby gets to be sheriff. Quarles is so unprepared for this that it sends him into a downward spiral of oxy and bad decisions. First he laments to Boyd that he can’t leave Harlan because he has nowhere else to go. Then he lets Brady Hughes’ friend Donovan get into his trailer brandishing a weapon. And finally, he shows up at Raylan’s bar looking for a gunfight.

We also found out Quarles (very disturbing) backstory, which seemed to catch Wynn Duffy completely off guard. We learn that Quarles’ obsession with underage male prostitutes comes from the fact that he was forced to be one by his heroin addicted father. We also learn that he killed his dad at the age of 14. The fact that he now kidnaps, beats and kills boys with a similar history instead of going after the men putting them into that situations is a glimpse into his very fractured psyche.

Quarles has lost all of his ties to Detroit. He’s now lost the upper hand in Harlan and for at least the next three months, Boyd’s sheriff will be the one calling the shots, which means that any oxy clinic Quarles attempts to open will be quickly shut down. He hasn’t quite lost the will to live yet – as evidenced by the fact that he backs down when Lindsey the bartender pulls a shotgun on him – but he’s definitely a man with nothing to lose. Whatever his next move is, it’s bound to be an aggressive one made out of desperation. It seems he’s once again fixated on Raylan, so a plot to kill the good marshal with that Derringer up his sleeve wouldn’t be a big surprise at this point.

While I’m certainly excited to see what Dickie and Quarles do next, I’m also quite excited to see how Harlan runs under the Boyd Crowder regime. I’m also wondering just how loyal Shelby is to Boyd and just how willing he’ll be to go along with Crowder’s plans. He says that his story to the two deputies at the beginning of the episode is a lie, but I’m not convinced there wasn’t at least a kernel of truth in his assertion that winning sheriff is his chance to make something of himself. Whether or not he’s actually dying of cancer, he has been toiling away as a Walmart greeter, so this could be his chance to do something meaningful with his life. And the way he handled the two deputies looking to plant evidence in his truck makes me think he wouldn’t be so quick to back down to Boyd, especially with an entire police force behind him.

This was another strong episode in what has been another great season for this show. With only two episodes left, I’m excited to see where things are headed. I feel like things are very much still up in the air at this point as the battle for Harlan heats up.

And another thing …

  • Like Raylan, I’m really starting to like Lindsey the bartender. Also, the ability to deputize cute girls in a bar might be the greatest pickup line ever.
  • Speaking of Lindsey, her quip that Quarles looks like an “albino deer” is just another in a long line of jokes about Neal McDonough’s fair skin and incredibly light blond hair. The writers are definitely getting a lot of mileage out of his distinct look, though I worry they’re going to give the guy a complex.
  • Art’s “Did that go the way you rehearsed it?” wins the deadpan line of the week.
  • At this point, I really love Ellen May the hooker. Keep giving out those shots of pineapple juice, girl.
  • So Raylan has been a marshal for 19 years. Has this been established before or is this the first time we’ve been given a number?

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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