S3E7: There’s something to be said for an hour-long episode of a television drama that feels like it covers three hours worth of ground. The majority of the focus this week’s Justified stays on Raylan, as per usual, with second place going to the show’s newest gleaming villain Robert Quarles. Tack on a few scenes of Boyd trying to further his career and two of Limehouse doing his same stoic sociopath shtick—it doesn’t seem like much on paper, but this week’s “The Man Behind the Curtain” puts a whole lot on our plates.
It’s good to see Tim. I like Tim. There’s a lot to Tim—or, at least, there could be, if the show bothered with him. I invite anyone familiar with Elmore Leonard’s writings to discuss how the author treats the Tim character (or any counterpart that might exist if a direct source character does not) in his literature, and whether or not his characterization comes through on the show.
Anyway, Raylan and Tim contribute to the investigation of Quarles, who approaches Raylan in the marshal’s new residence: a bar (he lives in an apartment above the bar, but who can sleep with that music?). Raylan and Tim tap the latter’s FBI friend to find out more on Quarles, and his visiting associate, Sammy. I have made previous hypotheses, due to the context of their conversations, that Sammy was Quarles’ son. Further speculation led me to the statement that Sammy was Quarles’ dead son. Clearly, he is neither of these things—Sammy is actually the son of Quarles’ Detroit mob boss, and the heir to the proverbial mob throne (which “rightfully” belongs to Quarles).
Quarles is working on a pretty elaborate scheme, when the nuisance that is Sammy comes into town to contribute next to nothing to the ordeal. Quarles pays off a local sheriff to ensure that he is the chief oxy supplier in the locale (it’s just assumed that lawmen are corrupt in this show). And as we’ve seen, he’s got quite an operation out of his place of business: MRI machines, doctors on call, the works. All to, apparently, make up for something wrong he did way back when, as alluded to by Sammy (referring, of course, to his father).
Though Sammy may not be of much substance in the crime syndicate, he’s not stupid. He knows that Quarles would probably rather him be dead so that he might usurp his position as next-in-liner. So when Raylan approaches the cowardly Sammy for some questioning and learns this, he realizes that the two might be able to work together to stop the diabolical, and more emotionally charged and erratic than ever (and believe me, he is much more interesting this way) Quarles.
Raylan and Sammy aren’t the only two interested in keeping tabs on, and possibly running down, Quarles. At the dawn of the episode, Limehouse institutes a constant surveillance on Quarles’ operation. This comes in handy for Boyd, who, as Limehouse’s business partner, is privy to all of the information that Limehouse acquires. However, Limehouse seems to be getting a little fed up with Boyd on a personal level, which will likely affect their business relationship for the negative.
One of my favorite parts of the episode is treated with only a small amount of attention, but promises to play a large role later in the season I’m sure. Arlo, who, as we learn, has been on meds for some significant amount of time, is beginning to lose it. We find him wandering in Limehouse’s territory, mumbling to himself and calling out for his dead wife Frances (Raylan’s mother), as if she has just run off on him. Arlo losing his senses will surely spark some interesting story, either in the form of him failing to uphold some kind of responsibility for Boyd, or, preferably, something more emotional between he and Raylan.
Oh, and let us not forget how awesome it is that Stephen Tobolowsky stops by to play an uptight jerk of an FBI agent who is infringing on Raylan’s investigation of Quarles and Sammy. Is somebody a crooked fed? As long as this means more Tobolowsky, I’m on board.
The episode ends with Quarles following up on Wynn Duffy’s Tulsa “connection” that he knows to be a source of profit: welcome back Gary. …He doesn’t seem to be doing too well.
Things were much simpler back in Season 2. The villains weren’t dispersed all throughout the county—they all lived in the same house. Those were the days of the Bennetts. Of course, Boyd was still up to no good back then—but his stories seemed to work in greater harmony with theirs than do his and Quarles’, or even Limehouse’s. Season 3 seems to be opting for too much, and complicating itself in the process. Season 2 was so much better than its predecessor due to the real meat and depth in the characters we got to know.
Sure, Quarles is an increasingly interesting figure—but his stories, along with Limehouse’s, Boyd’s, Dickey’s, Arlo’s, Ava’s (how much of either of those last two have we seen this season anyway?), the embezzling evidence room guard’s, and those belonging to whomever I am forgetting, are all spread too thin, in a fit of combat with one another. If the show continues to instill Quarles with the same kind of bizarre vigor that we’ve seen these past two weeks, then it could all work out. If they apply the same to Limehouse without sacrificing from the other stories’ development, it might end up being perfect. But that’s a lot of work to be done, and already so far into the season. We’ll have to see if it actually comes into fruition.
What did you think of this week’s episode? Is the show spreading itself too thin? Does anybody know what Leonard’s Tim is like, if there is one? What will happen with this new Arlo development? Let us know in the comments section, or on Twitter @Hollywood.com and @MichaelArbeiter.