In this week's episode of Justified, things happen fast, that's for sure. But things also slow down to such incredibly tense stand-offs that you have trouble remembering to breathe.
Pay-offs are had, and after wondering whether or not I was slowly losing interest in the show after last week's episode, I'm firmly back in love with this show amid its new developments.
Raylan Seems Ready to Confess
It's hard to pick what is a bigger development this week, but I'm going to have to go with what goes down with Picker, Art and Raylan. In what could have led to a bombshell season finale, we get pay-offs to Art's investigation into Nicky Augustine's death only five episodes into the season.
At the center of all of this is initially Elias Marcos (if I heard the name correctly). Played by Alan Tudyk, he's a soft spoken but dangerous man that Art, nonetheless, faces head on.
When Art sees Marcos sitting in his car for more than an hour before heading inside a diner where Picker is about to have a meal with Wynn Duffy, he confronts him outside and basically tells him not to go inside. Marcos, surprisingly, backs down, even though we see he's one who's not afraid to kill or fight.
After getting Marcos to avoid going inside, Art goes in to talk with Wynn and Picker. He convinces Picker to come have a talk with him, but as they're leaving, Marcos enters, deciding that he does want a fight after all.
Art calmly tries to get the waitress to get people out of harm's way, but Marcos stops her. He wants Picker to come with him and threatens Picker's family if he doesn't.
Maybe it was thanks to Tudyk or Art's steely cool, but that's as tense a moment as I've seen on the show in a long time. I'm still shocked everyone survives that scene and that, again,
Marcos just gives up and leaves.
After learning about Marcos' identity from Picker, Raylan and Art head to a warehouse to find him. Marcos enters with a giant machine gun and, again, I start to wonder whether Art is in danger of dying this week.
But no, Raylan is able to gun Marcos down. More important, when the marshals arrive later to help mop up the mess, they find Theo Tonin -- yes, that Theo Tonin -- bleeding inside a crate in the warehouse, where he was hiding out. Whoa.
The scene with Art celebrating later is such a treat to watch. He's wearing a backwards cap, smoking a cigar, while Vazquez drinks something I can only imagine is very expensive. But not all is right.
Vazquez tells Raylan there's a rumor about a marshal being involved in the death of Nicky Augustine. Picker told them it was crooked FBI Agent Barkley, who was killed by Augustine last year, but who everyone else just assumes is missing.
After Vazquez leaves, however, Raylan drops the bombshell on Art. "It wasn't Barkley," he says. "And I can tell you that for a fact."
Boyd's Back on Top ... Till He Isn't
Boyd, meanwhile, makes a lot of power moves in this episode.
Right in the opening minutes, he easily dispatches with Paxton by framing him and having Mooney "discover" a bunch of dead bodies in Paxton's funeral parlor (the dead bodies that Boyd was looking at in the previous episode).
Paxton gets out of bed after receiving a call from Mooney about the bodies to find Boyd waiting for him in the dark. It's an incredibly cool move and is the first of so many wonderfully tense scenes in the episode.
Boyd delivers a monologue about hurting Paxton's children and children's children before he shoots him in the head in his own bed.
Paxton isn't the only person Boyd wants taken care of, however. He double crosses Mooney by arranging for his murder in a restaurant while Boyd is in the bathroom. Boyd tells Mara, who's there with them, that the man who killed Mooney had a black lung and was going to die soon, but that his family is going to come into a ton of money -- Mara's money, which she was promised by Boyd, that is. Boyd tells Mara to leave Harlan and never come back, even without her money.
Boyd is triumphant at this point. He goes to see Ava and tells her she'll be free since the case will now no longer stick. She tells him how much she loves him and how she can't wait to see him the next day.
That happiness barely lasts a few hours, however, as Albert (the guard played by Danny Strong) finds a planted shiv in Ava's stuff that he then uses to stab himself. Another female prisoner pretends she witnesses it, all to frame Ava. That sends her to state penitentiary, with Boyd screaming when he finds out.
Other Odds and Ends
-- Kendall, under the care of the state, is quickly dispatched as a plotline as Wendy Crowe has come to town to get him back. Glad to see we're not seeing Raylan have to care for another child. Instead, perhaps this plotline was created to have Alison tear down Raylan for trying to use a child to hurt Daryl Crowe?
-- So is Daryl going to be Raylan's season-long adversary? Or Boyd's? When Daryl goes to Boyd's bar, it certainly seems that's going to be the case, but you also have Raylan trying to get Daryl's parole reinstated so he has to go back to prison.
-- I'm still really surprised at how much of a waste the Jean Baptiste character seemed to be. Why have Danny kill him this early in the season? He seemed like such a unique personality -- I really wish they had kept him around longer.
airs Tuesdays at 10pm on FX. (Image courtesy of FX)