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BY SAL NINER

"The Moonshine War" episode Rewatch

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Sunday June 29, 2014 All Day





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PRE-THOUGHTS:

The episode where we meet the first of whom I call the 'Justified children':  Loretta McCready.  Wonderful character and phenomenally brought to life by actress Kaitlyn Dever.  Part of me still wishes, after an original watch of all existing five seasons, that Raylan would have adopted Loretta...but I get to wondering how her life would have really turned out with a Deputy U.S. Marshal (who doesn't play by the rules, to start) as a father.

INTRODUCTION:

With Boyd Crowder at large after the events of "Bulletville", Raylan Givens and colleague Deputy U.S. Marshal Rachel Brooks are on the hunt for James Earl Dean, a fugitive sex offender after 14-year-old Loretta, who also worked for the Bennetts, a Harlan pot-producing crime family.

PLOT:

The story opens with Boyd and Ava asking who's shooting at them and Raylan suspects it's Miami gun thugs, thus getting a few highlights from the last moments of "Bulletville" up until Raylan pretends to shoot Boyd.  A few minutes later, Art comes to make sure that Bo, who's lying face down, is really dead.  Other law enforcement are present at the Brogie Holler cabin scene.  Art asks Ava where her boyfriend is and she answers which one.  Meanwhile at a gas station, Pilar holds a truck driver hostage at gunpoint when the man climbs into the vehicle.

That night it is raining when the truck stops near a private jet.  The driver asks Pilar if she's going to kill him and she tries to distract him so that she can butt him in the head with her pistol; but she never gets to because Pilar gets pulled out of the truck by Boyd who grabs her gun and points it at her as she lays sprawled on her back on the ground from the fall.  Raylan interrupts, expressing he'll take it from there but Boyd insists he wants to kill Pilar on account that she shot his father Bo dead.  Raylan corrects Boyd in saying that Ernesto was the one who shot Bo before Raylan shot him dead.  Raylan tells Boyd that he needs Pilar alive.  They get interrupted by a man in the private jet shooting at them.  Both Boyd and Raylan fire back, taking him out, but the shooter managed to hit Pilar in the process.  Raylan distracts Boyd by complimenting him on his shooting before punching and knocking him to the side of the truck; Raylan then asks the truck driver to get Boyd to a hospital as he's been shot.  Raylan grabs Pilar by the arm and takes her up on the private jet.

In Miami, Florida, Gio is watching a movie in his living room when Raylan walks in carrying a near-unconscious Pilar over his shoulder.  Raylan sets Pilar down on Gio's couch, before trying to negotiate with Gio so that Raylan is left alone since coming after him is getting people Raylan cares about caught in the crossfire.  Gio wants a guarantee that his business will not be affected by the negotiation.  As Raylan contemplates shooting Gio if he doesn't take his offer, Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Dan Grant interrupts by calling Raylan's cell phone and then Gio's house phone when the first call isn't answered, telling Raylan not to do anything before he gets there.  Seconds later, Grant walks into the house and tells Gio there's an ambulance on the way for Pilar, so while they wait they'll talk.  The three men head to the poolside and there Dan tells Gio that if he comes after Raylan in any way, Dan will kill Gio, which Gio takes.

A few moments later as paramedics/emergency personnel arrive, Dan and Raylan exit Gio's house.  Dan offers Raylan his post back in Miami, since AUSA Vasquez has forgotten about the Bucks case, O'Neill has retired, and as such Raylan's spot is open for him to take back.  It is revealed that Art suggested Raylan get transferred back to Miami, and Dan took the suggestion on account that he owed Art one for taking Raylan off his hands to begin with.  Raylan insists that he did his job well in Kentucky and that this trouble he's in is bullshit.  When Dan brings up the offer again, Raylan tells him that he wants to go home and go to bed.  Back at his Kentucky motel room, Raylan opens his door under yellow tape to find white-marked spaces where the two men he shot in "Bulletville" had fallen.

