Whether it’s Raylan’s somewhat sketchy history with putting bullets in gun-thugs, his tenuous relationship with his father Arlo (Raymond J. Barry) or his upbringing with the likes of Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) and Dickie Bennett (Jeremy Davies), Justified routinely makes it a habit to have old wounds stay open. In the case of ‘Guy Walks Into a Bar,’ however, it’s not just Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) who is asked to revisit a time he’d rather forget, but also Robert Quarles (Neal McDonough), in a disturbing admission of how he became the man we know.
And for the most part, that is where Justified excels: In showing the road these men and women of Harlan County have traveled on, and how their families have intertwined down the same roads for generations – which is why folks in any given Holler can be expected to react to certain stimuli in a particular manner. But Quarles is an outsider; his presence and actions are largely a curiosity to folks in Harlan and its surrounding areas, but there is one thing almost everyone can agree on: Robert Quarles has got to go. And thanks to the clever actions of Boyd Crowder, Quarles is left as adrift in Harlan as he would be in Detroit.
Quarles is buying the services of Tillman Napier (David Andrews), a corrupt lawman who had been seeking reelection unchallenged until Boyd put his man Shelby (Jim Beaver, Supernatural) in to unseat the incumbent sheriff. Come election day, Boyd – with the help of Ava (Joelle Carter) and her new business venture – is offering certain illicit adult favors to registered voters for a guarantee that votes will go Shelby’s way.
Through it all, there is a subtle suggestion from Shelby’s reaction to this news that while he’s starting out in Boyd’s pocket, Shelby may be looking to turn over a new leaf and take this sheriff business seriously. Boyd scoffs at the thought and tells his friend, “…this is the nature of Harlan County politics” – which is not too far off from Quarles’ account of how business is run in Detroit.
All of this is happening while a distracted Raylan is scrambling to find some angle he can play to keep Dickie Bennett from being pardoned from the events of ‘The Devil You Know.’ Dickie, last of the Bennett clan, is becoming as much of a thorn in Raylan’s side as Boyd, but without playing the role of articulate anti-hero. Raylan sees this as a personal matter, which drudges up the memory of last season’s ‘Bloody Harlan‘ in which the marshal was beaten and shot.
Raylan even goes so far as to dig up Jed Berwind (Richard Speight Jr.), who would testify against Dickie, were it not for the longstanding debt his family owed the Bennetts. Raylan’s attempt to win Jed’s testimony results in him getting a strawberry milkshake dumped in his lap by a relative of Jed’s, and a ticket back to square one.
Back at Cousin Johnny’s bar, Boyd and Shelby are in a similar predicament, as news comes in that Napier has won the election. While Quarles and Napier are discussing their new arrangement, Boyd has a surprise delivered in the form of a somewhat obscure, but seemingly ironclad nepotism law that would force Napier from office and insert the other candidate in his place – at least until a special election can be arranged in three months time.
Not one to hang about a sinking ship, Quarles runs into Boyd who has taken exception to the outsider from day one; comparing him to a carpetbagger and now a conquistador being ousted by the indigenous people he’d hoped to control. “I hope you enjoyed your stay, and you never forget who packed your bags,” Boyd tells his adversary.
The consecutive defeats suffered by Quarles at the hands of Raylan and Boyd send the Detroit gangster into a bit of a tailspin, so when he and his henchman, Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns), are confronted by Donovan (Marshall Allman, True Blood, Mad Men), a friend of the young hustler last seen tied to a bed in the Oxy house, Quarles quickly slips back into psychopath mode. We learn of his painful past, and the man who set Quarles free by giving him the means to kill his father – the source of all that misery and pain. Unfortunately for Donovan, he buys the story and ends up handcuffed to Quarles’ toilet.
Before he can get to the boy, though, Quarles pays Raylan a visit that would have determined who is the faster draw, were it not for a shotgun-wielding bartender named Lindsey (Jenn Salazar) breaking up the festivities.
‘Guy Walks Into a Bar’ ends with Raylan deciding halfway through his statement regarding Dickie, that he doesn’t much care if the sole remaining Bennett stays in prison or not. One way or another, Raylan’s bound to end up dealing with him, as he is Quarles.
As foreboding as Raylan’s assertion that war is coming to Harlan was, Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson) declares the cooling Kentucky weather as “hog killing season,” which when spoken by a barbecue king, and violent criminal in his own right, pretty much means the same thing.
Justified continues next Tuesday with ‘Measures’ @10pm on FX.