Justified: A Fresh Round Of “Harlan Roulette”

Posted by admin - 01/02/12 at 05:02 pm

If you see this, it probably means Raylan has already killed you.

After last episode, let’s hope there’s more than just a few appearances from Raylan Givens in this one. Last week’s villain-establishing filler show was a derailment for this series.

To show that things aren’t back on track yet, “Harlan Roulette” opens with Mykelti Williamson’s new bad guy, Mr. Limehouse, cooking BBQ and talking to Ava. She sets up a meeting on the bridge with Boyd Crowder.

Limehouse and Boyd talk, and Limehouse wants to discuss keeping his people safe from the white power folks, which Boyd was a member of two years ago when this show started. Boyd is a businessman though, and just wants to stay on task and talk about Mags Bennett’s money. Limehouse denies it, and Boyd suggests that if Dickie were to be just as dead as Mags, that would alleviate his responsibility to the Bennetts and allow the two of them to split the cash.

Limehouse isn’t hearing it, and tells Boyd he figured he called the meeting to ask Limehouse to help him with his “weed problem.” That ends the meet-up, and sends Boyd back to the truck where he gives Devil a punch in the chops for not following Ava’s initial order to burn the weed. That makes twice Devil’s gotten hurt for wanting to hang on to that weed.

Okay, okay, we get it. Limehouse got the last five minutes last week, and the first five this week, all to show us Forrest Gump’s buddy Bubba is now going to be the big local bad guy, and his bad accent will make us all shiver with fear. However, his BBQ will leave us coming back for more.

He’s pure evil, slow smoked.

There’s an interesting dichotomy in the folks of Harlan. They’re either crafty geniuses like Boyd, or absolute nimrods like…well, everyone else. We see that illustrated as Wade Messer, the minor thug from last year who helped Dickie catch Raylan, is about to get caught in a roadblock.

Messer and the other Harlan idiot, JT, are in a “Rent A Hauler” moving truck talking about Michael Vick’s two-year prison sentence for “killing dogs.”

JT: See, to me that ain’t right. I mean, they’s just dogs. I know dudes who killed people got less than two years for it.
Messer: Who?
JT: What?
Messer: Who do you know that killed people, got less than two years for it?
JT: (silence)

Nice scene. In Harlan, there’s always somebody stupider.

Unfortunately for Messer, that stupider person is driving when they see Raylan approaching. What’s the best way to escape? Bang a quick U-turn on a tiny road in your moving truck, and flip it like the guys from “Jackass” are all riding in the back of it.

Messer escapes, but JT gets caught.

I’m just going to point out here that apparently Harlan PD’s roadblocks aren’t very effective, since Messer was able to get away with about a four-second head start.

Meanwhile, in prison…I’ve always wanted to type those words…Dickie is approached by Murphy, the prison guard. When we saw him overhear the discussion between Dickie and Boyd last week, we could all see this one coming. Murphy wants Mags Bennett’s money, but Dickie tells him it was just a ruse. Murphy has already done his homework though, and he tells Dickie that either he gets the money, or life inside will be “disastrous.”

Dickie tells him even if there was money waiting, he couldn’t get it until he gets out, and Murphy asks him “Is that all?” and walks off.

On the Harlan IQ scale, Dickie is above Dewey, but well below Murphy and Boyd.

We get out first trip to Fogel’s pawn shop, where a customer is trying to sell him a “hardly ever been used” set of wrenches that looks like the Wright Brothers used to tweak their planes with them at Kittyhawk. He’s offering three bucks but when Messer shows up, Fogel just throws the customer out and locks the door. Messer explains about the roadblock, and Fogel asks where JT is.

At the world’s worst roadblock, Harlan explains to the state trooper that his boots aren’t made for running, and blames them for letting Messer get away. The trooper correctly points out that chasing fugitives is a U.S. Marshal’s primary job.

The moving van was full of stolen merchandise, and the trooper plays “Captain Exposition” by telling Raylan that someone is giving addicts lists of things to steal, then paying them in Oxy. He also tells Raylan JT’s bail has been posted, and he’s already out.

JT shows up at the pawnshop, where Fogel checks him for a wire. JT tells him he needs a fix, so Fogel gives him a gun with one bullet and tells him a round of Russian Roulette will earn him a pill. He actually does it, so Fogel tells him take another round. It’s not Russian Roulette, it’s “Harlan Roulette.” He sweetens the pot by telling him another pull of the trigger will get him a whole bottle of Oxy, and JT does it again. When Fogel laughs at him, JT snaps and starts shooting at him, only to find out there were no bullets in the gun.

