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Justified: Blowback

"I'm officially requisitioning this chicken."

Three confrontations in one episode, and no one got shot. How nice that for once, everybody lived.

Hostage situations in television shows have gotten old, and it's hard to make one fresh and exciting. But that's exactly what they did with Cal Wallace, a prisoner with four life sentences who staged something of a violent protest on his way to Supermax. Cal Wallace (played so well by W. Earl Brown, yet another Deadwood alumnus) was totally amused by Raylan's honesty and charm, although I did expect him to kill that poor guard at any moment. It was a nice twist that Raylan managed to take Wallace down simply by treating him with honesty and respect. The fried chicken was such a smart move, because it wasn't about food. It was about giving Wallace a way to back down and stay alive.

Art told Raylan early on that if he got a clear shot, put the guy down. I really liked that Art immediately told Vasquez that those were his orders, just in case Vasquez, investigating Raylan's shootings, got to see one close up and personal. It was a great writing choice to have Vasquez witness the entire confrontation. And it was a great twist how the final meeting in Art's office turned out to be all about Raylan's relationship with Ava.

Although the hostage situation was the core of the episode, there were complementary dual supporting subplots with unpleasant confrontations as Ava was seriously threatened by the newly released Bo Crowder over a piece of pie, and Winona came home to find a very strange man in a suit talking ominously about her "personal security."

The way Bo treated Ava was uncomfortable, frightening, and loaded with sexual threat. A sticky piece of homemade pie? If I were Ava, I'd be on my way to California. Why isn't she on her way to California? Because it's not handy for the plot? Although, seriously, I get why someone who has never left Kentucky would refuse to leave. Wait. No, I don't.

Winona walking into her own home and being confronted by a man who had a message for Gary was just creepy scary. Winona bluffed it out, but she was obviously terrified. And then Gary blew her off and lied to her. Because of her previous marriage to Raylan and her work as a court reporter, Winona knows more about the dark side and the criminal element than Gary does, but he won't listen to her. Obviously, this is set up for a future plot development.

Boyd got out of prison because Raylan was sleeping with Ava. Life is complicated. That final scene as Boyd was released and Raylan was there to warn him was a treat. I love the old-fashioned, sarcastic way that Boyd speaks, and Walton Goggins and Timothy Olyphant have such wonderful acting chemistry. I truly want Boyd to be sincere about his conversion, but it just doesn't seem possible.

Bits and pieces:

-- This was a "bottle episode," since nearly all of it took place on one standing set.

-- Cal Wallace's details about his treatment at the hands of his guards were just horrible. Leaving aside the question of whether or not such a vicious human being deserves it, doesn't it seem like consistent, humane treatment of prisoners would prevent riots and situations like this one?

-- Art has a bottle of bourbon in his desk. Of course he does.

-- I keep wanting to call Wynn Duffy "Wynn Dixie."

-- The last thing Vasquez told Raylan was to stay away from Boyd and Ava. The very next scene was Raylan with Boyd. Although Raylan didn't answer Ava's phone call.

-- When Raylan and Boyd were walking out of the prison gate, the setting sun cast long, almost identical shadows behind them. Frenemies forever. What a lovely shot.

-- Frederic Lehne from Supernatural and Lost (where he played a U.S. marshal) played the SWAT team leader, who turned out not to be a jerk when we all expected him to be.

-- It's really fun that we've already had two shootings in this series that took place over fried chicken, and this time the chicken prevented one from happening.

-- This episode wasn't comedy, but every episode of Justified has such dry humor in it. I laughed out loud several times.


Bo: "You know what, girl? I think I'm gonna have to lick your plate."

Cal Wallace: "I've always had a problem with authority figures."

Art: "One of Wallace's complaints is food. So we thought it might be a good idea to bring in some fried chicken. That might do the trick."
SWAT leader: "You think he pulled a shiv out of his ass because he wanted lunch?"

Raylan: "You know what I read once? People in unpleasant circumstances stay alive not because they think things will get better. They want to know how the story ends."

Vazquez: "You must be glad to finally find a professional use for your office bottle, aren't you?"
Art: "I don't know what you're talking about. I was as surprised to find it as anyone else."

Three out of four smashed pieces of cherry pie,

Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.


  1. Greta review once again! :o)

    I seem to remember Ava can't leave Kentucky! Something to do with the conditions of her release after having shot her husband...

  2. That's true, CrazyCris. But even Raylan was telling her to get out of Kentucky. Staying alive trumps violating parole in my book.

  3. This was good. Not as great as the previous two, but still a fun 42 minutes of television.

    I gotta say, the women on this show are tough! Ava toughs it out with her father-in-law and Winona toughs it out with Wynn Duffy (now, that's a name!). I think it's amazing that the writers can create a 'western' and yet not feel the need the need to make all the women damsels in distress.


  4. >>"-- I keep wanting to call Wynn Duffy "Wynn Dixie.""
    Haha aw... loved that book as a kid.

    >>"[...]who turned out not to be a jerk when we all expected him to be."
    I still kind of thought he was, using his concern over the safety of his men/the hostage as his motivation to go for the kill at nearest opportunity, and asked Art to let him proceed that way next time regardless. And Art does refer to him as an asshole as soon as he leaves.

    Loved this episode, and seeing the other guy finally served the chicken and bourbon was vicariously satisfying to watch


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