The last three episodes of Season 3 of Justified followed a general theme of things falling apart or going to pieces for various characters. This theme was almost literal in the case of Robert Quarles (spoilers follow!), the downy-haired bad guy from Detroit, whose efforts to take control of Kentucky crime came to a bloody and violent end. He was, as Raylan commented, “disarmed,” as he went from metaphorically falling to pieces (aided by a nasty escalating addiction to popping pills like candy) to being chopped into (two) pieces at the end in the aptly named final episode, “Slaughterhouse.”
Everyone’s best laid plans have been falling apart. Dickie Bennett’s good fortune at being released from prison takes a turn as he tries to find out where his mother’s money (being kept by Limehouse) is located. This leads to several good plans—Boyd’s plan to knock over the bank where the money is supposedly located; the police’s plan to catch Boyd in the act; Wynn Duffy’s plan to get rid of what has become his Quarles problem by blowing up his car (which is supposed to also create a distraction for the bank robbery). None of these events go as planned (and the money is most definitely not where Dickie thinks it is).
Dickie’s hair has been concrete metaphor #1 for the general messiness of the characters’ lives in the last part of the season. By the time he emerges from prison in “Measures,” his hair, which otherwise continues to point in all directions like he’s been licked by a herd of cows, has asserted a measure of order by shaving (sort of) a patch over each ear (or, as it looks, maybe it wasn’t shaved, but just got licked by a particularly rough cow tongue). Dickie’s plans never go well, and he ends up getting shot (in the leg, it looked like) by Raylan. In other words, we may not have seen the last of Dickie and his hair.
Raylan’s father is also falling to pieces, at least mentally. He believes he is having conversations with his deceased wife. His loss of psychological control is most apparent when he shoots a state trooper—who, it seems, he shot primarily because he was wearing a hat (just not the cowboy hat that he thought it was). That his own father killed another man because he thought he was shooting Raylan does not sit well with Raylan, and, in the final scene, Raylan looks about as exhausted as we’ve ever seen him, not so much physically beat up as beat up every other possible way.
So, season three ends with Dickie still alive, Limehouse still in control of his part of Harlan County, and with Boyd released from custody (Raylan’s father, as a gift to the man he wishes had been his son, takes the rap for the murder of Devil). However, the little criminal gang that Boyd has started is falling apart as well, in ways he doesn’t realize—Johnny is betraying him to Limehouse. Still, Boyd and Ava have each other, and they seem to be looking more and more like a Harlan County Bonnie and Clyde by the end of the season. And maybe it’s just me, but aren’t Boyd and Ava being styled in a way that evokes Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway?
All this promises interesting developments for season four.