A little later that same night, Raylan heads into the Marshals office, finds Tim at his desk on a phone call as Raylan heads into Art's office.  Art and Raylan talk about how it was Raylan took Boyd instead of backup because Bo had threatened with killing Ava in "Bulletville", and Art assumes there will be legions of AUSAs on them again.  Art calls in Tim to witness Raylan relinquish his firearms to Art, then they all have drinks.  Tim asks Raylan what type of firearm he will get next and Raylan thinks about probably the same type.  With this, Raylan begins his investigation into the men that got killed during the events of "Bulletville".  Various AUSAs come in to interview Raylan about Arlo getting shot in his motel room and about where the $20,000 that Vasquez gave to Arlo to give to Bo ended up as it wasn't in Bo's things.

That morning as Raylan continues to work on his investigation in the conference room, Rachel comes in to ask him something, but he doesn't let her finish as him saying 'yes' to whatever it is will get him away from the office anyway.  In the car on the way, Rachel explains they are going after James "Jimmy" Earl Dean, a statutory rapist who got his release two weeks ago and who KSP got a tip about he aggravating a teenage girl (later revealed to be Loretta).  Rachel asked Raylan to come along because she isn't comfortable dealing with Harlan people on her own yet, due to the racial slurs she'd get if she had to arrest someone down there; and feels Raylan could help her with them, to which Raylan gladly accepts.

Loretta is harvesting marijuana plants in her father Walt McCready's shed when Dean comes in and tells her that she can't take those plants.  Loretta reminds Dean that Walt told him two days ago to stay away from her, but that Dean had been creeping up on her just yesterday.  Loretta tells Dean that the weed is growing on state land and not that of those Dean works for.  Dean asks Loretta about her mother Sally Ann and we see that Loretta misses her, though the reason for her leaving (whether it's because she died or she left) isn't yet clear by this time in the episode.  Loretta teases Dean as a way to distract him from her trying to get away, before slapping him.  Dean gives chase after Loretta and tells her that he came to Harlan, not because the Bennett boys gave him a job but because of her.  Loretta dodges Dean and finally escapes him and the shed as Dean gets caught and his face cut up in chicken wire serving as a booby trap.

A little later outside Walt's house, he tells his daughter Loretta that Dean said he was a bankman, upon her telling her father that Dean had followed her into the shed.  Walt and Loretta know that with Dean around, Mags knows they are growing weed.  Loretta leaves to go talk to Mags.  Meanwhile, Rachel, Raylan, and Kentucky State Police (KSP) Trooper Tom Bergen drive up to Walt's house and as they walk up to the front door, Raylan asks Tom if he's heard of Boyd.  Tom says that KSP is looking for Boyd in response to Raylan's inquiry about there being any Boyd sightings lately.  Tom assumes Raylan took out Bo, but Raylan corrects Tom in saying that Miami gun thugs were responsible as he was only witness to it.  Raylan wonders if Boyd will take over for Bo as the new Harlan crime lord.  Walt answers the door and the three LEOs explain that him calling in on the tip line had alerted them to suspecting Dean from Rabbit Holler might be harrassing Loretta, to which Walt denies because he's obviously afraid.  When Walt closes the door on them, Tom, Raylan, and Rachel, upon knowing that Dean has Green Mountain ATV Tours as his employer, figure out he's working for the Bennetts.

Meanwhile, Dickie Bennett is cutting the wire off Dean's face.  They plan to go after both father and daughter to teach them a lesson.  Before Dickie leaves he suggests to his brother Coover that he clean up his living room instead of wasting time on what sort of cheese the local store has.  A few minutes later, Dickie and his other brother Doyle visit Walt's house.  Walt almost tells them that it hasn't been his intention on tipping the law off about Dean, but Dickie shoots Walt in the leg then tells him he doesn't have permission to plant marijuana on what the brothers mistakenly call the Bennett's land.  Walt tries to justify that he was doing so to cover his dead wife Sally Ann's medical bills, while trying to make a living otherwise.  Doyle takes back the bud that Loretta took from the shed moments before.  As a way for Walt not to shoot them when they leave, Dickie and Doyle force him to put his foot into a steel trap.

