Season 3 of Justified has subtly lingered on the demise of Mags Bennett, allowing the second season finale to slowly influence the events currently unfolding in the series. The result of a Mags-less Harlan has been the oft-mentioned vacuum of power, which has had the nasty side effect of making nearly every criminal far more ambitious than they have the smarts for.
This, of course, is in reference to Devil (Kevin Rankin), whose impatience with Boyd's plodding machinations has him considering selling Crowder out to the increasingly larger-than-life Quarles (Neal McDonough) in 'The Devil You Know.'
It seems the imminent birth of Boyd's new criminal empire isn't moving a brisk enough pace for Devil, and after his share of some off-camera bit of corruption yields a trifling $360, or as Boyd puts it, the score amounts to "waterin' seeds," the offer from Quarles begins to look very enticing, indeed.
Understanding he'd be unable to truly go it alone, Devil enlists the help of Johnny Crowder (David Meunier) to overthrow the self-appointed leader of their little clan. Since we've seen Crowders turn on one another before – or take up with "his dead brother's widow and murderess" – it is no stretch to imagine Johnny may have given some thought to Devil's underhandedness.
Devil is not the only opportunistic criminal in the episode, however, as Dickie Bennett, for all intents and purposes, is kidnapped from prison by a corrupt guard named Ash Murphy (Todd Stashwick, Supernatural, The Glades). Murphy's plan is to use Bennett's connection to Limehouse as a means to recover the fortune Mags left with the head of Nobel's Holler.
Knowing a thing or two about a thing or two, Raylan surmises that Dickie, and the also escaped (kidnapped) Dewey Crowe (Damon Herriman), would soon be paying Limehouse a visit – so Raylan and Marshal Rachel Brooks (Erica Tazel) follow suit. Naturally, they strike out, but the scene sets up what we believe is the first official meeting between Limehouse and Raylan; it turns out, however, to be a reunion of sorts – only one that Limehouse claims not to recall.
Later on, Raylan (in a bit of wistful explanation that Justified does so ridiculously well) tells the story of how a twenty-something Limehouse put a beating on the elder Givens (Raymond J. Barry) that left quite an impression on an 11 year-old Raylan. Apparently, it was the kind of beating Limehouse became somewhat renowned for delivering.
Murphy's overcooked plan to get the Bennett money turns south as soon as Raylan stumbles upon the motel where Murphy's cronies are holding Dickie and Dewey. In the badass moment of the episode, Raylan backs into Murphy after hitting him with his car once already, and then informs the bloodied and broken man he can "pretty much live without a spleen."
The exhibition of Raylan's driving prowess allows rest of the crew avoid immediate capture, although ending up in shackles would have been a better fate for them all – especially Dewey, who it seems will have some of his vital organs for sale on the black market very soon.
Finally, as one would expect, things turn out markedly worse for Devil, whose plan never gets off the ground – or out of Johnny's newly re-acquired bar, for that matter. With Boyd saying: "Is that a note of veiled menace I detect in your voice, Devil?" the end result of Devil's little coup was simply inevitable.
While the bumbling misadventures of Murphy, Dickie and Devil may have felt like a meandering episode, the failures we witnessed will better highlight what's to come when more competent lawbreakers like Boyd, Quarles and Limehouse begin to put their plans for Harlan into motion. No doubt those plans are right around the corner.
Justified airs Tuesday nights @10pm on FX.