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The episode that made the words "requisitioning" and "chicken" work in the same sentence. Tim Gutterson, thank you for that...oh so very, VERY much. If I didn't love you before, then there is absolutely no question in my mind that I do now.
Cal Wallace, a prisoner temporarily held at the Lexington U.S. Marshals field office, holds both of his guards hostage in the office's locker room; and Raylan must defuse the situation without using his gun, all in the presence of Assistant United States Attorney David Vasquez who's been investigating him for past shootings.
It is night and Ava Crowder is having a slice of cherry pie alone at a diner when Bo Crowder joins her at her table, surprising her. Bo shares that because Raylan Givens had arrested Harlan County Sheriff Hunter Mosley, who had in turn arrested Bo years ago, Mosley's case against him along with others, had been reopened. The United States Attorney wasn't going to retry any inmate that had less than 6 months to go; Bo had 87 days and was threfore one of those granted early release from prison. Ava gets up to leave but Bo pulls her back to sit and asks to have conversation with her.
Ava tries to find out if Bo is going to reclaim his empire in Lexington, but Bo answers that he wants to take Ava on as his responsibility because of his dead son, Bowman Crowder. Bo then proceeds to take her plate and eat her leftover pie, comparing it to sex and obviously insinuating it to her. Raylan shows up and gives Bo a subdued order to leave but when Bo makes another pie-sex insinuation, Raylan pins his wrist to the table, asking again. Bo leaves as his lawyer has just shown up to the diner.
Raylan joins Ava at her table and revisits the topic of her leaving Kentucky, but Ava feels that Raylan, the best Marshal, is watching over her already. The next morning, Raylan enters the Lexington Marshals office to find Art Mullen and Assistant U.S. Attorney David Vasquez coming out of Art's office from just having reviewed the Owen Carnes case from "The Collection". Vasquez confirmed for himself that Owen hadn't committed suicide as it had been made to look. Raylan jokes with Vasquez that he changed his mind and skipped the investigation because Vasquez was there to take Raylan to jail, seeing as there are guards in the office. After the banter, Vasquez shares that those guards are for Cal Wallace who's being held at their Marshals office in wait of fighting a court order that will send him to Super Max.
Vasquez plans to come back and interview Raylan afer his meetings in a few hours, asking Raylan to think about using a union lawyer during the interview. Vasquez leaves the Marshals office. Art takes Raylan into his office to go over what Raylan is going to say to Vasquez in the interview. Meanwhile, Winona comes home from an early dismissal at the courthouse due to a deposition cancellation, when she finds Wynn Duffy in her kitchen. Wynn introduces himself as a Home Security Consultant and claims he was sent by her husband Gary Hawkins. Winona threatens Duffy with calling the police on him if he doesn't leave her house, and Wynn leaves.
Back at the Marshals office, Wallace asks to go to the bathroom. Art and Raylan go over the Tommy Bucks shooting. Art advises Raylan that he shouldn't express speculation but instead simply go with the facts of what actually happened in that incident. They're interrupted by Wallace knocking his guards around and dragging the unconscious body of one in the locker room while holding the other by the neck with a shiv he pulled from his rear-end. The Marshals scramble and draw their weapons on Wallace, ordering him to drop his. Wallace barricades himself and his two guards in the locker room, ordering the one he has a shiv to the neck to put handcuffs on his unconscious partner.
Wallace uncuffs the metal chain restraints from around his legs while simultaneously Art orders the office sealed off, all civilians clearned out, and Rachel Brooks to call Washington for a SOG team to their location. Art tries to negotiate with Wallace, telling him that depending on the condition of his hostages, Art might keep Wallace out of Shu but Wallace thinks he's just trying to persuade him with empty promises. Art tells Wallace that it's either himself who try to bring Wallace out peacefully or the SOG/tag team they have coming. Wallace prefers to talk to Raylan as he believes Raylan wont try any bull with him, plus is a better shooter than Art to which Raylan admits in front of Art.
Art leaves Raylan to keep talking to Wallace and advises Raylan not to worry or pay attention to Vasquez, who came back into the Marshals office just as Rachel was calling Washington. Vasquez hands Rachel the file on Wallace to see if they can find anything helpful. Art lets Vasquez know that Raylan will try to talk Wallace down but if that's unsuccessful, then per Art's orders, Raylan will shoot Wallace. Vasquez doesn't care about Wallace's fate nor did he about Bucks, glad to see he's dead; yet the circumstances around Buck's death give Vasquez pause. Wallace notices Vasquez and wonders about him, not having seen him when all of this started; Raylan explains who he is. Wallace wonders if that isn't why Raylan did not draw on him initially, to prove something to Vasquez.
