This post contains spoilers through the February 28 episode of Justified.
First, the question of whether Arlo was faking memory loss with Raylan last week, or whether it’s real appears to have been answered. In a beautifully-shot moonlit sequence, we—and Limehouse’s lackeys—”Got some old white fool down the road shouting for Mr. Limehouse.” It turns out Arlo’s charged Noble’s Holler because he believes his wife’s gone missing and “I’m not leaving ’til you send one of those lap dogs up in the maze and bring back my Frances.” But his wife is dead, and Arlo ends up with a splitting headache in the care of Boyd Crowder, with his son telling the outlaw who’s caring for his old man that “It just sounds like he’s off his meds, and I wish you luck with that.” There’s a real sadness to the tale of old hoods in their twilight years, their bodies unable to stand up for the interests of their fading minds.
Raylan isn’t doing too well himself, it turns out. After Winona’s abrupt departure, he’s living above a bar where, in exchange for mild bouncing duties, he gets free DirecTV, the first drink of the night on the house, and regular encounters with girls who say things like “We’ve seen you in here the last couple nights, and we want to know if you were born before disco or after.” Quarles, who attempts to bribe Raylan on the mistaken assumption that his choice of residence is due to Boyd underpaying him rather than Raylan’s essential self-loathing and love for $3 martinis. It’s that assumption that annoys Raylan the most, even more than the fact that Quarles thought “That I was working for you. Taking orders. Doing your bidding. And on the cheap no less.” And having given offense, Raylan’s desire to crush Quarles has become a rather more serious matter.
I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about Quarles. Setting him up a serial abuser of rentboys and resenter of his boss’s son by blood gives him a personality detail other than Joker-like cheerfulness. And it’s kind of fun to see Sammy as a sort of weak-chinned second-generation dilution of a mob dynasty who buys two horses for his daughter rather than one, who answers Raylan’s “What is that, gabardine?” with “Sharkskin. $3,000,” not getting that he’s the butt of a joke. But something about Quarles as sexual psychopath doesn’t quite sit right with me: it’s a rather flip treatment of the serious issue of domestic abuse within the gay community, and we haven’t seen any great brilliance in Quarles yet that would lead the Detroit mob to keep him around in spite of the rather considerable baggage he carries with him.
That said, his attempt to bribe the Harlan sheriff, telling him, “Make a couple of bandaid repairs on those mountaintops everyone’s always bitching about, courtesy of the sheriff’s office,” has set up a great clash. I love the idea of him running one candidate and Boyd another. Quarles may talk a good game about the low prospects of Detroit ending up with “a shitkicker rebellion on our hands.” But one is coming for him anyway.