Justified – “Coalition”: Ain’t no party like a Robert Quarles party

Justified: Season 3

Episode 12 – “Coalition”

Aired: April 3, 2012

Writer: Taylor Elmore

“I told you just to kill him.”

– Wynn Duffy

Last week, everyone was trying to track down Robert Quarles to collect the bounty from the Tonin family and to officially get the Carpetbagger out of the picture. At the end of that episode, (soon to be former) Sheriff Napier sent Quarles into Boyd’s trap and Boyd held him captive at Audrey’s while he and Wynn Duffy awaited the opportunity to turn him over to Tonin and collect the bounty.

That quest made for strange bedfellows, but this week we get an even more bizarre coalition (in an episode fittingly titled “Coalition”). Limehouse’s man Errol convinces Dickie Bennett to recruit Boyd Crowder in his quest for the lost Bennett fortune.

Both of these coalitions – the “Coalition to Kill Quarles” and the “Coalition to Rob Limehouse” – end up being unsuccessful. At the end of the episode, Quarles is still on the loose and the $3.2 million is safe with Loretta, who has had it all along. Both coalitions fail because these characters underestimate their opponents.

Boyd – who is usually a master strategist – somehow thinks it’s wise to keep Quarles locked up with Kat, Minerva and Jimmy, three Audrey’s employees who are no match for Bobby. Within five minutes, he has a shotgun in his hands and the two girls too stoned to stop him. It doesn’t take long for him to leave the three of them chained up while he is back out on the street.

Boyd gave his whole “carpetbagger” speech to Quarles earlier this season, warning him not to underestimate the locals he was looking to fleece. But it’s Boyd who underestimates Quarles this week, despite warnings from Wynn Duffy to just kill him and take half the bounty.

Quarles is a loose canon. And right now he’s too drugged out to be at the top of his game. He’s also burned every bridge he had in Detroit and in Harlan County. But he’s still a dangerous and manipulative man. We’ve seen him talk down a male prostitute with a gun pointed at his face. We’ve also seen him kill two drug dealers in their own home. With Kat and Minerva, he manages to be charming and seem like harmless fun, but the second their guard is down, he flips a switch and overpowers them, earning his freedom.

The Coalition to Rob Limehouse also fails, but it turns out to be doomed from the start. There was never any money to steal. The whole thing was a plan by Limehouse to get rid of Dickie Bennett, Boyd Crowder and Robert Quarles in one fell swoop. but Limehouse also underestimates his adversaries, causing things to fall apart.

For one thing, his plan doesn’t account for Raylan, who figures out the whole thing is a setup from the jump and isn’t going to let Limehouse walk out of this unscathed like he’s hoping to. He also underestimates Boyd, who is suspicious and demands Errol go into the vault with him, which Errol refuses to do. And Quarles doesn’t show up at the bank because he’s too drugged out and flaky these days to follow through with a plan.

Limehouse settles for getting Dickie arrested by sending him to Loretta’s house, then tipping off Raylan about it. Raylan is there when Dickie busts through the door and is able to throw him back in jail for a variety of charges. This move gets rid of one threat to Limehouse’s holler and gets Raylan off his back, but Boyd is now onto Limehouse’s plan and Quarles is still out there as another threat, so he and his people are still very much exposed.

While Limehouse’s Plan B works, Boyd’s Plan B fails. Wynn Duffy lets Quarles get to Boyd’s bar, waiting to see if they’ll take each other out before detonating the bomb they planted in Quarles’ car. Quarles ends up en fuego, but he manages to shoot Tom and fight his way out of the chaos before Raylan can get to him.

It was an incredibly exciting penultimate episode and one that set things up nicely for the finale. I like the strange team ups we’ve had this season. It’s also been a fairly unpredictable ride. With one episode left, I would assume Limehouse and Quarles end up either dead or in jail and Boyd lives to fight another day, but I think things are still up in the air. Limehouse could survive, Quarles could flee to return next season or Boyd could end up getting charged with Tom’s shooting and could spend next season in jail with Dickie.

Also, the question of who takes down who is an intriguing one. I think Raylan will get to put a bullet in Quarles, who attempts to make good on his threat to shoot the marshal, but maybe not. Maybe Detroit or Boyd gets him first. Same for Limehouse – maybe he gets arrested or maybe he gets a bullet.

They’ve given themselves quite a few options. I’m excited to see how it all plays out.

And another thing …

  • The fact that Loretta has the money changes your opinion of Limehouse, doesn’t it? We knew he was lying to Dickie about the whereabouts of the money, but knowing he did it to respect Mags’ wishes and to protect Loretta shows he is still an honorable criminal.
  • The scene where Arlo talked to an imaginary Helen seemed like a bit of a departure for the show. It been a very linear show that tries to be as grounded in reality as possible, so seeing things the way Arlo seems them inside his head was a bit jarring to me.
  • First Tom misses his kid’s t-ball game, then he catches a bullet in the parking lot of Boyd’s bar. That’s definitely a rough night for him. (Seriously though, I hope he survives. I like Tom.)
  • I giggled quite a bit at the PlatoonCocoon mix up.

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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