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BY SAL NINER

"The Hammer" episode Rewatch

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Sunday June 8, 2014 All Day





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PRE-THOUGHTS:

Oh... the prayer, hehe... THE. PRAYER.  "What prayer are you referring to?" you may ask.  Well, to put it simply:  Raylan's Prayer, the one he utters to Boyd's congregation, God/Lord, and Jesus, of course!  What a great piece of dialogue that was...and to rewatch/rehear it, it's gonna be even greater.  So let's get to it.  Preach it, Raylan!  Preach.  Again.  And while we are on the subject, you didn't think I was not going to cap it, did you?  Such a moment deserves to be immortalized in this review, so here you have it for your perusing pleasure:



























Amen.

INTRODUCTION:

Raylan comes back to work but only to be specially picked by Lexington courthouse Judge Michael "Mike, the Hammer" Reardon for personal security detail due to threats against the judge's life, while simultaneously trying to make a new case to put Boyd Crowder back in prison by tracking down an old lead on his own.

PLOT:

In the woods just outside of Harlan, Boyd Crowder is talking to a former drug addict named Bobby Joe Packer who wants to forsake his life of crime and walk a path of righteousness via joining Boyd's ministry.  Boyd lectures his flock in the woods when Raylan comes to visit them.  Boyd describes Raylan as a saint and tells of the fact that he played an important role in his own salvation.  Raylan shares with Boyd that he went to talk to Devil and Dewey about testifying against him but was unsuccessful.  Boyd tries to convince Raylan that his church members are trying to repay their debts to society and to God.  Raylan says a prayer to the congregation about Boyd's past crimes in "Fire in the Hole", before he leaves them.

Later that night, paramedics go up the stairs of Judge Mike Reardon's house to find him in his bedroom with a girl named Brandy trying to suck the poison from a cottonmouth snake that bit the judge on the inside of the leg near his groin.  The next day, Art tells Raylan of the information he received from Lexington P.D. about Raylan being 'near a shootout' (from the last episode "Hatless").  Art briefs Raylan, Tim and a few other Marshals about the judge's incident last night, initiating an investigation into those suspects the judge has tried by the hate mail he's received in finding out who might have planted the snake.  Art tells Raylan, that per the judge's request, he will provide the judge personal security detail during the nights.

Meanwhile, Boyd and members of his church visit Mickey and Gil who are cooking bullets in front of a campire just outside Ransom Holler, their meth lab, and orders them to stop cooking the drug.  Boyd had gotten the tip from Bobby Joe, and says he comes in peace this time but will not next time if he finds they haven't stopped cooking meth.  It is now late afternoon, and Deputy U.S. Marshal Nelson Dunlop, fresh from finishing his day detail, comes into the judge's quarters with the judge himself to switch the shift over to Raylan, while Raylan waited.  Once Nelson leaves, the judge undresses from his robe and Raylan is able to confirm for himself first-hand the rumors that the judge wearing a thong and sidearm are indeed true.  The judge changes into his street clothes, saying that he might as well uphold the legends said about him.  The judge asks Raylan what sort of weapon he packs, to which Raylan answers it is is a .45 caliber glock and the judge supplies that his is a .38.  The judge shares that although he does target practice and has successfully managed a 9 out of 10, he still has yet to shoot at a man; which is why he picked Raylan.  The judge shares that he's read Raylan's case on Bucks from Vasquez and agrees with Raylan on having to put him down for the sake of stopping him from coming after more people.

A few minutes later, Raylan follows the judge in his BMW when he notices the car weave and swerve before crashing into a tree.  Raylan stops his Lincoln, gets out, and finds the judge unconscious at the wheel before pulling him out.  Art and Lexington P.D. arrive on the scene, and Art confirms it was carbon monoxide since there was a failure in the judge's exhaust system which was causing chemicals getting pumped into the car; Raylan suspects foul play.  At the judge's home, Raylan and him wonder who could have come after him.  The judge asks Raylan to send over a list of their top ten suspects in the cases he's prosecuted over the years.  The judge then asks Raylan if he's eventually going to marry Ava, the woman Raylan threw Boyd Crowder's case out for, but Raylan says that their relationship even starting seemed like a good idea at the time it was started.  Raylan asks the judge for a favor as Ava has been getting threats from the Crowders because of her shooting Bowman, but since she can't get out of Kentucky because of the probation, if the judge can do something.  However, the judge wont allow himself to call her judge in Harlan to make a plea on her behalf.

