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Justified Recap Season 3, Episode 3, "Harlan Roulette"

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Justified Recap: Season 3, Episode 3, “Harlan Roulette”

FX

Justified Recap: Season 3, Episode 3, “Harlan Roulette”

Change isn’t something that comes easily to Harlan County. Through Justified’s first two seasons, we certainly discovered new facets of Harlan’s seedy underbelly, but we haven’t seen much about Raylan Givens’s (Timothy Olyphant) hometown actually change. It’s an insular place filled with a lot of ignorant people and a lot of guns. Its ways of doing things are firmly established.

This likely serves to constantly frustrate Raylan, a man who would rather forget his formative years in Harlan altogether. He leaves town for most of his adult life, but when he returns, the place is still populated by the same folks kicking around the same stories. Life in Harlan doesn’t remind Raylan of his past; it is his past. And the version of Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) we see in this week’s episode might argue that this is exactly the way it should be.

Deadwood Recap Season 3, Episode 9, "Amateur Night"

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Deadwood Recap: Season 3, Episode 9, “Amateur Night”
Deadwood Recap: Season 3, Episode 9, “Amateur Night”

Sunday’s Deadwood contained a simple exchange between madam-turned-do-gooder Joanie Stubbs (Kim Dickens) and deputy Charlie Utter (Dayton Callie) about the new schoolhouse that could be read on multiple levels at once.

On a pure plot level, this particular scene was about Joanie asking for help in locating the man responsible for building the town’s new schoolhouse, a simple wooden structure that just happens to have a tree growing up through its floorboards and out through the its roof. Joanie told Charlie she was acting on behalf of the schoolteacher Martha Bullock (Anna Gunn), the wife of Charlie’s boss, the sheriff (Timothy Olyphant); Martha wanted to be able to tell the kids why their schoolhouse looked the way it did. What would possess a man to build a house around an old tree instead of cutting it down?

Charlie asked Joanie why the teacher felt she needed to track down the architect and find out about the schoolhouse’s past.

“To finish the story,” Joanie replied.

“More than where the man got to once he was through, I think the story was of the tree, and the schoolhouse built around it,” Charlie said.

Moments out of time: the quiet revelations of Deadwood

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Moments out of time: the quiet revelations of Deadwood
Moments out of time: the quiet revelations of Deadwood

“No grand gestures, fucking Bullock, until I’ve had my talk with Hearst,” Al warns while trying to corral the fallout from Bullock’s beatdown of Farnum. Al’s paranoia is well placed, as grand public gestures of all kinds dominate Deadwood. In Season Three, though, fleeting looks and barely discernible gestures have assumed a growing place in the storytellers’ arsenal. They tell a story of their own, often one that contradicts the characters’ words.

In the season-three premiere, Martha Bullock (Anna Gunn), now the camp’s schoolmarm, reads sentences for the children to transcribe. When an eager student raises her hand to indicate that she’s the first to finish, Martha looks over the work, corrects a misspelling, and tells the girl, “It’s not so important always to be right, Mary. Or to be first.” At this point, Martha loses her place in the lesson plan for a moment as the pertinence of the advice to her own life sinks in. In season two, when Seth Bullock (Timothy Olyphant) offered upon her arrival in town to end his affair with Alma and start clean with Martha, she bitterly repudiated him on principle. But in season three, Martha begins to shrug off the impossible legacy of tragedy piled on humiliation and opens to the possibilities that are left. On the way, she drains the poison from her resentment and attempts an authentic relationship with her husband.