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Justified: Slaughterhouse

Arlo: "Heard that the cop with the hat got shot. Guess it wasn't you."

Definitely an emotional, strong finale. And oddly sad.

I think I was expecting a slam bam gunfight finish like the end of season one, with the death of a major character that I liked. (I was worried it was going to be Ava, or even quite possibly Winona. Although I did like Tom Bergen, and I'm sad we lost him.) Instead, we got something a lot more in line with the end of season two. The bad guy went down and Quarles got what was coming to him; Limehouse's fondness for sharp implements finally came in handy, pun intended.

But that wasn't the core of the episode. It was fathers and sons again, which is an ongoing thread in the series.

Boyd and Ava did a kind thing, caring for Arlo all season when Raylan would not, and Boyd just got his karmic reward. Arlo thought he had killed Raylan, his own son, to save Boyd, and he was fine with it. And that is so sad. How much of that was dementia and lack of medication, and how much of it was an angry old man who was deeply disappointed that his son had rejected him and his way of life so completely?

Raylan left Arlo behind a long time ago, but our toxic parents still have power over us. He was so hurt that he went to Winona and got drunk. I actually sat there when the episode was over and cried a little. It reminded me of my dysfunctional and dissatisfying relationship with my own father.

The fathers and sons theme continued with Quarles calling his stepfather Theo Tonin and begging to come home. And he could have, if he'd ponied up half a million bucks. How touching. I wouldn't have been surprised if Tonin had taken the money and killed Quarles, anyway. And after talking about how far back their relationship went — Limehouse fixing a bizarre pig tongue treat (gag) for Errol when he was a child — Limehouse threw Errol out of Noble's Holler. Errol apparently loved Limehouse enough to return afterward and save Limehouse from Quarles, and got shot for it. Again, really sad.

And let me take a moment to give the writers credit for the almost comic level of grue with Quarles's defeat. It added a touch of realism that Quarles kept leaning toward Raylan as if he was trying to take his own arm back and reattach it to his shoulder. Or maybe he was still trying to get to his clever little gun.

The other bit of comedy, a lot funnier and without a touch of tragedy, was a furiously angry Raylan playing Harlan Roulette with Wynn Duffy. That was an absolute gem of a scene, and made it believable that Wynn would spill his guts to Raylan. I'm glad that Wynn made it through the season unscathed; he's a fun character. And I'm glad that Boyd and Ava are alive, free and still together, but we got an interesting cliffhanger with the reveal that cousin Johnny is working against them. Johnny is a freaking snake. It'll be interesting to see where they go with that next season.

Bits and pieces:

-- Cathy Cahlin Ryan from The Shield guest starred as the mom that Quarles kidnapped. I'm glad the boys made it, although I bet the younger one will be in therapy for years. Too bad she didn't get a scene with Walton Goggins.

-- Wynn Duffy said he was on his way to midnight mass. I don't know why that struck me so funny, but it did.

-- Raylan managed to keep his cool with a dozen guns on him along with discussions about what they were going to do with his body. He's impressive.

-- Raylan also managed to give Quarles back the gun that killed Gary. Nice tied-up loose end.

-- I did not like seeing Ava punching Ellen May, even though Ava was desperate for information to keep Boyd out of prison.

-- Jim Beaver's character Shelby is now sheriff and even in uniform. (Loved the masking tape over Sheriff Napier's name on the door.) Shelby didn't get much to do this season, although he pretty much told Boyd they were now even. I hope he returns and gets more next season. I don't think he's even had a scene with Timothy Olyphant yet.

-- Winona, who has been in very little this season, had a noticeable baby bump.

-- I guessed a couple of episodes ago that Limehouse probably kept his money hidden inside a pig carcass. Got one!

Quotes:

Quarles: "Oh shit. It's a piggy bank."

Boyd: "You process me through Lexington, you show the whole world there's no way Deputy Givens and I could be in cahoots."
Art: "You're not as dumb as you look. Like the use of the word 'cahoots,' though."

Limehouse: "Marshal, you are one strange piece of chicken."

Raylan: "You know what they're saying at the office? I disarmed him."

Note: This is a first draft review; I wanted to get it up fast, and might revise it later. If you see anything I missed, don't hesitate to mention it. [Note from later: I did add the "cahoots" quote and a couple of bits, but didn't revise the review.]

Even though the third season wasn't as strong as the second, this finale got to me. Four out of four piggy banks,

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

6 comments:

Jess Lynde said...

Good review, Billie. No first draft issues that I noted!

Great finale. So many wonderful little and hilarious moments, but what I absolutely loved was the way it closed out on another haunting moment of pathos for poor Raylan. I strongly suspected Arlo may have shot Trooper Tom (RIP!), but I never imagined it was because he thought he was defending Boyd. From Raylan. What a brutal final moment. So much worse than when Arlo tried to turn Raylan over to Bo and the Miami thugs! But such a sad and fabulous "twist."

