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Justified: Measures

Posted on the 28 March 2012 by Eatsleeptelevision

There’s really not too much for me to say about “Measures,” our antepenultimate episode of the season. We’ve been following the “one episode of setup, one episode of payoff” pattern for a few weeks now, and “Measures” is content to zip by at lightning speed as practically every character on the show forges a new alliance or sets up some kind of double-cross.

It’s an episode so breathlessly paced that I barely had time to think about what was happening onscreen. And it felt significantly different than your standard Justified fare- “Measures” is a little funnier (Art cracking wise about Raylan being a father figure, Tim wishing the secret in Dickie’s cooler was a severed head), and bore much more of a resemblance to a madcap crime caper, with so many characters all scrambling over each other to get their hands on various sums of money.

It’s a welcome change of pace, and it’s probably the most fun I’ve had watching an episode of Justified all season.

Not that the other episodes aren’t fun in their own right.

You know what I mean.

So before I move any further, let’s get a basic summation of where everybody is by the end of the hour.

  • Quarles, having re-affirmed his alliance with Limehouse, is chained up in a trailer of ill repute after a thorough tasing by one Boyd Crowder.
  • Boyd, having captured the elusive Quarles, has now partnered himself with Wynn Duffy to get some of that Detroit reward money.
  • But Wynn Duffy has also forged a potential deal with Detroit kingpin Theo Tonin (played by regular Justified director Adam Arkin), in order to fill his own pockets and to abandon the sinking ship that is Quarles’ career in organized crime.
  • And who could forget Dickie Bennett, who’s convinced Errol to turn on his employer, but only if they bring in a third party- a man whose initials are Boyd Crowder.
  • All while Raylan and Art and Tim and Rachel all sit back, have a few laughs and make the occasional arrest.
  • Plus Limehouse, who I assume is counting his millions while butchering a side of bacon.

There’s a whole lot going on here. And usually, I try to speculate about what’s to come in the next episode, but there are a few things keeping me from that route this time around.

First, I think it’d be more fun just to sit back and enjoy the festivities without overanalyzing anything.

And second, I really have no idea what the hell’s going down next week.

But there are still some things I’d like to bring up. Not only does “Measures” resemble a crime novel more overtly than any other episode this season, but it’s full of Elmore Leonard-like touches. Quarles looking like “that guy from the butterfly movie.” The samurai sword that might be a relic from WWII… or just something bought in a pawn shop. Plus the presence of seasoned veterans like Adam Arkin and Michael Ironside certainly doesn’t hurt.

While I wish Elmore Leonard was able to write more episodes than he does now (his last story credit was a few weeks ago, for Dewey Crowe’s kidney-swapping adventures in “Thick as Mud”), his touch is still felt in the snappy dialog and twisting stories featured here.

Each season of Justified has more or less resembled a televised crime novel, and while that makes sense for a lot of obvious reasons, it also gives the show a sense of longevity that isn’t granted to a lot of other TV shows. Justified isn’t something like Breaking Bad or The Shield, where the protagonist is hurtling towards certain doom from the very beginning and each season is just staving off time before the inevitable occurs.

Raylan’s a survivor. Sure, he’s gotten in trouble for his trigger-happy ways and even lost Winona because of it, but he’s found a comfortable little niche where can still be respected and well-liked (at least, to some degree) by the other Marshals while still discharging firearms into the bodies of bad guys. And in the same way that I’d gladly read a continuing series of Raylan Givens novels, I’d be equally glad to watch season after season of the same old Justified. Introduce a new villain or two each season, throw in some well-crafted twist and turns, and tie things up with a satisfying conclusion. I don’t think Justified needs to be any more than that.

This isn’t a show with the philosophical ideals of The Sopranos, or the technical artistry of Breaking Bad. It’s more about fun and excitement and suspense than anything else. And it’s pretty fantastic when it comes to those elements.

Enough to keep my butt glued to the seat each week, anyway.

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