Justified Money Trap

Justified takes a breather from the Drew Thompson mystery this week to offer up the kind of witty, wry and violent stand-alone adventure that it can kick out with relative ease when it wants to. Remember Jody, the bail-jumper who Raylan rounded up for extra cash back in the season premiere? Well, “Money Trap” opens with a flashback sequence showing the events that occurred immediately thereafter. Raylan turns Jody over to Sharon Edmunds, that pretty bail-bondswoman he had a quick fling with, but Jody escapes in short order, murdering Sharon and her partner and returning to Harlan County to round-up some cash he has hidden in his girlfriend’s house. (Does everyone in Harlan have wads of cash stashed away somewhere in their home?!) It’s an effective set-up and establishes Jody — played by Chris Chalk, who’s seemingly channeling Samuel L. Jackson in a few scenes — as a serious threat after the character was used mostly for comic relief back in “Hole in the Wall.” The bullet Sharon takes to the throat is particularly unpleasant.

Cutting back to present day, Art is pressing Raylan to try and pry some Thompson info out of Arlo, but when Raylan is notified of Sharon’s death, he’s off to once again track down Jody. (And this time, you can assume he’s got worse in mind for him than stuffing him in a trunk.) While in pursuit, a pretty twenty-something poker player appropriately named Jackie Nevada (Shelley Hennig) falls into his orbit, giving Raylan yet another woman who can tempt him into making bad decisions. Nevada is a true Elmore Leonard creation, as she’s a character in “Raylan,” his most recent Givens novel. I assume we’ll be seeing her again at some point, and considering Hennig’s, uh, perkiness, I doubt I’ll much complain.

Raylan and Jody are destined to collide, as foretold by a silly little short film Jody makes with the scumbag pornographer/wannabe Spielberg who helped him escape custody and has been shuttling him around Kentucky. (License plate: KY FLIXXX. Hmm, guess the “KY” part carries a double-meaning, huh?) So when Raylan stops by the bar he calls home toward the episode’s end, he knows Jody will be waiting for him. The showdown that follows is mostly a straight-forward, high-noon-type affair, but since watching Timothy Olyphant shoot people never grows old, it proves to be immensely satisfying.

While all of that’s going on, Boyd and Ava are left to seemingly carry the Drew Thompson-side of the story by hitting up that fancy swingers’ party they got themselves invited to last week. (“Lord, we’re going to a rich folks’ sex party,” Ava hilariously remarks. “Who would have thought?”) Although the Thompson stuff is surprisingly pushed to the side when some snooty Harlan businessmen, including one of Wolfram & Hart’s slimy lawyers,  informs Boyd that they require a favor from him, namely the murder of a mine owner who’s standing in the way of their scheme to bilk the EPA out of some coin. Boyd doesn’t take kindly to their treating him like a country rube — yes, of course he knows the meaning of the word “placated” — but when he balks, they mention that Boyd’s daddy always knew his place and threaten to destroy him if he doesn’t comply.

It’s this new conflict that proves to be the episode’s highlight, as well as the event that could have the biggest repercussions on the series moving forward. Boyd has often been shown to be the king of his universe — the cleverest, politest, most silver-tongued drug and whore pusher that Harlan has to offer — but that’s largely because of the yokel lowlifes he tends to surround himself with. It’s been fun in the past when he bumps up against someone who’s more his equal (think Ellstin Limehouse in season three) which can knock Boyd off his game or force him to rise to the challenge. During last week’s proposal to Ava, we saw how he yearns to clean up the Crowder name, not for himself but for the generations of Crowder children to follow. Hearing some fancy businessman tell him that “Crowders do what we say” isn’t just a indictment of the role his family has played in the past, it’s also a threat to its long-term future. So Boyd’s response should be interesting, to say the least.

A few more thoughts on “Money Trap” …

– Did you catch redneck filmmaker guy casually stealing the panties? That bit cracked me up, as did Tim’s exasperation over taking shit for forgetting a co-worker’s birthday.

– There wasn’t much room for anything other than the Raylan and Boyd plotlines this week, though the episode did devote a few minutes to Johnny discovering that Colton was the one who beat up Teri and that Ellen May is still alive. Don’t know about you, but seeing Johnny sex up one of the hookers skeeves me out.

– It’s possible that at the end of the episode, when Raylan finally does show up to chat with Arlo, Raymond Barry’s delivery of “eat shit” is one of the best line readings of that particular sentence ever given.

Follow Bob on Twitter: @robertbtaylor