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What I remember predominantly about this episode was how much the characters' interactions stood out. It was all about reunions here as seen through Raylan's eyes. I really felt that he, along with Boyd and Ava, did go way back, by the way they interacted with each other and with others associated to them. From the beginning, inter-character chemistry seems to be firmly established and rooted, with no signs of diminishing... we'll see how that plays out in the rest of the series.
Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens is reassigned by his boss, Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Dan Grant, to Lexington and Harlan County, Kentucky, following his killing of Thomas Francis Buckley a.k.a. Tommy Bucks in Miami, Florida. This prompts Raylan to reconnect with old acquaintances while going after white supremacist Boyd Crowder.
After Raylan arrives in Kentucky, he gets assigned to Boyd's case. It turns out they both were coal miners when they were younger. Boyd and his associate Jared Hale go to a black church where Boyd blows it up with a bazooka/rocket launcher. After finding Jared dead from Boyd shooting him, Raylan, his new boss, Deputy Chief U.S. Marshal Art Mullen, and co-workers, Deputy U.S. Marshal Rachel Brooks and Deputy U.S. Marshal Tim Gutterson, get pastor Israel Fandi to come to a line-up.
Fearing that Ava Crowder might be in trouble with Boyd because she shot dead his brother Bowman, Raylan goes to her house to get Boyd's location, and thus forces Boyd to become part of the line-up. Due to being intimidated by Boyd, Israel fails to identify Boyd as the one who fired the rocket launcher at his church. Free from custody, Boyd gives Raylan an ultimatum to leave Harlan (much like Raylan did to Tommy Bucks in Miami), and Raylan accepts.
With a threat to one of their own, the Marshals head down to wait Boyd's crew out in a motel; but a call from Ava forces Raylan to go to her house. The Marshals get separated by Boyd's crew on the way to Ava's; but the Pork brothers are shot and arrested by Art, Rachel, and Tim; while Dewey Crowe and Devil are forced to handcuff themselves to their own car steering wheel by Raylan.
Finally at Ava's house, Raylan meets with Boyd at the kitchen table and before Boyd can shoot a deer rifle-toting Ava, Raylan pulls on him and gets him in the chest. Boyd's taken away by ambulance and Raylan heads to his ex-wife Winona's house where he startles her husband Gary Hawkins by sitting in the dark at their kitchen table in the middle of the night.
Outside the Hawkins' house, Raylan tells Winona of how killing Tommy started in Nicaragua a while back. Raylan and another man were held captive by Tommy in an attempt to get Raylan to tell Tommy where Roland Pike, a money launderer wanted by Bucks, was to be found. When Raylan didn't tell him the answer he wanted, Tommy put dynamite in the other captive man's mouth and lit the fuse. Raylan wonders if he would have still killed Tommy had he not pulled on him first; and doesn't think of himself as an angry man, but Winona acknowledges the opposite.
(for a more detailed outline, visit: http://justified.wikia.com/wiki/Fire_in_the_Hole)
Raylan. From the episodes' and series' get-go, he commands the audience's attention with his way of speaking and moving. This is a man that one can immediately tell has had a long history of being a Marshal and has seen a lot in his law enforcement career in general; something which makes me want to learn more about his career history. I felt that we were, however, given more personal history because of the episode's focus on Boyd, Ava, and Raylan's father; something which I'm also interested in learning more about. And since this is the story of Raylan coming back to Kentucky, there's already an inclination towards learning more about the personal than the professional.
Art. He and Raylan taught Firearms classes at the Marshals Academy in Glynco, Virginia; I really did like the career/professional history given around this. Already, I start to suspect that Art is going to serve as a father figure to Raylan; how that will be, remains to be seen in later episodes.
Rachel and Tim. Not much is revealed about Raylan's co-workers, but what is made me immediately like them both. Rachel shows her all-business attitude as soon as we see her investigating the church's bombing. We see Tim do the same, but his casual wit, very Elmore Leonard-like, makes itself known when he tells the other Marshals what each witness to the bombing heard the bomber say before he shot his rocket launcher at them.
Ava. Sister-in-law to Boyd, but widowed by her own hand. Being the victim of domestic violence at the hands of husband Bowman Crowder, this seems to justify her shooting him dead. Ava seems to go for Raylan and doesn't want anything to do with Boyd despite his advances.
Winona. Raylan's ex-wife with a new last name Hawkins by way of being married to Gary. Some have argued that Winona might be the best one to know Raylan and vice-versa; but this is not necessarily a good thing for either of them. Here, it seems Winona wants nothing to do with Raylan. But them being located in Kentucky in close proximity is obviously going to change this.
Boyd. Neo-nazi. Murderer. But with an almost-intimate association to Raylan, as a result of their past working together as coal miners. Raylan seems to be one side of the coin, is Boyd the other? Are there even two separate sides of the same coin or is it all just one? Obviously, we haven't seen the last of Boyd; and how he comes back from being shot, whether it's at Raylan or in another way, remains to be seen.
Dewey Crowe. Gator Poacher from Florida, part of Boyd's clan. Although he's turned into one of my favorite characters on the 'bad guys' side, this wasn't the episode where that happened. In fact, here I still only see Dewey as one of Boyd's henchmen, in the ideal environment and having access to the approrpriate tools for hurting people but not quite having proven himself to act yet. Overall, I'm still getting to know him at this point, not sure I like him yet...
Devil. Now here is someone more in league with Boyd. Clearly he has it out for Raylan and isn't afraid to express it either. Something about this gives me the impression that his bite is worse than his bark, and I have the feeling we will be shown this sometime in later episodes.
The Pork brothers. Also part of Boyd's clan. So we know they get arrested by the Marshals for coming at them in a shooting stand-off on the road. I don't remember if we see them again, though; or what their fate is eventually revealed to be.
I very much enjoyed whenever the Marshals (Rachel, Raylan, Tim, and Art) interacted with each other.
It's been said that Rachel is the regular/opening credits-billed character least used in the series, so every and any scene with her is gold. And this one which has her catching the Pork brothers and stopping them from further shooting at her, Art, and Tim on the road in their truck is no exception:
Although product flattery is given to Lysol by Ava when talking about it to Raylan here, one'd have to wonder if they ever took compliments of being an effective blood-stain cleaner in a good light...awkward. Can you imagine that consumer praise letter? Oh dear...
Am I the only one in the world who thinks it is supremely cool every single time Raylan flashes his badge to introduce himself to the bad guy? The first time he ever does it on Justified and to Dewey is clearly a real treat to see:
Musically, the moment with Winona and Raylan as 'the angriest man she's ever known' really works with the song "Sans Soleil" by music band Miike Snow:
So here we have Raylan's reluctance to go back to Eastern Kentucky, a place he knows so well. I'm not sure if he sees it or not, but this knowledge clearly gives him the advantage of doing his job more effectively than, let's say, a DUSM who didn't grow up in that region/district. Yet I wonder how much of a burden this places on him personally, because that knowledge has been mostly through personal experience that has been painfully acquired in his life before becoming a Marshal.
I have to commend Gangstagrass and T.O.N.E-Z on their song "Long Hard Times to Come" featured as Raylan drives around town. A very well-chosen theme for what will be the series' opening credits from the next episode (stay tuned tomorrow for that one and my next rewatch review) onwards, as it indeed sums up Raylan and Justified.