michael dworkis looks at the F/X series at its midway point this season…
If the first two seasons have not proven that the citizens of Harlan County are morons, then Season 3 made it as clear as a brick to the skull. It really seems the only smart people are the heads of the crime rings, and everyone else has the IQ of an empty battery. We are seeing the build up to a major showdown between Quarles, the new head of the Dixie Mob, and Harlan residents Boyd Crowler and Deputy Marshall Raylan Givens. I have no doubt when the time comes for the ultimate conflict, it will be awesome. Justified is known for shocking revelations and a “didn’t see it coming” moment.
So far, the build to this apex has seen interesting events. What I like most about it, are the events which seem to have nothing to do with each other, turns out to link together. The events you think are tied to the big mob boss from Detroit turn out to be its own tale. Quarles is slowly eliminating competition and acquiring men for his planned takeover of Harlan County. Givens has encounters with Wynn Duffy, a corrupt man also short on brains. At this point, the genius Quarles might realize he is trying to become king of a circus.
Recently, we saw the prison guard and psychotic prison doctor meet their ends after Raylan saves Dewey from the humiliation of not really dying. Raylan saved Dewey, accomplice to Dickie? Turns out the psychotic doctor likes to harvest organs. He had Dewey believing that he ripped out both of his Kidneys, and if he wanted them re-installed, he would have to go rob stores in order to bring 20-grand. Raylan investigates each robbery, and inevitably finds a woman who hits on him, turns on her crazy partner, killing him, but winds up dead herself when she tries to kill Raylan.
Dickie Bennett is such as sap, you cannot help but feel bad, and want him to see some success. He is the guy we all knew in school. The shrimp who was bullied and ordered around, and now is trying to look like he is in charge and should earn respect. Do not misunderstand, he is a total idiot. He actually showed true guts when confronting Limehouse about the money his momma had. Dickie mans up and allows Raylan to arrest him.
You know those signs in front of old towns? The ones which boast a population number? I wonder what the guy who runs the one in Harlan gets paid, because it must be a full time job. Does no one notice people are found dead every other day? Raylan tracks down a lead on the Dixie Mafia two a pawn shop owner and two Harlan morons working for him. They botch a transport of illegal goods, and they get caught. The head of that little gang and his last remaining henchman argue, in front of Raylan, about cutting a deal. Instead of a peaceful solution, the two wind up shooting each other, and Raylan stands there dumbstruck at the two fresh corpses.
Boyd tries wrangling up his own gang to make some money, taking over a bar as a front and bringing on Arlo Givens and Cousin Johnny to work. Devil, who has been partner to Boyd from the start is approached by Quarles. Devil tries to get Cousin Johnny in, but family sticks together as Johnny sets up Devil who is then killed by Boyd.
The last major event features Quarles trying to convince Boyd to join gangs and come work for him. Boyd stares down Quarles, calling him a “carpetbagger” and assures the Detroit mob kingpin that plenty of outsiders have come to Harlan in an attempt to run their territory, and so far, none have left alive.
Limehouse and his crew seem to enjoy a peaceful life, but that peace seems to be at an end with Dixie Bennett on his heels and Quarles moving his operation into his territory.
All that, and Winona seems to have left Raylan high and dry. Perhaps his rough and tough police life became too much for her, or perhaps there is more than meets the eye?
The action is heating up and our Harlan residents, heroes, criminals, and idiots better watch their backs.