I understand that every episode of a drama cannot be high octane and firing on all cylinders. Every once in a while it needs to lay off of the gas and regroup, and that’s what Justified‘s “Loose Ends” did. After the superb “Watching the Detectives,” this episode took a step back to move some pieces around and to set up what’s in future weeks which all made for a decent hour of television.

After Quarles unsuccessfully tried to frame him for murder, Raylan maintained his focus to take the carpetbagger down and figured that one way to do would be via his underlings. Givens decided to put some pressure on Tanner Dodd as a way to get more information on Quarles, but that was easier said than done. Dodd’s mother wasn’t willing to sell him out, and it turned out that he got himself into a pickle after insisting that Napier pay him for the car bomb he planted, which led him to some random bomb maker who tricked him into stepping on a landmine. Raylan and  the bomb squad showed up to help Tanner out, but they were too late and he blew up real good before Givens could get any information out of him. His mission wasn’t a total bust because while revisiting Tanner’s mother, he found out that Limehouse was somehow connected to Dodd which meant he must also be in business with Quarles.

Elsewhere, Boyd and Ava continued their journey towards becoming the reigning criminal family in Harlan County. Once again Boyd was able to get Raylan to do his dirty work by convincing him that Napier set him up. When Givens confronted Napier, it was only a matter of time until Boyd was cut loose to interrupt a debate between the sheriff and Shelby which Quarles tried to buy with the help of Limehouse. Ava, on the other hand, had to deal with the fallout of a robbery that went back because it involved Ella May and she had nowhere else to turn to. She decided to use the opportunity as a way to get rid of Dellroy once and for all and even decided to take over the brothel.

Like I mentioned before, I get why we need episodes like “Loose Ends.” If Justified was non-stop action between Raylan, Quarles, Boyd and Limehouse, it would not be sustainable. You cannot have that many highs without burning through plot, so things need to slow down, so I don’t fault Justified for giving us “Loose Ends” because it was decent, but it also took a little the wind out of the sails a bit. I suppose my biggest issue with this episode had to do with the fact that it focused so much on outlying characters that I don’t care about. Yes, Tanner could be the linchpin that takes Quarles down, but he’s been too one-dimensional. Ditto for Limehouse’s man who always just shows up. For the life of me, I couldn’t muster any emotion over Ella May or her abusive pimp because they too have only been plot devices, but at least they served some purpose. In the end, all of the minor characters helped push the plot along, but I just wish the writers did a better job at making them impactful instead of expendable.

Now, “Loose Ends” did have its share of great moments. The scene where Boyd barged into the debate and speechified why Shebly’s a better candidate for sheriff than Napier was captivating and a reminder of why he’s been such a prominent figure in Harlan and a believable kingpin. We also got that electric scene between Raylan and Limehouse which gave us more insight about both men, and I’m also still very intrigued by the latter’s ties to Quarles. Like I’ve said before, Limehouse is going to end up being the key to Season 3. I can’t wait to see how this all shakes out.

Other Odds and Ends:

  • Raylan still has the gun that killed Gary? That’s probably not the smartest idea he’s ever had, and that’s saying something.
  • I’m sorry, but the idea of coked out hookers robbing a cash checking store was just silly.
  • That kiss between Raylan and Ava was totally inappropriate … and kinda hot.
  • Shoe-fly pie. That is all.
  • Ava’s rise to power has been a fun mini-arc throughout this season.
  • Emma Jean: “Did you ever think of trying the one where he accidentally ingested poison, and you’re the only one with with the antidote?”
    Raylan: “Excuse me?”
    Emma Jean: “Look, the first time a no dick lawman came around and ran that game with me, Tanner was ten-years old …”
  • “Well Mr. Nappier, I’d like to think that if I was behind an attempt on your life, at the very least I would’ve messed up your hair.”

So, while “Loose Ends” was not as strong as “Watching the Detectives” or some of the other Season 3 episodes, it did its job. It’s just a shame that we had to spend so much time on characters who have been minor blips instead of on some of the major players like Quarles and Limehouse. Sure, the tension’s building, but it’s almost too much to handle at this point … in a good way.

What did you think of “Loose Ends?” Did it waste too much time on people like Tanner and Dellroy or did you like the fact that we weren’t overloaded with Quarles and Limehouse?