‘Justified’ – ‘Full Commitment’: Ducking out

A review of tonight’s “Justified” coming up just as soon as I do the Dolly Parton version…

“You kill anybody?” -Tim
“No.” -Raylan
“Well, I guess there’s that.” -Tim

Raylan Givens is in many ways an update of the classic Western loner, but once upon a time “Justified” at least made a pretense that such a man could function in 21st century society, get along with his colleagues, maybe even be friends with some of them, have a relationship, etc. This season, though, has dealt in large part with Raylan slowly but surely isolating himself from anyone and everyone who ever cared about him. Ava’s bitter about how things ended. Art can’t wait to be done with him. Tim is understandably upset with how Raylan behaves this week, not just in the way he repeatedly ditches him, but in Raylan’s surprise that Tim could track him to Mags’ store. (“Give me a little credit; I’m a professional,” Tim says, speaking the lament of every third-banana character ever.) Raylan’s actions with Gary and Wynn Duffy are done with the intention of sparing Winona further heartache, but knowing the kind of man Raylan Givens is, I imagine this is going to eat into what’s left of their horrible rebound relationship even more than the theft of the evidence money.

And the episode ends with a shootout in the kitchen of Aunt Helen – the one relative Raylan actually cares about, and who genuinely cares for him – that sure as heck suggests she’s not going to make it out okay.(*)

(*) And it’s here that I’ll remind you of the No Spoilers rule for this blog, and how it extends to the content of the previews for the next episode. I haven’t seen next week’s show yet, but if, hypothetically speaking, the previews for it showed Aunt Helen in a hospital bed, injured but alive (or, conversely, showed Raylan dressed for a funeral), we’re not going to discuss that at all in the comments. Understood?

It’s not a reversal of how Raylan has been portrayed. He did, after all, begin the series getting bounced out of the Miami office for his cowboy ways, and he has a pattern of alienating friends and co-workers. But it’s still kind of impressive to see just how many walls he’s thrown up of late between himself and the people who once liked him.

I also was a bit pleasantly surprised to see Raylan go for a bloodless solution to the Gary/Wynn problem, as I let myself get sucked in by his “‘Cause all they’ll try to do is arrest him” comment and assume Raylan was going to aim for some kind of frontier justice against the bastards who tried to kill him and his woman. But even Raylan’s not that foolish and reckless – Wynn Duffy doesn’t act alone, and killing him wouldn’t solve the problem – and while I don’t know that his solution will fix things, either, it was probably his best play if he wanted to keep Winona from finding out what Gary was up to.(**)

(**) On the other hand, while Gary technically wasn’t under Marshal protection, won’t someone – not least Winona – raise an eyebrow when he apparently vanishes off the face of the earth? (Or whatever he’s capable of, stealth-wise.) To be honest, Winona’s caused so much trouble lately, and been too tied to that idiot Gary, that I wouldn’t be disappointed if the show steps away from her for a while after this. I understand why Raylan is drawn to her, but she’s become a drag on both him and the series.

Aside from his brief trip to see Mags (featuring some more appropriately subdued acting from Margo Martindale), Raylan’s story was pretty separate from the doings in Harlan this week, in which Boyd and Dickie make a series of moves and counter-moves, and Boyd makes himself – or, specifically, makes Aunt Helen – vulnerable by not considering that Dickie, of all people, might have a good eye for identifying particular limps.

The most interesting part of that story this week involves Ava. Like Winona with Raylan earlier in the season, she seems determined to get some level of transparency from her man (in addition to keeping him out of the prostitution business), even as Helen is suggesting a little ignorance can be a good thing. And even as she’s understandably drawn to Boyd (who goes all Westley with his “as you please”), she has to deal with him being partnered up with Johnny, who has clearly not forgiven her for killing Bowman.

And regardless of what went down in the kitchen of Raylan’s childhood home, I imagine things are going to get much worse before they get better for Boyd, Arlo, Dickie and – much as he’s going to hate being dragged back into all of this, particularly at such a perilous professional time – Raylan.

Some other thoughts:

• Last week, I got my nerd on with the “corner of Cameron and Chase” line. This week, my pop culture antennae rose when we learned that one of Wynn’s front companies is known as Baxter Hawley Construction, since Baxter and Hawley were two minor characters (whose names were repeated often enough that they stuck) in “Silverado,” an ’80s Western I watched many, many, many times on HBO as a kid. (HBO showed that, “Iron Eagle” and “Just One of the Guys” pretty much daily as I grew up. A very weird cocktail of influences, but “Silverado” can be enjoyed without irony, as it’s a really entertaining Western. Netflix it, says Alan.)

• Also, in last week’s review, I wondered what secret it was Helen and Maggs were keeping. Many of you seemed confused by what I was talking about, and in going back to watch the scene again, it seems I may have been misled by the use of the word “keeping,” which wasn’t in reference to a secret, but to the Givens/Bennett feud itself, which these women have been responsible for for a long time. And that makes me wonder: if Helen really is dead, and at Dickie’s hand, how badly will things blow up?

• I will say that while the episode was largely sympathetic to Tim, he does make a terrible move in admitting to Raylan that he’s not going to rat him out to Art for running out of the convenience store, which all but hands Raylan a license to stir up more trouble. Also interesting to hear a relatively young guy like Tim throwing around so many ancient pop culture references: the Dolly version of “I Will Always Love You,” “The Big Chill,” The Oak Ridge Boys, etc.

What did everybody else think?