Ha-HA! That Fogel’s a real barrel of laughs, isn’t he?

Fogel loads a bullet into his revolver, and pulls the trigger on JT. Click. He tells him it must be his lucky day, then pulls the trigger three more times until he gets the bullet and shoots JT right in the head.

Fogel has “Movie Bad Guy Syndrome.” Bad guys don’t just kill their underlings, if they do no one would ever work for them. Boyd realized Devil had screwed up, so he punched him and told him to get it right next time. Fogel’s man lost an untraceable truck, and he killed him. If you’re a bagman in Harlan, which one of these two criminal masterminds are you going to work for?

After the commercial, Messer is digging JT’s grave and talking to Fogel’s henchman Wally about the murder.

Limehouse’s men come to pick up Mags Bennett’s weed, and they offer Boyd some money for it. He initially turns it down, but takes it anyway. When the easily-confused Devil is…well, confused, Boyd tells him the money isn’t much. Devil says it’s more than they would have had if they burned it, but Boyd tells him the pot was more dangerous for them to keep than to destroy. Boyd gives Devil all of the money, and tells him to help them load the weed.

Arlo tells Boyd they need to get paid, so Boyd calls a meeting. He tells Devil, Ava, and Arlo that they will learn from his father’s mistakes, and not work with outsiders. They’ll work in “protection, pills, robbing, and gambling,” and be careful about it. They won’t work in prostitution, because Boyd feels that with these hard economic times, pills are more important than whores to the working man.

Now THAT’S a campaign slogan I’d like to see.

Boyd tells them they’re going to reclaim something that belongs to the Crowders.

For the first time since the season opener, we see main bad-guy Quarles again. Quarles, the Detroit crime lord, explains to Wynn Duffy how they’ll set up their Oxy ring. The Florida pill mills are being shut down, so they’ll replace them in Kentucky. They’re going to make IDs, MRIs, and medical records and go to Harlan to set up mobile trailers with local doctors, then fill the prescriptions and split the pills with the Oxy addicts. Their cut of the pills, they’ll ship back to Detroit where they’ll sell for ten times the price.

Quarles: You see, Wynn? That is why it’s called “organized” crime.

Sadly, that scheme makes far more sense and profit than most people’s 401(k) accounts.

Duffy asks him to use his bathroom, then opens the wrong door and sees a guy in his underwear tied to a bed whimpering.

Quarles (tapping Wynn on shoulder): Wynn? Other door, pal.

So far in limited appearances, Quarles is a murderer, betrayer, liar, and possibly homosexual rapist and torturer who never seems to raise his voice. I like where they’re going with this one.

Raylan goes into the pawnshop looking for Messer, and meets Fogel. His employee Wally was the one who bailed out JT, and paid far more in bail than an average pawnshop employee would be making. Raylan asks to see the back of the store, and Fogel tells him he won’t without a warrant.

Raylan adds it up and tells Fogel he realizes now he’s actually the guy Raylan’s looking for, and the pawn shop is the perfect front for an Oxy ring. He tells him he’ll see him around, and leaves. Great last shot of Fogel standing there, so nervous his eyes are vibrating.

Fogel immediately calls Wynn Duffy, and Quarles gives the order to kill Raylan, since he figures Fogel will screw it up and take himself out of the picture. Duffy takes Fogel off hold to tell him.

Duffy: I am sorry Glenn, are you still there?
Fogel: Where else would I be? Cornholing a pig?

Man, that line seemed…unnecessarily specific. I guess when Fogel is scared, he goes to his Happy Place.

Fogel passes the order to kill Raylan on to Messer. The plan is for Messer to call Raylan and set up a meeting, then shoot Raylan through the screen door when he shows up.

And now that we have Raylan’s predicament spelled out, it’s time for a Boyd Crowder interlude. Boyd takes Arlo and Devil to a bar, and takes over the place. He explains to the barkeep that the bar used to belong to his cousin Johnny, but the barkeep says he bought the place “fair and square.” Boyd gives a great speech about being shot, and tells the barkeep that he knows he bought the bar after Johnny was shot and under great duress. He tells him he can sell, or Devil will shoot him and they’ll repeat the process of buying the bar after a gunshot wound.