Johnny Crowder visits Boyd at his camp because Bo hasn't seen much of Boyd since he came back to Harlan and started his church.  After receiving the veiled threat from Boyd earlier, Mickey had called Bo and Bo had sent Johnny over to let Boyd know.  Johnny talks to Boyd in private away from the others to tell him that if he ever comes up with an idea as smart as the white supremacy one had going where neo-Nazis were robbing the banks for him, then Johnny wants to make sure Boyd calls him up to join.  As for Bo, he's getting older and wont be around for much longer, insinuating that Boyd might take over the family soon.

Raylan comes into Bunny Higgins' new age store to inquire about where Pastor Fandi might be as he sometimes uses the store as his address.  Higgins shares about him having highly contagious pink eye and warns Raylan not to get too close.  When Higgins lies to Raylan and says he doesn't know who Fandi is, even as Raylan tells Higgins that Fandi had a church not too far away from where they are, Raylan goes and breaks a few of the store's items to get Higgins to talk.  Finally, Higgins caves and tells Raylan to go and talk to his grandmother Mrs. Inez Davis, who hires one of the men that Fandi works with in gardening, to see where he might be; Raylan gives Higgins the money for the things he broke before he leaves the store.

At Mrs. Davis' house, Raylan speaks to the old woman who had her lawns cut for free as promotion for the gardener's services to the neighbors.  Upon being shown a photograph of Fandi, who Mrs. Davis identifies as her gardener Otis, she tells Raylan that he can find him at her house tomorrow afternoon.  Back at the Marshals office, Art and Tim are going over the cases for the judge's incident when Raylan comes to join them in the conference room.  Tim has managed to narrow the cases down to the top ten, and gives Kit McKendrie's file over to Raylan, explaining that suspect got off for time served.

Later that night, Raylan and the judge come to the bar he frequents, called the Cowboy Palace Saloon.  They talk about McKendrie who the judge had tried before he became federal.  After having tried McKendrie for time served as a first time offender (a sentence Reardon felt was too soft now as he had gone against his own gut then), McKendrie then shot a six year old.  On suspicion that they are being watched, the judge and Raylan go into the men's bathroom where they find a man who calls himself George Jefferson (the one eyeing them before).  Raylan pats George down and asks him if he knows the judge, to which George answers in the negative.  Raylan then leaves George in the bathroom.

The next morning at the Marshals office, Tim brings Raylan some suspect files when Raylan identifies George in one of them.  Meanwhile, George is playing basketball with his disinterested pre-teenaged son Jake who he then brings home to his equally disinterested ex-wife Molly Tucker.  Raylan and Tim present George's file to Art and they identify him as really being Virgil Corum who Raylan saw at the site where the judge swerved/crashed his car as well as at the Cowboy Palace Saloon but had nothing to hold him.  Corum had received fifteen years for possession with intent and he was released five weeks prior after serving eight of those years.  Before serving time, he was in animal control, prompting the Marshals to suspect him for the snake planted in the judge's bedroom.  Art orders to have Corum's picture sent to the member's of the judge's security detail.  Once Raylan and Tim leave Art's office, Raylan asks Tim to contact him once he has Molly's address since he has something he has to take care of at that time.

That afternoon, Raylan stops by Mrs. Davis' to talk to Otis, a.k.a. Pastor Fandi who remembers Raylan for the Peter Tosh concert he mentioned he went to once (in "Fire in the Hole" when Art, Tim, and Rachel were interviewing Fandi right ouside the remains of his black church that got blown up).  Raylan tries to convince Fandi to testify against Boyd but Fandi refuses, when Raylan gets interrupted by a call from Tim.  Cut to Raylan and Tim talking to Molly who last saw her ex-husband Corum half an hour before when he brought Jake home.  Neither Molly nor Jake know where Corum could have gone, where he's staying or what he's doing.  Raylan explains that Corum is a suspect in the judge's incident with the snake.  Raylan asks to see if there are any letters that Corum had sent which could be in Molly's house, to which Molly goes inside to try and find.

At the Cowboy Palace Saloon that night, Raylan asks the judge about Corum and the judge says that he tries not to get personal with his case, knowing that Corum's ex-wife and kid had paid for Corum being away from them to serve time.  Meanwhile, at the meth lab, Mickey and Puller are watching an old movie when their electricity goes out.  Bobby Joe and friends come in with shotguns trained on them before getting them out of the lab as Boyd is waiting outside.  Boyd then lights up a Molotov cocktail and throws it in the meth lab, blowing it up, and accidentally killing Gil (who is later revealed by Art to have been a confidential informant working with the Kentucky State Police).