Raylan expresses that he had a half a chance to catch Wallace before he stuck the shiv into his hostage. Besides that, Raylan prefers they all live, hence holstering his weapon. Wallace doesn't fall for the typical offer of a getaway chopper/airplane with a trunk full of money. Raylan points out that these days if a passenger plane was to be taken over, they'd shoot it down, passengers and all. Raylan tells Wallace he's glad he's not one of the hostages and especially so with a shiv to the face that Wallace drew out of his behind. Wallace closes the door on them and while he is handcuffing the guard he had the shiv to, Tim Gutterson inserts a tubed camera through an airvent in the conference room that leads into the locker room.
Raylan admits he hasn't had much experience negotiating with a barricaded suspect, but Wallace lets him know he's doing a good job of it so far having established rapport with him. Wallace shares he's serving four consecutive life sentences so no court will let him back on the street, recognizing it and the fact that he's dangerous. Wallace brings up the point that there is nothing that can be offered to him, and turns out the lights in the locker room.
In the conference room, Rachel shows Raylan a photo of Wallace with the name "Simone" inked on his chest and Raylan goes back to ask Wallace about it. Wallace says Simone is his fifteen-year-old daughter, but quickly admits it was a lie and tells the truth: the name is of a Wizard MC enforced named David Simone who has Wallace's first kill. Wallace also says he doesn't have any kids that he knows of. Wallace shares that the guards he's had have treated men like animals and doesn't think those at Super Max are any different. He shares an experience where they fed him Juke Cake (a blender-mashed meal burned black on both sides) but he's learned to pretend it's fried chicken, like his favorite at Princess Hot in Nashville.
Raylan shares that the best friend chicken he's had was from Joe Stone Crab in Miami. Wallace complains that his guards didn't allow him to see the scenery on the ride to and from the courthouse and feels this one reason to screw with them in return. Art calls Raylan into his office and tells him that the closest SOG team is four hours away, so Lexington Police Department (LPD) SWAT will be joining them in fifteen minutes. Raylan suspects that Wallace might be looking for a way out of this situation that doesn't require him to admit he's scared to die, so he requests they get fried chicken to appease Wallace.
Vasquez and Art chip in money for the chicken to Tim who goes to get it. Vasquez doesn't think his office can do anything about Wallace's claims of mistreatment. Raylan goes to tell Wallace what they have planned and Wallace shares he had brained his boss, on account of asking Raylan if he liked his. Gary gets home early from work, thinking that Winona's father had another heart attack. But Winona fills him in on Duffy. Winona is concerned that Gary seems unconcerned about the whole incident and what could have happened to her.
Winona suspects that Gary knew what Duffy was at the house for (not to kill her but for another reason). Winona admits to Gary that she read his emails and found Duffy's as one of the names, so took the list of them to Raylan in "The Collection" to run, as Gary was acting weird and scared. Gary puts it together and states that's why Raylan came to threaten him at his office in "The Collection". Meanwhile, Tim picks up the chicken from a nearby restaurant, an order originally set for delivery to another customer, the last of it for the day as they were getting ready to close. Despite the clerk's objections, Tim paid him off, suggesting that he tell the original customers that the U.S. Marshals Service is grateful for their patriotism.
Back at the Marshals office, Wallace shares that he was a security guard in a Memphis office building: a job his father got for him, who had been in a similar profession for 30 years while always saying he was in law enforcement when he really sat around all day. Raylan shares his father Arlo used to grift people out of their welfare checks, to try and relate to Wallace. All of a sudden, Lexington SWAT burst into the Marshals office and Wallace once again closes the door on them as the officers darken all the windows surrounding the locker room. The SWAT leader gives them two minutes, requiring full tactical command to do his job, or otherwise he pulls his team out; Art decides to keep the SWAT.
Wallace's motivation becomes a little more clear as what he wants to do is screw with the people that have been screwing with him by denying him basic liberties and imposing rules on when to go to the bathroom, sleep, eat, etc. Raylan threatens to shoot Wallace if he tries to cut his hostages' throats before the SWATs cave his head in. SWAT count down as Raylan tries to convince Wallace to give him the shiv. Tim arrives just in time with the bag of chicken from the restaurant. Raylan tells Wallace what to expect if he hands over his weapon, that they will guarantee him dinner for the next three days of hearings Wallace has, and that they will treat him like he had wanted to be all along: a human being. Raylan offers Wallace a drumstick with a little bit of bourbon in a plastic cup from Art's office, which Tim brings and pours for them.
