Justified recap – 3×10: ‘Guy Walks Into A Bar’

Courtesy of FX via Beyond Hollywood

Sooo…can we talk about what we learned tonight? Because I feel like I’ve been writing these recaps in a vacuum and I absolutely need to hear what people think about ‘Guy Walks Into A Bar’ and what we now know about Quarles.

Let’s talk this out…

Okay, so we have to talk about Quarles and his backstory and that ending.

Back in ‘When The Guns Come Out’, I wondered if maybe Quarles was gay. Then in ‘The Man Behind The Curtain’ he talks about his wife and daughter, but it sounds like it could be made up. And at the end of ‘Watching The Detectives’ he ignores a call from his wife. But the name Brady Hughes has persisted – it’s a name of a male hustler that Quarles is somehow tied to, and it’s this connection that absolutely explodes the carpet bagger’s backstory in ‘Guy Walks Into A Bar.”

So Quarles isn’t gay. But he was a hustler, thanks to his father, who put him to work entertaining men when he was a child in order to pay for his father’s heroin addiction. Initially (perhaps I was slow this week) it didn’t occur to me that Quarles’ reference to killing his first man at the age of fourteen is a reference to his father. Then, as Quarles breaks down, tears in his eyes as he faces down the friend / lover of Brady who has entered Wynn Duffy’s (Jere Burns) RV, the awful truth comes out. Theo Tonin, the as-yet unseen father figure to Quarles (and actual father to Max Perlich’s weaselly Sammy Tonin) rescued Quarles and told him to kill his father or else Theo would.

And just like that, so much about Quarles is revealed. His desperate desire to please Theo by making it big in Harlan, his need to be in control and, of course, the strange mystery of the beaten man in his old house. And now poor Donovan (Marshall Allman), the boy who comes looking for Brody, is involved and chained to a toilet. Ye gods! This is not the direction that I thought this story was going to go!

Taking a step back, I need to applaud Neal McDonough’s acting in his confession scene. He is absolutely riveting as he stares down the barrel of Donovan’s gun, and just as good when he approaches Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) in the bar to pick a fight. I know that I’ve been all about Mykelti Williamson’s Limehouse for weeks, but Quarles really got to me this week. So bravo to McDonough and director Tony Goldwyn for making both of these confrontations crackle with electrifying energy.

Courtesy of FX via Beyond Hollywood

Other observations:

  • Overall it’s a strangely paced episode as big events (the Sherriff’s election and Dickie’s [Jeremy Davies] hearing) both seemingly pop out of nowhere. Perhaps it’s just that other events have been more pressing, but I’m uncertain about the timeline for the past few episodes. How much time has passed since Winona left and Raylan moved in above the bar? How long has Quarles been in town? I’m not sure and that’s messing with my senses.
  • As mentioned, the Sheriff’s election is suddenly upon us. I’m not sure I would survive long in the world of Harlan politics where the winner is decided by voting in exchange for sexual favours (or, if you prefer, Candidate blowjay vs Candidate handy-jay). Napier (David Andrews) comes out on top, but the incumbent Sheriff is ousted thanks to a loophole that Boyd (Walton Goggins) exploits by hiring Napier’s sister in the ballot office, thereby rendering Napier’s candidacy a conflict of interest. So Shelby (Jim Beaver) wins by default.
  • It’s also time for Dickie Bennett to fly the coop. Initially Raylan tries to do everything he can to ensure this doesn’t happen, and then – in a feat of really poor public speaking – Raylan decides in court to encourage Dickie’s release, believing that he’ll shortly be back in prison or dead. Always believe in your adversaries’ ability to screw themselves up, Raylan. It’s one of the few breaks that seems to occur regularly in Kentucky.
  • Raylan gets lucky with bar wench, Lindsey (Jenn Lyon). Wench is a bit unfair since she can clearly hold her own, both in bed and with a shotgun, but I’m just not really a fan. It may be her accent, which seems inconsistent (maybe just to me?). I just don’t like her getting too much screentime since she’s so clearly a peripheral character who is either going to play some insignificant role or get caught in all of this drama. Plus, I miss Winona. This new Raylan is moodier and angrier without Winona to keep him balanced.
  • As always, more Wynn Duffy please.
  • Another week, another slaughter at Noble’s Holler. Initially I thought it was a great metaphor to have Limehouse constantly butchering animals in all of his scenes, but I’m mostly done with it. I want this guy to get his hands dirty and I’m not talking metaphorical string pulling or hog murder. Get off the damn sidelines!
  • Finally, when Napier gets booted out of office, Quarles steals a map from Napier’s office. What is the map of and why does Quarles want it?

So…yeah. I need to know how other people reacted to Quarles’ confession. Did anyone else expect him to snap Donovan’s neck as he cried on his shoulder and talked about how he gave Brady peace? And what do you make of the preview for next week when Raylan comes to the poor boy’s rescue? Strangeness. I need to hear from other people, so talk it out in the comments below!

Justified airs Tuesdays at 10pm EST on FX

About cinephilactic

cinephilactic is a university contract instructor in Film Studies. He is an avid TV watcher, particularly science-fiction, fantasy and drama series. His favourite shows currently airing on TV include The Good Wife, Breaking Bad, Justified, Hannibal, Game Of Thrones and a smattering of shows on The CW. He has a tendency to "hate-watch" particular shows and likes to think that his sarcastic voice comes through in his reviews, though sometimes he's just being bitchy

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