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'Justified' Recap: 'Money Trap'

February 20th, 2013 9:10am EST

Justified Raylan Givens can't seem to catch a break. In this week's Justified episode, crafted from a story idea co-written by none other than the legendary Elmore Leonard himself, that's bad for Raylan but great for those of you scoring at home.
Six days ago, Raylan was turning Jody Adair (guest star Chris Chalk) - the guy he caught and stuffed in his trunk in the season premiere - over to his old friend the bail bondswoman. Once she's got her prey, she moons over Raylan for a bit to her partner, but is shut up by the need to make a sudden pit stop. Once she's gone, Jody explodes out of the back of her van, kills her partner, and then shoots her. This horrifies his apparent partner in crime (guest star Michael Gladis), who didn't think anyone was going to die. You're on the wrong show for that, dude.
In the present day, at the Marshals Office, Raylan and Art discuss how the Drew Thompson case is going nowhere. Art suggests that Raylan go talk to the former Harlan sheriff and then his father - two people our hero wants absolutely nothing to do with. On the road, Raylan gets a call from local law enforcement about his friend's untimely death, and tells the deputy "I think I know who you're looking for."
Johnny Crowder (guest star David Meunier) is sleeping with Teri (guest star Cathy Baron) the working girl that he saved last week, but he knows it wasn't Max that hit her. She pleads with him to leave it alone, but he's able to figure out in thirty seconds that it was Colt, sending her into a panic. "He was tweaking, pissed off, asking about Ella Mae," she tells him, which clues Johnny into the fact that Ella Mae is still alive.
Jody tells his still-complaining accomplice about his plan to come into a large sum of money, and is sitting across from him when said accomplice gets a call from the cops about how well he knows Raylan's late friend. With that they know they need to get the heck out of there. The two of them decide to visit Jody's ex-wife's place, but they're beaten there by Raylan, who meets Jackie Nevada (The Secret Circle star Shelley Hennig), who's housesitting while Jody's ex is at Dollywood with the kids. This being Justified, she's far more than just a friendly civilian with an awkward name. Raylan susses out that she's likely working him from the moment she gets into his car.
Elsewhere, Boyd is not looking forward to attending Napier's fancy party, but Ava convinces him that it's the best way for them to find which one of the rich old folks there could be Drew Thompson. The two of them awkwardly mingle, with Ava getting a tour and some career advice from the party's hostess, and Boyd finding out everyone knows his name. It's like Cheers with better decor!

When Raylan drops Jackie off at her apartment complex, she tries to invite him into her place for a beer, or maybe a conversation, and he declines. That's not good for her, because Jody's in her living room when she walks inside, wanting the security code to his ex-wife's house. A struggle ensues, and the only thing that keeps her alive is that Raylan's suspicions are raised on his way home. The resulting confrontation ends when Jody awkwardly escapes through a window and ends up on top of his buddy's ride, in an unconventional way to use a getaway car. Jody vows revenge but sounds completely non-threatening when he does it. Anyone who mentions Girl Scout cookies in a death threat needs to learn to make better death threats.
At the swingers' party, while everyone else is otherwise occupied, Ava fights off advances from an aggressive suitor before she finds Boyd. The two confer and realize that while they're not that much closer to finding out who Drew Thompson is, they may have been invited to the party for Boyd to hear a business proposition.
With Jackie waiting in his car, Raylan pays a visit to Jody's buddy, along with several of his armed colleagues. Kenny tells him that Jody made a movie that he wants Raylan to see. Raylan is not impressed by the flick, which is another of Jody's rants set to really bad music. He leaves Kenny's place and heads back to the bar, setting off the fire alarm in order to clear the place out. Why bother? Because Jody's hanging out in the corner, ready for round three. When Jody does the stupidest thing one can do on this show - pull on Raylan Givens - our hero puts several bullets into him without hesitation, then calmly holsters his weapon and reaches for his phone. (Somewhere, Art Mullen feels a headache developing.)
Johnny is waiting for Colt when he returns to the bar, looking like he's been hit by a truck. While the two are having terse words, Boyd is hearing a business pitch from Napier's friends. They want his help with a "problem" named Frank Browning, and in fact they believe they've earned it. Either he kills Frank, or they come after Boyd himself.
Raylan confronts Jackie about why Jody returned to Lexington. "It was for the money," he says, and he's very sure that she has it, but he implies that he'd let it slide if the cash finds its way to Jody's ex-wife and kids. Art cuts this conversation off in typical Art fashion. Mercifully, before things between Raylan and Jackie get awkward, skip ahead to something more awkward - Raylan having another chat with his father Arlo (guest star Raymond J. Barry). As usual, the two Givens men want nothing to do with each other, so Raylan leaves his father to what he presumes is a death in prison that he will not mourn.
There's really no such thing as a bad episode of Justified, but for obvious reasons, those that Elmore Leonard has a hand in are the finest, and "Money Trap" is no exception. Although he didn't write the script (that's Chris Provenzano, who also shares "story by" credit with Leonard), you can't beat the master steering characters that he created. The episode has plenty of wit - Leonard is probably one of the rare folks alive who could name characters like 'Reno Nevada' and not induce snickering - but underneath the verve is some great storytelling, too. Who'd have thought, watching the season premiere, that Jody Adair was going to be someone whose story we were going to get to know, and not just the one-off perp Raylan stuffed in a trunk for comic relief? But that's one of the strengths of Elmore Leonard and the Justified writing staff. There's really no such thing as empty space, or a throwaway character. Everything just might be significant later on.
That doesn't simply mean to the season's ongoing storyline, either. Another show might only weave a plot thread through when it has a payoff in whatever's going on that cycle or with the overall mythology. Justified is willing to spend an episode like this one on fleshing out a character like Jody Adair - who has nothing to do with the mystery of Drew Thompson - just to tell his tale and enrich the universe of the show. All of the characters have identities and stories, and that makes the series come alive...just like one of those great Elmore Leonard page-turners.
For more from Brittany Frederick, visit my official website and follow me on Twitter (@tvbrittanyf).
(c)2013 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Starpulse with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.

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