Even in episodes that mainly serve to introduce new characters and to set up the storylines for the remainder of the season, Justified is one of the few shows that can still deliver hours of television that are just as–if not more–entertaining than their other efforts. “Cash Game” flies by on the wings of its dialogue, delivering a classic episode by doing what it has always been doing: giving wonderful actors and actresses impeccable dialogue and watching the magic unfold.
It’s largely an episode about introducing new villains and painting a picture of their places in Harlan. We see Sam Elliott’s Avery Markham, who immediately makes an impact during the scene in which he tells Katherine Hale how to handle his “employees”; it’s clear that his history is anything but rosy, and it suggests a hardening of a person over the years as he comes into contact with the harsh world. We also see new characters like Brad Leland’s Calhoun Schreier, and we continue to delve into who exactly Garret Dillahunt’s Ty Walker is. On that topic, Walker is definitely making himself known as a very intriguing character, someone who has a very short fuse and bristles upon hearing himself being called a peacock. There are similarities that we can draw between Walker and Quarles here, but Dillahunt seems to be making it his own, unique character, and I’m interested to see where we go next.
The dramatic center of the episode revolves around Ava Crowder, who’s once again a very compelling character. She’s a third party of sorts here, uncertain about her situation but also more in control than others may think, and she’s an extremely smart and resourceful woman. Joelle Carter is absolutely nailing the balance between uncertainty and determination at every turn, and it’s refreshing to see her character play a big role in this final season; I’m sure Carter will be as fabulous as she is in “Cash Game”s scenes with Boyd.
And of course, it wouldn’t be a Justified masterclass in dialogue without a scene between Raylan and Boyd. It’s a snappy one–as always–but it’s also laced with a sense of fatigue, with a sense of inevitable change and endings. “Does it change you?” Boyd asks point blank, referring to Raylan’s new parenthood and the uncertainty about the future. It’s a theme that looks like it’ll have a big impact as we move into the final stretch of episodes, and it looks like Raylan is going to have to make a decision soon. For now, he can only give a slight chuckle, contemplating his role in this society and in his family, but also itching to get moving as the just lawman he believes he is.
– “I shoulda choked his cowboy ass out and left him for dead on the side of the road. But then I figured, someone drives by and sees I’d have to kill them. You know, and then somebody else drives by and sees, then I’d have to kill them. Then, you know, another car drives by and sees and I’d have to kill them…you know.”
-Choo Choo and Seabass are both very fun to watch, especially the former. The “I’m not following you” exchange is one of the funniest exchanges ever written for the show, and that’s saying something.
-There’s a pretty funny moment with Ava after Raylan asks her to return the Calhoun documents.
– “I was worried he was some random internet baby.”
-Tim mentioned his boner. Automatic A. Also, it’s very nice to see Tim actually getting to do stuff now, and I hope Rachel’s up next.
– “The boss man doesn’t go door to door.” The idea of being a “boss” is definitely going to have an impact on the rest of the season, especially given the impending Boyd-Raylan showdown.
– “It used to be a bank.” What do we make of this? I take it as more symbolic in terms of “used to” being linked to the season’s exploration of past/present, but I’m sure it also has another meaning.
Photo credit: Justified, FX