At her store, Mags Bennett asks Loretta about Dean's latest advance on her, how Walt's been doing since Sally Ann's death.  Loretta tells Mags that the latest weed batch had been worked on mostly by her instead of her father, but Mags tells Loretta she should have come to her first.  Mags promises Loretta that she doesn't have to worry about Dean.  Loretta exits Mags' store as Raylan and Rachel are walking up.  Loretta stops the Marshals by asking them what they do and Raylan explains.  Mags and Raylan get reacquainted as she introduces him to Loretta from before his time as a Marshal, before Loretta, on Mags permission, leaves them to talk.

In the store, Mags offers Raylan her apple cider and tells him how she does it, then offers Rachel some which she politely declines.  Mags tells Raylan that the two Marshals have nothing on her selling weed, even as she has a reputation for it, and would take some proving to find out whether or not it's true.  Mags finally admits to having 1,000 acress for planting, but it's divided:  one third being sold the law, the second third to the thieves, and the last to the dealers who are making the profit, which is why she questions it's not really good for her anyway.  Mags acknowledges that marijuana used to be the premiere Kentucky cash crop, but now that is the pills worse than meth which she has nothing to do with.  Mags recounts Raylan's grandfather who cooked liquor six days a week which Mags, for six years, came by to pick up and then sell.  When asked about Arlo, Raylan tells Mags that he's at home and Mags responds that she heard what happened with the Crowders from "Bulletville".

Doyle comes up to greet Raylan and Rachel.  Doyle and Mags find out that the Marshals are there for Dean, as well as the fact that chasing down sex offenders just recently got added to U.S. Marshals Service duties that  year.  The Marshals suspect Dean might be working for the Bennetts, and Mags tells them they are marijuana farmers but would never hire sex offenders, with a tone in her voice that suggests she's insulted by Raylan even bringing it up.  Raylan respects Mags' feelings/views on the whole thing, and plans to talk to Coover or Dickie about Dean's whereabouts, which Mags allows before she exits the store.  We find out that Doyle is in law enforcement, from driving his SUV cruiser, even though it's his day off.  Raylan knows he wouldn't be able to do Doyle's job, thus he doesn't plan on running against him.  Doyle tells the Marshals he's not in the family business when Raylan asks if Dean works for them, thus Doyle not seemingly knowing.  Doyle says his goodbyes to Raylan and Rachel, but not before offering to pay for anything they would like to take from the store, as long as they leave a note for him.  Doyle exits the store, followed by Rachel and Raylan a few moments later.  The Marshals watch Doyle drive off in his Bennett Police cruiser.

That afternoon, Raylan and Rachel drive up to Dickie and Coover's house, when they hear gunshots coming from inside.  Dickie comes out to meet Raylan and tells him that he saw Raylan on the television.  A gunshot goes off again inside the house and Dickie explains it's Coover shooting rats.  Raylan asks Dickie if he's seen Dean around and Dickie tells Raylan that although he never knew Dean was a molester, Dean had been at the house a few minutes ago and took off.  Coover comes out of the house holding a dead rat by its tail, and invites Raylan to take a try at the other ones running around in his house.  Raylan makes the observation that he used to shoot them as a kid by chasing them out of the outhouses, while Coover is chasing them out of his kitchen.  When Coover finds out Raylan is a federal agent, he makes the assumption that upon being asked will say he's not growing marijuana, before throwing his dead rat at Raylan's Lincoln.  Raylan deduces from the act that Coover is a mean S.O.A.B. and proceeds to tell him how the felons Raylan's come across have tried to go up against him.  As Coover observes they all have guns and starts to get increasingly loud, Rachel expresses her intention, upon Raylan's suggestion, to shoot Coover if he raises his weapon at them.  Dickie orders Coover to drop his weapon, which he does before stepping back into the house.  Raylan tells Dickie that if he sees Dean to let him know and that it will mean more if Dean turns himself in than if he does the opposite.  Raylan and Dickie say their goodbyes and the three part ways.

