Here’s my promise to readers. Unless I somehow end up going to two or three concerts in a row for work, I’m never going to go more than 24 hours between consuming some bit of popular culture (in this case Justified) and doing my post about it. My writing on here has suffered because of it, and if I honestly had my way, I would do all of my posts immediately after I watched the show, but for obvious reasons, that won’t always be possible. So with that apology out of the way for the manner in which my writing on here has slipped on occasion over these last couple of weeks because I have placed my blog at the bottom of my list of priorities, let’s look into the penultimate episode of the wonderful third season of Justified. It wasn’t quite the explosive episode I thought it was going to be (not until the final moments anyways), but it still provided plenty of twists and turns, and looking back on this season, it’s shocking about how many fates have changed and faltered because of the incompetency and greed of other men.

Where to begin? Much like the rest of this season, it would almost be easy to lose track of the many cons, schemes, and grifts that are being run by our many villains. Last week ended with Boyd Crowder finally getting the drop on Robert Quarles. After using a taser to knock Quarles unconscious, Boyd left him chained (only by the legs for some incredibly dumb-ass reason) and under armed watch in a trailer at the local whore-house (though he left him two whores as playthings. Once again, for reasons I don’t understand. Boyd isn’t that dumb.). Obviously, Quarles manages to escape despite being under armed guard because the prostitutes guarding him were stupid and the man with the gun guarding the trailer was even dumber. To compound Boyd’s complications, Errol (Limehouse’s lieutenant whose name I’ve finally managed to learn) arrives at Boyd’s bar with Dickie Bennett in tow. Right before Boyd nearly beats Dickie to death, Errol lets Boyd know about the $3.2 million that Limehouse has stored in a bank in Harlan County (though not Harlan the town I think. some place whose name I can’t spell. Gallaton or something like that. Someone out there can assuredly correct me). Though Arlo wants to murder Dickie regardless (because Dickie killed Ava) as does Boyd (for shooting Ava), it is Ava that says they should spare Dickie until they can get a hold of the money. So, Boyd sends Ava and Arlo to case the bank which is when he learns that Quarles escaped (because Raylen showed up at the trailer where Quarles was being held on a tip from Sheriff Napier [like I said, there’s a million schemes this season]). Raylen is also called to the bank by the local State Policeman we’ve seen throughout the series because Arlo and Ava showed up there after Dickie showed up at Boyd’s bar. It’s obvious to all of law enforcement what Boyd’s plans are.

Raylen pays a visit to Limehouse where Raylen finally learns who’s been pulling all of the strings in this little game (Limehouse). Errol has lied to Dickie (and by proxy Boyd) about the whereabouts of Mags’ money so that all of Boyd’s men (plus Quarles who Limehouse has assigned to assassinate Boyd to pay off Quarles’ debt to Limehouse) will all be in one place at once. The plan falls apart at the last minute when Boyd finally gets wise to what’s really going on. Boyd had sent Ava and Arlo off to stay safely but Arlo’s dementia finally takes over completely (he’s having full-blown conversations with the deceased Helen), and in a fit of paranoid rage, he pulls a gun on Ava and locks her in a closet and runs off to parts unknown. When Boyd can’t get a hold of Ava, he goes off to find her leaving Dickie and Errol in the care of the crippled Johnny (once again, it’s like he’s just asking for them to get away). Dickie attacks Johnny, and takes his gun. He forces Errol at gunpoint to tell him where the money is and for the second time this season, we finally hear from young Loretta, who Mags Bennett left all her money to (not Dickie, her actual son). However, Raylen is already at the house because Limehouse has struck a deal with Raylen wherein Loretta can keep the money (because Raylen just wants to keep Loretta safe). Raylen shoots Dickie (not fatally) when Dickie draws on him and so Dickie is on his way back to jail. Things aren’t over yet though because Limehouse is forced to order Quarles to go to Boyd’s bar itself to kill Boyd (Boyd has also managed to convince Win Duffy to rig a remote bomb to Quarles’ car). A high-as-shit Quarles (on oxycontin) shows up at Boyd’s bar. Right as he is about to pull his gun out of his shirt sleeve (Travis Bickle’s style), Win blows up the car bomb (trying to kill Boyd and Quarles at once). The police show up and Quarles guns down Raylen’s State Trooper friend. Shit just got real in Harlan County.

Whew. Justified is starting to get nearly as complicated as Game of Thrones. That has been both this season’s greatest strength, and I’m starting to grow concerned that it might end up being it’s biggest weakness. I’m never confused as to what’s happening, and every action seems perfectly plausible within the context of the show’s universe. However, this week found people failing because of severe incompetence, and for some of these individuals (especially Boyd Crowder), they don’t normally seem this dumb. Ever since Boyd got himself shot (and got all of his men killed by his own father), he’s seemed to wise up considerably, and he made a shocking amount of dumb mistakes this episode. No one’s perfect, and maybe we were just supposed to see the fallibility of previous incarnations of Boyd Crowder, but there’s a line between showing that he makes mistakes and turning him into a dumbass. Which he completely momentarily was. Also, with the exception of finally resolving the case of where Mags’ money was, this season finale is going to have to solve a lot of problems in a single hour of TV. There are still plenty of plays to be made, and with the introduction of a murdered police officer (Quarles made a point of discussing his use of hollow point bullets and how lethal they are. There’s no way that cop survived point blank.), things can only get more complex. The strength of this series’ season finales has always been how explosive and emotionally satisfying they’ve been (Season 1’s finale was literally almost perfect). I’m hoping the show can maintain the high standard set by other seasons’ finales.

I can’t believe this season’s almost over. Unlike some other shows I’ve been watching as they’ve aired this winter (The Walking Dead cough cough Glee), Justified has never let me down a single time this season. I’m pretty sure the lowest score I’ve given to an episode this season was a B+. That’s a pretty damn good season in my book (and that was only one episode out of the 12 that have aired so far). I haven’t given a single “A” thus far, but here’s hoping the Season finale does something to change that. I’m really curious to see which villains live through the finale. I feel like Boyd has immunity. The show just isn’t going to kill off it’s second biggest star, so that means we’re likely saying goodbye to both Limehouse and Quarles. It will be really interesting to see how the show tries to fill the power vacuum in Harlan County when these two Big Bads finally meet their maker.

Final Score: A-