Episode Title: "Coalition"
Writer: Taylor Elmore
Director: Bill Johnson
Previously on "Justified":
Robert Quarles (Neal McDonough) wakes up to find himself naked and chained by his leg in a RV at the brothel, as two of the working girls, Cat and Minerva admire his special sleeve gun. The girls refuse to rearm or release Quarles, but they are both receptive to his offer of sharing a bottle of Oxy left behind by Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins); who at that very moment is crowing about splitting the $200,000 mob bounty for Quarles with Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns). As the Crowder gang celebrates its good fortune, Errol (Demetrius Grosse) walks into the bar and brings Dickie Bennett (Jeremy Davies) in behind him.
Letting bygones be bygones, Boyd invites Dickie to sit down and have a drink while he fills them in on his proposition. Actually, what really happens is that Boyd beats the crap out of Dickie and nearly asphyxiates him with a plastic bag before Ava Crowder (Joelle Carter) convinces Boyd to at least hear Dickie out… before killing him. Arlo Givens (Raymond J. Barry) makes it clear that he wants Dickie dead for killing his wife, Helen (Linda Gehringer), but Boyd holds off for now. Meanwhile, U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) talks to the outgoing Sheriff, Tillman Napier (David Andrews) and learns that Quarles was headed to the brothel.
At the brothel, Quarles gets the girls to lower their guard until he chokes Cat and strong arms Minerva into luring the guard, Jimmy (Jesse Luken) inside. Shortly thereafter, Quarles departs; but he left his three victims alive and tied them to each other where they are soon found by Raylan. At Johnny Crowder's (David Meunier) bar, the Crowder gang is told that the missing fortune of the late Mags Bennett is in a safety deposit box at a nearby bank. As Boyd sends Arlo and Ava to case the bank, Raylan's friend, State Trooper Tom Bergen (Peter Murnik) tells him that his men have been following Dickie Bennett and that the Crowders are clearly planning to rob the bank.
Wynn chews out Boyd over Quarles' escape, but he quickly changes his tune when Boyd offers to cut him in on the bank job if Wynn car bombs Quarles on the other side of town… allowing the bank to be robbed without police interference. As for Quarles himself, he comes to Ellstin Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson) for sanctuary despite losing his drug haul at the brothel. To Quarles' surprise, Limehouse tells him all about Boyd's plan to rob the bank and advises Quarles to kill Boyd and his crew when they emerge from the bank with the money that they've stolen from him.
Limehouse repeats the story for Raylan, who seems amused at the way that Limehouse has set up Boyd and Quarles for prison terms, getting them both out of Limehouse's way in the process. But Raylan warns Limehouse that he will continue searching for Mags' lost millions until the money shows up. At Johnny's Bar, Arlo becomes increasingly unhinged and he even calls Boyd "Raylan;" prompting Boyd to bench Arlo from this job for everyone's protection. Boyd soon figures out that Errol and Limehouse are attempting to send him to prison, so he holds a gun on both Errol and Dickie until Errol admits it.
At Arlo's home, a hallucination of his dead wife Helen scolds him for letting Boyd shut him out of the bank job. When Ava goes to check on Arlo, he pulls a gun on her. Worried about Ava, Boyd leaves Johnny with a shotgun to guard Errol and Dickie. Soon enough, Dickie gets the drop on Johnny and beats him unconscious before pointing the gun at Errol and demanding the truth about the missing Bennett money. At Arlo's home, Boyd finds Ava safe but scared. Johnny soon calls Boyd and tells him that Dickie escaped with Errol and that Mags' hidden fortune is with Loretta McCready (Kaitlyn Dever).
Limehouse also calls Raylan and tells him where the money is, so that when Dickie shows up gun in hand looking for Loretta, he finds Raylan instead. Despite Dickie's obvious despair, Raylan goads him into trying to draw on him. And in response, Raylan shoots Dickie but leaves him alive before he steps outside and thanks Limehouse for the call. Later, Raylan tells Loretta that he and Limehouse made an agreement to honor Mags' wishes and let her keep the money… provided that she doesn't start spending it extravagantly and making it obvious that she has it.
At Wynn Duffy's trailer, Quarles is smoking and very, very high when Limehouse calls him and offers to clear his debts if Quarles kills Boyd Crowder. Quarles gets into his car unaware that Duffy had a bomb placed within it by his henchman, Mike (Jonathan Kowalsky). But rather than set it off immediately, Duffy says that they will see if Quarles can kill Boyd first. At Johnny's bar, Boyd and Johnny find Quarles getting high in the parking lot before he tries to use his sleeve gun trick on Boyd. Mike sets off the car bomb, which sets Quarles on fire and knocks Boyd unconscious.
