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Review: ‘Justified’ Season 6, Episode 2, ‘Cash Game’: All Aboard the Choo-Choo Train

Review: 'Justified' Season 6, Episode 2, 'Cash Game': All Aboard the Choo-Choo Train

PREVIOUSLY: ‘Justified’ Season 6, Episode 1, ‘Fate’s Right Hand’: A Smarter Move I Cannot Imagine

Justified” is a show of many virtues, but you
don’t often hear about how funny it is. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise,
since the show is based on the work of Elmore Leonard and the writers have
continued to emulate his spirit, even after his death in 2013. Tonight’s
episode (written by Dave Andron and VJ Boyd) was one of the funniest in recent
memory, with nearly every scene offering a genuine laugh. That it’s also
exciting and engaging is just icing on the cake.

The best gag involves the marshals conning a massive thug
named Choo-Choo, first introduced driving a tiny hatchback (just like the tall man from “32 Short Films
About Springfield”
). Choo-Choo, who mumbles like Ted Levine
playing Buffalo Bill, is tasked with tailing Raylan and Tim, but Raylan ends up
“borrowing” his car after a brief stand-off; Tim doubles back around
to offer Choo-Choo a lift, getting him to spill his guts under the guise of
veteran camaraderie. Turns out Choo-Choo and his associate Seabass were
Blackwater-esque contractors in Iraq, and they’re working with Ty in Harlan.
It’s always to satisfying to see Raylan and Tim working an easy mark when they
see one.

Choo-Choo is one of those oddball criminals that “Justified”
specializes in peppering its landscape with, the sort of character you could
easily see popping up in a Leonard novel (or even a Garth Ennis comic). It’s
that attention to detail that makes “Justified” worth investing in.
It also doesn’t hurt that most of the denizens of Harlan are played by some of
the best character actors around. 

Choo-Choo’s not the only heavy introduced this episode, as
Sam Elliott appears as Avery Markham, first shown enjoying some post-coital
weed with Katherine. At first Avery comes off as laid back and garrulous, until
talk turns how best to handle employees who steal from you. When Katherine
suggests removing an eye, Avery responds with Elliott’s typical drawl, “A
man with one eye can still see. Both eyes, maybe. That’d be a good start.”
It’s a classic villain introduction, so expect big things from Elliott in upcoming
episodes. 

Rounding out the new villains, Garret Dillahunt got to shine
tonight, as Ty Walker got considerable more screen time than in the premiere,
and proved he was someone not to be trifled with. Still on the hunt for land to
buy up in Harlan, he’s rebuffed by an elderly couple and takes particular offense
at being referred to as a “peacock,” immediately wiping his nose on
the couple’s clean laundry as soon as he sees things aren’t going his way. He
has several great little moments like that throughout the episode, like when he
can’t stop muttering “hang up hang up hang up hang up” when an
associate takes too long on a phone call, or when he somehow manages to turn an
offer of making an omelet into a barely-concealed threat. Dillahunt’s the sort
of presence that fits so well in the world of the show you wonder why he hasn’t
shown up sooner. (Okay fine, I guess he had other matters to attend to
until recently.)

As for the regulars, it’s revealed that the target of Boyd’s
bank heist last week was a safety deposit box of a real estate agent named
Calhoun (played by Brad Leland, aka Buddy Garritty from “Friday Night
Lights”). As hinted at the end of last season, Boyd’s return to bank jobs
is at the behest of Wynn Duffy and Katherine Hale, who believe Calhoun has
three million dollars stashed somewhere. Wynn and Katherine clearly know more
than they let on, despite the fact that both of them have personal experience in
underestimating Boyd Crowder. The good news is that I never get tired of Boyd
turning the tables on people who underestimate him, so this season is off to a
bang-up start. One genuine complaint about the episodes so far has been the
lack of Wynn Duffy, and while his scene this episode is all-too-brief, I am
pleased to report that Jere Burns is still in a neck-and-neck Craziest Hair
contest with Walton Goggins.

The recovery of the contents of the safety deposit box drive
the plot of the episode, as Raylan and Tim discover that Calhoun is tied up
with Ty’s land-buying scheme. Raylan gets the whole story from a chatty
prostitute willing to provide information Calhoun isn’t, in another funny
scene. The girl’s reaction to being mistaken for Calhoun’s wife is priceless.
(“Ew. Gross.”)

Turns out Calhoun figured out that Ty and his people were
sinister, so he started keeping records in the ledger Boyd stole, so now he has
to get the ledger back lest Ty find out about it. Raylan’s able to reacquire
the journal after one of his and Boyd’s patented conversations dripping with
thinly-veiled hostility, but not before “Justified” has a little fun
at its own expense, as Raylan asks Calhoun about Boyd: “This blackmailer,
he got a long-winded, peculiar way of speaking?”

Comedy MVP this episode, however, goes to Tim, who gets all
sorts of great lines:

“Oh good, that is your kid. I was worried it was some
random internet baby.”

“Would it rock your world I told you we don’t discuss
open cases with every Joe Dipshit we meet on the street?”

“I’m mostly just making shit up.”

Enough praise can’t be given to Jacob Pitt’s bone-dry
delivery.

The one story this episode devoid of laughs is Ava’s, with
good reason, since she’s not sure if Boyd suspects her of working with the law.
Ava ultimately rolls the dice and offers up a tidbit of information she didn’t
share with Raylan: One of Calhoun’s deeds was for a pizza joint that used to be
a bank, a fact that immediately gets Ava into Boyd’s good graces again. Where
else would you keep three million dollars? In order to get out alive and free,
Ava’s got to play both sides. “Justified” is off to the races.

Grade: A


“Justified” airs Tuesdays at 10pm on FX.

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