Episode Title: "Harlan Roulette"
Writer: Dave Andron
Director: Jon Avnet
Previously on "Justified":
Late at night, Ava Crowder (Joelle Carter) pays a visit to Ellstin Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson), who greets her warmly and reflects upon their shared history. After protecting Ava from her abusive husband years ago, Limehouse inquires about her new boyfriend and she asks him to meet Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), her former brother-in-law and current lover. At the bridge, Boyd and Limehouse come face-to-face, as Boyd tries to get Limehouse to share Mags Bennett's hidden money in exchange for the death of Dickie Bennett (Jeremy Davies).
Limehouse laughs off the offer and instead inquires about Mags' stolen weed; which Boyd had ordered burned. Incensed, Boyd walks off and punches Devil (Kevin Rankin) for disobeying him. Elsewhere, U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) is having lunch with Winona (Natalie Zea) when his boss, Deputy U.S. Marshal Art Mullen (Nick Searcy) calls him in for a roadblock to find Raylon's former friend, Wade Messer (James LeGros) and his accomplice J.T. (Mike Foy) over a series of armed robberies.
As they approach the roadblock, Wade catches sight of Raylan and tells J.T. to get them out of there. But the two morons quickly crash their van and only Wade is able to escape by foot. In prison, Dickie and Dewey Crowe (Damon Herriman) sit in the courtyard when a guard arrives and chases Dewey off. The guard reveals that he overheard what Dickie said to Boyd about his mother stashing money with Limehouse and he demands that it be given to him in exchange for Dickie's survival in prison. Dickie says that what he told Boyd was a lie to save his life, but the guard is clearly not convinced.
Elsewhere in Harlan, Wade makes it back to the pawn shop of Glen (Pruitt Taylor Vince), who has Wally Beckett ( Eric Ladin) post bail for J.T.. When J.T. begs for some Oxy, Glen forces J.T. to play a game of "Harlan Roulette" that ultimately ends in his death. At Boyd's house, he grudgingly sells the remaining weed to Limehouse for a fraction of its worth, but he makes Devil help them load it. Then Boyd explains his plan to Ava, Devil and Arlo Givens (Raymond J. Barry) to reclaim what belongs to the Crowders by right. Towards that end, they forcibly reacquire the bar that used to belong to Johnny Crowder (David Meunier).
As Robert Quarles (Neal McDonough) lays out his grand plans to turn Harlan into an illegal Oxy paradise, Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns) fields a call from Glen about Raylan's investigation. With Quarles' approval, Duffy allows Glen to try to take out Raylan knowing that he and Quarles will come out ahead either way. Towards that end, Glen orders Wade to call Raylan to turn himself in, and then shoot him when he shows up at Wade's house. Unfortunately for Wade, Raylan beats him to his home and retrieves the gun first.
When Glen and Wally show up to finish the job, Raylan convinces both men that he has the drop on them and that he could easily kill them. Glen tries to bargain his way out of the situation by giving up Wynn Duffy. But this only convinces Wally that he'll be left holding the bag, so he blurts out that Glen killed J.T.. The situation quickly gets out of Raylan's control and both Wally and Glen end up dead by each other's hands. Incensed, Raylan rushes over to Wynn Duffy and starts beating the crap out of Duffy for condoning the hit on him.
Raylan even takes a bullet out of his gun and throws it at Duffy before telling him that the next one will come much faster. Quarles then shoots back the same threat at Raylan, who finally takes notice of the carpetbagging mobster. Raylan takes a quick snapshot of the smiling Quarles before departing.
In "Justified," we're often reminded of how smart and cunning Raylan can be compared to the people he's going after. But in "Harlan Roulette," Raylan's hubris is on full display and it gets people killed. If he wasn't the main character, I'd say that it may even get Raylan killed. But that doesn't mean that his mistakes in this episode won't come back to haunt him.
As usual, Raylan outwitted someone when they tried to get the drop on him. And there was some good tension as Raylan kept his back turned to Wade when he intended to kill him. But that overconfidence blew up in Raylan's face when both Wally and Glen killed each other because he didn't subdue that confrontation quickly enough. If Raylan had manipulated them into doing that, then it would have been a little more darkly hilarious. Instead, Raylan's hesitation cost him his best chance to pin charges against Wynn Duffy.
Similarly, Raylan was so focused on Duffy that he barely acknowledged Quarles; who could have easily killed Raylan with his hidden sleeve gun. At the very least, Raylan had the presence of mind to snap a picture of Quarles, who amusingly smiled for it. However, Quarles also showed some major hubris there as well, because he clearly doesn't consider Raylan or anyone else in Harlan to be a legitimate threat to his operation. Quarles' monologue about organized crime and its plan for the Oxy was also an interesting way to convey his ego and feed some exposition the audience at the same time.
I'm not sure what to make of the half naked man tied up in Quarles' rented home, but it definitely unnerved Duffy. We don't know much about Quarles at this point except that he apparently has a son far away and he's extremely ruthless. Limehouse also made his full debut this week as the other new nemesis of the season, but he seems to be aimed more at Boyd than Raylan at the moment. Limehouse was also missing an establishing moment as good as his brief intro last week. However, I did enjoy the backstory between Limehouse and Ava.
Pruitt Taylor Vince had the best guest performance this week as Glen, and the game of "Harlan Roulette" was riveting and intense. It seems like "Justified" always has a signature scene for the guest villains before their inevitable downfall. It's a little formulaic, but it's hard to complain about it when the writing for "Justified" remains strong.
Crave Online Rating: 8.2 out of 10.