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Justified, Ep. 6.02: “Cash Game” light on incident, heavy on banter

Justified, Ep. 6.02: “Cash Game” light on incident, heavy on banter

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Justified, Season 6, Episode 2: “Cash Game”
Written by Dave Andron and VJ Boyd
Directed by Dean Parisot
Airs Tuesdays at 10pm ET on FX

Truth be told: not a hell of a lot happens in “Cash Game.” Despite the fact that it only has eleven more episodes to go after this one, Justified is still Justified, and this has never been a series that’s felt the need to hurry up its seasons’ first acts. Instead, it uses its time to sell us on this season’s cast of rogues, as well as indulging in a pleasant number of comic asides, reminding us that, at its core, Justified is a fun series, though that has been difficult to remember throughout some of its recent, darker patches.

Much of the action this week directly follow’s from Boyd’s apparently failed heist last week, including the introduction of the mark, local real-estate tycoon Daltry Calhoun (a very appropriately cast Brad Leland) – who, as it turns out, is also Ty Walker’s boss. There’s an easy rhythm to “Cash Game,” and that’s because it’s all talk, no action, a strategy that would be a problem for so many other series, but is a perfectly appropriate one for Justified, which is populated with characters who love to talk, especially when said talk involves taking someone else down a peg. That means we get countless scenes of Olyphant, Goggins, Jacob Pitts, and new hire Dillahunt riffing left and right, indulging in the kind of paradoxically low-key scenery chewing that Justified specializes in. Not all of it lands – Dillahunt’s scene in which he takes umbrage at the term “peacock” starts out funny but wears out the gag a little – but the effort to take a moment and re-establish the series’ comic bona fides is appreciated.

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“Cash Game” marks the first appearance of Sam Elliott as Markham, a crook of some repute – and Katherine’s lover. The decision to cast Elliott but not have him don his usual, distinctive ‘stache is an unexpected and clever one – it preserves Elliott’s sonorous voice as the primary source of his gravitas, and underlines Markham’s straightforward, pragmatic brand of menace. His discussion with Katherine about how to handle an “employee” who’s fallen out of line doesn’t have any traces of schtick, just the baseline brutality of people who’ve done a whole lot of bad things to a whole lot of people over the years.

Though “Cash Game” is a little light on substance, it does feature a scene that likely signals the principal thematic concern of the season for Raylan: his new status as a parent, and what it means for his future. When Raylan and Boyd cross paths for the first time this season, after a typically (and awesomely) verbose set of exchanges, Boyd asks Raylan point-blank, in reference to fatherhood: “Does it change you?” In last week’s scene with Art, Raylan asked rhetorically why he doesn’t just draw down with Boyd and end it all the bloody old-fashioned way. If season six can earnestly approach and assess Raylan’s shifting (or not shifting) consciousness as he prepares to take down Boyd for good, it would go a long way towards securing it in line with past glories.

Other thoughts:

Boyd Crowder owns Ray-Bans? Surely he jests.

Loads of great little details to Dillahunt’s performance, not the least of which is the way he blows his nose while Raylan and Tim grill Calhoun about the robbery. (Second place: his quick cautionary “fingers!” while closing the trunk of the bank manager’s vehicle.)

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“You’re in the middle of the road!” “So are you.” Raylan’s roadside showdown with the hulking dullard Choo Choo is full of classic Raylan retorts. Also great, his call to Tim: “Forget all that shit. There’s someone I want you to meet.”

Calhoun’s prostitute associate makes a great disgusted sound when Raylan asks if she’s “Mrs. Calhoun.”

It’s another thin week for Ava, who mostly sticks to fretting, but she gets a little more to do next week.