Justified Season 3 Finale – “Slaughterhouse”

We have now found our way to the finale of this season of Justified and it is a pretty satisfying ending. The loose ends of all the threads of plot that had been dangling all over the place have now been neatly woven into place and all or most of the questions raised during the season have now been answered, including the most important one: How do you disarm a man with a sleeve gun?

We begin where we left off last week, at the scene of the shooting of Tom, Raylan’s state trooper pal, who we learn has now died of his injuries without ever awakening to confirm the identity of his assailant. Boyd was knocked unconscious by the blast that destroyed Quarles’ car, and Quarles is gone, apparently unmarked by anyone. Raylan hears that Boyd has now awakened inside the bar and is being interrogated, so he goes to hear what his old buddy has to say. Johnny keeps repeating that Quarles shot Tom, but Raylan is apparently suspicious of Johnny and tells him to shut up. Meanwhile, Boyd’s not saying much, but Raylan gets him to admit that Wynn Duffy blew up the car.

Just then, Arlo shows up. He wants to know if Raylan was the cop with the hat that was shot. Right away, Boyd points him out to the cops as a “family member” and wants to talk to him.

The conversation is very confusing because Arlo is out of his mind. He seems to be convinced that Helen is still around and is tormenting him. He accuses her of hiding his pills, and says he “took care of business.” That sounds ominous. What did he do? Boyd forces him to take some meds and watches him do it.

Raylan goes looking for Duffy and finds him in custody, handcuffed to the back of his winnie. Raylan takes Duffy inside the winnie for a chat, but Duffy isn’t very forthcoming, so Raylan borrows an idea from one of Duffy’s earlier cohorts: Harlan Roulette. Duffy is seriously freaked out when Raylan starts pulling the trigger and starts to talk. Loudly. He says that Limehouse set up the whole thing and that he doesn’t know where Quarles is. That seems unlikely, since he was so hot to hand Quarles over to Detroit for the cash, but maybe an explosion does make you lose track of people.

Next, we see Boyd meeting with Limehouse and a whole lot of backup on the bridge to Noble’s Holler. Apparently, this meeting was called by Limehouse, and it’s to resign his position as Boyd’s banker. He wasn’t really in Boyd’s corner anyway, and now I guess he wants to make it official. Why now? Is the auditor coming for a visit? Or does this mean he is openly moving against Boyd? He makes a point of noting that Devil’s not with Boyd, so message delivered: he knows.

When Limehouse gets back to BBQHQ, Raylan’s there, playing with the salt shakers. People must be curious about their own shortcomings, because when Raylan says that Limehouse screwed up, Limehouse says: “In what manner of speaking?” Raylan threatens to charge Limehouse with accessory to murder, but Limehouse rightly questions why:

Limehouse: Now hold on just a minute.

Raylan: You promised me Quarles, you promised me Boyd.

Limehouse: I don’t recall promising you donkey squat. I just pointed out an opportunity, more like.

Limehouse decides that it was Raylan that must have screwed up, because “one of yours is dead.” That tears it. Raylan goes after Limehouse, who pulls a meat cleaver, while Raylan pulls out two guns, one each aimed at Limehouse and Errol. Problem is, the backup from the bridge is still hanging around, and Raylan failed to account for them. Just as they all cock their weaponry, the salt shaker Raylan had poised on its edge falls over. That’s a nice touch. Once again, it’s the details that make this show so good.

Limehouse (to his posse): You boys know how to get rid of blood and bones. If he shoots, you make sure nobody finds him. None of him.

Raylan: I want what you promised me.

Limehouse: I don’t know if I can get you Quarles, but I might could get you Boyd Crowder.

Raylan: I’m listening.

Honestly, I don’t know why Raylan cares to go after Boyd at this point, but I guess any bad guy is better than none.

Next, we see a family camping in the woods, and you just know Quarles is going to spoil their fun. Sure enough, he pops out of nowhere and takes them hostage.

Shelby calls Boyd to tip him off that the marshals are digging up Devil and plan to pin his murder on Boyd. He says with that warning, they’re square. Sounds like Shelby wants a chance to be Sheriff without being under anyone’s thumb. Good for him.

Quarles is in the family van with Pete, Mitch and their mom. He makes a call to Theo Tonin and asks what he needs to do to come home. Theo says he needs $500k. Somehow, Quarles thinks he’s going to get it.

