‘Justified’ 3.01 Recap: “Not Much Call for Cowboys These Days”

‘Justified’ returned to kick off its third season last week. Even though the show has never been a significant ratings hit, the FX network has had enough faith to keep it on the air this long. That’s a good thing for fans, because the last season left a number of unresolved storylines hanging.

The season premiere episode, ‘The Gunfighter’, picks up not long after the Harlan County War and the death of Mags Bennett. Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) is still recovering from his gunshot wound. His aim isn’t so steady, and he’s decidedly off his game. As such, he’s been restricted to desk duty, which of course doesn’t suit him at all.

Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) and his crew have swooped in and taken over the Bennett pot-dealing business. At least, they’ve tried to. A huge haul of weed they expected to bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars turns out to be worthless due to their improper handling and care.

The main plot of the episode kicks off with a home invasion and murder conducted by a cold-blooded psycho nicknamed “The Icepick.” He likes to play a game where he puts his gun on a table and lets his victims think that they have a chance to get it, only to stab them in the hand and shoot them. When Raylan gets too close to sniffing him out, he lays wait in Raylan’s home and ambushes him. He then sets up his little game. The odds seem stacked against Raylan, who’s still nursing his injury. But then Raylan coolly and slyly outwits The Icepick by tugging on a tablecloth to bring the gun closer to him, and shoots the man without even straining himself. This scene is pretty awesome.

Still hanging around from last season is crime boss Winn Duffy (Jere Burns). As if he’s not bad enough, a new mobster from Detroit (Neal McDonough) strolls into town to take over the operation. He looks like bad news.

While Boyd and Raylan seem to be on good terms at first, Boyd is pissed that Raylan arrested Dickie Bennett (Jeremy Davies) even though Boyd had plans to kill him for shooting Ava (who survived and is taking on a Lady Macbeth role as the woman behind Boyd’s throne). He picks a fight and assaults Raylan right in the Marshals’ office. This seems like a dumb, hot-headed move – until we realize later that Boyd planned all this out in advance in order to get thrown into the same prison as Dickie.

‘The Gunfighter’ is a very strong premiere, and this looks like it’s going to be another great season for the show. Will it be the last? We won’t know that until later in the year.

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