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Justified “Noblesse Oblige” Review (6×03)

3 Feb

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Early in “Nobelesse Oblige”, Ty Walker tells Boyd that he’s “just a weather vane”, that he “doesn’t make the wind blow”. Later on in the episode, Sam Elliott’s Avery Markham delivers a chilling monologue to Ava about being more than a token that “can be threatened or hurt to just to keep a man in line”. The underlying point comes across in both cases: certain people are pulling the strings in certain places, and if you want to survive in this fading county, you must take the initiative and fight for what you want. You can’t let the power struggle dictate where you end up; you must participate.

And so, we’re really starting to see how much of a wild card Ava is. First of all, I’d watch a whole episode of Drunk Ava getting pissed at people, and second of all, she’s starting to move her own pieces around on this Raylan vs. Boyd chessboard. Markham sums it up when he states that “for a woman to survive in this world, she’s gotta be stronger than the men”, and it’s clear that Ava is just as resourceful and intelligent as any other person in Harlan. That Ava fire is starting to become hotter and brighter by the minute, and her role as a confidential informant may not be as restrictive as it may seem.

Ava definitely still has a lot of pride in her, and that applies to pretty much every character in the show. We see it most noticeably with Boyd and Raylan, but this episode also brings two moments during which we see the two men contemplate their situations and futures. For Raylan, it’s when Luther Kent talks about why he took the fall for his son and about how the future’s going to look for Raylan-the-father; yes, it’s entertaining watching Raylan take down a few bumbling criminals every week, but this storyline serves to remind us that the marshal isn’t exactly upholding his responsibilities as a parent. In fact, we could even say that he’s “grown, but still just playing pretend”.

That, of course, is something that Avery Markham relays to Boyd Crowder, but it can easily be applied to either man. With Boyd during that Markham scene, we see him more deferential–afraid, even–than before. It’s a scene that speaks to the lingering effect of Bo Crowder on Boyd today, and once again, we can see a clear parallel between this lingering dynamic and that of Raylan and Arlo. The past is still hanging over their heads, and although they’d like to move toward a better future, there’s always going to be something or someone that pops up when they least expect it. So, what do they do? They do what they do best, and they bulk up that pride as they do so. Boyd tells us that he’s going to put a bullet in Avery Markham’s head, and we know that he’s entirely capable of doing so; at the same time, we have reason to be uncertain.

GRADE: B+

OTHER THOUGHTS:

– “Noblesse Oblige” is the inferred responsibility of privileged people to act with generosity and nobility toward those less privileged. We see this with, for example, Luther taking the fall for Tyler, and that certainly connects a bit to Raylan as a father.

-More Raylan and Rachel is always great. Rachel, at one point, says that it’s “a bitch running that office with you running around out here untethered”, and there’s–yet again–the idea of Raylan caught between his perceived freedom under the badge and his responsibilities as a parent (untethered vs. tethered).

-Wynn Duffy tanning is awesome. His outfit is even better.

– “You know what, Boyd? From the moment I met you, I knew you were the man of my dreams.” Brilliant line delivery by Steenburgen there.

– “Understand me, Earl? I’m gonna shoot your dick off.”

– “When you search Crowder, make sure to get his cigarettes.”

-Every scene that Choo Choo is in is awesome. Before, I wanted Dewey Crowe to be the last one left standing after all is said and done; now, I want it to be Choo Choo.

– “I come with no more lofty of an aim than to apprise you of the situation in which you find yourself.” “Damn, son, you like to talk as much as I do.”

Photo credit: FX, Justified

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