I would have been happy if this week's Justified consisted only of the opening five-minute segment at the Bennett family picnic. Fortunately, "For Blood or Money" didn't stop there, providing plenty more drama and continuing this early streak of excellence on the series.
Let's start with that conversation Raylan had with the Bennetts at what looked like an extremely fun family get together. I mean, banjo music, toy gun fights, and good southern cooking? You can't beat that. Seriously, though, so much went down in that one conversation that it is hard to grasp it all. I'll give it a try...
Raylan opens things up by explaining that he knows that the Bennetts are up to something. That's just a straight ballsy move. Then, the idea that Raylan's family and the Bennetts have a history comes up again, which is why Mags thinks the Marshall is continuing to snoop around her family. What happened between these two families so long ago? And was it Raylan that crippled Dickie 21 years ago?
I'm sure these questions will get dragged out through most of this season, and I'll be more and more curious every time they come up.After Raylan leaves, Mags gets Bobby Knight-level mad at her boys because she does not want a federal marshal snooping around when they have BIGGER PLANS! Now, we are getting somewhere. I knew that the Bennetts were the big bad of the season, but now we know that they actually have some sort of big plan in motion. What is it? And how will Raylan save the day? Will he first have to escape Dickie and Coover?
These two nut jobs are now most likely going to try to covertly murder Raylan because they misread Mags when she said she didn't want him snooping around. If it means more Jeremy Davies, then I am all for it. He's been great so far.
Meanwhile, on the episodic side of things, we had a story as old as time itself. You know, when a deputy marshal's brother-in-law breaks out of his halfway house to meet his estranged son, beating up his program manager and shooting his drug dealing friend in the process. Of course, it all comes to an end when he tries to meet with his marshal of a sister-in-law and his son at a pizza parlor, and then gets taken back into custody. Seen this one before...
That was all pretty crazy. The best part about it was that Rachel's brother-in-law, Clinton, seemed so unassuming at times. Maybe it was the dress shirt, tie, and jeans that did it, but I was not expecting him to pummel his huge program manager with that telephone. And he was being so nice to his friend the magician before going crazy and shooting him in the hand. Rachel's mom can defend Clinton all she wants, but that dude was crazy, and it made for exciting television.
As we return to the serialized portions of the episode, we were blessed (pun intended) with some more Boyd Crowder. He continued to struggle as his co-worker, Kyle, tried to get him to come back to the dark side. It will be interesting to see where this story goes. Is the point to have Boyd struggle and then turn completely good and help Raylan in some effect? Or is it to have him struggle, have these moments of kindness, only to have him come back as an even bigger villain?
As much as I would love to see Boyd and Raylan get along, I'd much rather see him blowing stuff up as the big bad of season three.
Justified is quickly becoming one of my favorite shows. "For Blood or Money" helped its cause with a fantastic mix of episodic and serialized stories. What did you think? And where do you see this all heading between Raylan and the Bennetts?
Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.