Thursday, 7 July 2011

Justified 2.12 'The Reckoning'

“My guns are always loaded…” – Raylan

We knew that Helen’s death was going to reverberate round Harlan like a twister but just who would catch a bullet as a result was open for debate.

Safe money seemed to suggest that Dickie would not be long for this world once Raylan, Arlo, Boyd or any combination of the three discovered he was the one who pulled the trigger, but as always we’re dealing with some pretty slippery and unpredictable characters on Justified…

‘The Reckoning’ began with a very effective opening, practically sans-dialogue it brilliantly sold the daze of almost disbelief that Raylan was in as he approached the house where his Aunt’s body lay.

Just as a picture, presumably of Raylan with his Mum and Aunt, caught his eye Raylan was snapped out of his daze as the police enquired of his intentions in the wake of the shooting.

Raylan was even less amenable than usual and promptly left the house under ominous words but not before what I thought was quite a poignant moment with his estranged Father. No words were spoken between Father and son, just a simple nod that seemed to signify that although they disagreed on so many things, here they had common ground. That notion would be dispelled pretty quickly as the episode progressed, but for a moment it was nice to see the Givens’ seemingly on the same page for once.

Prior to this episode I’m not sure if it had ever really been explained just why Raylan was so fond of his Aunt Helen, I also had my doubts if she was actually his blood Aunt or whether she was just ‘Aunt’ Helen because she was shacked up with his daddy. But by the end of ‘The Reckoning’ we not only knew she was most definitely a Givens by blood but also just why she meant so much to Raylan. I wouldn’t say this back story was necessarily needed, but it sure was nice to really get an even more expansive look at the history that dictates so much of the future in Harlan.

As Raylan and Arlo both set out to find Dickie, Raylan went straight for the matriarch in Mags and we learnt just why Mags was so keen to sell out to the Black Pike. She may not have given her kids much of a life but she’s damn sure intent on giving her Grandkids one and thus the money will go to corrupt cop Doyle’s children – so they don’t have to live the Harlan life that has dragged so many of the previous generations of these warring families down.

It is all about family for the Harlan residents and Raylan may just be the only one smart enough to realise some things are worth more than perpetuating ancient feuds. That said though he’s one of the only ones who made it out, only to now find himself back and more caught up in the Givens-Crowder-Bennett history than ever before.

Before Raylan and/or Arlo can find Dickie, Mags and Doyle do and we are then made privy to Dickie’s plan to escape the Givens men’s wrath; he’s set-up his partner in crime Jed and wants Doyle to execute his plan by literally executing Jed, thus preserving his own life.

Before Doyle can put the plan into action though Raylan shows up just in time, smart enough to know exactly what was going on.

Raylan then quizzes Jed on Dickie and whilst getting his suspicions confirmed he also learns that Helen’s death wasn’t as a result of his shooting of Coover but rather Boyd and Arlo’s robbery of Dickie.

An irate Givens then heads to confront Boyd where he gets a gun pulled onhim by both Boyd and Ava (Harlan’s new Bonnie and Clyde from the looks of things).

Boyd accurately deduces that Raylan’s frustrations don’t lie with him but with the fact he can’t find Dickie. Always the pragmatist Boyd gives Raylan a way he can not only flush out Dickie but get his own Mother to do it. Not before warning Raylan though that should he disrespect Ava again at her own house that won’t sit well.

Raylan then uses his reluctant Father to goad Mags in to giving up Dickie by threatening her deal with Black Pike – it’s about the money for Mags but only so she can give her Grandchildren a way out, she still loves her family but it’s too late for Dickie.

The deal is made even more unpleasant for the Bennetts as Raylan has Doyle arrest Dickie. Before he can escort his own brother to jail though, Raylan cold-cocks Doyle and drags a begging and pleading Dickie off in to the woods.

Dickie cuts a pretty pathetic figure as Raylan drags him to what Dickie and the audience assume is his execution and we see the sort of cowardly man Dickie Bennett really is.

It is at this point we learn just what Helen did for Raylan all those years ago: practically raising her dead sister’s son, giving him the encouragement and the hope that there is a life outside of the pre-historic family squabbles that keep Harlan’s rivers running with blood and then providing him with the means to get out.

As Raylan explains all of this to his Aunt’s blubbering murderer he realises that he’s becoming the things she strived for him not to be and rather than shoot Dickie he just knocks him out and hands him into police custody.

As Helen’s funeral seems to end the episode on a not necessarily happy note, but one of closure at least, we get the twist, as Jed is visited in jail not long after Mags finally makes the Black Pike deal official.

Who Jed’s mysterious visitor is we are as yet unaware but she carried enough clout to make him recant his story and take the fall for Helen’s murder. This of course means Dickie is now a free man and as he hobbles out of jail we learn that Mags has orchestrated the whole thing because now that her Grandchildren’s futures are secure she’s all about living in the past by avenging the Bennett treatment of late.

Will Winona’s spotting of Raylan’s pre-made tombstone at Arlo’s house prove to be a dark bit of foreshadowing for next week’s finale ‘Bloody Harlan’?

One thing is for sure either way, no matter how hard the members of these proud families try and change or look to the future, the past is always there to bring them crashing back down in the present.

A Hail of Bullets:

- Never has a show been more deserving of the above sub-heading than Justified – just a thought.

- One of the best bits of this week’s episode of Justified was the trailer on Five USA for season 3 of Sons of Anarchy. More to follow…

- ‘The Reckoning’ was another great piece of TV directorial work from Adam Arkin – great both in front and behind the camera these days.

- Raymond J. Barry was great as Arlo, as always. My favourite moment being his line to Raylan: “you’re not gonna arrest me…” right before a great cut to Raylan tossing him in a cell in cuffs.

- The brief scene with Loretta at the foster home was a nice way of acknowledging the ramifications of some of the seasons earlier developments and seemed to signify that her journey isn’t necessarily over yet as I had assumed it was after ‘Brother’s Keeper’.

Justified Season 2 concludes next Wednesday @ 10pm on Five USA


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