Episode Title: "Brother's Keeper"
Writer: Taylor Elmore
Director: Tony Goldwyn
Previously on "Justified":
Feeling that his time as a U.S. Marshal was winding down, Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) was significantly off of his game when he was assigned to guard Carol Johnson (Rebecca Creskoff), a representative from the Black Pike mining company that wanted to blow off the top of the nearby mountain. Leading the charge against Black Pike was Mags Bennett (Margo Martindale), who seemed to have her own agenda despite her stated intentions. Raylan even came to blows with her son, Coover Bennett (Brad William Henke), who got the better of Raylan and nearly beat him senseless.
Even Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) ran afoul of the Bennett clan, first when Doyle Bennett (Joseph Lyle Taylor) had him arrested on bogus charges and later when he was attacked by Cover and Dickie Bennett (Jeremy Davies). Ava (Joelle Carter) managed to save Boyd the second time with a well placed shotgun blast that sent the Bennetts running. Boyd also worked out what Mags was really planning. In a public meeting, Mags denounced Black Pike and invited everyone there to a huge party on her homestead to help protect their way of life.
Hours before the big party, Mags dotes on Loretta McCready (Kaitlyn Dever), who asks about her absent father and wants to speak with him the next time he calls. Mags more or less agrees without promising before Coover bursts in without knocking. Mags throws him out and berates him in front of Loretta as soon as he leaves the room. But Coover hears everything bad his mother said about him and he looks really pissed. As the party unfolds, Boyd and Ava arrive… and Doyle stops them and says that they aren't welcome. But Boyd insists that he has a piece of business that Mags is going to want to hear.
Eventually, Raylan shows up with Carol, who works at Mags just to get a private meeting with her. Raylan also makes a point of scaring off the much older boys who are hitting on Loretta; though she indicates that she can take care of herself. Carol soon gets Mags to agree to a private sit down with Raylan guarding the door. But to Carol's surprise, Boyd joins them in the meeting; having secured Arlo and Helen Givens' land rights for himself. Then, in a very clever way, Mags and Boyd lay out why Black Pike's plan can't work without them. Mags extorts a large amount for her support, with Boyd enriching himself greatly in the process as well.
After the party, Mags sings triumphantly on the front porch, but she sends Loretta to help Coover clean up. She quickly notices that Coover is wearing her father's watch, but she tries to hide her reaction. Privately, she retreats into her room and rips off her party dress. Later, she visits Coover and Dickie's home and offers Coover a joint. As he gets high, he complains about how his mother favors her and offers his less than flattering appraisal of her. When he passes out, Loretta is careful not to wake Dickie as she rummages through Coover's things. She finds the watch and confirms that it belonged to her father.
Realizing that the Bennetts killed her father, Loretta breaks down and calls Raylan for help. But Coover attacks her before she can finish speaking, causing Raylan to speed back towards her quickly. Dickie wakes up and tries to save Loretta's life, but Coover wildly chokes him out. Loretta takes off, however Coover quickly catches up to her. Raylan arrives at their home and revives Dickie with Bong water. He then brutalizes Dickie into revealing that Coover may have taken Loretta to the mine where they dumped her father's body.
Raylan arrives in time to prevent Loretta's murder as well, but the much larger man nearly throws him down the mine shaft. Loretta gets a hold of a gun and threatens Coover, allowing Raylan the time to draw his weapon and shoot Coover… who falls down the shaft to his death. Reluctantly, Doyle reveals to his mother that Coover has died. But when they visit the scene of his death, she seems more concerned about Loretta and begs Raylan to let her say goodbye. Raylan refuses, which seals Mags' resolve against him as she and Doyle drive off.
"Justified" has been a remarkable solid show this season, but this episode was amazingly intense.
Ever since the introduction of the Bennett clan, it was clear that one or more of Mags' sons was probably going to die to completely reignite the feud between the Givens and the Bennetts. And Coover set himself up as the most likely candidate to die early on through his constant antagonism of Raylan and Loretta. I wasn't expecting the Loretta situation to be resolved so quickly in the season and I had guessed that she must have at least suspected what the Bennetts had done to her father. But the way she reacted proved that she really bought into their claims.
Brad William Henke actually brought some sympathetic shades to Cooper, which suggested that he wasn't as dumb as his family believed him to be (although at certain points he does seem quite stupid). But the hurt in his eyes after overhearing his mother speak badly about him was palpable. And Cooper made the deliberate choice to wear the watch in front of Loretta and he saw through her "spiked blunt" ruse, which makes me suspect that he actually had some sort of plan to get rid of her. Mind you, it wasn't a very good plan. But a plan is still a plan.
For a young actress, Kaitlyn Dever is incredible. I'm hoping we haven't seen the last of Loretta this season, because she brings a great deal of heart to her performance as well. Dever even managed to carry the reveal of her father's fate entirely by herself without another actor to help her carry the load. This kid has some serious chops and she's probably going to become a major star in the next few years.
As far as star making roles, is there a better new villain this year than Margo Martindale's Mags Bennett? Martindale has primarily been used in a supporting capacity in film and TV, but her turn as Mags has been electrifying. i love the way that she can switch her emotional state on the turn of a dime, as she did in her last scene of the episode. And Mags' master plan for the Black Pike project was also a thing of beauty. I appreciate her intelligence, but it seemed a little disappointing that her passionate stance from last week's episode was just a front for her scheme. But again, that's what a great villain is supposed to do.
Although I enjoy watching Boyd put his own plans into motion, his best moment this week was the unbridled joy he displayed while dancing with Ava. Raylan and Winona have been a little too morose the last few episodes, so it's refreshing to watch Boyd and Ava as a couple who are clearly in love even if they haven't quite committed to it yet.
If you haven't been following "Justified," catch up while you can. I can't wait to see how the rest of this season plays out.
Crave Online Rating: 9.5 out of 10.