This post contains spoilers through the January 24 episode of Justified.
Last night’s episode of Justified felt a bit more like Season 1 than Season 2, which strikes me as too bad. It’s unfortunate to set up with a villain as promising as Quarles and then to not see him for an entire episode, though the show did make up for it by giving us a very, very creepy lesson in the use of lye and butcher knives in motivating employee performance.
As much as I missed our blonde friend from Detroit, I did appreciate the episode’s light touch with Winona and Raylan, who seem to be bantering their way towards something more tender and stable than what they had prior to their divorce. “I think he’s married,” Raylan jokes when a realtor shows up unexpectedly to show Winona’s house. “So was I,” Winona tells Raylan, before laying out all the reasons he’s better for her than some dude who swans around showing houses. It’s something Raylan has clear doubts about, clear enough that he consults Boyd in prison to ask, “What do you make of a man who divorces a woman, then gets her pregnant, then thinks maybe they should move in together?” “You’re speaking to a man who’s sleeping with his dead brother’s widow and murderess,” Boyd reminds him.
Later, looking at ultrasound photos, Raylan deadpans, “I think we might have a problem. From this angle, it bears a striking resemblance to the creature from Alien,” before admitting his anxieties about fatherhood in a surprisingly touching moment. The best lawmen have squishy hearts, and the modern ones can admit when they need a woman as when, after a fellow Marshal’s murder, Raylan tells Winona, “If you don’t mind, stay.”
Boyd may not have helped Raylan resolve his relationship troubles, but that doesn’t mean he’s universally feckless. First, he pries the information about Mags’ secret stash out of Dickie, telling him, “Everything you squirreled away over all them years. You tell me how to get my hands on it.” And it turns out that Limehouse, a man who isn’t afraid to whip out a butcher knife or a bucket of lye to make a point, giving a nodding watchman a choice between the chemicals or a pledge to “never fail me again in any capacity,” has anxieties about Boyd’s release from prison. “These dangerous times for us,” Limehouse lectures. “The law sniffing around us. That Crowder boy fresh out of jail. Now more than ever, we need to stay vigilant. Starting with the man on night watch.” Lye, it seems, isn’t the only chemical in the mix. It remains to be seen whether they’ll stay inert, or be ignited by a dangerous catalyst.