One of the best things about ‘Justified’ is the show’s ability to concurrently tell several different stories that, although they may not appear to, end up coming to the same head. Each side story episode gives the audience a break, making it feel more like a series and less like a mini-series. It’s the equivalent of running “filler” episodes; only these filler-esque sub-plots all wind up twisting together by the end of the season. As episode 11 of the show’s 13-episode second season, last week’s ‘Full Commitment’ just about brings this pot to boil – especially with its unexpected cliffhanger.
The previous episode left off with Raylan and Winona getting ambushed by two unknown hitmen. The Raylan storyline in ‘Full Commitment’ is dedicated to discovering who called the hit. Winona’s whiney soon-to-be ex-husband Gary is positively a nuisance, but I never expected him to have the guts to hire bad guy Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns) to put the hit on Raylan.
I’ve got to be honest with you. I personally believe Raylan Givens to be one of the coolest characters ever written. I love him so much that I’m trying to convince my wife to let me name our firstborn son Raylan.
There are two things in this episode that cause Raylan to rise and shine brighter than usual. The first is alcohol. Drunk or hung over, whenever Raylan has had too much to drink, expect him to spit at least 200% more attitude than usual. The result is straight-faced comedy, and often ends up with Raylan getting his ass handed to him in a fist fight of his own provoking. The second is restriction. Whenever his freedom is limited, Raylan will always continue to do whatever’s necessary to solve his case. Unfortunately, no alcohol was consumed this week … none by Raylan, at least.
Art sure has put a damper on things. He suspects Raylan and Winona of having their hands in the courthouse’s missing money, and doesn’t know what to make of the last week’s shoot-out. As a result, Art tightens down on Raylan by taking away his cases and then assigning hotshot sharp-shooter agent Tim Gutterson as a bodyguard babysitter. Of course, under the most oppressive restrictions yet, Raylan gives us some good comedy by fighting against the bogus orders. The best part is a reference to Kevin Coster’s ‘The Bodyguard’ and Whitney Houston’s annoying theme song.
It’s official, Boyd and Ava are doing it! This week we get a morning after scene. If their nakedness in bed still left you doubting it, Ava’s final frisky shot of the scene clears up any doubt.
Boyd Crowder is absolutely unpredictable. He has blown up churches, murdered people, gone to prison, become a Jesus-freak, returned to his evil ways, helped the U.S. Marshals, killed some bad guys, stolen money, and duped the biggest running crime family in Harlan County – in that order. The last thing I expected was for him to become the strongest crime boss, but he sure is doing it. Just like Raylan, Boyd is “piss[ing] off a few shit-kickers” on the way.
Dickie Bennett (Jeremy Davies) has given off a feisty appearance until now, but seemed mostly harmless. This week, we learn that the growling dog has a nasty bite. Did Dickie’s final actions shock you as much as they shocked me?
Halfway through the episode, Boyd and Arlo rob Dickie’s weed farm. More furious than we have ever seen him, Dickie and his only remaining henchman go to Arlo’s to retrieve their product and money. Arlo isn’t home, but unfortunately Helen is.
I’m not going to jump to any conclusions, because we all know that the first rule of TV is: “If you didn’t see it happen, it did not happen.” We see Helen turn off the safety on her shotgun and Dickie quickly aim his shotgun toward her and fire. The episode ends with a nighttime exterior shot of the house and the sound of Helen moaning. The bright burst of light from a second shot rings out, which appears to be fired in the opposite direction.
Is Helen dead? Who knows? Dickie didn’t have much time to aim. Then again, shooting a shotgun less than 15 feet away, he didn’t really need to aim. Helen is one tough lady, so I’m not certain that a shotgun blast would take her out. After all, Boyd’s cousin Johnny survived a point blank shotgun load to the chest in Season One. Dead or not, Arlo is going to be pissed when he finds out that Dickie shot at Helen.
Is Dickie dead? Probably not. There are still two episodes left in the season, and he’s the only Bennett still completely off his rocker. If he is dead, how angry is Mags going to be when she learns that the second of her three sons was killed just two episodes after the first? And what would Dickie’s crooked Sheriff brother do?
Is Dickie’s last henchman dead? Probably. Let’s face it, being the last unnamed bad guy is like wearing a red shirt during a ‘Star Trek’ away team. He’s expendable.
Much like the episodes leading up to the end of Season One, ‘Full Commitment’ feels like it’s building up to another spectacular ‘Justified’ season finale.