Meanwhile, Loretta is bandaging her dad's wounded foot when Dean points a gun at her head, threatening to kill Walt if he's woken up.  Dean takes Loretta hostage and on a roadtrip, as he's no longer welcome in Harlan.  Dean puts Loretta into the trunk to hide the fact he's put tape over her mouth as well as the age difference.  That night, Raylan and Rachel are driving when Tom calls Raylan on his cell to notify their BOLO found Dean on 75 past an exit 11 going towards Tennessee, but that the patroling officer didn't want to get too close so as not to scare Dean.  Raylan and Tom assume Loretta is with Dean, thus not being able to roadblock the car nor put a strip out that could blow its tires out.

Cut to Dean pumping gas at a station when Raylan and Rachel pull up beside the car once he leaves to go pay.  Raylan stays by the car as Rachel goes to the station to notify Raylan when Dean's coming.  Dean finds Raylan taking out the gasoline nozzle from his car, and Raylan pretends he's stealing gas from him.  As Dean takes out his gun when Raylan asks him if he can have a few gallons but before he can point the weapon, Raylan squirts Dean and douses him with gasoline.  Dean starts to raise his weapon again, but Raylan stops him by asking him if he knows how a firearm works and how it can ignite if it comes in contact with gas fumes.  Raylan further explains that he would have shot Dean by now, but he's trying to avoid the paperwork and self-counter charge that comes with it, though he knows that Dean is worth it anyway.  When Dean threatens to kill Loretta with his gun, Raylan points out that if he aims he will get popped in the head by Rachel who's right behind him.  Raylan takes from the Dean the gun and keys away, then opens the trunk of his car to get Loretta out.  Loretta asks Raylan if Dean would have gone up like a torch and Raylan admits that he doesn't know but it sounded like something good to say.

A little later, Mags, with Dickie present, pours Walt a glass of her apple pie cider.  Mags asks about Loretta and if she's ok.  Walt replies that Loretta is at a Holler with a friend and fine under the circumstances.  When the police brought Loretta back they had asked about the wounds on Walt's leg, and he'd lied to them saying that his leg had slipped when he was prying open the trap himself to fix it.  Walt had made no mention of the gunshot wound as that wasn't even touched upon by the police to begin with.  Mags explains that she brought the Moonshine as a peace offering on account of the leg wounds suffered by Walt at the hands of Dickie, and with him present makes Dickie apologize to Walt.  As Dickie tells Walt they can work something out about him growing weed, Walt starts to feel sick and Mags reveals that the poison she put in his cider was already in his glass and not the jar, further explaining that's why she and Dickie were able to drink the Moonshine and be ok.  Walt asks why he was poisoned and Mags tells him it was because he called the tip line on Dean.  And even though Walt didn't know Dean worked for the Bennetts at the time, Mags insists that Walt is not supposed to go outside for help.  The poison effects are quick, as the mixture is natural from the hills and has been passed down from Mags' grandmother who was taught by her grandmother before her.  Mags tells Walt that she'll raise Loretta herself, as she thinks it's better than the way it was with Walt and his sadness.  As Walt dies, Mags tells him that all his troubles are gone, will get to know what's after death, and get to see Sally Ann.  Mags orders Dickie to find Loretta.

Meanwhile, Raylan is sitting at his porch outside his motel room with a beer when Winona walks up the steps to meet him.  Raylan offers Winona a beer and she accepts.  Raylan makes small talk with Winona about work, but Winona questions if that's really the reason Raylan called her.  Winona had wondered if Raylan was ever going to call her, not believing if he was to say he was too busy to do so; they get briefly interrupted by truck horns going off in the distance and Winona jokes about the ambiance it creates then Raylan counter-jokes about paying for such ambiance.  Raylan clarifies to Winona that he invited her there because he wanted to have a word before he went to sleep, which, of course, doesn't mean what it really means but instead ends with them sleeping together again.  After they finish their latest intimacies, Raylan curses and Winona sarcastically says that's what a woman wants to hear for pillow talk.  Raylan gets a call on his cell from Tom who says they finally got word on Boyd.  Thus, we cut to Boyd in mining gear yelling "Fire in the Hole" several times before detonating an explosive in a mine shaft...

