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TV Reviews: Justified 3.12, "Coalition"

"Funny how it brings together all them wayward personalities." - Ellstin Limehouse to U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens

rating: 5

When I sit down to write my review of the latest episode of Justified I€™m always daunted as to how to succinctly convey the intricate series of alliances made and broken, of double crosses and backs stabbed. It always seems there€™s almost too many to keep track of. €œCoalition€ is no different and one of the many reasons why Justified is so good is the fact that no matter how convoluted the relations among the series€™ characters appear in retrospect, they never feel as such (at least to excess) while watching. Instead there€™s only the sense of building momentum and although this episode wasn€™t the season finale (though it did almost feel that way), it paid off on a lot of the momentum that€™s been building throughout the season. Like many episodes throughout this season (and indeed the entire series), €œCoalition€ not only had several plans formed and foiled, but plenty of action including a vicious Boyd beat-down, another car bomb explosion, and even a bona fide Raylan Givens draw down as well as some of the funniest lines of the entire season balanced by some of the most touching. The episode picks up where the last left off as Quarles awakes at Audrey€™s, the, let€™s say brothel, now under the new management of Mrs. Ava Crowder, after being Tased into unconsciousness by Boyd last episode. Now things ended last episode looking pretty terrible for Quarles as he was ambushed by Boyd, sold out by Duffy and Napier, and even turned away by Limehouse, however, opening €œCoalition€ with Quarles chained up naked with two prostitutes and a bottle of oxy lets the audience know he won€™t stay that way for long. Meanwhile, as Boyd and his crew discuss business at their bar, Floyd€™s, Limehouse€™s lieutenant, Errol (whom I€™ve been misidentifying as €œEarl€ €“ the names this season, I swear€), whom appeared to turn on his employer in favor of working with Dickie Bennett to recover his 3.2 million dollar inheritance, arrives with none other than Dickie himself, the man responsible for putting bullets into Ava and Helen, the latter being fatal. Seeing Boyd€™s eyes pop out of his head before going absolutely ape shit on Dickie was one of the funniest bits on Justified. Luckily for Dickie, and much to the chagrin of Arlo, Ava persuades her man to relent in order to hear about how they can obtain his money. This scene is obviously significant for its plot elements, but even more so for a very small detail that doesn€™t become apparent until later in the episode €“ Arlo says he€™s proud of Boyd and calls him €œson€. Now this type of colloquialism is popular in the American South as well as for seniors addressing younger men in general, but once later in the episode Arlo slips in a moment of anger and calls Boyd €œRaylan€, it becomes apparent Arlo is transferring paternal feelings toward Boyd (similarly to how we saw in the last episode how Art is acting more paternal toward Raylan) and I wonder how this will play into the characters€™ dynamic, especially seeing as how Arlo€™s hallucinations of Helen are now being made visible to the audience signifying their increasing intensity and debilitating effects. Boyd stated explicitly that he takes Arlo€™s age and special €œplace in heart€ into consideration when dealing with the man€™s temper but I wonder if he€™ll get another pass even after pulling a gun on Ava. Errol goes on to explain where Limehouse is keeping the Bennett money €“ in a safe deposit box at an actual bank €“ setting the crew up to rob the establishment, but about half way through the episode we learn that this is exactly what Limehouse has planned to happen. If last week you thought Errol€™s decision to rob his employer was suspect, you were right. Boyd even calls out the man (after a great €œsalt or pepper€ line) and explains the futility in such an endeavor as Errol would have nowhere to turn even if he did manage to successfully rob Limehouse and Errol subsequently spills the beans. Turns out Errol€™s courtship of Dickie and Boyd was Limehouse€™s strategy to potentially get rid of both men either when they killed each other in the process or got thrown back in prison after robbing the safe deposit box of the millions that weren€™t actually there and this deal only became sweeter when Quarles reentered the equation ready to serve Limehouse in order to work off his debt. Another sign of why Justified is such a high quality series is how it tempers the flurry of activity among its antagonists with the lone actions of its protagonist, U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, whom seemingly plays an endless game of catch-up with those he€™s in pursuit of. It€™s easy to imagine how watching our hero be constantly one step behind the bad guys could paint him in some pretty unflattering colors, but after making up for just missing Quarles escaping from Audrey€™s with the great line, €œWhat€™re the two saddest words in the English language? €˜What party?€™€ Raylan further redeemed himself by getting the true location of Mags€™ millions from Limehouse (after another great line about how seeing Limehouse is like seeing the Wizard from The Wizard of Oz, whom Raylan says, €œturns out to be kind of a pussy,€) and showing up at the location, the home of Mags€™ favorite child, the quasi-adopted Loretta, waiting for Dickie, gun in hand. After some very unkind words to the effect of how stupid Dickie is and a quick draw show down which puts Dickie on the ground (though unclear if in the ground), we learn that Raylan and Limehouse struck a deal where Limehouse would give Raylan the true location of the money in exchange for his word that Nobles Holler will be left alone by the Marshals concerning said money. Upon learning of who€™s in possession of the fortune, Raylan sweetly and generously decides he€™s going to let Loretta keep it, though he warns her of irresponsible expenditures like Lexus€™s and Van Halen concerts. I just wonder if Limehouse will honor that generosity if he ever learns the Marshals didn€™t confiscate the funds. I loved the exchange between Duffy and Boyd in response to Quarles€™ escape. Duffy€™s very understandable anger and frustration over loosing Quarles was perfectly punctuated by his recounting to Boyd of Detroit crime boss, Theo Tonin€™s severed ear necklace and Boyd€™s subdued response to it, €œWhat does he say into it?€ which I believe were the same exact words Duffy used in response to the same story last episode, as well as by his €œbig stupid baby head€ line referring to Quarles whose appearance has been the subject of consistent ridicule throughout the season. Quarles€™ escape found the dangerously unhinged and directionless newfound mercenary getting really, really high on oxy and taking an assignment from Limehouse to kill Boyd thereby securing Limehouse€™s hold on the criminal enterprises of Harlan and Nobles Holler. Though Quarles appeared way too high to competently dispose of Boyd who, no longer in cahoots with Duffy, approaches the would-be assassin, he still attempted to pull off the job which seemed doom to fail, but apparently worked it to his favor. Duffy (whom I think should forever be known as €œThe Wynn-Wynn Situation€ as he would have to eventually fight to the death €œThe Situation€ from MTV€™s Jersey Shore, and win) waited until Quarles was out of his car before setting off the car bomb in the hopes Quarles would kill Boyd first, though it didn€™t work out that way. The explosion interrupted what would€™ve been the second quick draw show down of the episode setting Quarles on fire, albeit briefly, and knocked Boyd into a guard rail rendering him unconscious. Instead of killing Quarles, the blast apparently sobered him up enough to draw down on and shoot Tom, the cop whom had been assisting Raylan keep tabs on Dickie and Boyd throughout the episode, possibly killing him and also possibly abducting Boyd whom was nowhere to be found once Raylan and the other authorities showed up on the scene. So concludes the episode, setting up the finale to find Dickie neutralized and Boyd and Quarles on the run. With the 3.2 million dollars seemingly no longer available for the taking, that leaves Limehouse, Boyd, and crazy Quarles at odds once more and reasonably pissed. I can only imagine how Raylan intends to outsmart these characters€™ furious anger, but I cannot wait to find out.
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Fed a steady diet of cartoons, comics, tv and movies as a child, Joe now survives on nothing but endless film and television series, animated or otherwise, as well as novels of the graphic and literary varieties. He can also be seen ingesting copious amounts of sarcasm and absurdity.