Justified: Do the Dewey

Justified S03E05: "Thick as Mud"

I'm going to go on record and put myself out on a limb here—a limb that many of you will surely try to snap so that I break my little neck—and say that last night's episode of Justified, "Thick as Mud," was my least favorite of the season so far, even though many of you probably thought it was the best. I think my off-puttedness stems from the fact that it felt like a departure from the series. "Thick as Mud" seemed more like a vignette from Pulp Fiction than an installment of The Continuing Adventures of Raylan and His Hat. However, it was also 44 minutes of total awesomeness because even when Justified has an "off" day, it's on such a roll with its characters, dialogue, and setting, that it barely matters.

Justified has a sense of swagger that embodies its protagonist. It never busts down the door while amped up on testosterone; instead, it pushes the saloon doors open and stands there for a few moments, letting the patrons gawk at its presence before tipping its hat and sauntering in, jacket pulled open just enough to give you a peek of how dangerous it can be. With Dewey Crowe (I <3 Dewey big time) at the helm of "Thick as Mud," the pace and tone of the episode was jarring when compared to Justified's full body of work as a cool customer.

But hoo-boy was it entertaining. Let's recap what the episode was about in one sentence: Dewey Crowe on the run with four hours to get $20,000 in cash so he could get his kidneys removed before a crazed doctor could sell them on the black market. If you didn't see the episode, I don't have to tell you that Dewey didn't exactly handle the situation with suave. But that's not why we love Dewey. He's an idiot. A stupid, ignorant idiot. But he's also a lovable idiot. His adventure led him to knock over an appliance store, a strip club, and the requisite corner store, with Raylan and Erica (and some very funny and sarcastic local law enforcement) steps behind the whole way.

In the end, Raylan convinced a desperate Dewey to drain his lizard to see if he really did lose his kidneys, and when the yellow stuff flowed, the chase was over. Even though Dewey was convinced that the organ-robbing still happened. "You mean I had four kidneys?" Chair. I fell of it.

But just because Dewey still had his "Cadillac of beans" (another falling off the chair moment) it didn't mean Raylan's work was done. Ponytail prison doctor Lance, the would-be kidney-snatcher, was still on the run. Leads took Raylan to the house of Layla, a very cute nurse with a sharp tongue who he'd flirted with back at the hospital, and wouldn't you know it? Her boyfriend was the ponytail prison doc, and the two were involved in all sorts of scams. Lance stuck Raylan with a syringe full of knockout juice, and the new plan was to cut open Raylan and sell his Raylan parts, presumably with a side order of skipping town.

But this is Raylan Givens we're talking about, not some normal organ bag. For all his craftiness, escapes from sticky situations sometime fall in Raylan's lap. And when Layla for some reason shot Lance (maybe she wanted to pin the murder on Lance? That's a crummy way to breakup with a boyfriend, and on Valentine's Day, too!), Lance and the gun he took off Raylan fell right into Raylan's lap. And because Raylan has the strength of 1,000 elephants, the tranquilizer wore off just in time for him to shoot Layla THROUGH the body of Lance. Though I'm not sure I buy that he was able to wake up from being drugged, let alone have the wherewithal and dexterity to shoot Layla through Lance's corpse. Raylan just went from a damn good U.S. Marshal to cartoon superhero, but what else is the show gonna do? Kind of a dud ending to an otherwise fun romp.

Elsewhere, Boyd had some great action while searching for the men who put those "seeds of mutiny" in Devil's brain. After extracting Devil's cell phone from his corpse, Boyd strolled over to a cool bar where Tanner, the man who brought Devil over to Quarles in the opening of last week's episode, was drinking. Boyd's new crazy henchman pulled the plug on the jukebox, a sure sign that trouble was about to go down. A few button presses on Devil's phone to dial up some recent calls, and Tanner's phone blew up. Kicks to Tanner's face ensued. That scene was tense! I loved how silent the bar was, save for the buzzing and ringing of Tanner's cell phone, which was practically a death sentence.

Tanner led Boyd to Quarles, which I believe was the last of the introductions of this season's bad guys to our hero Raylan and antihero Boyd. And it was well worth the wait. Quarles flashed his grin and three-piece suit to Boyd, then asked for a Pappy van Winkle neat (Boyd's dive carries bourbon that goes for about $25 a glass?), but Boyd was unimpressed with his offer of partnering up. These two are going to be in each other's faces all season long.

Finally, Raylan came back home to an empty house, and found a note from Winona. We didn't get to see what it said, but given Raylan's glum reaction, it probably wasn't good. Did she up and leave him? No way. Don't buy it. Did she even write the note? Was it a ransom note? Was it a recipe for Winona's country-fair-winning potato salad? Give us your theories!