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

CHARACTERS:

Dan Grant.  Raylan's former boss in "Fire in the Hole", now returns in this episode to try and take back his former subordinate.  It's interesting to note how we started last season in a story that included Dan and start this season in another story that also includes Dan.  The last time we saw Dan, I got the impression that he didn't see Raylan as much more than another charge in his office, but now I'm starting to see that is otherwise.  Raylan has given quite a few years to Dan, and in that time, Dan's been able to see how good Raylan is at his job, despite the way he goes about doing it.  Could we argue that Dan not only sent Raylan away to protect him but to protect his office as well?  Yes, he's still seemingly showing he's unaware of how sending Raylan to Kentucky has affected him, so we can argue that Dan is watching out for the interests of the Marshals under his direction over anything else.

Rachel Brooks.  Working the Dean case, invites Raylan into it.  I see a sort of continuation to the rapport they built at the end of "Long in the Tooth".  This episode also makes me think that Rachel, though one with the most office seniority out of Tim and Raylan as mentioned in "Fixer", is still inexperienced at balancing her uncomfort from the racial slurs with what the job requires.  But she proves herself to be calm and level-headed in the face of Coover tossing such a slur at her with Raylan present.  I like that she is sort-of 'coached' through that experience, but at the same time comes out of it being able to handle it mostly on her own.  And in the end here, she works well with Raylan in catching Dean and closing her case.

Walt McCready.  Loretta's father.  A man trying to support his daughter and himself who happens to fall into an illicit trade with illicit people.  It must have been hard for him trying to balance this with the grief of losing his wife Sally Ann and the fear of the Bennetts hanging over his head.  And in the end, not being able to be protected from the Bennetts because of his refusal to involve law enforcement due to that very same fear, is tragic.  And what's worse, Loretta has yet to still find out his fate...

VILLAINS:

Gio Reyes.  Could be considered Raylan's main antagonist last season, even though for most of the season he was off-screen.  Leader of Miami drug cartel.  As Raylan was responsible for eliminating key men in his organization, Gio felt that going after Raylan to eliminate him would have been the way to stop his businesses from getting affected.  In the end, it turned out to be a futile attempt...or did it?  Just because Dan threatened him doesn't mean he'll keep his promise to leave Raylan alone.  But Gio knows that he has more eyes watching him now than ever before, and that could be bad for business...so maybe he'll leave Raylan alone indefinitely.  The problem is when he gets to a point where he feels he has nothing to lose; so in a way, Raylan will always have to be looking over his shoulder.

Dean.  Sexual deviant lusting for Loretta.  The typical story of an early 30's white male attracted to underage girls.  This mental illness of his was never more appropriately portrayed than in his silent reaction to Loretta laying out a fictitious situation for him about the both of them at the beginning of the episode.  His obsession for the 14-year-old is a frightening and disturbing one, and I'm glad that it was stopped before it got any further.

The Bennetts:  Mags, the mother; Coover, the youngest son; Dickie, the middle child; and Doyle, the oldest.  Though Doyle tries to separate himself from them by being in law enforcement, his actions against Walt with Dickie say otherwise; clearly he's biased.  What's more, this is what I would imagine Raylan would have turned out to be had he stayed in Harlan with his criminal family, which is yet another reason why I'm glad he left.  As for Mags, Coover, and Dickie, growing pot seems to be the business they've been in for a while, similar to how Bo had been in his illicit businesses back in season one.  It's frightening to think that the Bennetts will get Loretta now; poor girl, to be saved from one bad person only to be left to deal with four more.

FAVORITE MOMENT(S):

I have to mention the Hostess brand product Zingers we see here in between Doyle and Raylan:



As this story took place in 2011, this was right before the liquidation of the company a few years later.  I remember what a big deal this was here in the United States because of the fact that the world-famous Twinkies were going away due to the Hostess brand bankruptcy, and how people were scrambling to get the last ones.  So to see the above now years later after the company liquidated and restarted in 2013 is actually sort of neat.  This makes me see that Mags kept her modest store well stocked with products that were really hot back at that time.

