I could write the review for this week’s Justified in five words: Raylan Givens is bad ass. However, that doesn’t make for much of an article. And frankly, I don’t think it gives justice to the character.

JUSTIFIED: Episode 5: Thick as Mud (Airs February 14, 10:00 pm e/p). L-R: Timothy Olyphant and Erica Tazel. CR: Adam Taylor / FX.

Justified Review “Thick As Mud”

As the season has progressed we’ve had a lot of separate stories that I’ve been waiting to meet up. This week, they’ve finally started to do just that as all the local bad guys have become aware of Quarles (Neal McDonough) making his move in Harlan County. Limehouse (Mykleti Williamson), who it should be noted, lied a little bit (a lot) to Dickie about how much Bennett money was actually left, has a spy out in the white man’s world. As was mentioned last week, the Holler is known for taking in white women who are trying to escape their men, and one of those women has befriended Tanner (Brendan McCarthy), Quarles lackey. Tanner got a message from Boyd to send to Quarles. And by “message” I mean Boyd and Johnny beat the crap out of him for turning Devil.

Quarles, in his smooth Quarles style, heads on down to Johnny’s bar for a meeting with Boyd. It’s what I’ve been waiting for in so many ways because I’ve been dying to know – is Boyd going to want to work with this guy, or just see him as a threat that needs to be eliminated? And after the conversation, it’s clear it’s door number 2. Although, despite Boyd beating up Tanner and having Doc Stern (Randolf Adams) give Boyd the money from selling Quarles’ oxy (by not so subtlely threatening Doc’s mama), Quarles actually wanted to work with Boyd. The two converse as only people on this show would – using quotes from the likes of Thomas Jefferson. Quarles is shocked/impressed with Boyd’s intelligence. Neal McDonough is on fire in this scene riding that fine line of completely evil and disarmingly charming.

The meeting ends in with Boyd rejecting the “carpetbagger in a three piece suit” with a warning – that the carpetbaggers who come to Harlan County usually wind up dead. And given the track record for our previous big bads, I’d say that’s a pretty fair bet for Quarles as well. And now that Boyd and Quarles aren’t going to be friends, does that mean I can hope for Boyd and Raylan to team up and take him down? Fingers crossed!

Speaking of Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) – he had quite the day as well. When he came home in the middle of the night after the whole Dickie Bennett fiasco from last week’s episode, Winona (Natalie Zea) was there waiting. He thought for sure he was going to get an earful, but she told him she knows he is who he is, and that she can’t stop loving him even if she wanted to, so even if she is mad, she’s letting it go. I agree with Raylan – that may be the nicest thing she ever said.

But that moment of niceness is quickly pushed aside as the next morning he is called to the scene of a carjacking. Seems a man fitting Dewey’s (Damon Herriman) description stole a car. Why? Well, as we saw last week, prison nurse, Lance (Clayne Crawford), had a contingency plan for Dewey. It seems he took Dewey’s kidneys – both of them – and put him in the tub, just like the urban legend. Dewey has 4 hours to get $20grand or Lance is selling the kidneys to someone else. So Dewey hits the streets in the most sad sack attempt at armed robbery I’ve ever seen, with Raylan and Rachel right behind him every step of the way.

Last stop was a convienence store. In fact, there Dewey was just trying to get directions, but he use a few blasphemous terms so the store owner shot him. As you do. Dewey winds up locked in the supply closet where Raylan eventually talks him out by making Dewey realize Lance was screwing with him and he didn’t have his kidneys taken because he can still pee. Dewey’s response made me cry laughing…

“You mean I have FOUR kidneys?”

Oh Dewey, you big dummy. Never change. Meanwhile Raylan, thanks to the help of one of the strippers from the strip club Dewey robbed, realized what was going on with Dewey and his kidneys so he had been off to the hospital to see Ash (Todd Stashwick). Ash had mentioned things might get weird, and stolen kidneys seem to qualify. But a pretty nurse, Layla (Psych’s Maggie Lawson!!) sent Raylan on his way, but not without flirting first. Because if I was a chic, no matter how good or evil, and Raylan came to talk to me, I’d flirt with him. Who the heck wouldn’t?

Later, Raylan went to go check back with Ash, but it turned out he was dead! He had a mysterious stroke, and when the new nurse made the “who the heck are you talking about” face when Raylan brought up Layla, he decided to pay her a visit. She flirted again. Duh. Then Lance came out of hiding and knocked him out with tranqulizers, put him in the tub and decided he was going to cut out Raylan’s kidneys. For real.

Okay time out. How the hell does Raylan manage to get himself into these insane situations? And how the hell does he get out of them? Well I can answer question two. After Layla decides she doesn’t like Lance’s plan and shoots him, she goes to shoot Raylan who is now underneath Lance’s dead body while still on tranquilizers. Being the BAMF that he is, Raylan wakes up a little and shoots Layla through Lance’s dead body. I can’t possibly stress enough how insane I thought that was. Also thinking it was insane: Layla and Raylan who appear to be in a competition for who can be more shocked as she dies.

Art (Nick Searcy) was also impressed because apparently Raylan had enough tranqs in him to knock out a large animal. But he is Raylan flippin Givens, ladies and gentleman. And he won’t let horse tranquilizers take him down. Although it does make him question whether or not he should keep his job. What does take him down – whatever was in that letter on the counter when he got home. Presumably from Winona, who is going back on her earlier declarations. What a quiet, and heart wrenching way to end a bad ass episode.

I can’t wait to see what is in the letter. And to hopefully see Boyd come to Raylan for help. But until next week, I’m just going to relish just how freaking amazing Raylan Givens was in that episode.

Written by Melissa Miller. Find her on Twitter @serrae