Given the many devices that have been in play throughout this season of Justified, it’s easy to overlook the fact that, for all intents and purposes, the events are a direct continuation of season 2. So while the progression of the current narrative now hinges on the ever-worsening circumstances for Robert Quarles (Neal McDonough), there is still the matter of Mags Bennett’s missing millions and her son’s quest to obtain it. And a desperate Dickie (Jeremy Davies) is willing to walk right into the lion’s den to get a shot at his cash.

But before any of that can happen, Dickie and his newfound friend Errol (Demetrius Grosse) have to convince Boyd (Walton Goggins), cousin Johnny (David Meunier), Ava (Joelle Carter) and especially Arlo (Raymond J. Barry) not to murder Dickie where he stands. What plays out next is an agreement to steal the Bennett’s $3.2 million dollars from a safety deposit box that is so tenuous and slapdash, it is hardly befitting of such a master tactician as Boyd Crowder.

Of course, it could be the fact that even without the presence of Dickie, Boyd has the promise of a cool $200k in exchange for Robert Quarles to Theo Tonin (Adam Arkin) distracting him, so despite the rather amateurish prep-work being done to recover the funds, perhaps we can find room to forgive Boyd’s seemingly senseless ambition or his inability to look at the facts. Either that or Boyd is already on to the truth.

Speaking of Quarles, we have witnessed a rather peculiar arc to what was purported to be this season’s predominant villain. From the season premiere, it seemed as though Quarles was a dangerous and calculating foe; a tad boisterous, and with a flair for the dramatic, certainly, but given the efficiency with which he operated, one could hardly have expected him to be whittling away the season’s remaining episodes binging on Oxy and lashing out like a cornered animal.

And just like Dickie’s supposed millions, the bounty on Quarles’ head is enough to bring Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns) and Boyd together as well.

Given that so much of the intended payoff of ‘Coalition’ hinges on the expected behavior of a man who is likely incapable of internalizing his own next move, it’s plain to see that things are not going to go according to plan. But just whose plan is in effect anyway? Early on it was curious that Errol – competent guy that he is – would suggest that Dickie seek the help of Boyd Crowder, knowing full well, that once the money was recovered, Dickie would most certainly meet a gruesome death.

Thankfully, the Justified writers don’t try and keep up the ruse too long, and after Raylan exchanges words with Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson), we come to find out that the whole thing was intended to have everyone eliminated – either by each other, or by the involvement of law enforcement (Trooper Tom Bergen (Peter Murnik) had to miss his son’s T-ball game for these shenanigans). Raylan reckons Limehouse is eliminating the competition, but the head of Noble’s Holler says he just wants everyone to leave him and his territory alone. After Limehouse’s next move, that may just be true.

Back at cousin Johnny’s bar, Boyd has in fact put together the Errol/Limehouse connection and is merely keeping him and Dickie alive because the law is aware they were last seen walking into Johnny’s fine establishment. While Boyd leaves to find out Quarles has gone missing, Dickie gets the upper hand and takes Errol at gunpoint to finally recover his money.

It turns out the money was given to Loretta (Kaitlyn Dever) at the request of Mags, and Dickie walks right into Loretta’s foster home to find Raylan Givens waiting for him like an angry father whose child has broken curfew. Dickie just wasn’t meant for a life without bars obscuring the view, and even though he draws on Raylan, the marshal guns him down (not fatally) while Limehouse quietly looks on.

Though Raylan chastises her for lying to him about the money, Raylan’s softer side comes out and he lets the cash stay with the girl – as long as she keeps a low profile, and doesn’t invite Van Halen to any impromptu performances.

Meanwhile, even with the intervention of the U.S. Marshals, everything seems to be coming up Limehouse, as a very high Quarles attempts to settle his debt by killing Boyd Crowder. Naturally, in a face-off such as this, there is another party looking to capitalize from it, so Wynn Duffy explodes Quarles car just as he draws on Boyd. The ensuing chaos leaves Boyd injured and unconscious, Quarles set on fire and Trooper Tom Bergen shot, as Quarles makes his escape.

If only Trooper Tom hadn’t mentioned his son and the T-ball game, he might not have become such a likeable, and therefore, likely target to be gunned down by a slightly charred Robert Quarles.

This sets up the season finale of Justified with ‘Slaughterhouse’ next Tuesday @10pm on FX.