Back at the Cowboy Palace Saloon, the judge tells Raylan he has to go to the bathroom and Raylan goes in ahead of him to clear the area for him.  When Raylan comes back out of the men's room, however, he doesn't find the judge anywhere.  One of the waitresses motions to the back door and Raylan goes out to find the judge getting a blowjob from Brandy with Corum pointing a gun at them both.  While Corum is preoccupied trying to have Raylan stay out of his business, the judge pulls out his gun and shoots Corum on one side of his chest.  As Corum is bleeding out, he yells at the judge for the time he spent away from Molly and Jake, all for growing weed to keep his family out of poverty.  Corum begins to feel dizzy from the loss of blood as they wait for the ambulance that Raylan has called in, while Raylan wonders if Corum didn't allow himself to get shot so he could die and have Molly collect his life insurance benefits.  After law enforcement gets to the scene, the judge wonders why Raylan didn't just shoot Corum the second he saw him, as that's why the judge had picked Raylan for the night security detail, but Raylan simply answers that he would have only if he had to.  The judge thanks Raylan for stopping him from killing Corum.

The next morning, Ava brings breakfast to Raylan at his motel room while he's getting ready for work.  Raylan had asked Ava to come so that he can tell her that the judge talked to her judge in Harlan and managed to get the terms of her probation changed so she could get out of Kentucky.  Raylan tells Ava that he can't be watching her back anymore, since Boyd's release is a direct consequence of their relationship.  Raylan also doesn't want Ava and him to be together when he gets the word that Boyd has hurt someone else or worse.  Ava doesn't think it's fair that Raylan doesn't stay away from Boyd but does from her.  Ava suggests that maybe Boyd has changed and is trying to continue to change, which Raylan doesn't believe.  Raylan thinks Boyd is worse than Ava's husband Bowman was.  Ava picks up her things, goes to Raylan's door but stops to admit to him that when he reunited with her in "Fire in the Hole" she believed God had given her another chance with Raylan; especially after the fact that she coudln't be with him when she was younger due to the age difference.  Now, however, she's starting to doubt that belief and with that, leaves Raylan's motel room.

Later in Art's office, Raylan and him talk about the meth explosion last night.  The confidential informant that was killed in the explosion had presented his last report as stating that Boyd had previously threatened to blow up the meth lab if it wasn't shut down.  Raylan deduces from this that Boyd has now killed someone, but Art gives the possibility that the explosion could have happened for another reason as it's been known to happen at times.  Kentucky State Police has also been watching Boyd and Bo, and they have reason to believe that Boyd has been trying to send a message on behalf of Bo to bring Bo's old criminal enterprises back under his control.  Raylan remembers back to what Boyd had told him in their chat at the beginning of this episode:  Boyd wan't going to be robbing banks, but not saying he wasn't going to do anything else...insinuating otherwise.  Raylan then shares what he's been doing in secret in trying to build a new case against Boyd.  Art tells Raylan that he will take care of Vasquez and will try to see if Kentucky State Police can assist the Marshals with the Boyd investigation.

Raylan goes back to Fandi to continue their conversation, threatening to expose him for the weed he's been cultivating in the backyards of his customers who are too old to go out and inspect for themselves what Fandi is actually doing in their yards, if Fandi doesn't cooperate by testifying against Boyd.  Raylan makes the push to Fandi that if he thinks he's scared of Boyd, then he has no idea what he can expect from Raylan who's clearly driven to put Boyd away for people he's killed that Raylan knows of.  Fandi gives into the pressure and says he will identify Boyd.  However, Fandi doesn't even know what Boyd looks like since he was one-hundred feet away from him when his church was blown, and as for being in the I.D. room in a nervous state it was only because he was trying to hide his weed growing in a room full of police and not because he was afraid of Boyd like it had previously been believed.  At this new information, Raylan gives up on pressuring Fandi, telling him he wont blackmail him into testifying as Fandi can't anyway, and Raylan then not knowing now how he will be able to get Boyd...

(for a more detailed outline, visit:  http://justified.wikia.com/wiki/The_Hammer)

CHARACTERS:

Judge Michael "Mike" Reardon.  The episode's nickname-sake.  A professional federal prosecutor who's hard with his gavel and unyielding to grant mild sentences.  A considerable part of his judging process is based on how the defendant looks, whether physically or mentally or both.  And although I would like to think that he doesn't base his sentencing strictly on said looks, but also on the facts presented of the case, I do have to acknowledge the fact that in real-life judges do judge you by how you look in addition to the facts of the case.  But in addition to all of this, Mr. Reardon is a colorful man, certainly loose with the ladies...which makes me wonder if this didn't have anything to do with the problems of his ex-wives?  Oh, I'm sure he didn't divorce them for kicks...there were conflicts there between them, irreconciliable differences and strong ones I would imagine.

