February 14, 2012

Episode Review: JUSTIFIED, "Thick as Mud"

I've talked about how one of Justified's strengths is its ability to successfully combine serialized elements with more procedural ones, and "Thick as Mud" was an example of this gift even though it was by far one of the show's most surreal episodes that involved nurses, urban legends and carpetbaggers.

At the end of "The Devil You Know," Lance the prison nurse had Dewey Crowe drugged up and ready to be operated on in a seedy motel room, and "Thick as Mud" picked up from there. You see, Lance had removed Dewey's kidneys and told him that he had plans to sell the organs on the black market, but he'd be willing to see them back to Dewey if  he was able to come up with $20,000 in four hours. In order to get the money in time, Dewey had to go on a crime spree, but Raylan and Rachel were on his trail. Raylan visited Ash in the hospital so he could get information on Lance's operation, and while he was there he met a nurse named Layla who ended up being Lance's girlfriend/partner. When he visited her to see if she had anything to do with what happened to Dewey, Lance drugged him and planned on removing Raylan's kidneys for real this time (he only made Crowe think that he had taken his). Before Lance could do the deed, Layla shot him for some reason, and she was about to do the same to Givens, but he was able to get a shot off first.

While Raylan was out chasing Dewey Crowe and organ thieves, Boyd had to deal with the ramifications of Devil's betrayal and ultimate death. Crowder figured that Devil's actions were a sign of someone bigger and badder than him moving in on his territory, so he was determined to smoke them out. His first move was to coerce a dirty doctor into giving him the Dixie Mafia's Oxycontin supply, and his second was to beat up the guy who got Devil all turned around in the first place. Apparently, Boyd's messages were effective because Quarles showed up to have a sit down with him. The man from Detroit suggested that they form a partnership as a way to make even more money, but Boyd wasn't having it because he knew that meant that his crew would end up doing all of the work while Quarles and the Dixie Mafia made all of the money.

At first, I wasn't sold on "Thick as Mud" because it took a weird slasher/horror turn with the whole stolen kidney plot. The move felt like it was out of left field, and it didn't seem like the kind of story Justified would usually tell because of its inherently over-the-top nature. The thing is, the show made it work because of the dark humor that was involved which is something that this show uses really well. Had the episode taken this storyline seriously, it wouldn't have worked as well, so the fact that they were in on the joke was refreshing.

What this episode also did well was kick off the inevitable showdown between Boyd Crowder and Mr. Quarles. Up until this point we've only been getting hints about what was coming, but that face-to-face was a clear war council, and things are about to get intense in Harlan. What is going to make this situation even better is how Raylan is going to get caught in the middle.

Other Odds and Ends:
  • Psych's Maggie Lawson guest starred as Layla, and boy was she good. She had crazy chemistry with Timothy Olyphant, and part of me wishes Psych wraps up soon so she can somehow be brought back to Justified on a regular basis. One can dream.
  • Ava's quickly becoming one of this show's MVPs.
  • I know that I haven't been overly impressed by the Quarles character, but that scene between him and Boyd was great.
  • We didn't get too much of Limehouse this week except for the two scenes that bookended the episode, and from the looks of it he's definitely up to something.
  • Usually, I can pick up on twists before they happen, but I did not see that ending coming.
  • "Did I blink?"
  • "You're just dying to smash something, aren't ya?"
  • "The way I see this thing is you're in between a rock and a much, much harder rock ..."
  • "It's best you not blaspheme in here Raylan. Apparently, the owner takes that real serious."
  • "Honey, if I started arresting people for committing adultery, I'd never make it home for supper."
While I'm not going to advocate that Justified needs more of these surreal episodes to be entertaining because this show works best when it's rooted in a believable reality, but "Thick as Mud" was a very entertaining detour that was able to keep everything on track at the same time.


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