The barkeep asks him if he’s met his friends, and two of the four patrons stand up and pull guns on Boyd’s men.

Then Boyd asks if he’s met HIS friends, and the other two patrons pull guns on the barkeep’s men.

Boyd is always a step ahead, which makes him the smartest man in the Harlan underground.

Johnny rolls into the bar. First time we’ve seen him since the finale last year. I hope he’s spent the off season having a new house built, since the last time we saw him he was killing his potential assassins by blowing it up.

Boyd tells the barkeep to sign over the bar, and to take whatever’s in the register as his severance pay.

See? Boyd’s a thoughtful criminal. At least he let the barkeep live, and make some money on his last day.

Messer gets home to find Raylan waiting on him, so he tells him he could have gone inside to wait. Raylan tells a story about his mom resisting a gang of strike-breakers, and how he learned you don’t go inside a man’s house unless you are invited.

Messer goes inside to allegedly change shirts, although we really know he’s going to get his gun and shoot Raylan. The camera stays on Raylan out front on the porch with his back to the screen door. When Messer comes back out with the same dirty shirt, Raylan asks him if he was looking for his gun, which Raylan has already taken away.

Okay, two things. First, that would be a much more effective move if we hadn’t already seen the “intense-scene-is-actually-a-swerve-because-the-hero-has-figured-it-out” bit in each of the last two episodes.

More importantly, how was Raylan able to not only find the gun, but also be certain that’s the only weapon Messer had in his house?

Just from the looks of Messer’s clothes and the outside of his place, I’m sure it’s a shithole. There’s no way in less than an hour, Raylan could sweep the entire place for weapons and be absolutely certain he had cleaned it out.

It makes for a nice scene, but makes no sense at all.

Raylan uses Messer to lay a trap for Fogel, who arrives with Wally. Raylan confronts Fogel.

Raylan: I think the question you should ask is whether I care if you ride out of here cuffed in the back of my car, or get carried out of here in a coroner’s bag. The answer is…me and dead owls don’t give a hoot.

Elmore Leonard is a master of dialogue. Although Raylan’s his character, he probably grimaced at that one. There’s no way he’d write a crap line like that. As someone who’s had the pleasure/misfortune of growing up in the American South, I can tell you that line sounds like it was written by a Northerner trying to make up a funny Southern colloquialism.

Raylan: Well, my daddy always said you can put a saddle on your pecker, but that don’t mean anybody’s gonna ride to town on it.

Raylan: You remind me of the South end of a North-bound burro.

Raylan: Fogel, you’re dumber than a box of dirt left out in the rain.

Raylan has a chance to get information out of Fogel, and he mentions Wynn Duffy’s name. Raylan tells him they might be able to work something out, and Wally gets pissed because Fogel might skate. Wally tells about Fogel killing JT, and since he can’t trust Fogel because he shot JT earlier, they wind up killing each other before Raylan can stop it. That’s one of the few times he’s lost control of a situation.

Boyd and Devil have a drink in their new bar, and Devil tells him how Boyd inspired him originally, and wants to know which one of the Boyd Crowders he’s known is the one he’s working with now. Boyd tells him he’s all of them.

That’s a good way to address Boyd’s character. In two seasons, he’s been a crazy racist white separatist with a rocket launcher, a cult messiah, an avenging vigilante, and a small-time crime lord. Boyd’s character has been all over the map, albeit in very entertaining ways. The show acknowledges that, and embraces it.

In the closing scene, Quarles is cleaning his wrist-gun and tells Duffy that his father never let him watch “Mr. Rogers” or “Sesame Street” growing up, he made him watch “Taxi Driver.”

Well, that explains a lot.

Raylan comes into Duffy’s trailer, and proceeds to rough him up while ignoring Quarles. He tells Duffy he knows everything, which we know he doesn’t, because he’s after Duffy and not Quarles.

Raylan ejects a bullet from his gun and drops it on Duffy, and tells him the next one will be coming faster.

Quarles: How fast do you think those bullets will be when they’re heading back at you?

Raylan snaps a picture of Quarles, who smiles for the camera.

Great ending, and a great shit-eating grin on Quarles to remind us that once again, he’s the dangerous one, and he’s insane.

Rating: Seven out of a possible ten pawn shop wrenches.

— Reid Kerr could use a three-dollar set of wrenches.

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