I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the biggest fan of Winona, but Raylan spending parts of the episode trying to get to the bottom of her sudden disappearance or generally acting a bit mopey was far from captivating. It detracted a little from this week's case.
The callback to the money storyline last season and the writers teasing that Winona may have taken it from the evidence room and left the country were a bit unnecessary and probably bugged me the most. With the revelation that Charlie stole the cash and headed to Mexico, can we put this to rest now?
That said, the rather mature conversation Raylan and Winona had at the end (she was hiding out at her older sister's place) felt like a proper way to put a close on their relationship. Raylan will always be Raylan, and Winona can't live with that. It's just a pity that Winona ran away so abruptly in the first place.
Interesting tidbit: She initially fled without warning in the season premiere before she learnt Raylan had been shot.
Fortunately, there was a lot to like about the main case. Once again Justified gets the balance spot-on between the stand-alone elements and advancing the overall season arc.
It starts off with a limping Tanner (Brendan McCarthy), who was beaten up by Boyd last week, seemingly retaliating by gunning down three people in Boyd's Oxy clinic. Sort of surprising was the way Trixie (Valerie Brandy) was unceremoniously killed off after her involvement with Limehouse was revealed at the end of 'Thick as Mud'. Effective and shocking. The body count really is rising - fast.
Ellen May (who was last seen in season two) wisely hid under a desk and survived, but her pimp Delroy (William Mapother) is displeased by the fact that she came back empty-handed. She then fails him a second time when she goes to a mobile clinic and gets terrified learning that it's run by none other than Tanner.
It's good to see Abby Miller back, not only from a continuity point of view but also because she does a good job at bringing her character to life. Ellen May is very likeable and easy to sympathise with, especially when Delroy brutally hits her in the face as punishment.
As for Delroy, he's sadly not as interesting or fleshed-out as some of the previous villains-of-the-week this season. Still, Raylan punching him twice was pretty great.
The marshal eventually tracks down Tanner, and what follows is an awesome and frantic fight scene inside a moving mobile trailer. It must have been a pain to shoot, but the end result was worth it. Too bad Tanner got away!
The neat revelation behind this all is that it was Limehouse's henchman who convinced Tanner to attack the clinic. Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson) is p*ssed: Trixie is dead and a flat-out war is coming. All of the Limehouse scenes have been wonderful so far. Every time he's on screen, you learn more about him.
While Limehouse is the more three-dimensional character, Quarles (Neal McDonough) is definitely an intimidating villain. Who was the man he has tied up on the bed and was beating? And what does he have in mind now that he knows Arlo - Raylan's father - is part of Boyd's gang?
'When the Guns Come Out' is the weakest episode so far in an otherwise exceptional season, but the wait for next week will be even more difficult with numerous threads left dangling. It's also saying something that even the slightly disappointing instalments still outshine the vast majority of other television airing today.
• It's been a while, but it was lovely to see Jacob Pitts again albeit for one short scene at the beginning.
• A pleasant and very welcome surprise was the brief return of Stephen Root's Judge Mike Reardon.
• Quarles is scary: "You're a good man, Wynn. I'll see you soon." Anyone else fear for Duffy during that moment when those words were uttered?
• Raylan to Boyd: "You love it, don't you? Getting the law to do your dirty work." More Raylan-Boyd scenes, please!
• Now that Raylan is single again, I can imagine a long queue of people lining up for the dashing and badass marshal.