JUSTIFIED 2.10 ‘Debts and Accounts’

Mags tries to break free from crime while Boyd embraces his dark side. And Raylan makes a decision about his life while being chased by mysterious gunmen.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Episode Title: "Debts and Accounts"

Writer: Chris Provenzano
Director: John David Coles
Previously on "Justified":

Months ago, Mags Bennett (Margo Martindale) ordered the death of Walt McCready for crossing her, before taking in his daughter Loretta McCready (Kaitlyn Dever) as her own. To pull this off, Mags had her sons Coover (Brad William Henke) and Dickie Bennett (Jeremy Davies) hide Walt's body while Mags lied to Loretta about where her father really was. Eventually, Coover grew jealous of Mags' affection towards Loretta and set in motion a plan to get rid of her. After Loretta realized that the Bennetts had killed her father, she frantically called U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) for help.

As promised, Raylan dropped everything to come and save Loretta. Raylan saved her life, but he killed Coover in the process. Afterwards, Mags was more broken up about the loss of Loretta from her care, but she glared menacingly towards Raylan. However, Raylan had his own problems thanks to the recent actions of his ex-wife, Winona (Natalie Zea), who stole a bag of money from the evidence room. Although Raylan helped her return it, he was convinced that his boss, Art Mullen (Nick Searcy) knew what they had done.

In the U.S. Marshals office, Raylan finally gets tired of being uncertain about where he stands with Art and what Art really knows, so he forces the issue with him. Art refuses to discuss it, but he makes it pretty clear that he does know the truth and indicates that he's stuck with Raylan until he gets himself killed or in even deeper trouble. Meanwhile, a decidedly dejected Mags meets with Raylan's aunt, Helen Givens ( Linda Gehringer) and gives her a share of the Black Pike money. Helen urges Mags to keep the Bennett/Givens truce alive despite Raylan's part in the death of her son. The other townspeople express sympathy towards Coover's fate, but they lash out at Mags for selling them out to Black Pike.

Winona finally visits Raylan again and admits that she's been avoiding him, but she also says that she needs a ride to the court for her divorce hearing. Raylan notices a car following them and he actually gets out of his own vehicle to get the driver and his friend to back off. Meanwhile, Ava (Joelle Carter) finds Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) packed and ready to leave her home. He implies that he's going back to crime full time and that he can't take her with him. So, she kicks him out on the spot. Across the county, Mags and Doyle Bennett (Joseph Lyle Taylor) visit Dickie. She punishes him for his small part in Coover's death (and other infractions) by cutting him off from the Black Pike money.

As a consolation prize, Mags gives him the family's marijuana business. But she warns him that she gave Boyd free reign for any other criminal activities in the area. Around the same time, Raylan gets a call from social services to visit Loretta, whom he talks into accepting her new role in foster care. Elsewhere, Boyd begins making his comeback in crime by recruiting a cousin he shot and crippled as well as another man. Cut off from his family, Dickie adds a recruit of his own and tries to force Boyd to either join him or get out of town.

But instead, Boyd seems inspired to use Dickie as his "messenger" to let the rest of town know he's back in the family business. Boyd later visits Ava one last time, but she won't let him leave and finally embraces him with a kiss. Meanwhile, Raylan admits to Winona that he helped her return the money because he loves her. She returns the sentiment and he suggests that they move away to Glynco, Georgia. When she doesn't immediately say yes, he sarcastically says that he's glad that he didn't get down on one knee.

As Raylan drives her home, their car is forced off the road by the same vehicle that followed them earlier. The two gunmen chase Raylan and Winona into a nearby building, where a cat and mouse shootout begins. Raylan even gives Winona one of his spare weapons, but she never even fires it before Raylan takes out their attackers. Although Raylan and Winona survived, the men appear to have been professional killers. But on the bright side, Winona tells him that she does want to leave town and go with him to Glynco.

After last week's episode, it would have been tough for "Justified" to top those heights immediately. And the writer wisely doesn't try to while delivering another solid episode from an already outstanding season.

Raylan's confrontation with Art was one of the highlights of the episode and a testament to the show's love of dialog. The majority of TV series on the air often give us characters saying nothing but on-the-nose dialog. So, it was refreshing when Art actually refused to let Raylan bring up the stolen money. It was direct in its own way, but it underscored the damaged relationship between them. This was the confrontation that Raylan had been dreading for the last few episodes. And while his job appears to be safe, Raylan's unquestionably hurt by some of what Art told him.

Of the two romantic storylines this season, I've been more engaged by the evolution of Ava and Boyd from tense, platonic roommates to tentative lovers. Hell, it took ten episodes just to get them to the point where they would even kiss each other! She's not even a Crowder by blood, but she seems willing to embrace his criminal lifestyle just to remain a part of his life.

Despite Boyd's apparent desire to take over where his father left off, I still don't think of him as a true villain for the series. Walton Goggins just gives Boyd too much life to easily write off him as either good or evil. His initial speech to his crippled cousin was mesmerizing and it seems like Boyd will be taking on Dickie Bennett for control of Harlan over the last few episodes this season.

If you've been wondering why everyone says that Margo Martindale deserves an Emmy for playing Mags this season, this episode made her strongest case yet. For the first time, we actually see Mags when she's vulnerable and truly grieving for her loss. She's still fierce when one of the townspeople confronts her over Black Pike, but she displayed more emotional depth here than I expected. Mags actually seems to have been friends with Raylan's aunt and she seems genuinely willing to leave crime behind her. Despite her animosity towards Raylan, I do think that Mags' isn't actively seeking vengeance on him. Her admission that she would have killed Coover herself for harming Loretta was chilling, but it showed that Mags doesn't have any illusions over what really happened.

Regarding the mysterious gunmen, the best theory I've heard so far is that they were sent by the Dixie Maffia; which the show reintroduced a few episodes ago when Coover and Dickie arranged for their drug shipment to be hijacked. As for why they targeted Raylan, I have my own theory about that. There was a scene earlier in the season when Winona's current husband, Gary visited a member of the Dixie Maffia and asked for a favor. What if this was the favor? The Dixie Maffia may actually have nothing to do with the coming crime war between Boyd and Dickie.

But it's unquestionably going to mean more carnage ahead for the people of Harlan.

Crave Online Rating: 8 out of 10.