VILLAINS:

Boyd Crowder.  Continues to jump between hero and villain.  He's now killed someone in his quest to end meth production in Harlan.  And him being vague about what criminal things he might do didn't sit well with me either.  So the big question here is:  What are you up to Boyd Crowder?  I mean, really?  You start a church, you want to set men on a right path...but I can't help you having something else up your sleeve, something hypocritical, something that goes against your so-called morals of good.

Virgil Corum.  Served hard time and was away from his ex-wife and son.  Sometimes it's difficult whether to label someone a 'good' or a 'bad' guy on this show, and this is one of those times...or should I say, one of those people.  All Corum seemed to have felt here was remorse for being away from his family because of a hard sentence that Judge Reardon imposed on him, which is why he went after the Judge in the first place.  But he did try to shoot the Judge and had Reardon not put a bullet in him and Raylan then fend him off with his gun while waiting for emergency backup to get there, who knows if Corum would have carried out killing the Judge.  Maybe Corum did want to die, as a last act of aid to his family.  So is Corum a villain, really?  A maker of bad choices, yes.  But a 'bad' person?

FAVORITE MOMENT(S):

As Raylan is coming in to meet Boyd and his church out in the woods just outside of Harlan, Boyd tells of how Raylan managed to save him (as alluded back in "Riverbrook" when Raylan came to visit Boyd at the Kentucky State Prison's hospital room):





I really must keep track of all the nicknames Raylan manages to collect from those that would have at it.  Last episode in "Hatless", we got "Ray Ray" from Arnold Pinter; and now, it is Saint Raylan from Boyd Crowder...another Patron Saint of Lost Causes?  Might he share the title with St. Jude someday? ;-P

When Raylan meets Judge Reardon his chambers and they talk about the...uh...clothes making the man, to put it mildly:







Does Raylan fancy himself being a bit of a legend?  Well, I wouldn't blame him if he did; I mean, look at all the badass stuff he's done up to this point...such things could easily carry him well into the realm of legendhood.

When Raylan goes to interview Mrs. Inez Davis at her house about a lead to Fandi:





Mrs. Inez also mentions that she had her grass cut for free as a way for the gardeners to promote their good service to the other neighbors, but she doesn't want the fact that the service was free getting out:









Now, I absolutely love seeing old people spunk, whether it's on film or television.  You can't really go wrong with their "tell it like it is" attitude...and you can't go wrong with how Raylan reacts to it at the end here either, haha.  Besides, I personally know of a few older folks that act this way, and let me say this:  sometimes you just have to hear it like this from them, as it brings a refreshing perspective on things in life that is at times sorely needed.

As Virgil Corum was getting ready to make his move on Judge Reardon but the judge managed to shoot him on one side of the chest, before Raylan got the gun away from him and contacted help:







The usual.  Oh my Good God, Raylan.  Calling 911 for him is like ordering at his favorite restaurant.  What the 911 Emergency telephone Operators must think of him by now...and what they must talk about amongst themselves.  I bet they have some really good, and probably really bad, stories to tell that I am curious about hearing.

GENERAL REFLECTIONS:

So going from funny shootout lines to more serious shootout lines in the same moment with Virgil and Judge Reardon, Raylan manages to gives us a little PSA (public service announcement) about the U.S. Marshals Service, when addressing a fallen Virgil who's about to slip into unconsciousness any second now:









I call it PSA because, as this is a television series that has the United States Marshals Service at its center, it is important to note that not everything is about shooting with them.  Remember my rewatch review for the "Long in the Tooth" episode and how I illustrated a scene where Raylan was talking to Don Jaime with Rachel Brooks looking on?  Remember that I emphasized in that same review the fact that Raylan is not always trigger-happy?  Well, here I emphasize it again...this time not only for Raylan but for the entire USMS organization as a whole; these guys indeed do not take shooting someone lightly and their duties do not revolve around shooting people, but around protecting them.

The above is a lesson that even Judge Reardon is reminded of...yes, I would imagine that even federal judges forget what the USMS does at its center, even though it's probably not as likely that a federal judge would shoot someone who would come after them.