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Justified: The Lord of War and Thunder

"He's probably not a candidate for father of the year."

This one reminded me of a line from an old song: My daddy was a pistol, I'm a son of a gun. We've been waiting for Arlo Givens, and he didn't disappoint.

We got some relevant background. Arlo's father was a preacher and very strict, and Arlo rebelled and became a petty criminal, a live wire, the kind of guy who tracks down his enemies and assaults them with a baseball bat. Raylan grew up with a father who was a bipolar criminal with rage issues, so he in turn rebelled against Arlo and became a lawman. Raylan described his childhood with Arlo as living with a tornado. His refusal to visit Arlo makes sense now.

And yet, this introduction to Arlo also showed us that the apple didn't fall far from the tree. Raylan has his father's charm, smooth tongue, and emotional complexity. Arlo flirted and joked with pretty much everyone he encountered. Raylan sweet talked Mrs. Toomey into letting him do yard work with her fugitive husband hiding inside the house, and later, he talked her out of shooting him. Arlo went after Stan Perkins's vicious nephews with a baseball bat because they hurt Helen. Later, Raylan picked up his father's bat and did the very same thing.

Helen may have backed Arlo's scheme by planting the Oxy, but she obviously is the better half in that relationship and meant a lot to Raylan when he was a child, his storm shelter from the Arlo tornado. I wonder what kind of parent Arlo might have been without the hellfire father, the PTSD, the mental illness? Would he be like Raylan? Would Raylan have become a lawman if his father hadn't been a criminal?

A lot of old homes in the country have graveyards on the premises. It doesn't bother Arlo, but it was obvious that Raylan has always been deeply disturbed by the presence of his future grave waiting for him at a home he hated and couldn't wait to get away from. It strongly suggested that Raylan will never escape his past.

According to the gravestones, Arlo was born in 1945, making him 65 when this episode first aired. Raylan was born in 1970, making him 40. Raylan's mother Frances died in 2000. When did Helen become Raylan's stepmother? Since Raylan was close to Helen when he was a child, their relationship existed a long time before Frances' death. Were Arlo and Frances still married when Frances died? Raylan mentioned the bail being a "belated wedding present," so maybe Arlo and Helen were married fairly recently.

Did Arlo burn the hillbilly heroin? He was dropping stuff from bubble wraps into the flames after he trashed the house. (I was also confused about whether or not Stan Perkins really was paying his rent.) If Arlo didn't burn the drugs, and I find it hard to believe he did, then he has a ton of money hidden somewhere. Someone will be after it.

So how does the B plot fit in? A criminal daddy hiding behind his wife, a tough and clever Raylan outsmarting him? Maybe it was just meant to illustrate that Raylan catches bad men like his father for a living now, and he goes to extremes, like two days of yard work, to get the job done.

Finally, the Crowder situation appears to be heating up. While talking with Boyd's cousin Johnny Crowder (and again with the baseball bat), Johnny told Raylan that Bowman's father Bo is getting out of prison soon. Maybe Ava really should get out of Harlan. Rolling around on a motel bed with Raylan is undeniably appealing, but probably not worth dying for.

Bits and pieces:

-- The title of this episode refers to the God of Raylan's grandfather.

-- Harlan's Sheriff Hunter was played by Brent Sexton from Deadwood, Timothy Olyphant's alma mater.

-- No gun battles in this one, although there was quite a bit of bat action. Helen is a tough woman, going after three men with just a knife.

-- Stan Perkins, like Pinter the fixer, hates Kentucky, seems non-threatening, but is more than he appears to be.

-- The Marshal service secret surveillance unit was labeled "Aggressive Carpet Cleaning." I don't know why that struck me funny, but it did.

-- Arlo has never shot anyone. Is that the definition of irony?

Quotes:

Rachel: "If he's not here, then we don't know where he is."
Art: "Then you're like some drunk who's looking for his car keys under a street lamp 'cause that's where the light is."

Rachel: "Can't get a warrant based on beer consumption."
Art: "How do you know?"
Raylan: "We tried."

Ava: (re: doing yard work) "I bet it's the first honest day's work you've done in a long time."
Raylan: "Why do you think I became a marshal? Drive around, drink coffee, yell at people."

Raylan: "What happened in Harlan..."
Ava: "Stays in Harlan?"

Perkins: "I mail my checks on the first."
Arlo: "You send it by carrier turtle?"

Arlo: "I like the hat."

Helen: "Hello, Stan. You need an ice bag for your nut sack?"

Helen: "He's on medication now. He's calmer than I ever saw him."
Raylan: "He just busted up a man's house and squared him in the balls."
Helen: "He's still Arlo."

Toomey: "I know what you're doing."
Raylan: "I'm sorry?"
Toomey: "Getting people hooked on gardening. First one's free. Then you get them jonesing for more weeding, jack up the price. Am I right?"

Mrs. Toomey: "I knew I shouldn't trust you."
Raylan: "Backyard looks good, though, don't it?"

Raylan: "I got you out of jail. At the very least, I'll get you back in."

Excellent episode. It might even be four out of four secret stashes,

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

6 comments:

  1. Thanks so much, Mark. I'm enjoying doing them.

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  2. Such a heartbreaking episode. Four out of four carrier turtles.

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  3. First of all, how great is it to see Raymond J. Barry play something other than a senator (like he did in both 'The X-Files' and 'Alias'). He did an amazing job, really bringing home the similarities as well as the differences between the two men.

    At the end of the pilot, Winona tells Raylan that he is the angriest man she knows. I thought it was an interesting line on which to end a pilot, but I'm beginning to get it. This anger carries Raylan and informs a lot of his choices. Although he often gives people a choice, he doesn't hesitate to carry out the threats he makes. We saw it again and again this time out.

    This episode was some real insight into why he is as angry as he is. To hear him talk about the 'green sky' of his childhood was very sad and very real. As for the fact that he calls his stepmother Aunt Helen, I took it that she was Frances' sister. This would explain how she knew so much about what was going on in that house and why she would rescue him as a child. It also explains why he still thinks of her as his aunt, especially if she only married his father when Raylan was in his 30's.

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  4. VERY late to the Justified party because for some reason in Canada it keeps vanishing as quickly is it appears on different streaming services. It's like playing "wack-a-mole" trying to watch episodes :)

    But now that Amazon Prime seems to have it locked-in I'm loving the show, and this was the episode that really sold it for me. Not to go too deep in the comments here, but seeing Raylan having to be forever tethered to a man he finds repulsive because of sharing a last name was powerful stuff. TV likes to glamorize the "power of family love" but this episode showed that some sons spend their lives trying to escape their fathers.

    Good stuff. Here's to Amazon Prime continuing to let me watch!

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