Justified, “Good Intentions”

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Three episodes into the season, the plot starts to thicken in Harlan County. At least, for those on the wrong side of the law, it does. The portions featuring the good guys are still in standalone, episode-of-the-week mode. But at least for this week, both plots are quite enjoyable.

In this one, Boyd (Walton Goggins) digs himself into an even deeper hole with his feud with Lee Paxton (Sam Anderson). True, for now he seems to have Paxton’s mail order wife Mara (Karolina Wydra) on his side, and possibly has turned the corrupt cop in Paxton’s employ (William Gregory Lee) his way. But all his dealings this episode, successful though they appear for now, exude an aura of desperation, as if Boyd’s overextended himself. And the scene of sexual tension between him and Mara came off like a moment of weakness that could come back to bite him. We also find out what happened to Boyd and Wynn Duffy’s (Jere Burns) drug shipment last week, and it’s a big surprise (at least it was to me, as I assumed the perpetrator perished in the carnage that was last season).

“Good Intentions” is an interesting title, considering Boyd’s arc. For the first three seasons, he was utilized more like one of those lovable not-so-bad guys that exists more for our enjoyment than to provide real menace. He was always overshadowed by another eviler villain and floated around in their shadows with no clear direction, except toward the scraps of dirty dealings he could get. In short, he was a lowlife, albeit a leader among lowlifes. Last season, he decided to execute some final business and go straight, which has turned out to be harder than he thought. And this noble purpose and determination has ironically made him much more brutal. He’s not as funny as he used to be, or nearly as likable. But Goggins still plays the role compellingly.

As if Boyd doesn’t have enough to worry about, Dewey Crowe’s (Damon Herriman) Florida kin wastes no time getting to business after arriving in Kentucky. In the premiere, we got a taste of Cousin Daryl’s (Michael Rapaport) twisted idea of family, which so far looks like, “I love you, but I’ll kill you if you don’t listen.” Yet, then we at least almost had a shred of sympathy for Daryl. Not anymore. Here, he’s a complete slime ball, and Rapaport does a good job making us detest him. Boyd doesn’t look as bad by comparison.

Why do I bring up Boyd? Because think it’s clear Daryl’s manipulating Dewey to take a run at Boyd’s position. We’ll see if it actually goes that route, but the prospect sounds good to me. Good enough that it almost doesn’t need Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) at all.

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Which is just as well, because he’s still cut apart from all of the above at this point. Instead, the episode has him in a slight little caper involving the drug lord’s house he’s holding up in, stolen gold, and a mix-up involving the past of his new love interest Allison (Amy Smart). But this time it’s a fun little story, not just meandering filler.

Oh, and that BB gun interrogation scene? Hilarious!

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