Justified, Ep. 3.04: “The Devil You Know” thins the herd, thickens the plot

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Justified, Season 3, Episode 4: “The Devil You Know”
Written by Taylor Elmore
Directed by Dean Parisol
Airs Tuesdays at 10pm on FX

As a brief digression, allow me to spin a little pre-emptive Justified fan-fiction. With the welcome re-appearance this week of Kaitlyn Dever as Loretta, and witnessing the return of her easy repartee with Raylan, it’s suddenly easy to picture a grim-but-satisfying season progression in which somehow Winona (who’s absent this week) loses the child they’ve spent the season anticipating (if you need any help imagining how that might come about, I point you in the direction of the half-dozen baddies circling Raylan at any given moment), thus both giving the season a palpable emotional center, keeping the pesky presence of a defenseless dependent out of the show, and allowing room for Raylan to take in Loretta and get to have a more conversationally engaging kid around. Everybody wins! (Sort of.)

If that seems like a callous direction to want the show to go, it’s only out of confusion as to how Justified could possibly cope with the presence of an infant. Surely, besides the other considerations, the fun of Raylan having a kid around would be to see him matching wits with them and trying to grow as a man – not so easy to do with a really young kid. Not to mention all the hand-wringing that would surely arise around the necessity of keeping the young’un safe in the face of looming danger. In the face of all that, Loretta would seem like a welcome alternative, no?

Future speculation / grim wishful thinking aside, “The Devil You Know” actually has close to nothing to do with Raylan’s impending fatherhood, preferring to add a few wrinkles to the season’s master plot by intimating just how its many criminal elements might be interacting going forward. Our Big Bad, Quarles, attempts to bring one of Raylan’s sidemen, Devil (Kevin Rankin), into his organization to help him start to make a dent in Harlan, criminally speaking. Meanwhile, Dickie and an unwitting Dewey Crowe get busted out of the pen by the crooked guard we’ve gotten to spot over the last couple of weeks, as well as his accomplice, a similarly inclined prison medic. They’ve got designs on Mags’s supposed lost fortune, and they need Dickie to get at it through Limehouse, who’s got more to do this week than in his previous appearance.

Actually, Limehouse is the catalyst for what’s probably the highlight of the episode: in the midst of trying to track down Dickie and Dewey, Raylan stops in at Crowder home base (aka Johnny’s bar) ostensibly in order to gather intel, but winds up giving Boyd a history lesson about his own experiences in Limehouse’s holler, particularly his seeing Limehouse beat the hell out of Arlo six ways to Sunday when he acted out of turn. After two seasons of villains that Raylan’s family had intimate ties with, it’s nice that the showrunners found a way to connect Raylan with Limehouse that’s both believably incidental and nicely evocative. (It doesn’t hurt that the mental image a young, shitkicking Arlo getting schooled by Limehouse are undeniably satisfying.) Also great: Limehouse’s rapport with Rachel, who’s gotten more good material between this week and last than she’s gotten in the show’s entire run. Will they ever show Tim Gutterson the same love, though?

The other major development is, of course, Devil’s downfall, which is admittedly a little on the predictable side. As soon as we see him relying on Johnny to turn on Boyd, it’s clear that the scheme’s not going to fly. Still, there’s a lot to like about Boyd and Devil’s last scene together, in which Boyd quietly makes clear he has control of the situation before quickly putting his former comrade out of his misery. Queasiest detail: the way Rankin adopts a high-pitched whimper all the way to his last breath. “Close your eyes, son.” Damn.

Simon Howell

3 Comments
  1. DB says

    I don’t get the fascination you and others have with this Hillbilly Orphan Annie scenario when it comes to Raylan a grown ass man taking in a 14 year old girl he’s known for a few months. It just seems way creepy. She’s an awesome character no doubt, but she did end up having to be saved by Raylan 3 times last year. That to me would get old a lot faster than him having a child of his own, who, judging by the absences of series regulars for multiple episodes we may not see a whole lot of after it is born anyway.

    1. Simon Howell says

      Given that so much of the show is about family and generational gaps (and shitty fathers in particular), I can’t imagine Raylan’s kid being merely incidental. And yeah, such an adoption wouldn’t be at all realistic, but this ain’t exactly The Wire.

      1. Simon Howell says

        With that said, I hadn’t considered until right this second that her role on Last Man Standing (which I’d forgotten existed, frankly) probably takes precedent over my preferences.

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