April 12, 2012

Episode Review: JUSTIFIED, "Slaughterhouse"

As you can tell from my previous reviews of Justified, I've thought that this season has had its share of ups and downs, so it's appropriate that the finale would stir up some conflicting emotions. On one hand, "Slaughterhouse" had some amazing character driven moments, and on the other it was a little anti-climactic.

At the end of the last episode, Trooper Tom was gunned down by Robert Quarles, or that's what we assumed. For the majority of "Slaughterhouse," Raylan made it his mission to make Quarles pay, but he wasn't above taking down the other bad guys like Boyd, whom he got arrested for the murder of Devil. The only reason Givens knew how to find Devil was because of Limehouse, whose main objective was to put all of the drama behind him and keep Noble's Holler safe, so he tipped of the lawman. Raylan thought that he had at least one murdering scumbag away, but he was thrown a curveball. More on that later.

While Raylan was tracking down Quarles, the carpetbagger from Detroit was on the run, and he took a family hostage so he could have some leverage. He was able to strike a deal with his former boss, Theo Tonin, and if he could come up with $500,000 he would be free of any debt and allowed to live. Quarles decided to use Raylan as a way to get money out of Limehouse, and a tense showdown between the three took place in the now famous slaughterhouse. Of course, Limehouse was unwilling to pay up, but Raylan promised that by giving Quarles the money then Noble's would be left alone for good. Just when Quarles was about to take the cash, the recently exiled Errol took a shot at him, but before he could return fire, Limehouse chopped off his arm. As Quarles laid on the ground bleeding thanks to his now severed arm, he told Raylan that he didn't shoot Tom and that Arlo did it.

Raylan and his marshal buddies showed up at Arlo's and took him in for the murder of Tom. As it turned out, Arlo's relationship with Boyd was stronger than the one he had with his own son, so he decided to take the fall the deaths of both the trooper and Devil which meant Boyd was free to go. When asked why he did it, he said it was in order to protect Boyd, and it dawned on Raylan that Arlo didn't intend to kill Tom; he planned on shooting his own son.

Like I had mentioned earlier, "Slaughterhouse" was chock full of amazing character moments and interactions, especially for Raylan. The scene when he realized that his father hated him so much that he would gladly kill him in order to save his surrogate son was heartbreaking, and Timothy Olyphant knocked it out of the park. That glimpse at his relationship with Arlo also gave Raylan and added layer to his personality, and we have a better understanding of why he is the way that he is. Great stuff. Even Raylan's scenes with Boyd, Wynn Duffy, Limehouse and Quarles were also stellar, and examples of why Justified gets so much praise. I wouldn't be surprised if Olyphant and Walton Goggins get repeat Emmy nominations, and this might be the season that gets Justified a nod for Outstanding Drama despite some of the bumps in the road.

Speaking of some of those bumps, I couldn't shake the fact that "Slaughterhouse" had some pretty lackluster scenes mixed in with the amazing ones, and I left the episode feeling a little bit cheated. From a character standpoint, this episode was great, but it stumbled a little when it came to the plot, especially when it came to Quarles. The majority of this season built up to this epic showdown between him and Raylan, and this over the top villain was ultimately taken out by one of Limehouse's lackeys. After getting so much hype, Quarles' downfall was almost as weak as Darth Maul's, but at least his final moments were just as comical as the rest of his arc. Chopping off his arm? Seriously? I'm just glad we're done with him and we can move on, although I hope we see more of Limehouse and Noble's Holler down the road.

 Other Odds and Ends:
  • The relationship between Boyd and Arlo was probably the best thing to come out of Season 3.
  • The return of Harlan Roulette! Yay!
  • Shelby vs. Boyd during Season 4 could be pretty interesting.
  • The way that Raylan planted the gun that killed Gary on Quarles was brilliant.
  • So, Johnny's setting up Boyd? Twist!
  • Ava's arc could have been the best of the bunch, but the writer's dropped the ball towards the end of the season.
  • Well, it looks like we're done with Winona.
  • "Heard a cop in a hat got shot. Guess it wasn't you."
  • "Deputy Marshal. I ain't my father, and I don't care to be confused with him."
  • "You're not as dumb as you look. Like the use of the word 'cahoots' though."
  • "Half-a-million ain't gettin' outcha your hair money. Thatt's fightin' money."
  • "Well, no offense, but not my people, not my problem."
  • "Holy shit, it's a piggy bank!"
So, Season 3 of Justified is in the books, and the inevitale question is whether or not it was as good as Season 2. My short answer is no. While a lot of really great things happened during this season, it didn't have the focus or impact that the Mags Bennett arc had. Some of the elements that were added this year also ended up being distractions more than anything (Dickie, the money, Quarles) which gave the story a very disjointed and frantic feeling. Now, I'm not saying that Season 3 was a bust because we still got some amazing stuff from Raylan, Boyd and the rest of the ensemble. It just wasn't as strong as last year. Plain and simple.


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