The scene where Raylan comes into Art's office after he's gotten in from Miami to ask Art if he's disappointed that Raylan didn't take his old job back in Miami:





The above is a shout-out to what Winona was telling Ava back in "Blindspot".  Winona had mentioned this as one of the things when describing what it was like living with a law enforcement officer, and with Raylan in particular.

The scene where Raylan has to turn in his firearms because they now form part of the "Bulletville" incident investigations:

















Are Marshals really THAT close with their weapons?  Maybe Raylan is.  I think he's had those guns since his time before "Fire in the Hole".  Tim saying that it can be emotional for any officer to part with their firearm was not only amusing, but appropriate.  And Art suggesting Raylan get an Uzi with such casualness...priceless.

The scene where Raylan meets Loretta for the first time, just outside Mags' store:













Though it's often been recommended that as an adult you don't try to dumb down things for a minor child (in this case a teenager), I like the way Raylan describes to Loretta what it is he does professionally.  Can I just say how cute Raylan is here?  I'm not sure I've seen him be this cute before with anyone, and both he and Loretta start off on the right foot with the chemistry in this scene.

The scene where Coover tosses Rachel a racial slur, but sees that Rachel will mean business if he further acts:













Rachel's such a badass.  She can stare anyone down without even trying.  I am in constant admiration of her and I know she is capable of defending herself if she had to.

The scene where Raylan stops a gasoline-soaked Dean from shooting him at the gas station:



















Once again, we get demonstrated Raylan's vast firearm knowledge; the first time was in "Fixer" when he advised Curtis on gun draws.  These sorts of scenes will always be my favorite because just as the bad guy is learning, so am I as an audience member about what to do and what not to do.

The scene at the end of the episode where Raylan calls up Winona to come to his motel room:















Um...didn't he JUST say he was tired?  Or did I hear wrong???  Okay, tired but not tired enough for a wee romp.  Seriously, how out of control is Raylan?!  I've mentioned that his love life is a train wreck, to put it in so few words.  It's a little funny that he is unable to exercise even a semblance of self-discipline, but also disturbing.  Not that he's completely at fault here; after all, it does take two to tango.  But if he does the inviting to TALK and not ACT, he should stick to that plan...instead...of...well...you know.  I chalk it up to him still being in love with Winona; she's his definite weakness that way.  But with the others?  We'll cross those bridges when we get there.

I have to mention 'the hat' again...as if it was a separate entity from Raylan.  I like that Dickie and Doyle admire the hat, but why do you think they point it out so much?  First time in this episode is when Doyle gets reacquainted with Raylan at Mags' store:



The second time is at Dickie and Coover's house when Raylan and Rachel come to inquire about Dean, and Raylan starts to get reacquainted with Dickie:





The third time is at the end of the above scene as Raylan and Dickie are saying their goodbyes:




Maybe we'll get the answer in later episodes.  So far, Coover nor Mags have expressed about Raylan in this way, so we will see if anything comes out of this "you and your hat" business...

GENERAL REFLECTIONS:

In addition to Dan coming back (i.e. http://cdsal99.tumblr.com/post/90982556021/that-went-well-raylans-and-dans-inside-joke), we saw another pattern from the beginning of season one emerge in this episode as well:  other AUSAs conducting different investigations because of shootings that either Raylan was indirectly in or direclty caused.  It seems our Deputy U.S. Marshal can't get any breaks.  Is history bound to repeat itself this season?  Stick around to find out.

This season two starts with a Raylan-Rachel-centric episode, which I loved.  We hadn't seen them work together since "Long in the Tooth" last season and that was only because they were forced to work together by Art as we recall.  By contrast, in this episode, they want to work together and do, albeit for a more personal reason for Rachel.

Vocabulary lesson time:

Many, MANY synonyms for marijuana...and I suspect that we could get a few more this season, which focuses on the Bennetts as the central antagonists.  In this episode we get "reefer" and "weed" to start.

This is probably the first time I've heard the word "tad" describe children or boys in context.  In the research I managed to do for this episode, the word seems to be slang and not confined to Kentucky or the eastern part of the U.S.  Which means, maybe, people from other parts of the world also use it to describe their kids.