Contributor: Gregg Wright
We pull back a bit from the Bennetts and the Crowders (aside from the opening) for an episode that’s a little more leisurely in pace and attitude. The last episode delivered so well that I’m not too bothered by this. “Blaze of Glory” is one of the more entertaining case-of-the-week episodes so far this season, primarily because of the exchanges between aging bank robber Frank Resner and Chief Deputy Art Mullen. I like Art quite a bit and I was glad to see an episode with a heavier focus on him.
The opening scene gives us some much-needed follow-up on the aftermath of the explosion. Ava has reacted positively to Boyd’s honesty, and has chosen to stick by him. Their relationship is more interesting than I originally expected it to be. I loved the scene where one of the ATF agents interrogating Boyd basically calls Ava a whore, probably in an attempt to get under Boyd’s skin and make him lose control. But Boyd, cool as ever, very calmly threatens to come across the table and beat the hell out of the man if he doesn’t refrain from disrespecting Ava. This does not bode well for Boyd, but then Art saunters up and re-iterates Boyd’s threat. That was just plain cool and probably my favorite moment of the episode.
But the majority of the episode is about the case (which Art has a personal connection to), and the evolving relationship of Raylan and Winona. Winona nearly gets herself into a lot of trouble this week by taking some cash from evidence in the wake of her financial woes. At the bank, she thinks better of her decision and starts to leave so she can return the cash to evidence. And that’s when the robbery happens. It’s not often you see an old guy with an oxygen tank as the leader of a bank robbing crew on a TV show, which is another example of “Justified” setting itself apart.
Frank Resner is a pretty amusing and very sympathetic character, and he’s also much smarter and more dangerous than he looks. I was completely sold on his whole dying act, just as his two amateur compatriots were. Earlier on it’s established that Art was the one tracking Resner down 30 years ago before Resner ended up in prison. From that point on we get a sense of their mutual “old-timer’s” respect they have for one another. Art eventually figures out that Frank has tricked everybody and plans to fly off to paradise to live out his days in style. So in a scene that teeters between amusing and heartfelt, Art confronts Resner at a rural airstrip where Resner plans to take off, and the two have a chat. I found the whole thing pretty funny, and also found it really easy to sympathize with Resner. The dialog in that scene between Art and Resner was especially good.
Of course, those who watch “Mythbusters” will know that an oxygen tank won’t explode when shot, but knowing the writers, they’re probably well aware of that already and just loved the humor of the scene. It’s entirely believable that, not knowing any better, most would be inclined to believe that oxygen tanks do explode when you shoot them. Raylan threatened the sex offender in the season premiere in a similar way. Raylan and Art could easily gamble on the fact that most people just do not know whether a gunshot will ignite fumes rising from a gas-soaked man, or whether an oxygen tank will explode if shot. It’s interesting to think how much movies and TV shape our perceptions and misconceptions about basic facets of reality.
Resner’s cohorts try to pull off another bank robbery, and Raylan defuses the situation in his typically awesome manner. For a moment, I was almost sure that Tim Gutterson was going to pull off another “apricot” shot, but my expectations were defied when Raylan simply punched the robber in the face. This show manages to extract a lot of amusement from stupid criminals underestimating Raylan’s intelligence. It might get old eventually, but it hasn’t yet. Somehow they’ve kept it believable.
The season is nearly half-way over, and I’m pretty happy with how things have gone so far. But I wish the seasons had more than just 13 episodes. I like the often relaxed pace of the show, and if they had more episodes per season, then they’d end up with more multi-episode story content overall. On the other hand, it could also result in the arcs being dragged out too long. I don’t expect to see a real showdown between Raylan and the Bennetts until the finale. And in a longer season, it might take too long to get to that point. So I guess the benefit of either approach. So far in this season I think the mixture of myth-arc and episodic content has been pretty good. And the last episode was heavily Boyd-centric, so I have no real complaints.