The penultimate double bill of the season starts off in relatively lighthearted style. Dewey Crowe has a grand plan to screw everyone else over and make his fortune, but being Dewey Crowe, it all goes wildly wrong in a blackly comic way, weaving Boyd, Raylan, Wynn Duffy and the rest of the Crowes into the story, with Dickie Bennett popping in and a guest turn from Mary Steenburgen as hard-as-nails gangster widow Katherine Hale.
It’s as funny as it is bleak, in that fantastic Justified fashion, with some hilarious scenes – Raylan at Audrey’s, for instance, is just a joy – and the usual wonderful performances, the only dead weight continuing to be the Prisoner Cell Block Ava storyline, which might take a turn for the bloody but doesn’t get any more interesting to me in the process.
Episode 11, however, is a different kettle of heroin. The two deaths in the previous ep have serious consequences, but it’s the shooting early on in this one which is clearly going to have the most impact. It’s a superb ep; taut, tense and tremendous, with recriminations and confrontations all over the place, and, by way of a bonus, the welcome return of Rachel and Tim, even if that comes at a very high price. Again, the Ava storyline is superfluous, divorced as it is from everything else, but all the other sub-plots – Raylan and Art’s estrangement, Raylan’s relationship with Allison, the feud with the Crowes, Boyd and the Detroit mob, Wynn Duffy and Picker – come together in the most beautifully-plotted, gripping way. There is one jarring moment when a wanted man just strolls into the Marshals’ office quite the thing – Uh, security anyone? – when they’re supposed to be on high alert, but it’s just a few silly seconds in a generally fantastic forty minutes or so. This show is amazing.