Season 2, Episode 3: “The I of the Storm”
Folks have a tendency to reveal themselves when they think that you are not looking at them directly. Tim, at the bar, with a hard-set jaw and far-away stare. Winona, on a middle-of-nowhere date, flustered by a straightforward question of geography. Dewey Crowe, play-acting at Raylan Givens with wild gunfire and a wilder tongue. And the Bennett boys, each of them, but Doyle first. Play-acting at local law with just the faintest amount of sense, hinting to Raylan that if it turned out they were both dirty, then maybe they could play dirty together. Raylan keeps his on the case at hand but he doesn’t entirely miss what Doyle’s getting at. Two criminals lying stupid dead at Doyle’s feet won’t help him either, and when he storms over to Dickie and Coover and yells at them for their sloppy criminality, he does so without any self-awareness. Without any sense that anyone might be watching him.
But it is hard to watch yourself, or know yourself, or hear yourself. Raylan can’t seem to ever hear himself, with Ava. Ava probably hears herself just fine, with Raylan, but I don’t imagine she likes it. Here’s a woman who has a confidence that rival’s Raylan’s and so there’s a heat even in the two of them keeping distance on the porch. Leaning back from another. You might never see these two in love but you won’t need to. They are opposing sides of the same temper. They are not fighting, anymore, not really. Not enemies, not particularly. But each scored deep, proud in his or her own way, desperately important to the other in a manner to be determined.
Ava says she and Boyd have an arrangement, a flimsy-sounding thing that can’t be more flimsy than the arrangement Boyd currently has with himself. Raylan says he might buy the fact that Boyd wants to reform, but Raylan seems to have doubts as to whether or not a man such as Boyd can reform himself. Raylan then is taking the position of the jaded lawman, the one who believes that no matter what etc. a man of Boyd’s grade etc. with his history etc. cannot be changed not even etc.
And maybe he can’t, I don’t know. You don’t know. But I think we all know a thing or two about wounds, physical and emotional both. What Boyd has now is a life made of cuts and bruises, gashes covered with the faintest layer of new skin. A job, a home, a routine, only. New skin is easily pierced. And of course when Raylan visits with Boyd and asks if he had a hand in knocking over an Oxy bus, Raylan likely does not mean to be doing what he does. But he does it, he exposes Boyd in the manner that only oldest friends can.
Of course that new tear might have healed over if it hadn’t been for this bright-eyed young man from the mine, the one telling Boyd he knows about his past and worse, respects it. Wants it for himself. That life of dead men as collateral and better-life schemes that bring you lower. When Boyd does snap, when he does drag the bright-eyed man alongside his truck, hollering and preaching like a natural, it’s a terrible relief. When he releases the man, sends him rolling to the side of the road, it’s a shame. But when he stops his truck, leans out to make sure the man stands again, it’s new. It’s proof against Raylan’s instinct. There could be something new in Boyd, if only he could just get a quiet place to drink.