Boyd is explaining things to Arlo, Johnny and Ava, and he knows the tipoff to the cops came from Limehouse, because Limehouse made sure he knew it. Boyd suspects one of them told Limehouse. Suspicion falls on Arlo, because he’s crazy. Ava wants to find a way to fix it, but Boyd knows there’s no chance.

Quarles makes the family pull over and leaves mom by the side of the road. Guess he had too many mouths to feed.

The cops come to pick up Boyd and the marshals are with them. Boyd wants to know why they are involved and Art says it’s a joint task force. Boyd observes that is also as good a way as any to prove that Ralan and Boyd aren’t in cahoots. Art says “You aren’t as dumb as you look. I like the use of the word cahoots, though.” Nice.

Out of nowhere, Arlo apologizes to Raylan for “the way I treated you as a boy.” Says it’s at Helen’s request. Apparently, she’s been after him about a lot of things. Must be tough to get nagged worse after your spouse is gone than when she was alive.

Ava is quizzing Johnny, wondering who could have tipped off Limehouse about Devil. Johnny says that Ellie Mae had Dickie Bennett in her trailer.

The cops have the mom and she tells them what she heard on the phone. (BTW, can’t they now track Quarles on the mom’s cell phone?) Art heads off to set up roadblocks on the roads to Detroit, but Raylan knows Quarles won’t be going there until he gets the money. Sure enough, he gets a call from Quarles. He goes to meet him and gets taken hostage with the boys in the van. Quarles reveals his sleeve gun and takes two guns off of Raylan: his regular piece and another one. The other one Raylan says he can keep.

Limehouse is holding court at the BBQ and has a private conversation with Errol. Apparently Errol is one of the few around who eats pig tongue. Limehouse is going to have to discontinue it, because Errol is going away. He’s being banished for his role in knocking over the oxy clinic with Tanner earlier in the season.

Just then, Johnny calls and lights into Limehouse about the way he let Boyd know that he knew about Devil. Apparently it was Johnny that told Limehouse, in order to get rid of Boyd and get back at him for getting Johnny shot in season 1. That’s a bit of a shocker. But I guess old wounds do fester.

Ava goes to have a chat with Ellie Mae about Dickie Bennett. She ends up smacking the girl around quite a bit and it’s remarkably reminiscent of the way Ellie Mae was treated by her former boss, Delroy, the one that Ava objected to. Funny how supervising hookers can bring out the pimp in just about anyone.

Quarles is taking Raylan and Mitch to see Limehouse in order to get the money from him. It’s hard to see exactly what his thinking is. How does having Raylan in tow help his case with Limehouse? Is Limehouse supposed to just object to killing the boy and the marshall on principle? Limehouse’s response is predictable: “Not my people, not my problem.”

Quarles: Well, then I’m going to kill you.

Limehouse: You do, and ther’ll be a dozen armed men out there before you can turn around, as the marshal can attest.

Raylan: I can.

Quarles: Yes, but then you would be…dead.

Limehouse: Ok, then, I guess we all know where we stand.

It’s a bit of a standoff, but Raylan breaks the awkward silence by reminding Limehouse that he keeps saying that all he wants is to be left alone, and this gets it done. Limehouse reluctantly sticks a knife into one of his hanging pork bellies and rolls of money come spilling out. “It’s a piggy bank!” cries Quarles gleefully.

Limehouse: Marshall you are one strange piece of chicken. One day you’re about to tear my whole world apart over a dead trooper. Next day, you’re given all this money to the man who killed him.

Quarles: Wait a second, you think I killed the trooper?

Raylan: Who did?

Just then, Limehouse’s trusty henchman shoots at Quarles, and Quarles fires back. Raylan grabs the arm with the gun so Quarles tries to use the sleeve gun, and Raylan grabs that arm too. Limehouse goes at Quarles with his meat cleaver and cuts off the his arm while Raylan’s holding it. Quarles tries to get his arm back from Raylan, but Raylan won’t give it to him. Quarles falls, bleeding out, but Raylan still wants to know: “Who killed him?” Quarles, laughing eerily, chokes out, “Your old man.” Poor Mitch had to see that whole thing. Yeah, he’s scarred for life.

Raylan goes and wakes up Arlo and takes him into the office. Seems like he could have waited for morning. Art mentions that one of the guns Quarles had was the gun that kiled Gary. Ha. Game, set and match: Raylan made sure to pin that on him. Boyd is there too, and as Arlo is taken for questioning into a conference room, Raylan asks Boyd, “Do you think it’s true what they say?”

Boyd: What do they say?

Raylan: One bad apple spoils the barrel.

