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Justified begins season finale build

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Written by : published Thursday 22nd March 2012

With only three episodes left, FX's Justified begins ramping up for a climatic finale with "A Guy Walks Into a Bar." Quarles's (Neal McDonough) backing of the sheriff isn't good enough, as  Boyd (Walton Goggins) finds a legal loophole to death him. Needless to say, Quarles's reaction is anything but calm, dosing himself on pills and threatening Raylan (Timothy Olyphant). Raylan, feeling more than a bit reckless himself, is prepared for a showdown with Quarles. Luckily, Lindsey (Jenn Lyon) the bartender diffuses the situation, then sleeps with Raylan. After this near miss, though, both Quarles and Raylan begin to act more erratically, with Quarles facing a gun man with little regard for safety, and Raylan telling a reluctant Judge Reardon (Stephen Root) to let Dickie Bennett (Jeremy Davies) go.

Last year, Margo Martindale won an Emmy for her fantastic recurring role as the villain in season two of Justified. Up 'til now, McDonough has been interesting, but has not risen to her level. "A Guy Walks Into a Bar" changes all that, allowing McDonough to relish the dark depths and borderline insanity of his character. Whether telling the tale of how he killed his drug-addicted father, who sold a child Quarles into sexual slavery, or facing down two men wielding guns with no seeming care for his own life, this is a new, desperate Quarles. McDonough expertly lets the inner feelings bubble to the surface in a tour de force performance, certainly putting him on the short list come awards season.

Raylan is also heading towards self-destruction. After Winona (Natalie Zea) leaves him, he appears to be itching for a fight, an urge that is growing within him every week. He won't be able to ignore it much longer. It may be a natural reaction for Raylan to deal with his sadness, but it's not a healthy one. Moving in above a bar and setting himself up in Quarles's path are not good signs of mental stability. Raylan can usually handle himself in any situation, and he shows the 'cool' factor that makes his character so great in his stand off with Quarles this week. But he also lets Dickie out, seemingly just so he can stage some kind of altercation again, and possibly kill Dickie this time.

Catching Dickie just might be something Raylan is not prepared for. Dickie has also crossed the ruthless, creepy Limestone (Mykelti Williamson). The best case scenario for the marshal may be that Limestone murders Dickie quickly and quietly. Should Raylan insert himself in the middle of their situation, and find Limestone backed by his gang, it's hard to imagine how the lone lawman could come out ahead. Raylan does better with one-on-one, or even two-on-one, battles.

The wild card here is Boyd. Boyd is the one that bested Quarles, even though Quarles's rage now seems pointed mainly at Raylan. Boyd also has dealings with Limestone, and would like to see Dickie dead. Not to mention Boyd's past with Raylan. Fully back in the criminal world, Boyd is the one with connections to everyone, but it's uncertain whether he is more valuable alive or dead to any given party. Or how his self-preservation instinct will balance with his business sense.

Also, if it's apparent that Quarles is about to go down, look for Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns) to switch sides or flee, which could lead to another unexpected game-changer.

Justified was just recently picked up for a fourth year. It continues its excellent third season run Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on FX.

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About the author JeromeWetzelTV

JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome Wetzel is a huge fan of stories, in both books and television. He writes TV reviews and fiction. He currently posts articles for TheTVKing, Seat42F, and BlogCritics, as well as his own personal blog, as well as writing fiction. His website is www.jeromewetzel.com Follow him on twitter @JeromeWetzelTV

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