Justified: Hatless

Gary: "This is what you do on your vacation?"
Raylan: "Apparently, Tahiti sucks."

What a perfectly constructed episode. It started out with a lot of dumb, and everyone was a lot smarter in the end.

I care about Raylan already, and it was painful seeing him get beaten. Was Raylan actually looking for a fight? Did he want Winona to see him fighting, or was that unintentional? It added a rather childish, human note to his character as Raylan used his "vacation time" to get Winona's husband out of a nasty jam with the Dixie Mafia. Raylan did not have to do this, and he certainly didn't do it for Gary. He could easily have let Gary fall on his face and even possibly get killed. The adult, considerate way Raylan handled the situation showed a deep level of concern and respect for Winona.

Winona finally told Raylan "why Gary," why she chose Gary over him. Because Gary is ambitious and enthusiastic about the future. Unfortunately, Gary's ambition nearly got her killed. (What else could those trash bags have been for?) Gary did show some courage when he threw himself on top of Wynn, and when he was talking about what he wanted to do with the mall, I could almost see what Winona saw in him.

But what spoke to me in this episode was that Gary was so wrapped up in his (admittedly serious) problem that he left Winona alone in the house. Gary even took her gun with him, leaving her completely defenseless. Raylan would never have done that. The glorious and courageous Ava is undoubtedly a special woman, but Raylan and Winona feel more like a couple to me. They apparently got along pretty well the six years they were married, and this episode gave me the impression that they still care a lot about each other.

To continue with "why Gary," let's talk about "why not Raylan." It's true that you don't see ambition in Raylan. In "Blowback," Cal Wallace asked Raylan how he felt about having a boss, and Raylan said something like he never thought much about it. Raylan doesn't care about moving up or getting rich. He does care about his job, though, and he's good at it. And he got into that bar fight in the opener because those two jerks were saying nasty things about women who weren't even in the room.

The hat means something, and it's not a simple cliche about manhood. It's more about individuality and honor. Raylan isn't your run of the mill guy, and the hat is his way of saying that to the world. Raylan has probably never articulated what the hat means to him, but he sure didn't like being without it. Not that Raylan wasn't Raylan without the hat, because he was. Maybe, symbolically, it was Gary who was "hatless."

I really loved the ending with the tongue-in-cheek rendition of "Stand By Your Man." It was funny and sort of poignant at the same time. Winona's last look at Raylan as she went into the house with Gary conveyed both heartfelt thanks and internal conflict. (Gold acting stars for Natalie Zea.) What woman wouldn't be rethinking her choices at that point?

Finally, Justified is such a strong character piece, and I should give some credit for an excellent episode to some excellent supporting players. I remember liking Toby (Malik Yoba) a lot when I first saw this episode. He went above and beyond for his friend Gary, and got a nasty beating for his trouble. (Malik Yoba has since gotten a full-time acting job as Bill on Alphas.) Jere Burns as Wynn Duffy was exceptionally creepy, vicious and relentless, with no softer emotions at all. ("What am I, a FARMER?") Ghostfacer comic Travis Wester was pretty darned scary as leg breaker Billy Mac. And it was a lot of fun to see Pinter the fixer at his restaurant table again.

Bits and pieces:

-- Where was Raylan's gun in the opening bar fight? I didn't expect him to use it under the circumstances, but it felt off for Raylan to go anywhere without a gun.

-- Art apparently ordered Raylan to take a week off, but I didn't get the impression it was a suspension. Although that might explain why Raylan didn't have his gun. But Raylan would carry another gun anyway, wouldn't he?

-- The marks of the fight were on Raylan's face during the entire episode, something of a reminder of a stupid thing he did at the same time he was being so smart.

-- Wynn Duffy showed some disdain toward his boss Emmit Arnett because of Arnett's unprofessional behavior on the phone. I bet that contributed to Duffy's explosion later on in the multiple shoot-out in Duffy's office. More good writing.

-- Speaking of which, was that an awesome shoot-out, or what? And Raylan was a complete bystander for a change.

Quotes:

Raylan: "Could you just keep it down a little bit?"
Idiot #1: "Why would we do that?"
Raylan: "Because I didn't order assholes with my whiskey."

Winona: "You're a little old to be fighting, aren't you?"
Raylan: "Certainly too old to be losing."

Bartender: "Well, marshal, I don't mean to be rude, but wouldn't it be easier to just go and buy yourself a new hat?"
Raylan: "Probably. But it ain't easier I'm after."

Raylan: "What happened with Tahiti?"
Pinter: "It ain't like the post card. Mosquitoes eating at you, everyone's talking French, there's only one movie theater. I'm better off here."

Raylan: "'Mercurial'. Someone's been reading the dictionary."
Pinter: "Bite me."

Pinter: "Hey! Don't you usually wear an obnoxious hat of some sort?"

Raylan: "You're gonna bob and weave out of the path of a bullet? That I'd like to see."

Raylan: "I've shot people I like more for less."

Raylan: "Mister, that's a ten gallon hat on a twenty gallon head."

Four out of four ... it should be hats, shouldn't it? Should I get creative and make it horrible soccer ball stories, or trips to Tahiti?

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

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wynn Duffy freaked me out too. A very memorable villain. He just looks so naturally...odd. Like an imitation.

Gotta love the care they put into even minor characters on this show, and how well they cast them. W Earl Brown last episode, and even MC Gainey as recurring.

Josie Kafka said...

It was a ghostfacer! I knew he looked familiar.

I'm still so happy you've reviewed these, Billie. It makes each episode even more fun.

ChrisB said...

I had to look Travis Wester up on IMDB. He looked so familiar, but for the life of me I couldn't place him. When I saw he was a Ghostfacer, my jaw dropped. Gold star to anyone who can play two such polar opposites!

Vacation obviously doesn't go over well with Raylan. Day drinking and fighting? Doesn't sound like what Art had in mind when he 'suggested' this break.

I had a problem with the solution to Gary's problem in that it seemed a bit easy. If he knew the land was worth what he owed, why did he let the situation get so far out of hand? Admit defeat and hand over the deed, my friend.

The Raylan/Winona relationship is fascinating to watch. They have so much between them, much of it unspoken and beneath the surface. It manifests itself a lot during this episode:
-- the way she takes care of him when he's hurt. These are two people who shared a bed for a long time and there is no awkwardness there at all.
-- his overwhelming need to take care of her and protect her.
-- the way he couldn't resist kissing the top of her head when she leaned into him. The look of longing on his face was heartbreaking. He had the same look as he watched her hug Gary at the end.
-- as Billie pointed out, that last look she shot him was full of meaning.
-- the most telling line of the entire episode was Raylan's "We've been... we were married for six years." If that isn't a Freudian slip to beat the band.

Finally, Kentucky must be the only place left in the world where you can still smoke inside a bar!