The Harlan sheriff’s election is resolved (for now), and Quarles continues his downward spiral in the latest episode of Justified, “Guy Walks Into a Bar.”
We start out with Raylan in the Raylan version of a tizzy over the imminent pardon and release of Dickie Bennett. Raylan first attempts to block the pardon through pro-Dickie witness Jed, bringing him into the office and playing on Jed’s fears for his wife and daughter. But Jed holds firm, citing his family’s debt to the Bennetts; Jed says that if Raylan can get his grandmother’s consent, Jed will tell the truth about Dickie. Unfortunately for Raylan, Jed’s grandmother is the Kentucky version of Breaking Bad‘s Hector Salamanca, not just because she’s had a stroke and uses an alphabet board to communicate, but because she uses her injury to play at being weak while actually remaining a diabolical genius: She tricks Raylan into getting her two milkshakes, and then dumps one in Raylan’s lap, smirking. Yeah, that’s a hostile witness. (And a waste of a perfectly good milkshake!)
So it’s back to AUSA Vasquez, who, though sympathetic to Raylan’s objections, has no real cause to oppose the pardon — and slaps down a fraudulent ploy by Raylan and Art to connect Dickie to another convict named Bennett who they think could be a Dickie alias, despite the fact that this other guy operates out of Seattle and is black. Vasquez suggests that Raylan testify about his own beating and torture at Dickie’s hands, but Raylan doesn’t want to, claiming that when he’s done so in the past, “it’s never gone well.”
Meanwhile, in Harlan, the election is upon us. After Shelby interrupts two of Napier’s goons as they plant evidence in his truck (telling them he has liver cancer and only two years to live, so he doesn’t mind taking them with him), he reports this development to Boyd, who’s impressed that Shelby prevailed against the 2-1 odds. Johnny wants to strike back at Napier through Napier’s sister, about whom little seems to be known; Boyd says he’ll handle it, and uses Limehouse to track her down; Limehouse also suggests that Boyd line up another advantage in the sheriff’s election by purchasing the services of County Clerk Harvey. When we see Boyd’s visit to Napier’s sister Hannah — who is no fan of her brother — it’s not to send Napier a message by beating her up, but rather to offer her a job.
AND HERE’S WHY. The official count in the election has Napier coming out ahead. Quarles heads straight for Napier’s office to start preparing the next phase of his plan, which includes kicking Napier into a storage room down the hall and taking over Napier’s office. But, whoops! Harvey shows up with Shelby, and some bad news: because Napier’s sister had a job in Harvey’s office, Napier was rendered ineligible for the office. Harvey fired Hannah when he realized she was related to Napier, but for now, the damage is done: the office of sheriff will be taken over by the election’s first runner-up, Shelby, until another election can be held — in three months. Quarles sidles out without a word…
…and runs into Boyd, who’s been waiting outside to taunt him. He calls Quarles a conquistador and points out that the citizens of Harlan turned out not to be the savages Quarles expected: “I hope you enjoyed your stay, and you never forget who packed your bags.”
So Quarles moves on to his RV, where he’s eating pills (over the gentle objections of an antsy Wynn) when a gun-wielding intruder busts in. The kid, who eventually gives his name as Donovan, was friends with Brady Hughes, the hustler Quarles is assumed to have killed. But Quarles denies it, and tells Donovan and Wynn a little of his own personal history: Quarles’s father was a heroin addict, and raised money for his habit by pimping Quarles, until a sympathetic man captured Quarles’s father and presented him for Quarles, age 14, to kill. Quarles wraps up his tale by saying that he helped Brady to escape his life of prostitution. Hey, maybe he did!
Okay, so finally, here’s where the episode’s two plot strands intertwine. Raylan’s at the college bar, procrastinating on his statement for Dickie’s hearing by flirting with Lindsay, the bartender, when Quarles shows up, and we get the exchange that made up the entirety of last week’s “scenes from next week,” as Quarles declares that he’s going to kill Raylan, someday soon when Raylan’s not expecting it. Only Raylan calls his bluff, shooting a hole in the ceiling, kicking all the patrons out of the bar, and shrugging, “Why wait?” He cheerfully tells Quarles, “You draw. I’ll put you down,” but before this can actually occur, Lindsay appears behind the bar with a shotgun and orders Quarles to leave, which he does, whereupon Raylan takes Lindsay upstairs so that they can Do It by the glow of the hole Raylan put in his floor… because there’s no better aphrodisiac than prevailing in a potentially fatal confrontation.
The next day, Raylan is unprepared for the hearing, but turns in a nice argument anyway, basically by daring the court to release Dickie so that Raylan can deal with Dickie himself. Which is what occurs! When the news reaches Limehouse, Errol suggests staking out a bridge so that Dickie can be dispatched before he even enters Harlan, but Limehouse refuses, ordering Errol to bring Dickie straight to him.
And then we see Quarles muttering prayers to himself as he strips off all his clothes and heads into his bathroom to do presumably unspeakable things to Donovan, who’s bound and locked to the toilet.
Bravo to the marketing department for cutting that promo last week, which made it seem like something really big was going to happen in this episode, instead of another hour of treading water as we head toward the season finale. Really, the only plot development that was at all in dispute was Dickie’s release; any of us could have probably guessed that Boyd would triumph over Quarles; that Quarles’s status as a pervert would be confirmed; and that Raylan would prove to Lindsay that he does not suffer from performance anxiety in any way.
MVP: Boyd. For the second week in a row, Boyd makes the execution of his nefarious plans look both easy and inevitable.
Hat Content: Low. Between the court appearances and the sex, this episode has maybe the lowest hat content ever!
Raylan’s Love Interest Threat Level: High. I didn’t take much notice of this Lindsay when she was first introduced, but chasing Quarles out of her bar with the help of a double-barreled shotgun was an excellent demonstration that, when it comes to attracting Raylan, this woman has game.
State Of Boyd Crowder’s Soul: Cocky. Expressing his smug triumph over Quarles outside the sheriff’s office might worry those of us who love Boyd that some kind of comeuppance is coming — particularly when Raylan later tells Quarles he doesn’t care if Quarles and Boyd kill each other. (Even if we know in our hearts that Raylan doesn’t mean it.)
F-Yeah, Ava Crowder: Using her new position as a madam to arrange for her girls to give free handies and blowjays to Shelby voters shows Ava’s civic pride.
Villain Of The Week: Limehouse. One wonders whether Dickie, as he heads back to Harlan, realizes that it’s hog-butchering weather.
Best Line: Lindsay, on Quarles: “He looks like an albino deer.”
Tara Ariano would have appreciated a warning about that wanton act of violence against Raylan’s lap.