April 4, 2012

Episode Review: JUSTIFIED, "Coalition"

I know that I've been hard on Justified over the last couple of weeks, but I have to admit that I really liked "Coalition" even though it relied heavily on Dickie Bennett and his mother's money.

Errol approached Boyd Crowder to see if he'd be willing to team up with him and Dickie to rob the bank where Mags' money was located. At first, Boyd wasn't too interested in hearing them out, and he even tried to suffocate Dickie, but Ava was able to talk him down and convinced him to at least listen to what Errol and Bennett had to say. After thinking about it, Boyd sent Ava and Arlo to case the bank in order to come up with a plan.

Meanwhile, Robert Quarles woke up naked and chained to the bed of one of Ava's whores. Two of her girls were keeping him company while one of Boyd's goons kept watch. Quarles being the conniving man that he is, was able to get the hookers high by freebasing Oxy, and then got the drop on them. Once he was free, he met with Limehouse to set the record straight and to offer his services to clear his debt. Limehouse was aware of Boyd's plans to rob the bank and take the money, so he decided to have Quarles hit Crowder and take it back, but it turned out that he had ulterior motives.

Errol and Limehouse were setting up Boyd and Quarles to take a fall. The plan was to have both men be caught red handed by the feds, and Limehouse told Raylan as much when he was being questioned by the marshal. At first, Raylan thought that it was a power grab, but he admitted that he just wanted for him and his people to be left alone. From that point forward, Limehouse kept Raylan in the loop in order to preserve his interests.

What Limehouse didn't count on was Boyd figuring out what was going on from the jump. As soon as Errol entered his bar, he knew that he was being set up, and he tried to keep one step ahead of the saboteurs. Before he could take care of Dickie and Errol, Boyd was distracted by the fact that he couldn't get Ava or Arlo on the phone, so he went after them which allowed his prisoners to get away and chase after the money. Dickie learned that Loretta was the one who had the money, so he paid her a visit, but Raylan was tipped off by Limehouse so he met him instead. After goading Dickie to pull a gun on him, Givens shot him down and sent him back to prison.

With Dickie out of the picture, that left Boyd and Quarles as the major players remaining on the board. Limehouse informed Quarles that plans had changed and that Boyd was not going to rob the bank, but he still needed to be taught a lesson, and he asked that he deliver it. What they didn't know about was Wynn Duffy's alliance with Boyd, and how they planned to kill Quarles with a car bomb. All of this maneuvering led to a face off between Quarles and Boyd, but instead of Duffy killing his former boss, he gave him enough time to get out of the car to avoid the blast. The explosion caught the attention of Tom the State Trooper who arrived on the scene just to be shot by the carpetbagger from Detroit. When Raylan showed up at the crime scene, he was told what happened to Tom and realized that his nemesis had gotten away yet again.

As you can see, there was a lot going on during "Coalition." It could have been easy to get lost because of all of the twists, turns, changes of allegiances and schemes to kill people, but thankfully the plotting and pacing worked, and it was fairly easy to keep up with what everyone was doing and understand what their motivations were. What made this episode work for me, besides watching these people try to outsmart one another, was the fact that it was full of tension and intrigue without going overboard. Over the last couple of weeks, I've been critical about how cartoonish some elements have been this season, like Quarles, but this time around everything felt grounded and believable which made everything more effective. The fact that Dickie was used sparingly didn't hurt either.

Other Odds and Ends
  • OK, one aspect of "Coalition" that I found unrealistic was how shoddy Boyd's plan was to keep Quarles chained up. I get that he need to get free sooner or later, but Boyd's supposed to be some kind of criminal mastermind, so the fact that he didn't come up with a better way to keep Quarles restrained was laughably bad.
  • That being said, Quarles in a kimono while smoking Oxy as REO Speedwagon played in the background almost made up for it all.
  • I could have done without the Arlo/Alzheimer's subplot. I know that they've been alluding to it all season, but it felt tacked on here and the time could've been used better on another storyline.
  • It was nice having Loretta back.
  • Poor Tom. 
  • "In the end, they pull the curtain back, turns out the guy is kind of a pussy. How ya been, Ellstin?"
  • "Which one of you two assholes is trying to set me up? Salt or pepper?"
  • "Marshal, do I strike you in anyway as a Van Halen fan?"
As a penultimate episode, "Coalition" was pretty great. It allowed for some of the side plots to be wrapped up (Dickie and the money MacGuffin) while putting everyone else on a collision course towards one another which should make for a pretty great finale. Let's just hope next week's "Slaughterhouse" has a big enough payoff when it's all said and done.


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