"Thick as Mud" was a fun diversion, but it was a bit out of character for Justified. What it reminded me of more than anything is that, while Justified is in a league of its own in creating compelling characters regardless of whether they're minor or major, it's best when the attention is on Raylan or the central bad guys. Or Dickie. Let's give this one a A-minus-minus.

Notes:

– Kinda sad Ash is dead now. I know he was a lug, but for some reason I liked him. He got one of the episode's best lines, though. Raylan: "What do you know about kidneys?" Ash: "They're the Cadillac of beans."

– Boyd's henchman, the one with the goofy hair who unplugged the jukebox, might be the scariest person on the show right now and he's barely said a word. Does anyone know his name?

– Neal McDonough and Mykelti Williamson are absolutely killing it as Quarles and Limehouse. They're approaching Mags Bennett territory. But they still have a long way to be on the same level as Margo Martindale's brilliant performance.


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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Theory? I think Winona may have left him, at least temporarily. That's NOT a ransom note or anything; while Raylan may not usually go off all testosterone-fueled, does ANYONE doubt that he'd be out the door in a hot second if someone took her?

Anyway, I think Winona's accepted that despite the fact that they love eachother, Raylan's never going to change, and she's either taking some time away to think about it, or she's just fed up with his useless ways and gone out and gotten a house on her own, moved her stuff and is letting him cool his heels a bit.

Possibly, that new house may be a ways off, out of Harlan county like they decided back before things went crazy again.

Don't know what I think about that - I want Raylan to be happy, but I also recognize that his family will always be incredibly vulnerable the way things are in Harlan.
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Jesus Jumped Up Christ. Now I understand. Tim Surette will complain about ANYTHING that isn't EXACTLY what he was expecting.



Shit, some people actually watch TV for the surprises. But no, he can't just say this episode was a great change of pace, he has to complain that it wasn't exactly the same as every other episode.



Why write for a TV site if you hate watching TV?
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What do you think it says about you, that after Tim describes this episode as '44 minutes of total awesomeness' that you would conclude he hates watching TV?
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Because while describing it as 44 minutes of awesome he still complained about it being too different from what the show normall is.



And it's called hyperbole, ben. Look it up.
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Every character on this show is so richly drawn that none of them get enough screen time. I'm really starting to miss seeing virtually *any* of Art and Tim this season.



Curse you, excellent writing and acting!



Addendum: Great to see Maggie Lawson play a much more interesting character than she typically gets to play on Psych.

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I hate to disappoint Tim, but the main plotline of the episode - the kidney theft and everything - is actually taken straight out of Elmore Leonard's latest novel, "Raylan", where he revisits our good old hero, Raylan Givens. I'd say that the very creator of the characters should know best what to put it in, and I must say, it was absolutely brilliant.



As an article in the Guardian a couple of weeks ago read: "Anyone can write a plot in which crooks kidnap each other to extract each other's kidneys; it takes an Elmore Leonard to conceive of one in which the kidneys are sold back to their indignant original owner." Here is the entire article, by the way, it's worth taking a look:



http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/jan/27/elmore-leonard-great-american-novelist
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I missed a few minutes...



Did we ever get a line / scene explaining why Lance tricked Dewey into thinking he stole his kidneys?



Either:

- He somehow thought Dewey had a stash of money he was going to get



- Lance knew Dewey was broke, and that the resulting chaos of him running around for cash would give them a chance to escape.



- He just wanted to mess with Dewey.





I *guess* it was the first one, since he mentioned he had a way for them to make some money. But it was a gamble that the idiot would have $20k lying around.
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Maggie Lawson was fantastic in the episode, nice seeing her in something other than her boyfriend's show "Psych". Raylan was seriously flirting with her which was kind of awesome. Too bad he had to shoot her.
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I don't think it was the worst of the season, but I agree it was a bit of a departure from the regular feel of things, at least parts of it were. I also agree that Quarles and Limehouse are developing into absolutely kick-ass characters. Can you believe Mykelti Williamson was Bubba in Forest Gump?? I hated him in 24 -- thought his acting was awful (gotta give the script most of the credit, though, of course!) -- but he's more than redeemed himself in this. Neal McDonough is always pretty good, though he's VERY good at being bad in this.



As for Raylan shooting the cute nurse THROUGH the body of the pony-tailed organ thief, while he WAS tranquilized heavily at least the script covered that to an EXTENT; first when the nurse herself said she had to prepare another needle because Raylan was going to wake up (we know she was really prepping a gun, but is it true he would wake up soon?). Second Rayland didn't shove the body above him aside, stand up, and quip some one-liner about plugging the lady -- he said he couldn't believe he shot her either and was in a funk.



