Justified 3.7 Review: "The Man Behind the Curtain"

By John Keegan and Henry Tran

Justified_iconThis is just more preparation for the coming war that's about to befall the characters on this show. More threats are doled out, pieces get moved into place, and some information gets clarified.
That last point is important. I personally found it amusing, for instance, that Quarles keeps sticking to the view that Raylan is in Boyd's pocket. Quarles may be the smartest villain this show has presented, but he's completely wrong here. In the meantime, Raylan (as well as those of us in the audience) learn a little bit more about what makes Quarles tick and how the organization he works for is operating. That purpose, while remaining largely a mystery at this point, does explain how Quarles acts the way he does in Harlan. This is an action show, but sometimes, a lack of action or gunplay can be a good thing. Especially one as reliant on atmosphere and character as this one is.

If anything, Raylan could prove to be the worst thorn in Quarles' side. With Winona seemingly out of the picture and Raylan living above a bar, he could be seen as bait to be caught up in Quarles' web. He recognizes, rather blindly it would seem, what an asset it would be to have a US Marshal on his side, and to him, it would bring immeasurable joy if he could steal Raylan from under Boyd's nose. Raylan rightly dismisses Quarles' offer of a job with him. While he's not the cleanest whistle in the Marshal service -- Art was fed up with him once, and Tim remains peeved by him here -- Raylan knows a bad element when he sees one, and isn't about to join Quarles' gang.

Justified-The-Man-Behind-the-Curtain-Season-3-Episode-7-3-550x411In fact, it's Quarles' unexpected background that drives the plot of this episode. Quarles was sent down to Harlan as punishment for being the favored surrogate son of the true crime boss this season: Theo Tonin. The boss chose his blood son, Sammy, as the "crown prince" as Quarles puts it, even though we see that Sammy is weak and not as confident (thus, not as a great a threat) as Quarles is. Raylan learns all of this, and makes moves that make Quarles angry. First, by putting out an eviction notice on the oxycodone clinic that Quarles and Wynn Duffy is running. Then appealing to Sammy Tonin about their shared interest in getting rid of Quarles. It'll be interesting to see what Quarles will do with Gary coming back into the picture. Perhaps something that involves Winona, and Quarles doesn't even know that Winona is carrying Raylan's child yet!

Quarles' various dealings in Harlan also force Boyd to make some counter-moves of his own. Quarles pays off the local sheriff to shut down Boyd's little operation out of Johnny's bar, and that might look like a long-term thing since the sheriff is running unopposed in the next election. Boyd does the smart thing and asks one of his lackeys to run against that sheriff. That way, Boyd keeps his organization going without fear of interference from the carpetbagger. It's a really simple and effective way for Boyd to combat whatever Quarles can throw at him.

As I said in prior reviews, the situation appears to be getting more and more complicated with passing time. Quarles is now engaging in these little battles with Boyd and now Raylan has entered the mix. Even Limehouse is getting in on the action, albeit at a smaller scale than everyone else here. He only makes the man responsible for raiding Boyd's oxycodone clinic one of his informants inside Quarles' organization. That may play a role in something saved for episodes down the line.

I'm excited for what's in store for this show. It's been a sometimes-slow and steady buildup throughout this season, almost like a pressure valve that's about to burst. The writers make a seemingly very complicated situation into something fluid and easy to follow. They even introduce a new element with the Detroit mob and their organizational turmoil that expands the world and could present more stories to tell in the future. All of these characters and elements will collide in some fashion in the weeks to come, and the question is who will be left standing when everything is done.

John Keegan is the Editor-in-Chief for Critical Myth, a partner site of SciFi Vision. Henry Tran is Critical Myth's reviewer for Justified.

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