Now that the getting-to-know-you portion of Justified has introduced the new players in the season 3 premiere and last week’s episode ‘Cut Ties,’ season 3 is free go about its business of preparing Raylan Givens for the new power struggle in his particular neck of the woods.
‘Harlan Roulette’ is a speedy episode that excels in detailing the respective plans Boyd (Walton Goggins) and Quarles (Neal McDonough) have for Harlan Co., and exactly what roles Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson) and an imprisoned Dickie Bennett (Jeremy Davies) have to play in those plans. However, with Dickie getting the shakedown treatment from a prison guard, it stands to reason he’ll be out of prison sooner, rather than later.
While Quarles has the backing of organized crime in Detroit, Boyd, once more is forced to start from scratch – which he does by reclaiming cousin Jimmy’s old bar through a brief, but tense standoff with the new owner and a few undesirable patrons. Though he’s been unable to recover the money Dickie informed him of last week, Boyd does manage a meeting with Limehouse that gets the ball rolling on the issue of where Mags Bennett’s loot will end up, now that she’s gone. Just like in season 2, Boyd is seeking out opportunity wherever it may be, and now he believes it lies in improving on the criminal endeavors of his late father – with the unlikely circle that includes Ava (Joelle Carter), Arlo (Raymond J. Barry) and Devil (Kevin Rankin).
Meanwhile, Quarles’ undertaking in bringing Oxy to addicts in Harlan and shipping a percentage of the pills to Detroit finally crosses paths with Raylan by way of Wade Messer (James Le Gros), who, after stringing the Marshal up for Dickie to kill last season, has become addicted to the very drug Quarles is looking to peddle.
Messer gets his drug of choice from Glen Fogle (Pruitt Taylor Vince), a pawnbroker in league with Wynn Duffy (the excellent Jere Burns). Fogle likes to force those in his employ that have disappointed him to play ‘Harlan Roulette’ – a version of the classic Russian Roulette that adds an extra bit of suspense by requiring the player to pull the trigger twice.
Fogle enjoys a rapid rise and fall in the Justified world, as he goes from two-bit crook and drug pusher, to enlisting Messer’s aid in murdering Raylan, and then a final transformation into a would-be snitch –- turned upon by his Salacious Crumb-like associate Wally (Eric Ladin, The Killing).
After dealing with the whole Fogle/Messer situation, Raylan comes face-to-face with Quarles while paying a long overdue visit to Wynn Duffy. The encounter leaves Raylan with a picture of a smiling Quarles and proud ownership of the badass moment of the episode when Raylan tosses a bullet onto a battered Duffy’s chest and says, “The next one will come faster.”
Given some of the things we’ve seen regarding Quarles to this point (like torture victims in the spare bedroom and a predilection for handgun delivery systems inspired by Taxi Driver), he’s shaping up to be a quality adversary for Raylan that’s just begging for a showdown.
Justified returns next Tuesday @9pm on FX with the episode ‘The Devil You Know.’