Sweet Jesus. I have done a fuck ton of writing today. Pardon the French. I reviewed the new Odd Future album for work (which you can read here) plus I’ve done three other blog posts today (Dexter, The Walking Dead, and Justified) Watching a couple episodes of TV (while I eat) and then writing about things that I’m absurdly behind on has how I’ve spent my entire Friday because I’m a wild and crazy guy like that. Much like my review for the last two discs of Dexter, I’ve fallen so behind on my blogging for this website that I’m going to have to review two episodes of Justified at once, and not only am I doing that, the second episode of this series still aired like three days ago. To say that I’ve been distracted lately would be the understatement of the century, but it’s been the best kind of distracting so whatever. My blog can wait. Anyways, am I the only person in America right now who thinks that Justified has quickly become the most under-rated show on cable television? It never gets the attention of your The Walking Deads, Mad Mens, or Breaking Bads (let alone the hype of an HBO program), but it still manages to impress me week in and week out. I wouldn’t put it quite in the same league as the latter two shows I mentioned, but it doesn’t try to be yet it still manages to outperform The Walking Dead every week despite The Walking Dead‘s pretensions to be actual art.
These were two episodes with extremely complicated and intertwined plots (especially episode 9, “Loose Ends”) that having watched them over the course of two weeks now, all of the details are starting to fuzz in my mind. I’m learning an important lesson that I’ve apparently forgotten this semester which is that I should never wait more than 48 hours after an episode of a show ends to post my review of it. Otherwise, my memory is going to be completely worth shit (like it is right now). Essentially, things are becoming increasingly personal between Boyd Crowder and Robert Quarles as each man wants his “man” to win the upcoming election for Sheriff. Boyd was imprisoned after being framed for blowing up current Sheriff Napier’s car but Raylen quickly discovers it was a frame job and reluctantly works to helping Boyd get freed. There was a whole lot more going on in that first episode (mostly involving land mines, Limehouse, explosions, murdered prostitutes, and eventually murdered pimps) but I want to keep this review short cause I just want to be caught up and I’ve written something like 5000 words today. I am all typed out. The first episode ended with Boyd freed, Ava having killed again and now the new Madam of Harlan County despite her initial rule for Boyd of no prostitutes.
Since I watched the tenth episode, (“Guy Walks Into a Bar”) today, my memories of it are much clearer although the sheer amount of writing I’ve done today has sort of muddled my brain a bit. It’s finally time for the election for Sheriff. After Napier/Quarles send two dirty cops to plant drugs in Boyd’s candidate’s car, Boyd realizes that things have gotten personal. Boyd sets up a hilarious mechanism to ensure that no matter what his man wins the election even though Napier ended up winning the popular vote. This pisses Quarles off supremely (especially after Boyd taunts him immediately afterwards). Spiraling even further into his oxy addiction, Quarles is confronted by a young male prostitute who knows the prostitute Quarles was accused of killing. Quarles tells the story of his childhood where his father prostituted him and he killed his father at the age of 14 (when he was inducted into the Dixie Mafia). While he embraces the boy as someone who has suffered the life he lives, after a tense stand-off in a bar with Raylen (where the two nearly have a shoot-out), we find Quarles doing drugs in his room and with that same boy locked up in his bathroom. There’s an entire plot in the episode about Raylen trying to convince Judge Rearden to not let Dickie Bennett out of jail but at the end Raylen just says “what the hell” essentially and lets Dickie go which should lead to conflict with both Boyd and Limehouse.
The scene in “Guy Walks into a Bar” with Raylen and Quarles was one of the best-written moments of the season (though the scene in “Loose Ends” where Boyd gives a rousing speech for his sheriff candidate was almost as bad-ass as the moment where he embarrassed his father in church back in Season 1). There was just so much masculinity and tension dripping off of that scene that any women in the audience might have gotten pregnant just by watching it (that was a joke. please don’t accuse me of being sexist anyone). Neal McDonough was phenomenal this week. I mean, I was just astounded. This was some of the best work he’s done since Band of Brothers. Without question. The scenes where he’s addled on the oxycontin and recounting what it was like to be sex trafficked by his own father was wrenching, and then when he confronted Raylen and was completely ready to die, it was terrifying. This man had better get an Emmy nomination. This week was his submission tape. He’ll never beat Peter Dinklage or Aaron Paul but he had better at least be recognized.
There’s only three episodes left in this season. Neither Quarles or Limehouse will ever be as good as Mags Bennett was (although Quarles came pretty damn close this week), but that’s ok because the writing has been razor sharp the whole season, and if the first two seasons of the show still mean anything, we can expect things to finally start spiralling out of control next week. We’re getting at the point in the season where no character is safe and lesser villains on the totem pole start dropping off before however the bloodbath of the finale winds up going down. I am so glad my dad bought me the first season of this show for Christmas because it has been a show that has gotten better with age rather than sporadic ups and downs. It has consistently improved, and while it will never aspire to be artsy TV, it remains one of the most undeniably entertaining and fresh shows on the market.
Final Score: A-