After Wallace's consumption of the food and drink offered by Raylan, Wallace hands over the nightstick, before SWAT get Wallace down on the floor. A little later, Vasquez, Raylan, and Art celebrate with plastic cups of bourbon in Art's office. Vasquez reveals that the reason SWAT held off and waited was because he told them he hoped the lawsuit against LPD didn't go federal; a half-lie as even though Vasquez doesn't know what lawsuit he figured it was, LPD must have at least one on their department. Vasquez had been forced to tell the white lie because his own department hadn't gotten back to him in time with the information about LPD he'd requested before. Raylan had the intention of ending the Wallace incident peacefully and quietly to protect the reputation of Art and the Lexington Marshals.
Raylan decides to do the interview with Vasquez, despite being offered to do it another day. They blind the windows in Art's office and get to it. Vasquez starts the recorded session by asking Raylan how he'd describe his relationship with Ava as he shows them pictures of Raylan and Ava together. When Raylan tells him that a jury will not take Boyd's word over his and Ava's, relationship or not, Vasquez lays out the situation for Raylan...
The day before Raylan arrived to Kentucky in "Fire in the Hole", Ava shot Bowman. Ava had a Marshals Service shotgun pointed at Boyd when Raylan had shot him in her dining room (at least it was suspected to be a USMS weapon). Therefore, Boyd's laywer will strongly suggest, based on this existing evidence, that Raylan began his relationship with Ava before Raylan's reassignment to Kentucky. This will force Vasquez to release Boyd as he doesn't have evidence to link Boyd to any of the bank robberies he committed, including the church bombing (since the witness failed to identify Boyd in "Fire in the Hole"). Art suggests getting one of Boyd's inmate friends to snitch on him but Vasquez knows that none would go for the idea as it poses great risk to their lives. So, the only charges against Boyd are kidnapping Ava and attempting to murder Raylan, both of which depend on their testimonies. But since Ava and Raylan have been compromised as witnesses due to undertaking a relationship, Boyd's team could throw out that Boyd didn't go to Ava's house for anything other than fried chicken on the night he was shot by Raylan.
Art asks what will therefore happen next and Vasquez says that Boyd will plead to a minor gun charge, get sentenced to time he's already served which will get him released. The officers can only hope that Boyd doesn't decide to sue the Marshals thereafter. Vasquez ends the interview, packing up his briefcase, and before leaving Art's office, advises Raylan to stay away from both Boyd and Ava. Cut to later that day and Boyd looking up to the sky as Big Sandy's prison gates slowly slide open in front of him. Raylan is there on the other side waiting for Boyd and joins him once Boyd makes his way to the second gate.
Raylan wonders how Boyd, who seems to be reformed, would allow an injustice like being released early for crimes he would clearly have to serve more time for otherwise. Boyd expresses that he thought of the answer to that: the release was God's will, a miracle. Since Boyd feels that he has done all he could with his ministry inside prison walls, unable to reform some of the men who simply can't be reformed, he will be able to now spread the Good Lord's word outside of prison walls, comparing to how Jesus and the apostles went around spreading their gospel.
Raylan, of course, sees it differently in that he's the one that allowed Boyd to be unleashed upon the world, therefore feels a sense of duty to find a way to put Boyd back in prison. But Boyd feels he can't let that or anything else stand in the way of what he terms his 'divine calling'. Boyd knows Raylan believes that his preaching God is working some kind of angle. But Raylan knows for sure that Boyd robbed banks and blew things up, both things that could tempt him on the outside...plus Boyd murdered Hale out on Tates Creek Bridge in "Fire in the Hole"...all which Raylan can't prove. Boyd simply responds that he needs to be with his family right now and leaves Raylan standing in front of Big Sandy. Boyd runs up to Bo and hugs him, but hopes that someday he can bring Raylan some peace. Raylan gets a call on his BlackBerry from Ava but he ignores it, walking away from the prison gates.
Raylan Givens. Here we see him play a very different role with the bad guys than he's usually done before. Before, it was mostly the trigger-happy Raylan who expressed it in black-and-white: if the bad guy didn't do what he ordered, Raylan would shoot him plain and simple. But in this episode, we see Raylan the negotiator, a role he's taken on with people in past episodes, but I don't remember if he had taken such a role on before with a bad guy. What made it different this time? Was it because Vasquez happened to be around? Or was it because Raylan hadn't been in many hostage situations before and felt he needed to handle it differently with the bad guy? Or both? I like this side of him, being able to resolve the situation peacefully and quietly, and hope he can exercise what he's learned from this experience for the future...though that might be just a hope on my part at this point because, having watched the series all once before, Raylan will tend to go back to his shoot-first-ask-questions-later attitude.
