At first it was a little bewildering to think that Justified was venturing into the well-trodden territory of organ harvesting – that being normally reserved for urban legends and the like. But 'Thick as Mud' manages to craft an incredibly well-rounded and entertaining episode from a notion that not only skewers lesser storytelling efforts on the macabre subject, but also finds time to scatter an idea or two on the topic of Quarles vs. Boyd Crowder.
It's so great when the end of one episode of Justified bleeds seamlessly into the next, as we have from last week's 'The Devil you Know.' After the attempt to extract Mags Bennett's $3 million from her son Dickie (Jeremy Davies) was spoiled, prison nurse Lance (Clayne Crawford) proves he just isn't one to let an opportunity for a little extra cash pass him by.
Enter Dewey Crowe (Damon Herriman), whose slow-wittedness and utter gullibility is so painfully obvious that Lance makes him for an easy mark – even though Dewey hasn't shared Lance's company for very long. And so, after waking up in a bloody bathtub with two freshly sutured incisions on either side of his abdomen, the unfortunate Dewey Crowe is sent out into the world to scrounge up enough cash to buy back his precious organs.
What transpires next is a rapid-fire succession of Dewey's unsuccessful attempts at raising the $20k demanded by Lance – which involves robbing an appliance store where the customers pay mostly by credit card; a strip club where he takes the time to evaluate one of the dancers as a "six;" and a convenience store that sees Dewey's casual blasphemy punished with some buckshot to the leg.
Fortunately, Raylan caught up to Dewey by this point, and through a quick biology lesson the escaped convict comes to realize all of his parts are where they belong.
For an episode revolving about such unpleasant business as stripping a human body for spare parts, 'Thick as Mud' has a surprisingly robust sense of humor about it, with one of the funnier exchanges taking place between Raylan and former prison guard Ash Murphy (Todd Stashwick) wherein Raylan asks what he knows about kidneys and Murphy replies: "They're the Cadillac of beans."
Of course, where would we be without the key moments of tension Justified has proven itself so capable of delivering?
After sniffing around a bit, Raylan comes to suspect the cute nurse he chatted up in Murphy's room knows more than she's letting on, so he decides to drop by her house unannounced. Lance gets the drop on him and pumps Raylan full of sedative, choosing to harvest his parts since he's got to kill the Marshal anyway.
Raylan, doped up as he is, manages to calm the situation by putting a bullet into the nurse – through the body of the recently shot Lance, mind you.
Still, the badass moment of the night may have to go to Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), who finally has a meeting with his would-be adversary Quarles (Neal McDonough). After mentioning to Ava (Joelle Carter) that Quarles' power could prove too much for his burgeoning criminal enterprise, Boyd still chooses to take a hard stance again the Detroit gangster – warning him with a history lesson about how "carpetbaggers" such as Quarles are often met with a lethal disdain by the South.
'Thick as Mud' ends with Raylan reading what appears to be a rather unpleasant note from Winona (Natalie Zea). Though we're not told exactly what the note states, perhaps Raylan can bring it to Wynn Duffy for analysis, since Jere Burns has so much past experience with Dear John letters.
Justified continues next week with 'When the Guns Come Out,' which airs Tuesday @10pm on FX.