As Raylan states in the closing moments of 'Loose Ends,' war is once more in Harlan's future, and it seems all the parties involved are looking to batten down the hatches and survive as best they can when another potentially bloody end makes its way to the third Justified storyline.
Although as much as this episode is about tying up the titular loose ends, many of the decisions made by certain characters like Ava Crowder (Joelle Carter) and to a certain degree, Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson) – by way of his well-meaning associate Errol (Demetrius Grosse) – could mean larger problems for each of them down the line.
For one thing, Ava has made it pretty clear she sees herself rising to a position greater than that of Boyd's lady-friend and business partner by suggesting the running of prostitutes fall under her guidance now that resident pimp and scoundrel Delroy (William Mapother) is no longer capable of performing such duties.
The episode begins showing how Delroy has put Ellen May (Abby Miller) back in harms way – despite the pistol-whipping Raylan gave him to suggest he do otherwise in 'When the Guns Come Out' – and after she's involved in a botched robbery that sees one girl shot during the attempt, and another killed by Delroy while disposing of the body, poor Ellen May is once again asking Ava to help her out.
Ava, having killed her abusive husband, understandably takes the girl in and proposes cousin Johnny (David Meunier) could find some use for her around his house. Sadly, cousin Johnny doesn't see eye-to-eye with Ava on the topic of Ellen May and proposes that Delroy be informed of the situation – since he is paying the Crowders for protection after all.
Meanwhile, Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) is on to Sheriff Napier (David Andrews), after a jailed Boyd (Walton Goggins) sheds some light on the dealings the crooked lawman has had with federal fugitive and all-around screwed individual Tanner Dodd (Brendan McCarthy). Despite his best efforts to remain a living and worthwhile associate to both Sheriff Napier and Limehouse, it seems Tanner has come to the end of his usefulness.
While trying to recover some money from a bomb maker, Tanner manages to plant a foot on a booby-trapped stool and is left for dead by Errol – though Raylan and an ATF agent do their best to save him, Tanner goes the way of the Dodo before Raylan can get any useful information on Quarles (Neal McDonough) and his involvement in the death of Gary Hawkins (William Ragsdale), or any other act of malfeasance the Detroit gangster is suspected of perpetrating while running his Oxy business in Harlan.
For his part in the proceedings, Quarles has a meeting with Limehouse to discuss the campaign to reelect Napier, which falls into his overall plan to start a new criminal empire. As he tells Limehouse, "I'm from Detroit, elected officials are always part of the business plan." Too bad for Quarles, he's never run a business plan against Boyd Crowder.
Released from jail, Crowder shows up at the public debate between Napier and Shelby (Jim Beaver) to do what he does best: act as a rabble-rouser and deliver a stirring speech to which Napier has no rebuttal.
Back at cousin Johnny's bar, Boyd is jubilant, but stops short of claiming victory for Shelby, as he is all too aware of the corruption involved in a Harlan election. Before he gets too far into his revelry, Boyd is pulled aside by Ava who confesses to murdering Delroy and disposing of the body. None of this is of particular concern to Boyd, until Ava suggests she take up running the prostitutes in Harlan.
The episode ends with Raylan heading out to Nobel's Holler for information on Quarles, to which Limehouse acts ignorant. The situation gets a little tense after Limehouse first tries to get under Raylan's skin by regaling the marshal with the story of how he beat Arlo to a pulp. Seeing what little affect that has, Limehouse offers up a tale of Raylan's mother, which elicits a small reaction from the normally cool lawman and hints at the knowledge Limehouse must have on all the major players in Harlan. Whether or not that will see him survive into season 4 is another matter.
The scene suggests that all the pieces are now in place, and those involved with Quarles will have to answer one way or another in the coming weeks.
Justified returns next Tuesday with 'Guy Walks Into a Bar' @10pm on FX.