'Justified' Season Premiere Recap: The Gunfighter

Jan 17, 2012 | 8:46pm EST

JustifiedS3E1: The first episode of Justified’s third season picks up three months after the shootout at the Bennetts’. Raylan is recovering from a gunshot wound and has been assigned to desk duty by Art. He and Winona discuss their baby on the way—she apparently has opted to stay in the deputy marshal’s life, despite her considerations of leaving him due to his dangerous lifestyle. And Boyd has seized control of the local weed game. Unfortunately for Boyd, his entire product has rotted due to improper packaging, losing him and his men their prospective buyer. Doubly unfortunately for Boyd, he is thrown into jail after attacking Raylan in the middle of the marshals’ station over the issue of Raylan disallowing Boyd his revenge on Dickie Bennett, who shot Ava at the end of last season.

“Mags’ bank accounts have been seized, along with her property, but there’s still a sizeable amount of money missing.” – Raylan

“How sizeable?” – Boyd

“Well over ten dollars.” – Raylan

This week’s episode, “The Gunfighter,” introduces a new nemesis for Raylan: Fletcher Nix (played by Desmond Harrington—Joey Quinn to Dexter fans). Fletcher is introduced in the office of Emmitt Arnett, the businessman with the penchant for adding a “kick” to his coffee whom we have met twice before on in the series. Arnett is clearly in over his head in a business arrangement with a surprisingly dangerous figure (Neal McDonough) who seems to favor bolstering his reputation over earning some money.

Arnett hires Nix, an affiliate of Winn Duffy’s (who looks to be finding a more prominent role this season), to steal a set of watches to pay off McDonough’s character. Nix is your classic Western baddie: he’s a cold-blooded, slow-talking sociopath, and apparent fan of mind games. He has a habit of placing his firearm on a table between he and any man he intends on killing, and instructing an unlucky witness count to ten, giving the victim a chance to reach for the gun before he can. The trick: Nix pockets a blade with which he stabs his adversary’s hand just as he reaches for the gun. It’s pretty sick stuff. And to be honest, I didn’t think Joey Quinn had this kind of thespian bravado in him.

“The last time I saw him, I said our next conversation wasn’t going to be a conversation.” – Raylan

“Oh, this is a different conversation.” – Tim

Raylan investigates the ordeal with Tim (whose suggested post-shooting trauma seems to have been swept under the rug pretty promptly), despite Art’s orders to remain at his desk. But, this is Raylan. So anytime he’s told to do anything, we can expect the counter.

Yvette, Arnett’s employee and devious sexual partner, leads Raylan on the trail of Nix, in a plot we later find out is orchestrated by McDonough’s character. At first, the man admits that his real desire is Yvette herself, and that he is attempting to get Nix out of the way and Arnett killed so that he and she can reign supreme in this wonderful world of crime. But after he shoots her, we figure that she was kind of just a pawn as well. We do get a slight hint at McDonough’s man’s humanity, as he chats briefly with his young son on the phone about his trip to Kentucky.

“‘Jiffy Pop’ for a boy. ‘Palmolive’ is obviously a girl’s name.” - Raylan

So, like I said, McDonough kills Yvette. And Arnett. In front of Winn Duffy—apparently to assimilate himself into the underworld as a figure not to be messed with. In the meantime, Nix, on the trail of his trailer Rayland, has holed up in Raylan’s and Winona’s apartment, laying the whole “count to ten” ordeal on his new victim. The catch, though: this is Raylan (that seems to be a recurring theme). Raylan anticipates Nix’s trick and pulls the tablecloth abruptly, forcing Nix to stab his knife into the table at the last moment and leaving Raylan with the gun. He shoots, but does not seem to kill, Nix. I imagine we’ll be seeing a lot more of this character.

In an interesting turn of events, Ava has seized control of the drug trade in Boyd’s absence. Upon his command, Ava instructs Devil and Arlo Givens to burn the marijuana, which frustrates the two money-hungry criminals. Boyd understands that if the group sits on such a large amount of drugs (thanks to their newly uninterested buyer), they will surely run into legal troubles. Ava takes full control of the house, smashing Devil with a frying pan and insisting to Arlo that she is making the orders now.

And speaking of Boyd, the last shot of the episode shows him entering the county jail, sparking a shock in two fellow inmates and two of Justified’s most colorful characters: Dickie Bennett (I am quite glad that he’s still around) and Dewey Crowe.

What did you think of the first episode of Justified’s third season? Does Fletcher Nix have what it takes to command the villain role as well as Mags Bennet did last season? What about Ava’s immersing into the drug operation?

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