Friday, March 25, 2011

TV Episode Review: Justified “Save My Love”

I still don’t like this whole money theft sub plot with Wynona.  It made for quite a bit of harrowing drama tonight, which culminated in a really sad moment where Art is clearly suspicious of Raylan’s business in the evidence room when they “bump into each other” down there just as Wynona finishes putting the money back in a new hiding spot.  Art’s over-the-shoulder look of concern as Raylan departs was painful to watch; their love-hate relationship feels as deep and firm as any of the relations on the show, so it’s kind of devastating to think that something like this could put a crack in its foundation.  It also suggests this whole mess isn’t quite over yet, which makes it even worse considering it never should have started.  I said it before I’ll say it again:  Wynona isn’t a thief.  Given this week’s developments I guess I need to add “she’s also not an idiot,” since we discovered tonight that she actually just decided to stuff the entire contents of the evidence locker into her bag.  It’s a really flawed premise to ask us to buy into, but since we have no choice I guess it’s nice that it at least results in some enjoyable moments this evening.

Although, really, all of those moments are contingent upon the presence of everyone’s favorite pantsless judge, Judge Reardon (Stephen Root, who adds to every show he guests on).  Tonight he breathes some comedic life into the somewhat farcical game of chicken Raylan and Wynona engage in with a bag full of money at the court house.  His stubborn indignance to Wynona’s reasonable requests to put her “gym bag” in her office are funny in a way uniquely Stephen Root—he’s a badger and a charmer all in the same moment, and it’s a riot that he seems equally attracted to Wynona and Raylan (and often wonders aloud to both of them how each let the other one get away).  At any rate, his retention of Wynona when she needs to ditch the money, coupled with Raylan’s inability to get free of his marshal duties and the additional requests of Reardon makes for some funny and intense moments, often in unison.  But nothing quite beats his furious “Goddamn it, you know theres’ never a bomb!” directed at no one in particular when he emerges from the courtroom sans slacks after a bomb threat is called in.  A bomb threat which sets off a tense stretch for Wynona and Raylan, who it appears for at least a few minutes may actually be caught red handed with the money.
"Incredible" (adj.).  synonyms:  Wynona, amazing, OMG.

 It’s nice that Wynona gives Raylan a little speech about not wanting to involve him in the cover-up, but the fact that Raylan is prepared to engage in this type of underhandedness when it’s been well established that he hangs hit hat (almost literally) on his adherence to the law regardless of who he’s chasing—even old family friends and his own father (who, granted, he doesn’t really mind seeing behind bars) means it doesn’t hold much water.  It seems like the writers are equally concerned about this being out of character for Raylan since they go to the trouble of having him explain to her that he’s often been tempted by the “who would miss it” feeling of dirty money sitting in front of you for the taking, despite the fact that thinking and doing are miles and miles apart (thinking about something is miles from even “intending” to do it, let alone acting on it).  So you chalk it up to googly-eyed love, but I just don’t really accept the idea that Raylan would co-produce and co-star in an attempt to cover up an illegal act by committing a few more in the process.  It just doesn’t seem like him; at the very least he’d unleash quite a bit of fury in Wynona’s direction and want some time separate from her to consider his position. 

Boyd, at least, is remaining true to himself, as are the writers—in fact they make a point of building his newest adventure out of the inherent assumption that his true nature and checkered past lend themselves to certain unique lines of work.  And so, through a sudden (maybe rushed is a better word) turn of events, Boyd is dressed up in a new suit from Penney’s, shown some video footage of a tree hugger becoming an unsuccessful boulder catcher, and being hit on by the gorgeous head of the Coal company that oversees the mine (played by the delectable Rebecca Creskoff of Hung).  It’s a sudden redemption which proves before long to be fairly non-redemptive after all, becoming much more interesting in the process:   It turns out everyone’s favorite Harlan County marijuana trafficking family is standing in the way of Carol Johnson and her company’s plans and need to be “taken care of” in a manner she feels Boyd is uniquely qualified to carry out. 

Despite being nice to look at, Johnson is presented as quite the broad caricature right now, which isn’t especially interesting if they’re planning to add her as a long-term villain:  she shows Boyd a video involving a man’s death rather gleefully and then asks him if he wants to see it again and her general demeanor as the head of a Big Coal company is painted in pretty broad strokes.  It needs to be better for this plot to really play, but it doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of interest in such efforts.  She’s as shallow and dismissive of Boyd as a human being (and the lives of other human beings, apparently) in the final moments of the episode as she was when she hired him—which at first might have been dismissed as salesmanship of the job to a reluctant candidate but turns out to be just an obnoxiously self-assured personality. 

Gary, meanwhile, is getting himself involved again with one of the few characters on the show scuzzier than himself, namely Mr. Duffy, who creeped the heck out of Wynona last season with some thinly veiled threats.  It’s a brief scene this week, which seems to function more to remind us who Duffy was and how thin the ice is upon which Gary is treading here, but certainly promises to lead to trouble before the  season is out.  Though it hasn’t amounted to much yet (I’m not counting Wynona’s theft here—she said she didn’t do it because of the mortgage problem), I’m really enjoying the quiet menace of Gary’s attempts to get out from underneath some really bad debt and—apparently—try to steal Wynona back from Raylan as a part of the same master plan.  If the master plan turns out to be “get Duffy to help”, then put me down for $50 on “Gary’s a corpse before the penultimate episode ends.”  It seems like he’s being directed down something of a self-destructive path, and I’ve rather enjoyed the fact that Justified is just mean-spirited enough to let a character travel such paths to their most destructive ends if it serves the show’s purposes either thematically or structurally (hey, we need to be rid of Gary sooner or later, right?). 

I feel redundant saying so, but this week felt like more setup of things to come than development of anything pre-existing.  Even the evidence room money being returned didn’t feel at all like closure, and that was about as close as anything in this episode came to advancing pre-existing storylines.  That’s not entirely a complaint; the show has proven in the past to be quite adept at maneuvering its core characters through quite the hailstorm of crises and villains, so frontloading this season (are we still in the front end?) with more problems than a hillbilly doorbell can bark his fool head off at only makes me more excited for the end game.  Get your hat, Raylan, it’s about to get ugly.

Overall Rating:  8.5/10

Great Lines, Interesting Moments, What Not and Occasionally What-Have-You:

Did we know Boyd was in Kuwait?  I didn’t.  Interesting touch.

Beautiful exchange that only Raylan/Wynona could pull off without it feeling heavy handed and corny:

Wynona:  I’m really sorry.
Raylan:  I know that.  It’s the only reason I’m not beating you over the head with a phone book…What do you think?
Wynona:  I think you’re gonna save me.

“I know 50 men in this building who would pay good money to sniff your gym clothes.”

“I have spent a considerable amount of time hiding explosives, so I would be happy to walk around here with you, showing you where I’d hide mine.”

Art musing that he feels like Geraldo outside Al Capone’s vault is hilarious; doubly so when the money isn’t in the locker:  “Now I really feel like Geraldo outside Al Capone’s vault.”

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