It's not really the first 'comical' moment where Raylan was sort of out of control of the situation but lucks out, either -- when the pawn-shop owner and his side-kick gunned each other down a couple of episodes back (or was it last episode) the look on Raylan's face and the 'comedy' of the situation was kind of priceless.



Oh, and somebody beat me to the 'he didn't have four hours to have his kidneys removed, he had four hours to get them back in again'.
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I don't get it : first , Winona's happy with the way it is - then , at the eps' end she leaves Raylan ? Or is Dickie Bennett behind this and he snatched Winona ? Unlikely.

Maybe she DID leave Raylan to go to California and to get laid by Hank Moody.

Or is it Quarles ? Or Limey ? Or Tom Cruise's cousin ?
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I assume she left. She never liked Raylan's job, and so earlier in the episode, she mentioned to him that she was "fine" with it because she understands his job is a part of him. It's never really fine when women say they're "fine" hehe. I guess she found it easier just to leave then to be with him and his job.
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3rd par: "so he could get his kidneys removed"

I think by "removed" you meant "given back."

Otherwise, I liked what you wrote, especially about the general feel of the series, and share most of your opinions on the episode.
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I agree about the actors playing Quarles and Limehouse. Just outstanding performances, I'm looking forward to seeing where its all going. These two villains will definitely cross paths as well, Limehouse is a spying devil.



I liked the touching moment between Boyd and Ava. Even though the dialogue wasn't about them, the scene really showed how much she cared for him, and him for her. Plus they have something very important in common. They both been shot in the chest.
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Did you see in the previews Quarles asks Duffy if Raylan has any weaknesses???? Oh....why would Raylan last season tell Duffy that the only reason why he wasn't busting Duffy and Gary is because it would just kill Winona....now Duffy knows Raylan's weakness and a Winona kidnapping is eminent. I also think that Ava will also be kidnapped probably at the sametime and that will give Raylan and Boyd reason to team up and get their women back...I am sure Winona will survive, but will the baby????
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Maybe I'm the one out on a limb here, because I thought it was a lot of fun! I really enjoyed watching Dewey spin out of control and Maggie Lawson (of PSYCH fame) was amazing in her all too brief role. No, it wasn't the typical Justified episode, but it was very good nonetheless!
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Certainly not a favorite of the series, but this is one of my favorite episodes of the season. My problem with some of the episodes this season were how packed they were of different story lines. I really enjoyed this episode because it actually felt MORE like season 1 and 2, where each episode wasn't so packed and had more of a focus on one or two story lines of the season.



Positives of this episode? More Raylan. He got to chase down a bad guy which was what he did for most of season 1 and 2. Add to that the bad guy he was chasing down was Dewey. LOL @ "You mean I had four kidneys?!" Despite his idiocy, he seemed like a genuine badass for a second as he was bashing in a dude's face in the strip club. The final scene with Raylan killing Layla, despite being a little farfetched, was still good for me because of his reaction to it. If you're going to do something that might be a little silly, have the main character find it silly too.



The second big positive is that Boyd and Quarles met up and measured their junk (uh, figuratively). Ugh, both of them are such scene stealers.



Third: Layla. Maggie Lawson was adorable -- looked better than she does on Psych -- and made for a fun bad guy. Her calm, collective, and smart demeanor worked well alongside Raylan.



The only downside for me, really, was that Ash died. I liked both the character and the actor. I guess there wasn't much else for the character to do, though.
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I liked Ash too, I wish there was more going on. I heard that Layla mightve survived, do you think she may make a return as a vengeful murderess? Who knows. She was great here, very different from her Psych character. She should do more drama.
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This episode did not blow me away as Justified normally does, but it still had some brilliant moments. The convo between Boyd and Quarles was almost everything I imagined it was going to be: Quarles all smarmy, pretentious Yankee delivering thinly veiled insults at Boyd, then condescending to praise when Boyd proves to be at least as well read as he attempts to appear, and Boyd calling the presumptuous Yankee a carpetbagger to his face. If his reaction was any indication, he did not misunderstand the insult. "Call it a speedbump on the road to crosscultural understanding," Quarles says about being caught out in his machinations to get the end-run on Boyd. Quarles didn't make any bones about the way he saw the division of labor and power either, "Amen to that." Even Boyd was surprised by the gall of the man. The obscure Saul Bellow reference there at the end was a bit over the top, but the scene left me very unsettled in that it is the first time I have felt Boyd waiver in his confidence and convictions.
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I thought last week's episode was weaker than this week's. I think for me it was because it had too much Dickie - a little Dickie goes a long way. (That said, I love Dewey - he doesn't seem near as slimy as his best bud.) After that and the previews, I thought the new episode was going to blase, but I liked it. My biggest complaint - no Tim and too little Art.
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Meh, I wouldn't say it was weak, just kind of disjointed. Didn't have the feel of Justified as much as an attempt at a more comic approach. Some worked some didn't. Hated the almost reveal in the closing!!
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I chuffing love this show and, contrary to what most folks appear to think, thought this episode was a blast. Its about time Dewey got to be the centre of an episode. Bring on next week.
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I agree whole heartedly Tim. This was the weakest episode, possibly of the whole series thus far. I have no issue with someone getting one up on Raylan. The issue that I have is this season thus far has been the Raylan show. We have seen Tim and Rachel in episodes, but they haven't really given them as much play as they received last season. I would have much preferred Rachel save his butt rather than Raylan coming through again by himself. It was an odd turn him going to Layla's (Played superbly by Maggie Lawson from Psych) knowing that she probably had something to do with the Nurse from the Prison. Kind of odd, I like that Raylan isn't a superhero but come on give some of the other Marshalls some play.



