Episode Title: "Save My Love"
Writer: Graham Yost
Director: Jon Avnet
Previously on "Justified":
Winona Hawkins (Natalie Zea), the former wife and current love of U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) succumbed to temptation within a police evidence vault and took out a $100 bill from a long forgotten stash of cash. Winona took the bill to the bank to check its authenticity and she wound up in the middle of a bank robbery. One of the robbers brutalized Winona and took the bill from her hand. Realizing that the Raylan and the marshals would eventually track down the robbers and track the bill back to her, she confessed to him and enlisted his help.
Elsewhere, Raylan’s former rival Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) escaped the blame for the mine robbery, thanks to the help of Ava Crowder (Joelle Carter), his former sister-in-law and possible love interest. However, Boyd’s turn did cost him his job at the mine and raised Raylan’s suspicions towards him again. Later, Raylan captured the bank robbers and recovered a few hundred dollar bills that might have been Winona’s; earning him a grateful embrace from her.
Winona and Raylan are in bed together when she suddenly wakes up in a panicked state. She rechecks the bills and tells Raylan that she just remembered that the bill she took had a ripped corner. Annoyed, Raylan takes one of the other bills back down to the Marshal’s office. Meanwhile, Carol Johnson (Rebecca Creskoff) from Black Pike (the mining company) goes to see Boyd to convey her thanks for attempting to thwart the mine robbery. He thinks that she’s offering him his job back, but instead she insists that he join her security team for an upcoming court appearance.
At the Marshal’s office, Raylan finds Winona’s ripped bill and swaps it out. But he’s forced to put it back when he learns that Tim already scanned it into the system. He tells Winona that he can’t get it back and assures her that the lone bill won’t get her into too much trouble. That’s when she drops the bombshell on him: she didn’t take the single bill. She took the WHOLE BAG of bills. Wanting to keep his love (and himself) out of jail, Raylan devises a way to sneak the money back into the courthouse through the Marshal’s entrance.
Raylan makes the switch with Winona, but she’s instantly called into the chambers of Judge Mike Reardon (Stephen Root) to record the pre-trial instructions for Carol’s lawyers and the plantiff’s attorneys. At the same time, Raylan is ordered to sweep the courthouse for bombs and he runs into Carol and Boyd, whom he compliments for the suit. At Carol’s questioning, Raylan admits that he isn’t sure that she can trust Boyd, but he does admit that Boyd had his back at least two pivotal occasions. Just when Winona gets free from the judge, the rest of Raylan’s colleagues arrive with the news that the $100 bill she took popped up as a red flag from the robbery.
To Raylan’s great distress, the team checks the locker of the evidence room and finds the bag of money missing. In the courtroom, the Peener family suing the Black Pike mining company becomes belligerent when the judge throws out a critical piece of evidence against Black Pike. He has the family removed from the court, but a bomb threat soon places everything under lock down. Despite his own problems, Raylan realizes that the threat is a trick to lure Carol and the judge outside to be shot and he detains the Peener family.
Later, Boyd apologizes to Carol for not being able to spot the ruse first. But she tells him that she wants him on board to help deal with the Bennett family, who are causing problems for Black Pike. Inside the courthouse, Winona and Raylan finally get to the evidence room alone and she puts the bag in one of the wrong compartments. Raylan’s boss Art Mullen (Nick Searcy) walks in on them behaving suspiciously, but it’s ambiguous as to whether he’s realized what they did. Afterwards, Raylan and Winona share some nervous moments together as they wonder what will happen now.
The usual formula for "Justified" brings in new characters every week who have some kind of crime or scheme that they try to pull off without getting caught by the law. So it was interesting to see Raylan and Winona on the other side of that. The series’ stars were basically the crooks of the week! And though they are ultimately successful, I doubt that things are going to be very smooth from here. There are hints that Art may have figured out what they did, but even that’s not catastrophic yet. The ultimate consequence may be that it causes Raylan and Winona to break up for good.
Now, Raylan clearly loves his ex-wife. He wouldn’t have gone through so much trouble otherwise. But there’s a sense of disappointment from him when he learns that she stole the entire bag of money. Up to that point, he seemed a little amused at the trouble that the $100 bill had caused. However, Winona’s actions may have cast her in a new light. She didn’t want Raylan to think that she was the kind of person who would take money from an evidence vault, but she clearly is. And that might cloud their entire relationship going forward.
It was kind of hilarious to see how much red tape popped up in the way of resolving the situation. In this case, the government bureaucracy was its own worst enemy. Raylan’s ability to detect the plan of the Peener family was also impressive, given the circumstances. Stephen Root was a lot of fun as Judge Reardon, especially while flirting with Winona. But I suspect that he’s in the back pocket of Black Pike after throwing out that evidence against them. It seems that this season won’t just be Raylan vs. the Bennett clan. Apparently Black Pike is going to be a player as well.
Which brings us back to Boyd, who can’t seem to escape a long line of people looking to exploit his unique blend of criminal genius. It was clear from the start that Carol had ulterior motives in hiring him as her bodyguard for the case. But it was a nice surprise that she specifically wants him to deal with the Bennetts; which finally explains how Boyd is going to fit into the big picture. However, I doubt that Boyd is going to allow Black Pike to control him for long and I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up in control of Harlan’s underworld by the end of the season… effectively replacing his recently deceased father.
"Justified" is proving to be exceptionally adept at delivering stand alone stories that advance the season long story arc. That’s a rarity on TV and few shows can pull it off. But halfway through its second season, "Justified" is reminding us why it remains one of the best series on television.
Crave Online Rating: 8.5 out of 10.