Episode Title: "Thick as Mud"
Story by: Elmore Leonard & Jon Worley
Teleplay by: Jon Worley & Benjamin Cavell
Director: Adam Arkin
Previously on "Justified":
After returning to the holler, Ellstin Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson) and his associate pack away Mags Bennett's hidden funds while the associate openly questions what would happen if Dickie Bennett (Jeremy Davies) learned that Limehouse was lying about what happened to the majority of Mags' money. Limehouse shoots down his associate's plan to kill Dickie and keep all of the money and he also warns the man that trying to steal it would just get him killed. Elsewhere, Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) and Arlo Givens (Raymond J. Barry) bury their former friend, Devil (Kevin Rankin) after Boyd killed him for betraying them.
Before piling on the dirt, Boyd retrieves Devil's cell phone but he refuses to let Arlo steal the cash from Devil's wallet. Some time later, U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) tries to quietly sneak into the house owned by his ex-wife and current lover, Winona Hawkins (Natalie Zea). Winona is awake, but she isn't mad. In fact, she says that she's tired of trying to change Raylan and she seems to firmly commit to the father of her child. In the morning, the hapless Dewey Crowe (Damon Herriman) awakens in a bathtub filled with ice and two fresh surgical scars on his body.
The crooked prison nurse, Lance (Clayne Crawford) tells Dewey that he stole his kidneys and that he plans to sell them to the highest bidder if Dewey can't come up with $20,000 in four hours. Lance gives Dewey an address to meet him at, and the very desperate man carjacks a vehicle before going on an ill-planned crime spree. Raylan and his colleague, Rachel Brooks (Erica Tazel) are puzzled by Dewey's actions because Dickie had told them that Dewey was Lance's hostage. They find Lance's abandoned hotel room, with blood on the tub but otherwise deserted.
After Dickie robs a strip club, two of the dancers tell Raylan that they spotted fresh surgical scars on his body. Meanwhile, at Johnny's bar, Ava Crowder (Joelle Carter) finds Boyd distraught over killing his friend and he says that if they go up against the Detroit mob, they may not come out on top. But Ava raises his spirits and recommits to Boyd and their outlaw life. At the hospital, Raylan tries to get answers from the corrupt prison guard, Ash Murphy (Todd Stashwick), whom Raylan ran down in the previous episode.
Under duress, Ash admits that Lance wanted to sell Dewey's organs for thousands of dollars. A nurse named Layla (Maggie Lawson) interrupts Raylan's interrogation and she scolds him about his mistreatment of Ash. Amused, Raylan lightly flirts with Layla while asking her about any doctors who may be involved in organ transplants. At the Crowder bar, Boyd summons Dr. Stern (Randolph Adams), the man who saved Ava's life after she was shot by Dickie. But instead of thanking the man again, Boyd pressures him to give him the Oxy that the Detroit mob sent to Harlan,
Back on the crime spree, Dewey is even more desperate as he can't find the address that Lance gave him. Dewey stops for directions in a convenience store and he becomes flustered by the good natured clerk, who objects to Dewey's blasphemous tongue. And when Dewey pulls a gun on the clerk, the clerk shoots him first and Dewey is forced to lock himself in the storage room. Soon after, Raylan and Rachel arrive at the store and Raylan is able to make Dewey realize that Lance never actually stole his kidneys. Greatly relieved, Dewey surrenders.
Meanwhile, Boyd uses Devil's phone to identify Tanner Dodd ( Brendan McCarthy), leading Johnny Crowder (David Meunier) to beat the man as a message for his boss, as Tanner's girl, Trixie (Valerie Brandy) looks on. We cut back to Raylan as he learns that Ash died under suspicious circumstances at the hospital. Tracking down Layla, Raylan enters her home and almost playfully tells her that he thinks that she killed Ash. Raylan also let's his guard down, which allows Lance to drug him and drag him to the bathtub to be harvested for organs. But Layla decides to cut her losses by killing Lance and preparing to kill Raylan. However, Raylan regains consciousness enough to shoot Layla through Lance's body, much to their mutual surprise.
