“Six generations of Bennetts grew up in Harlan County.
Now’s all’s left is a cripple stuck in lock-up. Story is, that’s thanks to
“The Bennetts were my problem. Now you’re my
Raylan can’t leave well enough alone. He has one last
assignment before moving to Florida to be with his new-born daughter: bring down
Boyd Crowder. But in the course of investigating Boyd, Raylan discovers that
Avery Markham has moved into town, and when folks turn down Markham’s cash
offers on their land, he has them killed.
And that’s something Raylan simply
cannot abide. He loves his job, sure, but part of that love is his need to see
justice done, and he can’t go to Florida knowing Avery Markham is still at
large. As he explains to Art in the metaphor that gives the episode its title,
he’s going to take out the trash and the snake. But as Art notes, some bad guy
or another is always going to pop up (especially in Harlan, which seems to
attract charismatic criminal types like it was the setting of a TV show), and
Raylan has to know when to call it quits, befofe it’s too late. The question
is, can Raylan get out before he gets bit?
Well, never mind all that garbage, because meanwhile, Boyd and
Wynn Duffy were off having one of the best scenes in the show’s history. Boyd’s
looking for a way into Markham’s safe, so Wynn introduces him to Lewis Mago,
aka The Wiz, an expert safe cracker (played by no less that “Starship
Troopers”‘s own Jake Busey). The Wiz is shaping up to be another of
“Justified”‘s long list of oddball supporting players, but then he
accidentally trips his safe-breaking explosives and blows himself up right in
front of Boyd and Wynn, coating them in gore. This bit is prefaced by some
small talk, where it’s revealed that Wynn was an award-winning surfer in his
younger days, which is the choicest backstory imaginable and goes a long way towards explaining last
week’s tanning bed and banana hammock. The Wiz and his untimely
demise aren’t even mentioned for the rest of the episode.
It’s possible that the scene is too much. “Too
much” might be putting it in the mildest terms possible. It’s practically
self-parody, as “Justified” has already used the surprise explosion
trick once before, with Boyd’s detonating cigarettes last season. But who
cares? It’s still everything wonderful about the show, wrapped up in one compact
sequence, and the fact that Wiz isn’t even mentioned again in passing seems
like a strong indication that the writers are in on the joke. The good news is
that it’s a really funny joke. It’s a testament to “Justified”‘s
strengths that it could go to that well once again and still be successful.
Speaking of going back to the well, both Dickie Bennett and
Loretta McCreary show up this episode, as part of the cursory check-in on major
characters the audience hasn’t seen in awhile, that final seasons tend to make during their final victory lap. Dickie’s mostly there to be a punchline, but the
short scene does give Jeremy Davies some space to weird it up as only Jeremy
Davies can. And Loretta is always a welcome presence, since she inspires
feelings in Raylan both paternal and antagonistic. But she’s mostly just there
to facilitate Raylan coming face to face with Markham, and confirm what we all
know: Raylan’s not leaving Harlan until Markham’s out of the picture. Got to
take care of that snake.
This episode is when we find out Markham’s master plan: He’s
buying up all the possible farmland in Harlan so that he can grow acres of weed
once legalization is passed in Kentucky. It’s a solid plan, as Harlan’s
economic woes make it ripe for the picking. Turns out I underestimated Markham
last episode when I claimed he had been gone too long: He’s been away from
Kentucky, but he remembers a lot, including that when a Bennett hands you a
mason jar of apple pie, you have someone else check the glass. This makes him
much less inclined to underestimate the denizens of Harlan, which makes him all
the more dangerous.
We also learn Katherine’s motivations this episode, as she
takes Ava out for a cocaine-fueled day about town. Turns out she’s painfully
aware that Markham sold her husband out to the Feds, resulting in her current
fall from grace. She also all but admits to Ava that she’s incredibly
suspicious of the nature of Ava’s release. Joelle Carter’s been doing great
work this season, and her scenes with Katherine and Boyd this episode
particularly stand out. Her shift from fake joy to genuine tears as Boyd
pitches the idea of stealing not just Markham’s money, but his plans for
Harlan, is fantastic. With Ava, Boyd, Raylan, Katherine, and Markham all at
odds, there’s no ceiling on how high this season can climb.