Justified: Fan, Meet Feces

No one, and I mean no one, is allowed to bust Mags Bennett's boys' chops except for Mags herself. But last night, Raylan Givens donned his white-knight armor and did some chop-busting anyway, full-on reigniting a family rivalry that goes back through many generations of gap-toothed hillbillies.

"Brother's Keeper" drew a line in the sand and then jumped across it with two feet, moving Justified along at an even faster pace as we hurtle towards the Season 2 finish line. We've been watching Raylan and Mags size each other up like dogs in a fight for several episodes, but now the muzzles are off and we've got a handful of episodes left to watch the metaphorical fur fly. In sum: The s*** has hit the fan.

A gray cloud hovered over the first three-quarters of "Brother's Keeper," giving us the sense that something was about to go very, very wrong. There seemed to be a target on everybody's back: Loretta, Coover, Dickie, Carol, and Ava were all especially at risk in my mind. And in the end, things got really dark, with dim Coover Bennett ending up at the bottom of a mineshaft, dead from lead poisoning courtesy of one of Raylan's bullets. Make no mistake, Coover HAD to go. And I think we all saw that in the cards when we first met him. Dumb guys with hot tempers and U.S. Marshals with dead-eye aim don't mix.

But before we say goodbye to Coover for good, we should applaud Brad William Henke for a fantastic performance as the sharp-as-a-spoon goon. It ain't easy playin' that dumb while squeezing compassion out of viewers, but Henke almost had me cutting onions with his grief over not being Momma's favorite no more. If you want to see more of Henke, I believe you can still see him on Fox's The Chicago Code.

Coover's death is about to bring the wrath of Mags down on Raylan—and so hard that he'll see her when his eyes are closed. And it won't be the hammer-to-the-hand situation that she reserves for her loved ones: Coover was Mags' baby, and even though she considered him an oaf and has her new prize possession in the daughter she never had, you don't mess with a momma's young one. How about that parting attitude that Mags gave Raylan at the end of the episode? That's more gold from Margo Martindale, who apparently improvised that scene.

Boyd rightfully did a happy dance upon shaking hands with Mags to make himself a rich man, but with Mags' priorities now heading in a new direction (kill Raylan!), I expect that their brief partnership will sour and something entirely new will be thrown in our faces. Justified has built up Boyd all season long as being back on the straight-and-narrow (as straight and narrow as Boyd can be, anyway), so teaming him with Raylan's new foe would undermine all of our good favor. Will Boyd side with Raylan for an epic shoot-out at the end of the season, just as he did in Season 1? Or would that be the show repeating itself? And how is Ava going to fit into all of this? Boyd's storyline is the murkiest of all, but I'm confident he will emerge as a key player once everything is said and done.

And let's not forget about the power of gigantic energy corporations. I doubt we've seen the last of Carol and Black Pike. Expect a forceful counteroffer or some dirt on Mags to surface to throw a wrench in the deal.

Did you guys also hold your breath while Dickie lost his? We all knew something big was going to go down in this episode—the air was thick with that sense—and my heart sank as Dickie lay there motionless. Thankfully, a splash of bong water brought him back to us (Marijuana, is there anything it can't do?). I would have been absolutely crushed if Dickie had expired on us last night. There's just too much to like about both the character and Jeremy Davies.

Is Justified the best drama on television right now? For me, "Brother's Keeper" answered that question in the affirmative.


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

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Awesome episode! I interpreted the end a little differently though. To me Mags' didn't seem to care much in the end that Coover was gone, she just cared about getting Loretta back because it's clear she always wanted a daughter. She said something like "is that my boy down there?", and when Raylan said yes, she just accepted it, barely showed any emotion, and then asked about Loretta coming back cause that mattered more to her. When he said she couldn't see Loretta, her face turned to pure hatred and disgust for him. I see this as set up... Mags trying to find Loretta later this season when more **** hits the fan and I can just imagine it now, Loretta cowering in a corner knowing Mags' killed her daddy, Mags' trying to talk all creepy sweet and nice to her and act like it didn't happen. But then if Loretta tells Mags what she really thinks of her... goodbye fake sweetness. All the pieces are in play for something like that to happen so hopefully I'm not too far off the mark on this one.
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Best show. The MAGS
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Well, that's the one thing -- among others -- that I think Justified does very well: make every "villian" or criminal intriguing or deep enough that viewers sympathize with them. I haven't met a criminal or villain on this show that I haven't actually liked, lol.
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I feel sorry for those boys with a mama like Mags((((shiver)))). But she is good and scary. and when Raylan had to confront her at the end, she gave me the creeps...Can't wait til next week. Funny how every episode is the Best episode
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One of the best shows on television. Best episode of the show so far.
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Even though Dickie is "bad", I didn't want to see him go either. Especially when he was trying to help his brother. Watching Coover bite it was a bit easier(not to say his actor is bad, quite the contrary). Hoo boy, does Justified have some sympathetic villains or what?!
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It was a perfect hour of television. Unfortunately, the show said that Rebecca Creskoff was only made available to them for her 3 episode arc which is now over because she is a regular on "Hung" (Which you should check out if you want to see some awesome scenes with Creskoff and Jane Adams.) They wanted her for more but couldn't get her. Will Emmy nominators take their heads out of their collective behinds and finally recognize that this show is the best Drama on television. So..so much better than the nap inducing and weakly written "Boardwalk Empire".
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i was afraid to breathe from start to end ... was seeing Mags hammering me for using up all the air
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love the show, just brilliant, and the episodes just get better and better
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