At Johnny's bar, Robert Quarles (Neal McDonough) arrives and offers Boyd a partnership in the Oxy trade, which Boyd flatly rejects while calling Quarles a carpetbagger. At the holler, Trixie reports to Limehouse about Boyd's move on Tanner and Quarles before he pays her and tells her to keep her eyes open. Later, Raylan tells his boss, Chief Deputy Art Mullen (Nick Searcy) that he may finally be ready to try a new line of work. But Art tells him to take a few days and recover. And when Raylan gets home, he finds the house empty save for a note from Winona which seems to dash his spirits.
"Holy s***. You mean I had four kidneys?"
That might be the funniest quote all season on "Justified," which continues to show off its strange and sometimes bizarre sense of humor. And who better to exemplify that than Dewey Crowe? I didn't think that it would be possible to top Dewey's hilarious impersonation of Raylan last season, but a desperate Dewey was truly entertaining in "Thick as Mud."
Poor Dewey really is dumber than dirt. Almost anyone else would have tried robbing a bank. Instead, Dewey kept hitting laundromats, strip clubs and general stores that couldn't possibly have enough to get him $20,000 in four hours. Damon Herriman made Dewey's desperation seem real, even if the situations were comical. One of his would-be victims at the strip club kept trying to talk Dewey down from a drug addiction that he doesn't have. But it was the store clerk who stole the show by calmly reacting to Dewey's ineptitude with a gun by shooting him first. It led to a great line from Dewey where he warned Raylan about blaspheming in front of the clerk. The clerk later told Dewey "God bless you…" and Dewey genuinely thanked him! That was amazingly funny.
I hadn't realized how invested I was in Raylan and Winona as a couple until her sudden absence at the end of the episode; which seemed like an unexpected gut punch. The writers also avoided the TV cliche of having the character's voice read the letter to us and kept us in suspense for next week's episode. Winona's earlier words of support towards Raylan were very sweet, so I'm very curious about what changed her mind and exactly what she said in the letter.
As always, Raylan had a lot of fun moments in the episode as well, especially his interrogation of Ash and his subsequent flirting with Layla. I loved the way Raylan's "Lawrence Nightingale" joke fell flat and he still tried to get a laugh by explaining it to Rachel, who basically rolled her eyes at him. Even the more serious scene between Raylan and Layla in the bathroom had a humorous side as Raylan was saved by his own improbable shot. That entire sequence did a good job of making Raylan's life seem like it was really in jeopardy; which is a rare feat for leading characters on TV.
Shooting Layla also seems to have sparked a genuine crisis of conscience within Raylan, as he's never shot a woman before. For most of this season, Raylan's avoided using his weapon in fairly creative ways. Maybe Raylan really does feel like he can finally leave the Marshals behind. But Winona's apparent departure may overturn Raylan's current mindset.
There are some interesting things happening in the subplots as well. I don't think that Limehouse is stealing the Bennett money just to rip off Dickie. If he wanted to do that, he could have simply gone along with Boyd's plan and had Dickie killed in prison or listened to his associate. Instead, I believe that Limehouse is following Mags' contract to the letter and that she may have left stipulations if Dickie was the last Bennett standing. Limehouse also appears to have ambitions beyond the holler, since he already has a spy in place in Quarles' inner circle. But his agenda isn't clear yet.
Whereas Boyd and Quarles have very well defined goals in opposition of each other. They both want to control the Oxy in Harlan, but neither one of them is going to back down. The sleeve gun that Quarles wears has turned out to be a terrific source of tension since his introduction. At some point, "Justified" is going to violently remind us that Quarles is armed at all times. And I predict that at least one of the series' regular characters will discover that the hard way.
Crave Online Rating: 9.4 out of 10.