Justified "The Kids Aren't All Right" Review: Everybody's Hustlin'
First, a bit about Loretta. Of all the scamps and scoundrels scurrying 'round Harlan County, it's orphan teen Loretta who may be the most dangerous. Fully aware that a teenage girl can get away with a lot more than a toothless methhead hick can, all five-feet-whatever of little Loretta has been one of the few Harlan Country residents who can stand toe-to-toe with Raylan Givens. And she came back in "The Kids Aren't All Right," the first time we'd seen her in, gosh, about a season? I think she stopped by for a quick visit in Season 4, if I recall correctly. And it's great that she came back, because Loretta is one of my favorite Justified characters. But more importantly, I'm just happy any time the ridiculously talented Kaitlyn Dever is relieved of her Last Man Standing duties.
It's also great that she returned because she brings out something different in Raylan. Though she's still more or less the same character she's always been—a troublemaker in need of a daddy—this time around, things changed a bit with her "stepfather" Raylan. Raylan is no longer just a father figure, he's a father (with a figure, right ladies?) to his own child. Seeing him deal with Loretta takes on a new meaning now, as it gives us a peek into Raylan the dad if he would ever own up to being a dad. And you know what? I think he'd make a great dad. He punished Loretta when she needed to be punished, but he was also in awe of her maturity and craftiness, as if he was proud of the fact that she nearly pulled off a mega-heist and was confident that she'd be smart enough to impress even more when she got older. "In the future, do us a favor," he said as she walked away after using him to get out of her own difficult situation, "Go easy on us, will ya?" This is THE Raylan Givens saying that to, what, a 15-year-old girl?
Yes, Harlan is full of hustlers of all ages and genders, and that fact was all over "The Kids Aren't All Right." This episode was one of those busy affairs where most of the criminal calamity of a standalone story can be traced back to one person—in this case, it was Loretta first trying to scam one of the South's biggest drug dealers, and then trying to scam her own boyfriend—and the joy of watching came from seeing all the perturbed parties make their way toward convening in an abandoned parking lot for a final showdown. No shots were fired, but lots of pieces were moved into place. There were old characters (Loretta; Hot Rod Dunham) and new ones (guest-stars Wood and Steve Harris as Hot Rod's muscle men; Loretta's boyfriend Derrick), yet they intertwined like they'd known each other all along, and as usual, it was up to Raylan to jump right into the fray and play referee. And through every despicable twist and turn of each character, all we wanted was to get more time with all of them. I'd watch a show with the Harris brothers' characters at the center, wouldn't you? This was quintessential Justified, and a great case that the series could easily survive as more of a procedural, with Raylan cuffing a new weirdo each week.
Also getting her hustle on was Mara, the comatose Paxton's sexy mail-order bride. Every character in Justified's world is willing to use the misfortune of others for their own ill-gotten gain, and Mara brokering a pact with Mr. Boyd Crowder was as sleazy as it gets. Three hundred large and she won't just shut her mouth about Boyd's murder attempt on her husband, but she'll take that mouth all the way back to her Motherland. What do you know, another new player comes out of nowhere to screw someone's life up. Yet simple blackmail isn't interesting enough for Justified, so at the end of the episode, Paxton woke up and a new problem presented itself: How do Boyd and Mara, now strangely in cahoots even though Mara is the card-holder, keep Paxton quiet about what really happened? And will Mara be pressured into implicating Boyd after her run-in with Officer Asshole (no relation to Officer Stick Up His Ass)? With the police already sniffing around, the "accidental" demise of either Mara or Paxton would only bring the pigs around, and with Ava in prison and a drug empire to get off the ground again, Boyd doesn't have the time to serve time.
And if that wasn't enough for Boyd—this is NOT Boyd's season so far—his heroin pushers were getting antsy about not having any product to sell, so much so that a town-hall-style meeting was called at Boyd's bar. The Canadian shipment was still a few days out, the natives were getting restless, and one particularly scummy dealer by the name of Cyrus got a little wordy with a crack hoe and told her that Boyd's shipment would arrive soon. Next thing we knew, Boyd showed up to the meet and found nothing but corpses and bullet holes when all he wanted to see was a huge pile of heroin. It's unclear whether Cyrus and the crackbitch with the Pop Rocks blowjob trick are involved, but it's the only lead we have at the moment, so I'm declaring one or both of them guilty as charged.
And while Raylan was busy rescuing his not-a-daughter Loretta and making arrangements to sleep with her social worker, Allison and Boyd spent the episode stepping in deeper and deeper shit, and what I assume to be this season's main arc (the Crowes) took one baby step forward: Darryl Jr. arrived in Harlan and showed up Dewey's House of Carnal Delights. And so the trouble begins for Raylan, Harlan, and Dewey, if the look on Dewey's face was any indication.
"The Kids Aren't All Right" welcomed us back to Harlan while the Crowes settled into their new stomping grounds. But it was more than just an intermission. Each storyline ended at the perfect time, leaving us all to wonder what's next. Will Hot Rod return to cause more trouble? Will his two cronies (Wood and Steve Harris's characters) be back? What's next for Boyd both with his Mara situation and the drug robbery? What is Art snooping around for? Did Raylan get laid? In many ways, this felt just as much like a season premiere as last week's "A Murder of Crowes," and in every way, it felt just as good.
POSTCARDS FROM HARLAN COUNTY
– Will Hot Rod Dunham let Raylan off that easy and stay out of Harlan? Or will he become a minor problem that Raylan takes care of this season?
– Crib upgrade! Raylan goes from college bar attic to palatial mansion with a bowling alley in the basement. If Allison somehow didn't sleep with Raylan right then, she is a stronger woman than I. (Also, I'm not a woman but I probably would have slept with Raylan in that scenario.)
– Speaking of Allison, how are we all feeling about Amy Smart being on Justified? Can she hang?
– What's the deal with Art's phone call? Is he digging into Raylan's business regarding Sammy Tonin? And what kind of trouble will Raylan get into when Art finds out that Raylan orchestrated Nicky Augustine's murder at the airfield?
HEARD 'ROUND HARLAN
Because Justified is stuffed with great dialogue, each week, I'll post my favorite lines right here.
more than a hundred bucks?"
Asshole cop: "Maybe this is just a language-barrier thing. What does skinny, medium height, with dark, spiky hair and big shiny teeth mean where you're from? Because here in America, it means that piece of shit right there."
you need anything, just ask for Officer Stick-Up His Ass, he'll be happy to
here's Dewey Crowe's whorehouse, and Dewey Crowe's whorehouse ain't gonna have
no fatties running around."
Raylan: "So what held you back, high school diploma?"
Raylan: "You're breaking up with Loretta. And do it like a gentleman, huh? Make
her feel like she's too good for you. Tell her being with someone like you is
just gonna hold her back." Derrick: "We
talking about the same Loretta here?"
think if I'm going to smoke I'm going to do it the old-fashioned way."
general rule is you keep talking, I put you in the trunk."
get in the weed business with teenagers and it's their fault when something
goes wrong? You the type of fella who walks under a flock of birds and is
surprised when he ends up with shit on his face?"
kill four of you before you even clear your weapons, and I'll take my chances
with the other two. And you see this star? That's gonna make it legal. Now, do
we have an understanding here?"
I got a loaded gun, get out of my car."
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