The Telefile

Justified: Backside of the Week

by Rachel Stein March 21, 2012 6:00 am
<I>Justified</i>: Backside of the Week

When we were first introduced to Quarles, did you ever imagine that an episode would end with him stripping down completely naked and then entering a bathroom where there's a young man tied up? Honestly, my answer is somewhere in the ballpark of: "Meh, makes sense."

In "Guy Walks into a Bar," Neal McDonough has continued to take Justified to a darker level than I could've imagined this show going a season ago -- and I mean that as a compliment. I take no joy in having a character be created with a horribly upsetting sexually abused backstory like his, but in terms of excellent television that knows no bounds, I'm happy that the writers chose the path with Quarles that they did. It's rare to have a character be so evil -- with actual believably vindicated purpose -- that there is truly no telling how far they will go. (Applause must go to Jere Burns, whose upset and confused Wynn reminded me ever-so-slightly of Adam Scott in Parks and Recreation, especially during the otherwise extremely tense bar scene.) A few months back, I interviewed Breaking Bad creator and producer Vince Gilligan, and he explained something about that show that clearly applies to Justified: "The writer's room is a confounding place to be in and a fun place as well. I always liken it to be on a sequestered jury that never ends... The most horrible thoughts we can conceive of as humans are there to be put forth and discussed and examined and usually ultimately discarded, but I mean we do some pretty wild things on the show which is clear from watching it.... It's important to have a safe writer's room in that regard."

Anyways, juxtapose Quarles with Boyd, an incredibly strong Harlan-County-hero-yet-series-antagonist, and there's no doubt that Justified is making its mark as one of the best character-based dramas on television. Though Boyd had a solid Hannibal Lecter moment in "Guy Walks Into a Bar" ("Hello Hannah. I'm just here minding your tablescapes"), at the end of the day, he refuses to be a savage to Quarle's conquistador. Getting Shelby to win the sheriff's seat on a technicality was well-played, especially in an episode where we see that moral compass that makes Boyd so damn awesome.

Elsewhere, I'm excited to see what's going to happen between soon-to-be-released Dickie Bennett and the Limehouse crew and how everything will come together in the end. I thoroughly enjoyed Jed's granny's wordless performance and again fondly thought of Breaking Bad's Tio Salamanca throughout her scene (one moment in particular). And of course, there's the anticipated return of lucky, squirrely Dickie Bennett, which was accompanied by the awesome Raylan speech... and a Raylan-bartender sex scene! Winona who?

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