Justified – “Slaughterhouse”: Bringing a knife to a gun fight

Justified: Season 3

Episode 13 – “Slaughterhouse”

Aired: April 10, 2012

Writer: Fred Golan

“I ain’t my father and I don’t care to be confused with him.”

– Raylan Givens

Last week we ended with a car bomb explosion and the shooting of Officer Tom. So when I saw that the finale was entitled “Slaughterhouse,” I couldn’t help but wonder if we were in for a big ol’ shootout in Harlan.

It was an episode surprisingly light on its body count. There was no big gunfight between Boyd’s crew and Limehouse’s crew on the bridge. Errol is given his walking papers instead of a bullet. Most of the major characters – good and bad – come out of this one alive.

Instead of a metaphorical slaughterhouse, we got a literal one. The climatic battle between Quarles, Limehouse and Raylan came to a head inside Limehouse’s slaughterhouse and Bobby met a gruesome end. He was – as Raylan later put it – disarmed and left to bleed out on the floor after making the same miscalculation that Raylan did earlier in the episode. He underestimated just how protected Limehouse is on his home turf – which is turf he doesn’t leave very often.

Errol got to redeem himself by coming back and making the save. Raylan and Limehouse were able to put their differences aside for the time being, leaving their conflict to simmer until next season. And Quarles got the gruesome fate he so richly deserved as the gun up his sleeve proved no match for Elstin’s meat cleaver.

That scene also provided us with the episode’s biggest twist. We discover that it wasn’t Quarles who shot Officer Tom. It wasn’t Boyd either. Instead, it was Arlo Givens, looking to protect the man he now considers his son. As Raylan heart-wrenchingly explains to Winona at the end of the episode, all Arlo knew when he was pulling the trigger was that he was shooting a man in a hat to protect Boyd. For all he knew, he could have been murdering his real son to protect his newly-adopted one. Once confronted, Arlo confesses to the murder, taking the rap for Devil’s killing as well in order to protect Boyd once again.

In case you missed it, we have an interview up on the site today with Raymond J. Barry, who plays Arlo. Here’s his take on Arlo’s loyalty to Boyd:

    Why do you think he has that loyalty to Boyd?

    He is transferring his emotions in a very paternal fashion. You could even argue that he’s substituting Raylan with Boyd. Boyd has become his surrogate son to some degree. That again is connected with some kind of frailty of the mind, a kind of dementia.

    We’ll see what comes of that. I’m going to jail now, starting the fourth season. I just confessed to two murders. I shot a cop and I admitted to killing Devil. I don’t know if that’s true or not. It could be a big cover up, just to protect Boyd.

    He keeps on repeating in that episode, “I had to protect Boyd.” He says that over and over again. One could argue that possibly the reason he’s confessed to these murders is just to protect his surrogate son. And we shall see.

Arlo isn’t the only one to choose Team Boyd over Team Raylan. Ava, who shot Boyd’s brother, helped Raylan put a bullet in Boyd’s chest in the series pilot and dated Raylan throughout season one, is now happily in love with Mr. Crowder. (Luckily for her, if they get married, she won’t even have to change her last name again.) The two warmly embrace in the marshals office once he’s released from custody.

That isn’t the only plunge into darkness Ava makes in this week’s episode. She killed the last owner of Audrey’s for getting too rough with the girls. She saved Ellen May’s life and took over running the whorehouse in order to ensure the ladies there had a boss who didn’t mistreat them. And yet, this week she’s the one roughing up Ellen May in order to protect her own interests. Quite an interesting transformation. Also, poor Ellen May, she just can’t catch a break.

It was a strong season finale and one that gives us plenty of options for next season. Arlo and Dickie Bennet are both in jail, which means Papa Givens has a chance to get his revenge for the death of Helen. Boyd and Limehouse are both still out on the street and have officially decided to sever their ties to one another. Wynn Duffy is still in the mix, though he now seems to be a man without a country, unless Theo Tonin decides to send someone else to be his boss (since Tonin didn’t trust Duffy enough to give him the promotion). Plus, we found out that Johnny is feeding information to Limehouse, which means he could be in for a fate similar to Devil’s.

And though they left a lot open for next season, the death of Quarles and the revelation that Arlo was Tom’s killer made for a strong finale.

Overall, it was another strong season on a show that has really hit its groove. I’m excited to see what happens next.

And another thing …

  • He may not have been Mags, but Neal McDonough did a great job playing Robert Quarles this season. I’ll miss all of the jokes about his distinct look, I’ll miss the gun hidden up his sleeve and, most of all, I’ll miss the crazy.
  • Theo Tonin certainly spends a lot of time lounging by the pool, doesn’t he? Being the boss must be nice.
  • Shelby tells Boyd they are now even after he tips him off about the Devil investigation. I wonder if it means the new sheriff won’t be in Boyd’s pocket next season.
  • Rest in peace, Trooper Tom.

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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