Boyd's part was great, the scene with him and Ava was fantastic. The bar scene was something out of an old time western. His meeting quarrels was perfect, you have quarrels as a dynamic charming kind of guy vs Boyd's slowed down, old timey sayings. I love the contrast. I know that they are pushing towards a Raylan and Boyd vs Quarles show down. But I would like to see a bit more of the ancillary characters. I would like to see more of Ava, I think it is interesting that she is all of a sudden on team boyd, despite him looking to kill her and her looking to kill him just 2 seasons ago. It is an interesting dynamic that I wish wash brought out more.



And limehouse was again great.



Dewey was hilarious, the Shop owner however owned it. That was the best non robbery I have seen on tv in a long time. And Dewey's comment to Raylan about watching what he says in the store because the owner doesn't like that. So funny. I am glad that Dewey is still around because he can provide comic relief any time.



However, Did anyone almost miss the ending. Was that letter from Winona a Dear John letter for Raylan. She was ready to leave him before he got shot. Did she get a whiff of what life was like/ is like with Raylan and decide to take a leave. If so I am conflicted, I like Natalie Zea, but I really dislike the character of Winona, she is kind of a whiner and is slightly dumb with the whole stealing of the money last season. And aside from the flirtation between the two of them in the first season she never felt right.



Over all I would give it a B+. Ya go to get one some time. Cant' all be A's.



And from the previews I think next week is Neal McDonough's entrance into the emmy race and Quarles' true introduction to Harlan. it is going to be fun.
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Agree about the other Marshalls..Rachel shouldve showed up and shot that nurse. They're really turning Raylan into some kind of Super marshal, which he's not, and he's less human in that sense than he was portrayed as in Season 2, where the villains just kept getting the drop on him, esp each member of the Bennet clan.

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Uh, Dewey wasn't trying to get his kidneys REMOVED, he was trying to get them PUT BACK IN (despite the show being unclear as to whether or not they were actually removed). And I think the villain dude wasn't a doctor, he was a nurse.



I did love Dewey's spree and how he reacted to various obstacles, seemed in-character, and his line about having 4 kidneys was funny. But I wholeheartedly agree with you that last night's episode was the worst so far! Also, Raylan didn't have his hat. Dewey's story didn't really say anything, and wasn't even clear about its resolution, it was merely antics. Limehouse proved to be stupider and thus less believable than he had been built up to be. Boyd's guy didn't even frisk Quarles' sleeves which is pretty standard f'ing practice. Quarles was pretty badass in that last line though, he clearly wasn't taking any crap. But I still am not buying Boyd's attempt to takeover all crime in Harlan, he's got ONE guy he can count on, plus Raylan's dad who nobody can count on for long, and one exchangeable sucker soldier - that's nothing.



They covered why Raylan was waking up in the tub when the gal from Psych said she had to get another syringe because the first one wasn't going to knock him out for long.



I will give you guys credit, I bought that Mags had spent all the money to buy up the town, but it turns out the show went the opposite way and magically she didn't spend any of that money despite the previous season clearly showing us she was liquidating everything doing just that.



Winona ending, I didn't notice the boxes when Raylan came in, and he had just been talking about her being too calm with his job, I suspect she left.



I just spotted Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story on tv an hour ago, and the title character's parents are Mags Bennet and Arlo Givens!
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There will be no stone pelting from my side, Tim. This was the weakest episode of the season. BUT it was still damn funny! Oh man, imagine the possibilities if Dewey Crowe had his own sitcom!
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I agree with you, the episode felt a bit to different from Justified's usual type of episode. That said, I love Dewey, and I did enjoy his trip around town.
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