Boyd: Well Raylan even in a little town like Harlan I think the apple barrel is obsolete.

Raylan: The expression ain’t, because of the truth contained therein.

Boyd: You trying to tell me we ain’t talking about apples.

Raylan observes that Boyd should be going away for a long time. Boyd repeats something that he said about Arlo earlier: “I’m connected to Arlo in ways I was never given a chance to do with my own daddy. He’s not my crew, he’s my family.”

Raylan goes into the conference room in time to hear Arlo say that he shot the trooper…and Devil. He confesses to both killings and says he did it to protect Boyd. Wow.

We hear Raylan’s voice narrating the story at the end, and it’s not clear why, until we see him telling the story to Winona. She wants to know why he’s there.

Raylan: Thought I might pat the belly, see the latest sonogram.

Winona: Tell me a story about a man getting his arm chopped off?

Raylan: You know what they say in the office? I disarmed him.

The last thing Raylan explains to Winona is why Art thought Raylan would be upset about Arlo: he shot Tom just because he saw a man in a hat pointing a gun at Boyd. The implication is that Arlo chose Boyd over Raylan. that Boyd is the son Arlo wants, even to the extent that he would be willing to kill Raylan to protect Boyd.

The only problem with that is that Boyd was on the ground and unconscious at the time. Tom had to have been pointing his gun at Quarles, not Boyd.

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19 thoughts on “Justified Season 3 Finale – “Slaughterhouse”

  1. Great summary. I didn’t think Arlo’s actions were Boyd vs. Raylan, only that Arlo did think he was shooting at Raylan. I may have to rethink that, regardless of whether Tom was pointing the gun at Quarles. Arlo may have still thought Tom’s goal was Boyd, so it kind of works.

  2. There were some surprises here. I thought Raylan would end up with Lindsay, but the fact that he went back to see Winona in the middle of the night says that he’s probably not emotionally ready to move on. i don’t know if there’s any chance for a reconciliation with Winona, but it’s pretty clear Raylan’s not going to start a meaningful relationship with Lindsay right away.

    Also, I was surprised that Johnny turned on Boyd. I know that he’s not a happy camper about what went down, but I thought he was loyal to Boyd. Turns out, not so much. It seems hard for Boyd to hold on to any loyal followers, including family members. Good thing Arlo’s loyal to him, and Ava, because he’s got no one else.

    I knew Quarles would end up dead, but I was surprised about the way it went down. I was expecting a shootout of some sort, but it was almost anticlimactic in the end. If cutting off a man’s arm with a meat cleaver can be described that way.

    Wynn Duffy turned out to be kind of a wuss. I thought he would either haul Quarles back to Detroit for the reward or become a player in his own right and go up against Raylan or Limehouse. None of that happened, though.

    My favorite moments of this season were mostly in the earlier episodes, so I wasn’t crazy about the way it all turned out, but endings are hard. I was much more satisfied with last season’s ending, but overall, I liked this season as much. I can’t help wondering if we’re going to be hearing from Theo Tonin again. Seems like a good character to keep around.

  3. Keep in mind that Quarles had some daddy issues as well. If I remember right he was exiled to Kentucky as a last chance from his adoptive father. His real father pimped him out. He was angry at the other mobster that was chosen as the successor over him. Even as spiraled out of control he only wanted to get back “home”. It added another layer to the father issues in the show.

  4. You knew that the cleaver was going to end up being used. Was it Checkov who said that if a gun shows up on stage in the first act, that it will be fired in the third? Limehouse’s cleaver was like that. It wasn’t just for the mood.

    It was great seeing Art getting more air time. He’s a great character. And his dialogue always crackles.

    Thanks MCQ for the great summaries, a first rate job.

  5. Let’s be honest, though. This season of Justified was a major step backwards. If Maggs was still alive she would have beat Quarles out of town with a stick in the first episode. He was in no way a substantial enough villain to fill her shoes. In fact, one of the things that went wrong is there were too many villains. Too many players. I call it bad Batman movie syndrome. Between Boyd, Limehouse, Quarles, Duffy, Dickie Bennet and on and on…there were just too many characters to follow. Instead of following the old model, which gave viewers one self-contained storyline with a beginning, middle, and end in each episode, the writers tried to service all these characters and the result was that it was in many ways an unsatisfying season. There were two or three stand out episodes, but most of the episodes were by and large tap dancing and set-up on the way to an inevitable showdown with a foredrawn conclusion. It was a disappointing season. No question.