Across town, Raylan sees the massive fireball. Tom is the first law enforcement officer on the scene and he orders a burned and wounded Quarles to drop his weapon. Only Johnny sees what happens next when a shot is fired. By the time Raylan gets there with backup, Tom is apparently fatally wounded as Johnny shouts that Quarles shot Tom. And Quarles is nowhere to be seen.
For most of this season of "Justified," I've described Robert Quarles as a wounded animal. But I was wrong.
Quarles isn't an animal… he's a cockroach. And no matter how many times Quarles gets stepped on, he just won't freakin' die! Although I'll suspect that his luck will run out in next week's season finale.
I do have to call out BS on Boyd leaving Quarles with the use of his hands back when he was locked up in the brothel. Despite his rougher edges, Boyd is usually a pretty good criminal and he seems smart enough to bind someone like Quarles when so much was at stake. It just seemed like a bad and lazy writing decision that helped Quarles get away and extend the season storyline for one more episode. That's a rare creative misstep for "Justified."
The majority of "Coalition" was really fun and it lived up to its title by bringing Boyd's gang into a temporary alliance with Dickie, Errol and even Wynn Duffy. Almost half of the episode was devoted to that caper and I was a little disappointed that they never actually pulled off the robbery. Although it was hilarious when Quarles pointed out that Boyd really only has one plan when it comes to bank robberies: blow something up across town and hope that it distracts the police long enough to get away clean.
And yet Boyd proved sharp enough to see through Errol's lies and realize that he was being set up by Limehouse. Boyd also had some very interesting moments with Arlo that gave their relationship some unexpected punch. Boyd seemed genuinely pleased when Arlo told him that he was proud of him… and horrified when Arlo called him "Raylan." Boyd wasn't exactly tight with his own father at the end of his life, so he may have been unconsciously looking to Arlo as a father figure. So it was kick in the gut to hear that approval followed by the name of Arlo's real son. More than that, Boyd may have realized that Arlo's mental facilities have taken a severe nosedive. And if he didn't realize it then, what happened between Arlo and Ava confirmed it. That certainly makes it seem like Arlo's ticket could be punched in next week's finale.
The producers of "Justified" have been hinting at a murder to come for the last few episodes and the death of State Trooper Tom seems to fit the bill. Tom's been in the background with Raylan a few times this season with occasional lines. The red flag about his murder in this episode was when Tom mentioned missing his kid's game to help stake out the Crowder gang. The only way to make his pending death more obvious would be if Tom had just bought a boat that was called "The Live 4-Ever." Yes, that's a "Simpsons" reference… and also to every cop movie ever.
The downside of Tom as the victim is that the audience was never invested in him the way that Tim, Ava, Rachel or even Winona have achieved over three seasons. Those are the supporting characters that we care about. But I'm happy that I was wrong about Ava's potential demise at Quarles' hands… at least for this week.
Tom's apparent death in this episode was also highly suspicious, considering that we never actually see Quarles shoot him and from our vantage point, it looked like Tom had the draw on Quarles. There's also the matter of Tom's state troopers who were supposed to be watching the Crowders and the Crowder bar. Where were they when this all went down? There are two main theories about what happened: Either Boyd killed Tom while trying to hit Quarles and then feigned unconsciousness when the cops arrived…
Or Quarles really did kill Tom and he was just that much faster with his gun. As much as I enjoy having Boyd on the show, I kind of like the idea that he shot Tom because that would drive an even bigger wedge between himself and Raylan. But for now, all eyes are on Quarles.
After episode five of this season, I predicted that Limehouse's refusal to give Dickie the Bennett family fortune was his way of following Mags' last wishes. That turned out to be correct, just not in the way that I expected. Having the fortune go to Loretta was a brilliant touch and it allowed Kaitlyn Dever to make another appearance this season. It's unfortunate that Dever is attached to "Last Man Standing" on ABC, because if she was available for more scenes this year it could have been very interesting to see how Loretta reacted to getting Mags' fortune. Because after all, Mags killed Loretta's father and seemed to love Loretta more than her screw up sons.
On the other hand, Loretta seems like a practical young woman who wouldn't refuse a windfall like that. And her banter with Raylan was as priceless as ever. There's an offbeat, almost father/daughter vibe between them that's very endearing. If Dever ever gets free of ABC, I think it would be intriguing if Raylan adopted Loretta just to bring her back on the show full time. Plus there is a loose end with Johnny and Boyd potentially knowing that Loretta has the Bennett fortune. Assuming Boyd still remembers who she is…
Aside from some weak writing choices early in the episode, "Coalition" maintained the high caliber storytelling that "Justified" does best. Bring on the finale!