After two solid episodes serving up pretty much everything that has come to be expected of Justified, the show utilizes the majority of ‘The Man Behind the Curtain’ to set up the larger plot thread that will likely run through the remainder of season 3. And since the situation between Quarles (Neal McDonough) and Boyd (Walton Goggins) escalated to the point that Raylan was forced to step in, it’s clear that the gangster from Detroit is prepared to make his move.
However, Quarles’ initial move proves two things: despite a predilection toward violence, he’s willing to use money to achieve his goals, and because he believes anyone can be bought, he proves himself every bit the carpetbagger Boyd labeled him in ‘Thick as Mud.’
And that is when we find Raylan, untethered (or becoming unhinged) since his split with Winona (Natalie Zea), living above a bar that he occasionally bounces at, and being hit up by Quarles to cut ties with Boyd and join his organization. Unfortunately for Mr. Quarles, he doesn’t realize that Raylan’s relationship with the notorious Mr. Crowder has nothing to do with illegally lining his pocket, and everything to do with the very nature of Harlan Co. – something an outsider such as Quarles simply cannot understand.
The discussion between the two also provides information that Quarles’ little side project in the guest bedroom is actually a long-standing bad habit that resulted in his near dismissal from the Detroit mob. As it turns out, Quarles likes to tune up male hustlers.
Raylan is spurred on by the accusation of being Boyd’s man as much as by the confrontation itself, which leads to him using fellow Marshal Tim Gutterson’s (Jacob Pitts) friend in the FBI to uncover Quarles’ criminal associates. As luck would have it the boss’ son Sammy Tonin (Max Perlich) has come down to buy a few horses and poke his nose around Quarles’ Oxy business. Before Raylan can get his hands on Sammy, however, he’s intercepted by a couple of feds and promptly given a rather harsh talkin’ to by agent Jeremy Barkley (Steven Tobolowsky) about stepping all over a FBI investigation.
This resulted in Raylan seemingly using up his last favor with the underutilized Tim Gutterson, but in his state of mind, it’s not clear whether or not Raylan really cares.
Not long after, Raylan is having a face-to-face with a confused and somewhat timid Sammy Tonin, which mostly consists of the would-be Mafioso being smacked upside the head and offered advice on why he is unfit to be wearing a $3,000 sharkskin suit. Despite the insults and the head smacking, Raylan learns that Quarles isn’t well liked by his own people and gets Sammy to yank the $50k Detroit was sending to help progress the Oxy business.
Meanwhile, Boyd is kept busy as sheriff Napier (David Andrews) temporarily shuts down cousin Johnny’s bar, at the well-paid request of Robert Quarles. This sends Boyd off to Noble’s Holler to visit Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson), and let him know that information such as Quarles purchasing the services of Harlan’s sheriff, would better serve everyone if it were to actually make it to Boyd’s ear before resulting in a visit from said corrupt official.
In retaliation to Quarles’ move, Boyd calls on the services of his friend Shelby (Jim Beaver, Supernatural) to run against Napier in the upcoming election. It appears Boyd is making due with his lack of capital by enlisting those he trusts to get in on the ground floor his criminal empire.
Finally, we see the tenacious Quarles, down, but not out; making a move to strike back at Raylan for seizing the house he ran the Oxy business from by tracking down Winona’s ex-husband Gary Hawkins (William Ragsdale). Given what we know of Quarles, things don’t look too good for poor Gary.
Justified returns next week with ‘Watching the Detectives,’ Tuesday @10pm on FX.