When I was thinking up this review, I planned to call it a step down from the season opener, but thinking about it more made me realize it was better than I first thought. It’s not as well structured as the pilot, and it suffers from a fairly uninteresting case-of-the-week, but it moves forward the overarching plot in very satisfying ways.
The most interesting part of the episode was seeing Raylan and Boyd joust from a distance: Raylan (thinks he) figures out what Boyd is up to, and tries to ensure that Boyd can’t get to his target, Dickie. Except, as always, Boyd is craftier than expected (he manages to get to Dickie all the same), and his motivation is not quite what we -or possibly even Raylan- think: killing Dickie isn’t his primary goal. Getting Mags’s money is. And surprisingly, considering what Ava says when Boyd gets released, it seems that was his intention all along, even before Raylan mentioned the missing money (“well over ten dollars”) in the first episode.
Which brings me to the second great element in this episode: the introduction of yet another new villain. Animal gutting/carving/butchering has been a favorite trope this year in TV shows to introduce ruthless characters: there was the first scene with Tywin Lannister in GAME OF THRONES, Manny Horvitz in BOARDWALK EMPIRE, and now Limehouse, played by Mykelti Williamson. He gets a great monologue, too, which establishes him not just as ruthless but also as someone with a very distinct view of the world. He certainly won’t make it easy for Boyd to get his money, and I’m looking forward to seeing the black community (up to now represented mostly by Rachel) integrated in the Harlan web.
As for the rest of the episode, well, maybe it’s just that I tend not to find WitSec plots all that interesting, but it was a little underwhelming. It did have some redeeming value because it showed a wholly different view of Art. He’s often the comic relief, the cranky-but-kindly older boss, but here we saw him do what needed to be done, regardless of legality. It’s an intriguing development, but the resolution of the plot felt a little weak.
You may have noticed I haven’t mentioned Carla Gugino yet. I like the Karen Sisco character, in principle**, and the fight at the hotel was nicely done, but she’s a bit underused here. She’s meant the reinforce Raylan’s doubts about his relationship, I suppose, remind him of the man he used to be, but she didn’t feel integral to the episode. It’ll be interesting to see if she comes back, and if they can do more with her then.
**I know, I know, she’s technically NOT Karen Sisco because they don’t have the rights, but the character’s clearly based on her
Line (and line-reading) of the night? “Well now, Raylan, you’re talking to a man who’s sleeping with his dead brother’s widow and murderess.”
See you next week!