Justified: Blaze of Glory

Art-JustifiedAn other great episode. Surprisingly other than dealing with the fallout of last week’s Boyd-centric episode this one went a whole other direction. The Bennets didn’t appear at all. I’m not sure why they created a whole new subplot here but I suspect some sort of divided loyalty for Raylan is coming. One thing I did like about tonight was that it seemed to capture that kookie thief who can’t leave it behind vibe that is so common in Elmore Leonard novels. While I loved it structurally, it wasn’t quite as strong as several other episodes this season.

First off we discover that Ava has in fact hitched her wagon with Boyd. Not romantically but by not turning Boyd in she’s definitely cemented their relationship in some way. Boyd explicitly sees his relationship with her as akin to Raylan’s. Surprisingly it appears that Boyd told the feds most of what went on except for the money he took – blaming it on the robbers threatening Ava. We were never shown such threats and we don’t know if this is a lie by Boyd or something true. Still while this is the only Boyd we got this week he had some great scenes. His calm speaking to the ATF was fantastic, as was Art’s backing Boyd up at the end.

The rest of the episode was a whole new story with no side detours.  Also nice was getting to see and get to know Art, Raylan’s boss, a bit more.  I like that we’re getting to know these side figures a bit more.


We find that Winona’s ex has taken their home equity to buy a race horse.  Which seems odd to say the least and perhaps not at all surprising given Gary’s past actions.  I suspect this race horse will become important in the weeks ahead.  We’ll see if he ends up winning a lot of money.  We get the distinct impression that Winona (much like Ava) needs money.  There are some interesting parallels between the two characters that the writers are setting up.  As I mentioned earlier in some ways Boyd and Raylan are being set up as parallel characters as well.

Inexplicably when alone in the evidence locker Winona takes a single hundred dollar bill.  It’s not clear why she does this.  It looks like she was curious as to whether it was counterfeit.  Was she thinking of taking all the money (which had been left there for a very long time apparently)?  We don’t know for sure.  However she chickens out at the bank at the last minute just as a bank robbery takes place and loses the money.  Wisely (perhaps the only smart thing she does) she tells Raylan who then tries to make sure he can get the money back from the robbers, one of whom is on the run and thus under Marshal jurisdiction.

The robber subplot is pretty funny with an old bank robber dying of emphysema.  I really like how he plays the Marshals and sets up the double cross.  The scenes with Frank were great and it reminded me of some of Elmore Leonard’s novels dealing with nostalgia and growing old.  Rum Punch. You might recall that was made into a movie by Quenton Tarantino as Jackie Brown. That book is a great example of that genre, although Tarantino doesn’t capture that feeling of getting old that well in the otherwise excellent film.

My favorite part was the chase scene at the end between Art with his bad hips and knees and Frank who casts off his oxygen tank.  Having had to wear an oxygen bottle exactly like that for two months last year I could really sympathize with Frank.  You have no idea what it is like for your lungs to not work.  I’m just surprised he was able to intimidate the one thug who was his partner while on the oxygen.  I sure as heck couldn’t have done much even with the oxygen.  It was a great scene though.

There were some great scenes which all assumed the audience was intelligent.  They didn’t have to tell you why the second robbery was incompetent when Raylan sizes them up.  You just get a single, “clearly you’re the brains of this outfit.”  Although at the end they did explain that the dynamite sticks were actually flares for anyone who missed it.

One thing I’m constantly impressed by the show is how characters who are only on screen briefly can be so complex.  Most shows have characters on saying so much who come off so superficial and cardboard.  It’s very impressive what the writers and producers manage to pull off weekly.  Even the weaker episodes are heads and shoulders above most else out there.  And the directors manage to get some great performances out of the actors – saying pages with a single glance.  The more this show progresses the more impressed I get.


9 thoughts on “Justified: Blaze of Glory

  1. The chase scene at the end was probably the funniest chase scene I’ve seen in a while. Great episode.

  2. I thought this might have been the weakest episode in two years. Not sure why. It just felt a little too familiar. I can’t remember who said this (Sepinwall?), but someone pointed out that the show has often relied on a group of mismatched bandits who implode all on their own right when Raylan shows up. They need to try a new trick.

  3. It definitely was much weaker than most. I didn’t think the bandits imploded on their own though. It was clearly a plan by Frank. I can’t put my finger why it felt so much weaker than the others. I think there was something about the whole Winona plotline this weak which felt fuzzy. I thought the villain of the week were actually great. If anything I thought they should have focused on Art more. Raylan seemed pretty much a minor character this week.

    Of course Justified when weak is still better than most shows on their strongest day.

  4. Huh. I did a quick Google right after and “Old Man Follies” came up. But I just checked imdb and MCQ is right. I changed it. (I also accidentally reversed Art and Frank’s names this morning although I’d fixed that by lunch)

  5. I think you’re right about the whole parallel character thing. For a while now the show has been comparing and contrasting Boyd and Raylan as characters who started in the same place.

    Now we’re seeing the same sort of cpomparison between Ava and Winona. Both are in trouble with the law in this episode for different reasons and both are being defended by their men in different ways. Very interesting that Boyd got Ava involved in a theft and Winona got Raylan involved in a theft. Both of the innocent parties are now trying to cover for the guilty ones after the fact.

    Remember that Raylan left Ava partly because he thought she was trouble. Seems a bit ironic now.

    I think Boyd is making up the story about the threats against Ava, but it’s perfectly true that Kyle and his crew were planning to kill Boyd, although he wasn’t supposed to know that. So he wasn’t coerced, strictly speaking, but at the same time, if he hadn’t told them he would go through with the robbery they would have killed him, so it’s not really a lie either.

    The moral ambiguity in all of these episodes is very compelling and makes the show very real. You want to root for Frank in a way, and you hate the asshole ATF guys who think it’s ok to call Ava a whore and then charge Boyd with making threats when he defends her.

    For that matter, the show makes you want to root for Boyd as well. Who doesn’t want him to get away with the money and help Ava pay off her mortgage? Heck even Raylan might root for that, especially given what he’s doing for Winona. Is there a difference between what the two of them are doing right now? Not much of one.

  6. Makes you wonder if layers are coming for the Bennets who right now are just unmitigated creepiness.

  7. Well, Mags is raising Loretta to be a really good little drug dealer. And Coover really loves his mama.

  8. You know I just had a veteran ask me if I won a purple heart during my time in the service. Apparently my knees affect my walk that badly. So the old man chase that seemed like it was in slow motion was the best part of the episode. It had my laughing hysterically.

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