Episode Title: "For Blood or Money"
Writer: Wendy Calhoun
Director: John Dahl
Previously on "Justified":
U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) learned about an illegal shipment of oxycontin that was hijacked near Harlan. Although he initially suspected his supposedly reformed nemesis, Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), the real culprits were tied to Dickie (Jeremy Davies) and Coover Bennett (Brad William Henke). To get the oxycontin back, small time crook Dewey Crowe (Jes Macallan) actually impersonated Raylan and led the thieves to believe that he stole their drugs. In the ensuing shootout, Officer Doyle Bennett (Joseph Lyle Taylor) killed the two thieves to keep them from implicating his brothers.
Later, Doyle laid into his brothers for dealing without telling him or their mother, Mags Bennett (Margo Martindale). Meanwhile, Boyd was harassed by Kyle (Michael Mosley) and his men at the mine, who wanted to recruit Boyd for a new criminal enterprise. When they wouldn’t take no for an answer, Boyd flipped out and dragged Kyle with his truck, nearly killing the man.
Raylan pulls up to a large Bennet family dinner outside of Mags’ house to speak with her directly. Initially, Mags treats him cordially and invites him to eat with them, but she also seems to believe that he’s there about her illegal marijuana business. Raylan reiterates he’s not really interested in that but he lets her know about the Oxy robbery her sons arranged and tells her that the Dixie mafia is going to come gunning for them. She accuses him of trying to reignite the feud between their families, but he insists that he came out of respect.
When both Mags and Raylan depart, Dickie speculates that his mother wants Raylan dead. But Doyle angrily tells him not to do anything without running it by him first. At home with Boyd, Ava (Joelle Carter) makes an attempt to get closer to him when Kyle and his buddies pull up. Boyd tells Ava to get inside and apologizes for nearly killing Kyle. But Kyle says he’s only there to make a proposition. Meanwhile, at a halfway home, a man named Clinton (Larenz Tate) is denied his daypass by an overbearing program manager, Olander. Despite Clinton’s pleas about missing his son’s birthday, Olander is unmoved.
Enraged, Clinton attacks Olander and beats him unconscious. When Olander’s receptionist revives him, he insists on bringing Clinton back by himself without the cops. Despite his wishes, the receptionist alerts the U.S. Marshal’s office and Raylan learns that Clinton is Rachel Brooks’ (Erica Tazel) former brother-in-law, who is responsible for the death of her sister. Elsewhere, Clinton finds his old friend, Flex (Chadwick Boseman), who tells him that he wants to leave his drug dealing days behind him and become a magician. But when he won’t give Clinton a ride, Clinton shoots him in his hand and car jacks him.
Raylan encounters Clinton when he tries to pick up his son, Nick. Realizing that it’s a trap, Clinton speeds off and Raylan only gets a single shot off at the car. Back at the Marshal’s office, Rachel has Nick with her and she wonders why her mother isn’t answering her phone. She and Raylan investigate and find that Clinton tied up her mother and ransacked the place. Rachel’s mother also tells her not to kill Clinton and explains to Raylan that Clinton was trying to save Rachel’s sister when she died in a car accident on the way to the hospital. She also mentions that Clinton stole her gun.
Before the manhunt can continue, Clinton calls the Marshal’s office to turn himself in. But Olander finds him first and offers him another second chance at the halfway house. Then Flex finds them both and holds them at gunpoint to demand the return of his car and the hidden drugs within. When he moves to shoot Clinton’s hand, Olander tries to stop him and gets at least a finger or two blown off in the process. The Marshals race in and Rachel blows Flex away when he tries to aim at them.
Then Clinton holds Olander hostage, but Rachel convinces him to turn himself in rather than let his son remember this birthday for the death of an innocent man. She later allows Nick to see his father, before he returns to prison. That night, Raylan and the other Marshals share drinks and reminisce about their screwed up family lives. Meanwhile, Boyd fulfills his promise to Ava by rejecting Kyle’s plan without hearing it. But when Kyle begins to mention money and how they plan to get away with it, Boyd seems intrigued.
I’ve mentioned before that I view "Justified" largely as an anthology series due to the suspects of the week becoming co-stars for the duration of the episode. And so far, they’ve all been really compelling. The slow reveal of who Clinton was and what he did not only set him up as a sympathetic character, it also gave Rachel some much needed development of her own. It was kind of hilarious that everyone who knew her was convinced that Rachel wanted to kill Clinton. And the truth about how her sister died still made her rage towards him understandable.
Clinton strikes me as a guy who wants to be better, he just doesn’t know how. From the moment he beat the crap out of Olander and ran away from the halfway house, he made so many bad choices that he essentially got himself put away for a much longer time. His obsession with getting to his son’s birthday was admirable, but he just made sure that they won’t have a true reunion for years. Larenz Tate’s performance as Clinton was very emotive. His face really drove home the sense of desperation for the character.
Olander was also a strong character this week, despite coming off as an a**hole in his first scene. However, his actions reinforced his belief in redemption. Olander really did want to give Clinton another chance despite the beating. The problem is that Olander seemed to think he was a supercop and he tried to control the hostage situation and even end it himself. I have to admit, I didn’t expect him to get his fingers blown off so graphically and it was kind of disappointing that we didn’t see him one last time to deal with his loss.
Also percolating in the background is the upcoming war with the Bennet family and the possible incursion of the Dixie mafia. Raylan was either very perceptive or very lucky to not accept any food from Mags, after the way that she killed a man in the first episode this season. This was also our first glimpse at how big the Bennet family is beyond Mags and her three sons. If Raylan is going to feud with them, he doesn’t have a family like theirs to back him up. And there’s also some hints that Mags really is going to try to expand her influence over Harlan now that Bo Crowder is gone.
As for Boyd, Walton Goggins always makes the most of his screen time. Ava’s attempt to reach out to him was really sweet and I’m half-expecting them to have some kind of romantic relationship this season. And no matter what he does, Boyd just can’t seem to get out of crime. He was practically sold on Kyle’s idea as soon as he mentioned the money and the idea that it could make Boyd look like a hero.
"Justified" isn’t my favorite drama on FX (That’s "Lights Out" for now), but it’s an amazingly solid show that doesn’t seem to be capable of making a bad episode. This is a series well worth making time for in your TV schedule.
Crave Online Rating: 8 out of 10.