March 21, 2012

Episode Review: JUSTIFIED, "Guy Walks Into a Bar"

I'm probably in a very small minority, but I did not love "Guy Walks Into a Bar." There, I said it.

The race for county sheriff was coming to a close, and Boyd decided to buy votes with cheap liquor and even cheaper women, but his underhanded ways were not enough to get Shelby elected. Luckily for the Crowders, he had a contingency plan which involved getting Napier's estranged sister a job with the county clerk's office thus making him ineligible and putting Shelby in charge until a re-vote could take place. Being outsmarted by a "hillbilly" upset and already down-on-his-luck Quarles who decided to take it out on Raylan Givens since he was snooping around and uncovering his weakness for male hustlers.

Raylan had enough on his plate as he tried to keep Dickie Bennett in jail because apparently he was going to be pardoned due to the whole "being forced to escape so a dirty guard could get rich but instead Dewey Crowe got involved in a black market organ selling ring" debacle. Givens had to come up with a statement that would keep Dickie behind bars, but he was being distracted by the cute bartender and the man from Detroit. Quarles was the titular guy who walked into a bar to inform Raylan that he was going to kill him, and of course our favorite lawman did not take the threat lightly. After a tense face-off, both men lived to threaten each other another day. As for Dickie, he was cut loose after Raylan decided to throw his statement because he knew Dickie would either wind up dead or back in prison so why waste the tax payer's money.

Now, I've always had mixed feelings about Quarles as a character. Since day one he's been depicted as an over-the-top sociopath which should work in theory, but he's so grandiose that he comes off as comical, and he veers into the Bond level of villains. That's not to say that Neal McDonough has been doing a poor job because he's been great. It's just that Quarles has become so exaggerated that it's hard to take him seriously, and things were not helped out by the reveal that he was sexually abused as a child because that twist felt too easy. Of course the creepy man who beats up male prostitutes in the buff was molested while growing up.

Another reason why I was lukewarm towards this episode was Dickie Bennett. At this point, I do not care about him (Jeremy Davies has also taken him to another level of ludicrousness), and I care even less about his family's money because it's already served its purpose. At this point, I'm just counting down the days until Boyd kills him once and for all so we don't have to have him shoehorned into another season. Since I was not interested in Dickie's fate, I was also not really invested in Raylan's plot until Quarles showed up, but I did like the chemistry between him and the bartender.

My last quibble had to do with the entire election. Now, I'm not a prude or anything, but the thought of Boyd buying votes with hookers and hooch just felt dirty even for this show. Yes, I understand that was the entire point, but this one was wrong and crossed an arbitrary line. I couldn't help but feel sorry for Shelby because he was clearly uncomfortable with the tactic, and I hope that we're in store for some tension between him Boyd because I can see him taking his position seriously while Crowder's just there to hold onto what little power he has over Harlan.

While it seems like I'm being overly critical about this episode, I do have to admit that there were some moments that I genuinely enjoyed. The scene between Quarles and Raylan was electric and filled with tension, and I really do want to see them have a final showdown because it will be epic (maybe not at Mags' level but close). Like I mentioned before, I liked watching the chemistry between Raylan and Lindsey mostly because it meant he wasn't so morose, and they lightened up things. So, see I appreciated some of what was going on during "Guy Walks Into a Bar," I wouldn't even say that I disliked the episode. I just didn't instantly fall in love with it like I'm sure most fans did.

Other Odds and Ends:
  • Jim Beaver was pretty great during this episode. I'd gladly trade Bobby Singer for Shelby at this rate.
  • At least we got our random Limehouse sighting for the week.
  • The old lady who spilled the milkshake in Raylan's lap was pretty great.
  • While Quarles' scene with Raylan was great, the one between him and Boyd was just as good.
  • Raylan sure likes blondes.
  • Lindsey: "You need to buck up sadness. You are sounding like a 'glass half empty' kinda guy."
    Raylan: "Right now, I'm a 'my glass is completely empty' kinda guy."
  • "I voiced my concerns, and they fell on deaf ears."
  • "Why wait?"
  • Quarles: "So, if I pull on your girl there?"
    Raylan: "No, don't do that. I'm really starting to like her."
  • Lindsey: "Does that happen often?"
    Raylan: "Women leaving me?"
    Lindsey: "No, coming into bars trying to kill you."
    Raylan: "One of the hazards of being a Marshal I guess."
    Lindsey: "Sure, it's not just one of the hazards of being you?"
  • "Next time you tell me you're not good at something, I'm going to believe you."
I'm sure once I take the time to let this episode settle and give it some thought that I'll appreciate more than I did after my first viewing. Again, it's not that I didn't like it or couldn't see what it did well, but Quarles lazy backstory and continued ascent into cartoonish levels of villainy were too distracting this time around.


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