David Vasquez. The assistant to the United States Attorney and the one investigating Raylan for his shootings. Here, Vasquez gets to see Raylan the negotiator at work. And we get to see that Vasquez is really trying to help Raylan and the Marshals instead of antagonize them. Sure, it's his job to find out what happened, but it seems to be for the sake of determining if a case can be built to support Raylan instead of further opposing him and make it difficult in terms of his job.
Winona Hawkins and Gary Hawkins. We see how these two begin to break apart here because of Gary seeming to keep secrets from her. Winona suspects he's involved in something shady now and if Gary continues to act nonchalant about the whole thing, he will draw a deeper wedge between them.
Tim Gutterson. Deliverer of fried chicken. You might not give Tim credit, but I do: he saved the day! Here is this Deputy U.S. Marshal Sniper, trained to kill people, now in a role we hadn't seen him be in before (much like Raylan in the peaceful negotiator role). What would have happened if Tim had arrived after SWAT finished counting down? This story would have ended very differently and Wallace would not have survived. Tim saved Wallace's life and very possibly the lives of his hostages too. Always a good day when no one gets killed.
Bo Crowder. Boyd's father. Ava's father-in-law. Although he seems intent on taking care of Ava, I have to wonder if he doesn't have something up his sleeve that will be used to put Ava in danger. We've been warned about Bo from others, namely Johnny Crowder, that he could be gunning for Ava. I just have this feeling that Bo is biding his time, waiting until Raylan stops laying sights on Ava for him to close in and do away with her.
Wynn Duffy. So who is this guy, really? Of course we don't buy the whole Home Security Consultant thing. He insinuates that Gary remembers him or will remember him. And ominous threats are never a good thing. Though he will become a fan favorite later on in the series, here he starts out creepy when he meets Winona alone at her home.
Cal Wallace. Problem prisoner, chronic taker of hostages. Serial murderer. Obviously a difficult man to deal with, but we learn why that is: he simply can't take any more of the abuse that has been brought down on him. Sure, he has a problem following orders...but some of the things he described: burning his food black, not allowing him to shower or use toilet paper when he goes to the bathroom. A little extreme in punishment by the guards, I would think. Maybe if they treat him more humanely, he wouldn't have to lash out like he did in this episode. The only reason I'm placing him under 'villains' here is because he did hurt his hostages. At least, he didn't kill anyone, and he came out of the incident alive himself. But he has killed in the past so I do give the guards credit in taking every measure to protect themselves...as long as that doesn't cross the line into abuse of the prisoner.
When Raylan attempts to negotiate an offer from Wallace, but Wallace has nothing he wants:
When Art asks the SWAT leader to have his team wait a bit longer because they are waiting on something they think might defuse the situation:
Don't understimate some people and the lengths they will go for food. Of course, brandishing a shiv is pretty out there, but it's not completely out of the realm of possibility...especially for Wallace, who has a history of violence.
When Wallace is threatening to harm his hostages right near the end of his stand-off and Raylan threatening him if Wallace makes good on his threat:
Wallace, obviously you don't know Raylan. And if the episode "Fixer" is any indication, Raylan is THAT good at shooting through a closed door on a quick draw...just ask Travis Travers--or not...'cause, you know, him being dead and all.
Finally, the scene where Boyd is actually being released from Big Sandy. That look-up-at-the-sky posture makes me chuckle every time, especially with the guard and Raylan looking on like they are:
Musically, the above moment, or rather the end of it, contains a song that quickly became one of my favorites; with it, we are made to see the consequences of Raylan's past actions from "Fire in the Hole" to the present, finally catching up to him as Boyd leaves Big Sandy prison. Just as Boyd is running to hug his father Bo, we hear "Ten Million Slaves" by Otis Taylor:
The episode where Raylan's motivation as it relates to Boyd is clearly and firmly stated...finally. From a rewatcher's perspective, this is a very important moment, not only in this episode but in the entire Justified series in general:
I suspect this is why Raylan stays in Kentucky. As some of us who have already seen season five (and spoiler alert for those who haven't seen this last season that ended recently two months ago in April) already know, Raylan gets the offer to be reassigned to Miami...but he doesn't take it on account that he has a chance to finally get Boyd. We are coming full circle to the end of the series when season six is slated to start next year, nearing the end of a story that essentially started here in "Blowback" with Raylan's motivation. So...if Raylan does manage to get Boyd in season six, will he finally be brought that modicum of peace that Boyd is talking about here?
Careful what you pray for, Boyd Crowder...it might just come true in a way you would have never wanted, much less expected.