Ever since Mags Bennett drank poisoned apple pie moonshine during the second season finale of “Justified,” we fans have been twitching worse than our Stetson-wearing hero’s trigger finger. We’ve wondered if the show could sustain the creative high it achieved last season, if the new villains could fill Mags’ sensible shoes, and if Raylan and Boyd would continue their bromance.
We can relax. If the third season premiere was any indication, the greatest TV show ever set in eastern Kentucky has not diminished in quality, the new villains hold promise, and Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) and Boyd (Walton Goggins) are still engaging in foreplay, I mean fistfights.
Of course, Raylan has more to worry about than Boyd. His bullet wound has affected his aim and he’s concerned about his impending fatherhood. I’m ambivalent when it comes to the fetus Givens. I don’t want a baby crawling around Harlan, but I also don’t want to suffer through the angst a miscarriage would cause Raylan and Winona.
Anyway, the new king of the Dixie Mafia, Robert Quarles (Neal McDonough), has already troubled Raylan and they haven’t even met. So far, I like Quarles, in part, because he appreciates the beauty of the bluegrass state. But I’ve been a fan of McDonough since his “Boomtown” days and I look forward to seeing what he brings to “Justified.”
Another “Boomtown” alum, Mykelti Williamson, will join the cast as Ellstin Limehouse directly. Limehouse, a former associate of Mags’, reportedly goes head-to-head against Boyd. Boyd probably sports a better shock of hair, but Limehouse claims the coolest name.
Dixie Mafia associate Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns) is back for what promises to be a larger role than in seasons past. Wynn’s a cool customer, but he nonetheless always looks anxious and I believe I know why. As a fan of women’s tennis, he’s most likely agonizing over the lack of a dominant player in the game.
A Dixie Mafia hitman, Fletcher “Ice Pick” Nix (Desmond Harrington), materializes in the premiere, but he didn’t impress me much. I know, I’m in the minority here, but he’s the kind of person who doesn’t move his mouth when he talks. That annoys me. Besides, not wearing a mask to a robbery doesn’t make you a badass. It makes you a jackass. When he shot the pizza delivery dude, I said, “I can’t wait for Raylan to shoot him.” Because, you know, Raylan shoots everybody sooner or later.
Speaking of shootings, Ava’s also recovering from gunshot wounds. Her injuries have not impeded her from trying to wrestle control of Boyd’s fledgling drug cartel from Devil and Arlo. I don’t know what this says about me, but I like Ava much more now that’s she’s shacking up with her brother-in-law and dealing drugs than I did when she was mooning over Raylan. And I loved it when she smacked Devil in the face with a cast iron skillet.
Seriously, Devil ought to have known better. Ava did shoot her abusive husband to death and, now that Boyd’s in jail, somebody has to look out for his — and her — interests.
Boyd’s incarceration had slipped my mind until the camera settled on a line of men, resplendent in orange jumpsuits, waiting to use a pay phone. That’s when I caught sight of my favorite recurring character, Dewey Crowe, imparting words of wisdom regarding neck tattoos to a skeptical Dickie Bennett. Suddenly, the cell doors open and Boyd marches by with his bed linens in hand. Boyd doesn’t seem to notice Dickie and Dewey staring at him, with mouths’ agape. It’s only when Boyd’s alone in his jail cell that he wryly looks toward the camera.
The son of a gun engendered the fight with Raylan to get thrown into jail. And Dickie, the man responsible for shooting Ava, for killing Raylan’s Aunt Helen and for treating Raylan like a “human piñata,” might not be limping around much longer.