Justified – Cottonmouth

This episode has nothing to do with Winona, Natalie Zea’s character (above), but so what?

This is the episode where we find out about the little project that Boyd’s coworker, Kyle, and his pals want his help with. It also shows things heating up between Raylan and Mags’ family, the Bennett clan. We’re still not sure what the history is there, but Raylan’s boss, Art, calls it a grudge, and is more than a little suspicious of Raylan’s involvement. The state police want Raylan’s help on a “task force” related to the Harlan area, and Art calls Raylan “the hillbilly whisperer.” Maybe that’s the title of the show they were considering before they thought of Justified.

Boyd meets with Kyle and the gang at Ava’s house to discuss the mine robbery. Turns out they want Boyd to rig the explosion that covers their tracks. Remember that they have already caused a few armored car transports to have engine trouble, so the safe is stocked with more than the usual cash. Boyd secretly calls his home phone from his cell and leaves the room to answer it, leaving his cell hidden on the chair, which allows him to hear what the boys are talking about while he’s out of the room. They reveal that their intent is to make sure Boyd doesn’t come out of this robbery alive.

Raylan finds out from the staties that someone is cashing the government checks that are supposed to be going to Loretta’s dad, Walt, who we saw getting poisoned by Mags in the first episode, and his body covered in lime and dumped down a hole by Dickie and Coover in the second episode (remember that Coover stole Walt’s watch in that scene). The signatures on Walt’s checks don’t match the previous ones Walt signed, so the police are susicious. Raylan finds out that the only man who processed forged government checks in Harlan was Bowman Crowder, who was Ava’s husband that she shotgunned last season. Raylan heads out to Ava’s to talk about it, and finds Boyd in full planning mode with his confederates. Raylan is suspicious.

Raylan: “I can spot an outlaw at a thousand paces and those boys are packin’, one and all.”

Boyd: “Well I wouldn’t know anything about that, but if they are I’m sure it’s not with any ill intent”

Boyd tells Raylan who Bowman used to send the checks to, and goes back to his planning. He’s trying to find a way to make Kyle and the boys put off the robbery to another day but they won’t have it. Boyd swiftly comes up with what turns out to be a pretty convoluted plan. He leaves a note for Ava: “Call this number [Kyle’s cell phone number] at exactly 6:05. Don’t tell anyone.” On the way out the door, Boyd lays a great line on the agitated Kyle:

If you want to make money in this business you’ve got to know your ABCs; Always Be Cool.”

Sounds like something that will one day be carved on Boyd’s tombstone.

Raylan tracks down the man that Boyd told him about, a preacher at the church of the Holy ATV. Raylan asks some pointed questions and and the guy manages to taser Raylan. Raylan tries to shoot the guy but instead tasers him in the balls. When they are both able to speak again, Raylan tries to get more info, but it’s not happening. Bad feelings, I guess. Later, Raylan visits Coover Bennett and lets him know that he is investigating the forged checks, which leads to Mags finding out that Dickie and Coover have been cashing the checks. She brings the hammer down, literally.

Boyd and the boys begin the robbery, but not before Boyd makes them all give him their cell phones so he can make sure they’re off. He uses the excuse that he doesn’t want a cell signal to trigger the radio controlled fuses for the explosives they plan to use to cover their tracks after the robbery. After he checks all the phones, they go into the office and force the office manager to get the money out of the safe while Boyd fills a bag with explosives. He then goes to the safe to fill another bag with the money. Just then, Kyle’s cell phone rings (Ava got the note), and Boyd acts furious, ordering everyone out of the office. Once they are gone, he switches up the bags, putting the exposives in the money bag with the blasting cap, which he then gives to Kyle and the boys to put in the truck.

The plan then requires Boyd to go into the mine with the office manager and rig the explosives to cause a cave-in so that the manager will be killed and the other miners won’t be able to get out. Without telling Boyd, Kyle has a second battery and switch that will blow the explosives prematurely and kill Boyd before he gets out of the mine. Kyle triggers the switch, but of course, the explosives are actually in the truck, not the mine, and the truck blows up, killing Kyle and his pals. Boyd leaves the mine to head back to Ava’s, after receiving the grateful thanks of the office manager for saving his life.

Boyd finds Ava at home with a lot of angry questions about what’s going on. He explains everything and mentions that he has enough money to help pay the mortgage on the house, which is about to go into foreclosure. He asks for her help in return, as numerous police cars pull up to the house. The scene ends before we hear Ava’s answer, but it seems likely that Boyd has gone back into the family business and found a way to take Ava with him. Raylan will not be happy.

Meanwhile, Raylan meets with the whip-smart Loretta who is busy selling weed to her classmates. He tells her he “kicked a hornets nest” and is concerned about what might happen next. He tells her that he will always come if she is in trouble and gives her a cell phone to call him with. It’s very unclear at this point exactly which side Loretta is on. Mags is clearly grooming her as a kind of lieutenant, and Loretta has shown no sign that she is resisting, but of course she doesn’t know that Mags killed her dad.

I’m conficted about the strategy Boyd used to turn the tables on Kyle and company. There were a lot of places where it could have (and really should have) gone completely screwy, as well as some things that don’t make a lot of sense: How did he know exactly what time Ava should call? How did he prevent Kyle from seeing Ava’s number on his caller ID? How did he know Kyle was going to let him load both bags? How did he know Kyle wouldn’t check the bag before putting it in the truck? Despite these issues, though, it was a pretty gripping episode. I can’t wait until next week to find out Ava’s answer and see how Boyd tries to stay out of jail.

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