The disarming scene blew my mind. I yelled, "Holy Mother of God!" and then rewound to watch it again. Whoa. What a fantastic way to thwart a season of "when is that gun gonna jam?" expectations. And to combine that with the ever present cleaver? Brilliant! Plus, Raylan pulling the arm away from a reaching Quarles was freaking hilarious.

Oh, Ava. How far you've fallen. Both she and Boyd used to have a semblance of a code or a conscience, but it seems like those little bits keep slipping away. To go from saving Ella Mae from Delroy to slapping her around just like he did. Sigh. It was kind of a badass moment to see her saying "You don't threaten me!" but it was also quite heartbreaking.

I've enjoyed the fun of this season a bunch, but I'm really glad they closed it out on a dark, poignant note. That's the Justified that hooked me and kept me coming back for more.

Gus Brunetti said...

Great review, Billie, I saw nothing amiss.

I loved this ending. Season 3 wasn't as good as Season 2, but that's a tough act to follow. I liked how the plots resolved and felt Raylan's pain when he figured out what happened.

Neil Mcdonough's performance was pitch perfect to the end what with the piggy bank joke and his face when he died. I just have to say that the chunk of arm that remained in Raylan's hand should have been much bigger. It was just below the elbow, whereas Quarles's angle showed the cut barely below the shoulder. Where did his elbow go?!?! Will it be a recurring character in Season 4?!?!

By the way, pig tongue is delicious, and cow tongue is even more. I'd say it's the most delicious part of the cow. But I wouldn't eat Limehouse's pig tongue pie. His slaughterhouse is anything but sanitary. He SPITS on the floor!!

The scene where he let Errol go was a great exemple of the quality of the dialogue in this show. With a few lines we found out that Errol was like a son to him, that he acted as a surrogate father, that he cared deeply for him, and that was the only reason he wasn't going to kill him. He didn't have to explain it. I think he gained his trust again by not moving away before dark, otherwise he wouldn't be there to shoot Quarles.

And Ava. Oh, Ava! Being a hands-on pimp was a nasty bit of character development, but it made sense and may lead to good drama. Poor Elle May. She never gets a break.

Jim Beaver as the (maybe honest from now on) sheriff, yay!

Season 4 can't come soon enough!

Mark Greig said...

I swore quite loudly when Limehouse took off Quarles' arm. And then I laughed even louder when he tried to reach for it. A great end to what has been a great season. Thanks again for all the wonderful reviews, Billie.

Josie Kafka said...

It's a piggy bank! According to the internet, the writers didn't think of that pun until the day of shooting. Somehow that makes it even more cool.

This was such a sad finale, especially the way that the last scene, in which Raylan explains his father's motivation, reminds us of the core conflict of this show. Like Winona, I did a double-take. And it's so in character for Raylan to drop a bombshell like that on his way out the door. Poor baby.

Ava's turn to the dark side of pimping is upsetting but also fascinating. I, too, can't wait for next season.

CrazyCris said...

Great review of a fine ending to the season! Not as great as season 2, but Mags Bennett was a tough act to follow!
The realisation that Arlo had thought he was killing his own son to protect Boyd was gut-wrenching! Even with the distance between them I would never have imagined Arlo doing that! Brutal! :o(
Ava is changing in scary ways as well... wonder how far she'll take it? Can't wait for next season to find out! Also to see what's up with cousin Johnny which did not surprise me at all!

ChrisB said...

From the moment that I heard that Tom was dead until the look on Winona's face at the end, I was sad. What an emotional ending to this incredible season.

I've said it before, but one of the things I love about this show is that it takes stereotypes and turns them on their ear. Raylan is the cop (good guy); Boyd is the criminal (bad guy). Yet, Boyd appears to be in a much better place at the end of this season than Raylan. Boyd has a family; Raylan is on his own.

Boyd tells Raylan that Arlo is not a part of his crew, he is family. And, Arlo backs that up by being willing to shoot Raylan to save Boyd. How heartbreaking. Boyd sees Arlo much more like a father than Raylan, arguably, ever has.

Boyd has a woman who is willing to do anything to save him. Ava is turning and it is fascinating. I am very excited to see where they are going to take this development next season. Raylan, on the other hand, goes to see his woman who wants nothing to do with him, even though she is carrying his child. Again, heartbreaking.

Like Jess, I shouted at the television when Quarles was disarmed, but I'm afraid that my exclamation was much less polite than hers. I've been waiting for those cleavers to be used on something other than pork all season and, boy howdy, were they. Loved it and thought it was a great end to that character, especially as it was the arm that always hid the gun.

Another great season that leaves me impatient for the next one. And, Billie, once again another season of great reviews. Thanks for doing them.