‘Justified’ – ‘Measures’: Feel the pulse

A review of tonight’s “Justified” coming up just as soon as I apologize for not giving you a full accounting of every second of my life before I heartlessly accept the gift of your feminine virtue…

“Ever get the feeling God’s laughing at ya?” -Raylan

Given the number of pieces on the board, we’re unsurprisingly spending the back half of this season alternating between episodes that move the pieces into new positions and ones that then go to battle and kick much ass from those positions. Given how good the latter kind (“Watching the Detectives” and “Guy Walks Into a Bar”) have been, I’ve learned to be more than fine with an episode like “Measures,” which fits very much into the former category.

“Measures” actually puts even more pieces on the board with the introduction of our two hitmen from Detroit(*), plus frequent “Justified” director Adam Arkin as Sammy Tonin’s much more impressive father Theo. But beyond that, everyone this week is working a new angle, and trying out a new partner in an attempt to get what they want.

(*) Played by the fine character actor Michael Ironside and by Chris Tardio, who to me will always be bumbling Christopher Moltisanti henchman Sean Gismonte in “The Sopranos” season 2.

Dickie tries to recruit out-of-town pot dealer Rodney to help steal his money back from Limehouse, and when Tim and Rachel(**) shut that down, Dickie recruits Errol, who in turn wants to forge an unlikely alliance between Dickie and Boyd. (Given the talk of Boyd’s unique skill set, I assume dynamite will be necessary to get to the cash.) But Boyd may already have a new partner in Wynn Duffy, who’s turned on Quarles in an attempt to both stay alive and get back in business with Theo Tonin and the rest of Detroit.

(**) Not only is this Rachel’s first appearance since the February 14 episode (most of the supporting cast aren’t contracted to be in all 13 episodes, and the writers have gotten better at not using them in episodes where they’re not really needed), but we get to see that Tim and Rachel are a very effective team when they’re not busy cleaning up Raylan’s various messes.

Even Raylan winds up with a new partner of sorts this week, as Art insists on riding with him for protection, given Quarles’ death threats. Their scenes together are among the episode’s strongest – and certainly the funniest, as both men have strong senses of wry humor, and as Timothy Olyphant and Nick Searcy have always worked well together. Because “Justified” wants to feel (even if just barely) like it takes place in the real world, even as Raylan is getting into shootouts every three weeks, you need a very specific kind of character to be believable and interesting as his boss. Art’s frustrated with Raylan constantly, as anyone who works with him would be, but he also respects him and, more importantly, likes him. (Where I’m not sure either Tim or Rachel particularly enjoy his company.) As the head of a field office, Art’s horrified by half of what Raylan does, but as a wily veteran much closer to the end of his career than the start, he’s also amused by it, and does what he can to cover for the things that can be covered for. So their scenes together always have tension even as they get along well and can banter with each other.

And it’s easy for them to have a little fun this week. Quarles is in the wind (and now they have a clear charge they can put on him, for kidnapping and torturing the hustler they rescued from Tonin’s goons) and everyone else is still gathering their forces and making plans. But given how desperate Quarles’ circumstances have become as Boyd’s prisoner, and the prospect of some kind of violent assault no Noble’s Holler, I imagine things aren’t going to be nearly as lighthearted for the season’s final two weeks.

What did everybody else think?