On the latest Justified, we learned that real men can enjoy an ice cream cone while they drive (Raylan)… but not drink red margaritas (Boyd). This piece of information is, of course, contingent on Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder being “real men,” which, please, of course they are. They can work in a mine, have daddy issues, and shoot a firearm like the best of ’em.
While entertaining (including these ice cream and margarita moments) and filled with many bright spots, this episode, “Money Trap,” proved to not be as clever as its title. It featured a who’s who in primetime drama elite as its guest stars, and some fun action sequences, how Boyd and Ava fare in high society, but perhaps stressed minor plot points more so than important ones (these were squeezed at the very end of the episode). The pacing, therefore, was a bit off, and the structure was perhaps a bit ill-conceived.
This episode also paired Raylan with yet another vapid, potentially shifty, woman named Jackie Nevada (Shelley Hennig, an actress with somewhat limited acting range).
We open strong with a rather surprising and violent getaway. Raylan’s onetime-ex, female Marshal Sharon Evans, and her partner taking in fugitive Jody from a few weeks ago (Chris Chalk, aka Tom Walker from Homeland). Jody wasn’t content to simply be carted away – he wanted his money hidden in his wife’s apartment, and orchestrated it so his stoner filmmaker friend Kenny (wait for it – Paul Kinsey from Mad Men! – Michael Gladis) could hit the bumper and he could make his escape. Jody strangles Sharon’s partner and shoots her in the neck. This is an eye-opening way to start the show and prefaces this episode as an action packed one (even if it doesn’t really live up to this opening scene). Jody shooting a woman in the neck is also a jarring sight – and yes – there is a lot of blood spurting out.
Justified really lucked out this season with guest stars. With Chalk and Gladis, as well as all those Deadwood alums, they are wisely utilizing talent from some of the greatest TV shows out there. Both Chalk and Gladis turn in fine performances on this episode. Gladis perhaps gets more to do acting-wise, with his short but brilliant “you talkin’ to me?” moment, as he snorts some lines of coke and prepares himself in the mirror for what is to lie ahead. It also helps that his character is an amateur filmmaker (I think in porn?) so this Taxi Driver reference becomes even more layered.
In the process of tracking down Jody and Kenny, Raylan goes to Jody’s ex-wife’s house to find Jackie Nevada housesitting. Yes, her name is Jackie Nevada. Because she is hot and flirty (and I am sure even the fictional Raylan Givens himself would admit to this), he has her escorted to her own apartment – though that leads Raylan right to Jody and Kenneth who have it staked out, and later Raylan escorts her to a safe hotel room and asks her to give Jody’s money that she has stolen back to Jody’s ex… and maybe they do it. We just don’t know! Art certainly thinks so.
If one good thing is to come from this whole Jackie Nevada situation, it’s that Raylan is now conscious of being fooled by hotties – he instantly deduces that she is carting around a bag of money and also is suspicious that she might be playing him from the get-go. Oh, and she’s a second generation poker player, so she’s a good liar. So Raylan won’t make the same mistake as he did with Lindsey, right? Right. That is good. All this being said, Jackie Nevada’s portrayer, Hennig, doesn’t have the spark and the fizz that makes her watchable, even for a one-off episode. It’s disappointing that a character as complex and well-played as Raylan Givens falls for such hot, yet personality-less women this season. Again, it would be nice to eventually bring on a worthwhile love interest… if not just for the peace of mind of all of us ladies watching out there.
Likewise, it’s good that Raylan figures out Jody’s whereabouts soon after watching their homemade movie. His powers of deduction are back, and this storyline is officially done. And Raylan can shoot with clean precision, which, yeah, is fun to watch even though this whole Jody/Kenny/Jackie Nevada thing is so-so. Raylan mastering a firearm is always a good thing.
Perhaps the gravest issue with this episode is pacing. Most of the episode is dedicated to Raylan and Jackie Nevada looking for Jody and Kenny. And some of it is devoted to Boyd and Ava’s swinger party (more on that later). But… Art tells Raylan at the beginning of the episode that visits with Arlo and Hunter Moseley (who apparently knows where Drew Thompson is) are in the cards for him that day and he gets understandably sidetracked. Still, it’s a cruel tease to know a visit with Arlo is supposed to happen – and when it does, have it only last for a minute. Perhaps equaling the screen magic that occurs when Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins go tête-à-tête is when Timothy Olyphant goes tête-à-tête with Raymond J. Barry. Their relationship is so incredibly interesting to watch – lawman son versus conman father – especially since Raylan is still deeply affected by what his father does to betray him. Remember when he found out his father tried to have him killed? It was crushing! So, the fact that their coming together seems squeezed in at the end of the episode which is, let’s face it, mostly filler, is wholly disappointing.
The episode also ends in a strange way, with Raylan about to visit Hunter. All that is missing is a “to be continued.” This is a really jarring way to conclude the episode. Not that I know what is going to happen next week, but perhaps it would have been a better, richer idea if the Boyd/Ava storyline was intercut between longer Raylan visits with Arlo and then Hunter. The Jody/Kenny stuff could have been it’s own throwaway, caper-like episode. As it stands, this week’s episode is oddly structured, and not in a good way.
Also, Johnny knows that not only did Colton beat his favorite ho, but also that Ellen May is alive! Colton, you best fit all ten pounds of shit in your five pound bag and get ready for a lot of explaining… This is an exciting development, since it will be interesting to see what a vengeful Johnny will do with the intel that Ellen May is still around. He probably won’t go to Boyd, as he wants to kill him… or will be go to Boyd because he wants Boyd to kill Colton? The possibilities!
Remember when Ava got an invite the the furry’s hoity toity swingers party last week? Well, that happens this episode – and Boyd discovers, much to his chagrin, that he, being a Crowder, is in the pocket of the Harlan Country high society in terms of running drugs. They even ask him to kill someone for them. This whole Harlan high society angle is interesting, for it peels back another layer in Harlan’s crime world – and apparently Boyd’s daddy was in their pocket for years.
Goggins at the party shows a wide breadth of acting skills, which is always a treat (and yes, something he does often). He goes from self-conscious and nervous of the higher-ups as Ava helps him get ready for the party, to masculine and protective as he fends off Ava’s suitors, to quietly indignant as he is talked down to by the higher-ups. Though Boyd being Boyd, it is unlikely that he will let these people cut him down to size – he will exact his revenge, not today, but soon. And, uh, no one corrects his vocabulary. And no one could make him drink a girly red margarita for he says, “When it comes to the devil’s water, I’m a simple man.” It is exciting to see what is to come with Boyd and yet another group of adversaries, and it is highly likely that Boyd will come out on top. After all, the only person that is even smart enough to try to thwart Boyd Crowder is Raylan Givens…
The Upside: Walton Goggin’s overall performance and Raylan’s powers of deduction are back. Also, Johnny knows that Ellen May is still kickin’!
The Downside: Don’t just give us a taste of Arlo! When Raylan and Arlo are together, magic happens. Also, the pacing issues and Jackie Nevada.
On the Side: With Paul Kinsey and now Kenny, Michael Gladis has really cornered the market on playing multigenerational stoners.
Top Moments of Badassery: Jody jumps off a building and rides on the top of Kenny’s car, Boyd standing up for his lady, and Raylan later shoots Jody with clean precision.