The justice department is big on trinkets…
“How’s it work?”
“It doesn’t…someone shot it.”
“Why would someone shoot a Furbot?”
Episode 4: Foor Blood or Money
I just have to say, that I feel like overall, this season of Justified is turning out to be even stronger than the last and I think so much of this has to do with episodes like this one. I don’t think the episode was particularly amazing or anything, but it did flesh out and bring some background to Rachel’s character. The subplot with her sister-in-law felt slightly contrived (it wasn’t quite presented/developed/act well enough to be seamless inserted into everything), but it carried a level of reality (surprisingly hammered home by Flex’s character) that made it work overall. Of course, this follows the theme that I’ve taken to be emerging this season: the past. Not only do we get this very visceral reminder of Rachel’s past, but we have a reminder of some element of Raylan’s past (“My boy ain’t walked right for 21 years now.”) (I should note here, too, that anytime Raylan and Mags are interacting it is pure magic–Olyphant and Martindale just rip it up when on screen together.) What seems like an improvement over last season is that more characters are being filled in and in more detailed ways. Similarly, all of these past events point to an unknown, but exceedingly exciting future (Mags bigger plans, the arrival of the “non-existent” Dixie mafia, and so forth). And I must note–that following the theme of the past weeks–Raylan once again has someone else do his shooting for him. I think this has been an excellent plot device and it’ll be interesting to see how long it continues. (My hope is as long as Boyd’s new life does…this would make for great parallelism).
And this brings me to what I take to be the most interesting point of this episode: Boyd. Boyd is reading _Of Human Bondage_, which I find deeply suggestive and quite fascinating. The book’s anti-religious elements are well-known and this seems like quite a reversal of the Boyd of last season. Similarly, when the proposition of robbery without the threat of getting caught (indeed the promise of being socially rewarded) appears, it raises all of the stakes and issues that we’ve been discussing. In a sense, Boyd is presented with a classic ring of Gyges dilemma and now the true question arises: can Boyd not do evil when no one is looking? From the way the episode ended it seems Boyd may be interested and this suggests that Boyd’s priorities have shifted from something like goodness (if that ever was a priority) to something like appearing as good. Of course, this shift is not really an explanation, but itself a further question. What does such a shift (again, if there was one), or at the very least, such a conception mean for Boyd’s character? Finally, I find the relative sameness of the settings of Justified (i.e. Kentucky) to be a good contrast to the variety of locales in _Of Human Bondage_, and so there is a neat fictional economy here between our fictional characters (and our fascination with the alleged alienness of these segments of Kentucky) and their fiction (and perhaps Boyd’s fascination with the locales of _OHB_).
Looking forward to your thoughts,
I’m with you on the Rachel story – the character of her brother-in-law was about 75% developed, and so the plot device of the knock-off toy didn’t really come off. I was a bit surprised by this – one of the consistent pleasures of Justified is how well it develops its “case of the week” stories; it takes time to develop its characters in these plotlines, most of whom we see for one week only, with enough nuance and backstory that they seem to spring to life fully formed. The canonical example of this is the dentist from last season, but every baddie this season has been great as well, until this week. There was enough attention paid that the story still worked – Flex’s aspiration to be a magician (“You dick!”) was perfect – but I wanted a bit more. I do love, though, that Rachel and Tim are getting so much attention, as you pointed out. And I did also note that, once again, Raylan doesn’t fire a bullet (well, he does, but he takes out a windshield, and hesitates to take what would have been a killshot last season). The result is a promising little moment in Art’s office, swapping stories of disappointing fathers and the haunting that comes with taking another person’s life. It’s something like a family (that shoots people, Art laments), comparable to that scene to the cold open, with Raylan and Mags indulging in their genteel repartee around the Bennett table (and I agree, the scenes between these two are unbelievable – Raylan bringing an apple pie was just utterly perfect) while Dickie and Doyle are thinking of murder and black helicopters. Family’s both the sacred center and vicious cancer at the heart of Harlan County in Justified.
Agreed about Boyd, and nice call on the Gyges dilemma. That’s exactly it – and an apt metaphor for someone who works underground, for that matter. This episode and last week both ended with a sudden shift in his character – last week, the scream of frustration, and this week, the slight widening of the eyes as an enticing offer dangled in front of them. The overall story of the season pretty clearly is focused on Mags and Raylan, so I’m curious to see how Boyd becomes a wildcard in this confrontation. Throw in the still-rumored Dixie mafia, and we have the making for a nice bit of clan warfare to carry us through the season.