Justified: "Debts and Accounts"


The book we saw Boyd reading shortly after moving into Ava's place - the book he leaves behind this week after clearing out of same - was Of Human Bondage. Appropriately enough: everywhere in the world of Justified, bonds are coming apart. Some are slowly fraying (between Raylan and Winona, between Raylan and Art) others being rent violently and suddenly (between Mags and Dickie, and initially between Boyd and Ava), and another finally crumbling after a long atrophy (between Winona and Gary).

And yet, new bonds are also being forged. A grieiving Mags promises Helen that "the lid stays on" the dormant Givens-Bennett feud, renewing an uneasy and uncertain peace. Boyd reconnects with his decidedly non-deceased cousin Johnnie (who last we saw with a belly full of buckshot), and moves quickly to rebuild the core of a new Crowder gang. Dickie, going rogue, is recruiting some support of his own. And lo and behold, just as Boyd is fully embracing the villainous nature that kept Ava at arm's length, she picks this moment to do some embracing of her own.

After last week's episode brought a harsh closure to several of this season's threads, "Debts and Accounts" realigns the remaining pieces in preparation for the homestretch. Mags sets about settling her affairs,starting with a gripping conversation with Helen that wrings every drop of emotion out of its sparse dialogue. Try not to feel a chill at the forlorn, snarling way Margo Martindale says simply, "but I hurt." Or the way Helen, welling up with mortal terror, urges Mags not to "take the privilege" - feeling all the weight of respect and responsibility such a twisted euphemism implies.

Next she coldly (if prudently) cuts ties with her surviving fuck-up of a son. Doyle will take over the weed business, the crown jewel of the Bennett empire, while Dickie is thrown to the dogs that Mags herself unleashed last week. He's allowed to pursue any other drug dealing he wants - as long as he's willing to go head to head with Boyd, whom Mags has given free reign over that turf.

Like Coover, Dickie's reached the breaking point of his mother's neglect. But Dickie's a wilier and more ambitious creature than Coover. He's no match for a fully-charged Boyd Crowder, but he's enough of a threat to keep things very interesting.

As for Boyd, as inscrutable and complex as ever, he finally makes his heel turn. It's yet another testament to Justified's writers and Walton Goggins's performance that the character can feel so honest as both a cutthroat criminal, robbing from dangerous men, and as Ava's humble, grateful supplicant, compelled to abandon her hospitality because he can no longer honor the condition under which it was extended.

What of our hero? Tension lingers between Raylan and Winona in the aftermath of their stolen money caper, as gleefully conveyed by Tim Olyphant and Natalie Zea in their snarky, passive-aggressive banter at the courthouse. Their plan to escape to their old life in Glencoe is only a Hail Mary pass. It obviously won't come to fruition, but I suspect that it will be waylaid by deeper, more personal dangers than the latest set of unknown gunman targeting Raylan.

The tensions in Raylan's other key relationship are closer to the surface. What a fantastic opening scene all around between he and Art. Raylan's laid low not by guilt, precisely, but by shame. While he tiptoes around actually saying why, he's not looking to absolve his conscience - he's looking for Art to do it for him. Like a kid who knows he's let his old man down, he needs to hear "It's all right, son," before he can let himself feel better. Instead he feels the full sting of Art's long-simmering disappointment and resentment, in an incisive monologue delivered by Nick Searcy with equal parts weariness and sardonicism. The scene's framing, with Art's office draped in shadows, is striking, as is his assessment of Raylan as "a lousy Marshal - but a good lawman."

Sometimes it's like the writing and the acting in Justified are competing to see which can be more outstanding. And they're both winning.

Other notes:
  • Raylan Givens Badassery of The Week: Intimidating the car that was following him and Winona with such controlled madness. ("I'm a little out of sorts to be honest with you. Shot and killed a man just three days ago.")
  • "Helen, girl. Business don't stand aside for anything."
  • "If you take the privilege, where will it end?"
  • "Your cell died? That's something you tell your parents if you're out past curfew."
  • "Okay. Your cell is dead. I am sorry for your loss. What can I do for you?"
  • "You and me are done."
  • "Would you like to see the bag I have to piss and shit in? But if it helps you find your way in the world, I guess it's worth it. I'll think about your way every time I empty it."
  • "My name's Boyd Crowder. You can come after me if you want, but it'll be the last thing you ever do, I promise you that."
  • "You see these old-timers right here? I don't think a week goes by I don't look at them and wonder: Should I grow a mustache?"
  • "Of course you're in love with me. And I love you back. Now what?"
  • Raylan wonders if he's actually an outlaw at heart. An interesting contrast with Art's "bad Marshal/ good lawman" distinction.
  • "What do you want me to do with him?" "Nothing. We just found our messenger."
  • "National treasure." "He's Canadian." "Then I guess he sucks."
  • "I don't know what color it is - it's the one with the ringing bells."

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