  6. I think that’s fair, Brian. I was thinking the same thing recently, that last season was better. But I think last season was really a pretty amazing, standout season, so it would be hard to follow it no matter what you did.

    Also though, we’re at the point in the story where you can’t really count Boyd as a villain, or really Dickie Bennet either. They are recurring characters who may have important roles in any drama that plays out, but they can’t be the main villain anymore. This season was really about Quarles and Limehouse, and I agree that by not focusing on one of them as the villain, and trying to keep too many threads going, they made the season less interesting.

  7. Part of the problem is that Quarles became sort of ineffectual as a villain. He started out as crazy but scary and just got more and more crazy but less and less scary as the season went on.

    This is partly the fault of Elmore Leonard, who seems to have an idea (let’s call it the Leonard Doctrine) that says that most criminals are so stupid that they are more likely to shoot their own foot than shoot you, so you just need to give them time and enough rope and they’ll usually hang themselves.

    There’s also a corollary to this doctrine that says that if there is more than one criminal in the same area, they will always screw each other over or kill each other before they do anything really bad to anyone else.

    We saw the proof of both of these ideas in this season. It made for some good episodes, but the whole season was less intense because there was no major villain and all the criminals were at such cross-purposes all the time that Raylan didn’t really have to do much except wait around and pick up the pieces. Literally.

  8. Weird. My comment from a few days back never showed up. MCQ said a lot of what I was going to say. I wouldn’t have minded Quarles being incompetent in some ways however there were no characters (Limehouse) who really picked things up. If you compare the first half of the season with the second there really is a huge difference. Everything was going on all cylinders the first half. The second half things fell apart a lot. Even the machinations of Boyd didn’t amount to as much as I expected. It was good, but nothing like last season.

    All that said I really enjoyed Limehouse. And actually I kind of dug the ending in particular with Raylan musing on his dad picking Boyd over him.

    Somehow though there just wasn’t the tension I expected and a lot of things set up never amounted to anything. (The wrist gun really wasn’t used in a surprising way, the gun Raylan hid in his house didn’t do anything, etc.) Pretty much after the Dewey kidney episode things didn’t go that great. There was that one episode where Raylan was being framed that was good and had a fair bit of tension. And the scenes with Duffy and Raylan are always great. But it overall was a mite bit disappointing.

  9. Yeah, I was expecting more out of the sleeve gun and the gun hidden in the air conditioner, or whatever that was. Seemed like Quarles just ran out of steam after the framing idea failed. He showed up at the bar and threatened to kill Raylan then just took him hostage and made him go to see Limehouse in the finale. What was up with that?

    JFD mentioned the principle of Chekov’s gun, but it bears repeating. The principle is that, as a writer, if you show a gun in the first act, it must be fired by the third, otherwise it shouldn’t be shown. I think it’s true that the writers followed this principle with respect to the meat cleaver, but not so much with the sleeve gun or the gun that killed Gary. Those were disappointing plot elements.

    I think it may be a problem of having too many different writers working on the season. You get single episodes that are great, but the season long story arcs lose their way.

  10. Yeah – weirdly Justified lost it on both fronts. Although it’s still better than 99% of what’s out there.

    I have to admit I loved the piggy bank line. What a place to put the money.

  11. That’s the thing, you don’t want to complain too loudly about Justified not being as good as last season, because come on, it’s still so darn good compared to other shows.

  12. Uhm, the gun that killed Gary was the one that Raylan brought with him when he was hostage to Quarles. So it was used, in a sense, by Raylan making sure that he “returned it to it’s proper owner”, or whatever the line was. However, the face off between Raylan and Quarles that the season was building towards never happened. However, while it wasn’t as great as last season, I’m with MCQ with the not complaining too much, as the show is still pretty darn good.

  13. “Uhm, the gun that killed Gary was the one that Raylan brought with him when he was hostage to Quarles. So it was used, in a sense”

    We know that, but that’s pretty weak sauce after they showed Raylan hiding it in his room. That hiding place should have figured into the plot. Having Raylan just pawn it off on Quarles as an afterthought was totally a nothing ending for what a big deal they made of it earlier.

  14. Are you sure that gun he brought to Quarles was the same gun? I don’t think it is. It would make no sense for him to bring that.

  15. Why would it make no sense? That’s exactly what does make sense: he let Quarles take it from him and told him he could keep it because he knew it was the gun that killed Gary, so the murder would be pinned on Quarles. How does that not make sense?

  16. And didn’t Raylan tell Quarles that he wanted his business gun back, but he could keep the “other” gun?

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