“Noblesse Oblige,” the third show of the last season, is a verse in The Ballad of Boyd and Ava. It starts out with them alone in Boyd’s bar, drunk as Cooter Brown, celebrating their success at figuring out that Calhoun’s $3 million is hidden in the Pizza Portal, the downtown restaurant that used to be a bank. It ends with them in bed together in a posh hotel, tense and scared. Ava wants to run away, Boyd wants to kill Avery, take his money and then go. Neither one of them quite trusts the other one, and each is entirely correct. Love is just so complicated!
Here’s what happened in between:
Boyd and Ava have been up drinking all night, having a fine old time. She hitches up her sleeveless dress — it keeps threatening to sag indelicately — and looks about ready to hurl.
This sets up our True Gangsta Luv Line of Week: “You need me to hold yore hair back?” Boyd asks. He might be a murderous, back-stabbing drug-dealer, but by god he’s a stand-up boyfriend. “I ain’t puked up bourbon since I wore a cheerleader skirt,” she replies. Because she’s a LADY, that’s why.
But then she gets a text from Raylan, telling her to meet him right away. She fobs off an excuse about having to open the hair salon early, then drives over to meet him.
She’s got a butt-stomping hangover, which isn’t at all helped when Rachel and Vasquez, the assistant U.S. Attorney, show up, reminding her of her confidential informant status — and that she hasn’t given them anything on Boyd, who has robbed a bank in broad daylight, blah blah blah.Rachel tells her straight: Give us intel on Boyd within the week or go back to prison. Then Ava, hitching that dress up again, needs to hurl.
Meanwhile, Ty Walker and his beard show up at Boyd’s bar, where Boyd and his crew are thinking of a way to rob the Pizza Portal. Ty takes two shots of Buffalo Trace, neglects to pay for either, and tells them he knows they robbed the bank. “That was a solid piece of trade-craft,” he says, but tells them the money they’re trying to steal isn’t Calhoun’s, but his boss’s. He says they have to stop trying to steal the money or face the consequences. Boyd, hungover, tells Ty and his beard they can just bugger right on out of his bar, thank you very much.
Raylan and Rachel are across town doing cop stuff, namely investigating where Boyd got the explosives used in the bank job. This leads them to the explosives shack of a mining operation, the explosives overseen by Luther Kent, who once dug coal with Raylan and Boyd.
They quickly discover that some explosives are missing. They also find out that Luther’s son, Tyler, is a no-good little punk who runs around with Earl, one of Boyd’s crew members. Tyler and Earl have the collective brain power of a watermelon, so it doesn’t take much for Raylan and Rachel to catch them in the act of trying to steal some more bang-bang from Tyler’s pop.
But Luther loves his low-rent progeny and says he’ll act like he took the explosives. This is to both protect his son from prison or the alternative – turning snitch on Boyd. (This act is the “noblesse oblige” of the title.)
Ava, meanwhile, is either helping Boyd or Raylan — it’s unclear — by getting involved in Boyd’s robbery plans. At his direction, she goes to the Pizza Portal and sneaks into the basement, taking pictures of the safe and the layout, under the pretext of losing her way to the ladies room. Alas, she’s quickly spotted and run off by Ty and Mundo.
Ty’s crew responds like lightning. They ambush Boyd in his bar, throw a hood over his head, bind and gag him. He comes to in a barn, where they cut him loose — then tell him they know who Ava was, and that this is his second and final warning. It was pretty impressive.
Ava, back home, opens her front door in a what-fresh-hell-is-this mood, only to find a mysterious stranger (Avery, resplendent in a black suit, white shirt and black bolo tie) and Ty on her front porch. They invite themselves in. Avery sits at her dinner table and proceeds to scare the daylights out of her by being terribly polite, finally mentioning that he knows why she was at his restaurant. He says he’s known women in the crime business, and that they have to be stronger than the men. He wonders if she has that within her, because without it “you’ll just be a token, or hurt. Just to keep your man in line.”
Boyd, who has been surveying the situation from outside, steps in with a lot of swagger — right up until Avery introduces himself. Avery says he once met Boyd years ago when Boyd was a teenager, strutting around his daddy’s drug dealing enterprise … and Boyd looks ill, like he’s meeting the hillbilly Don Corleone.
Boyd drops his voice and apologizes for “my craven attempt to pilfer what rightfully belongs to you.” He says that he won’t never ever ever try to rob him again.
Avery’s smile goes hard. “If I see you in my place of business again, I’ll kill you,” he tells them both adding: “I guess you ain’t all that big now. Grown. But still just playing pre-tend.”
And Boyd just takes it!
But hold on to your socks, because then we get the most unexpected development of the week — Wynn Duffy, full frontal in a jock strap!! I mean, this show. This show. He’s on a tanning bed in his hotel room. Mike, his assistant, comes to tell him Boyd wants to meet with him and Katherine, like pronto.
Katherine and Boyd both show up so fast that Wynn is still in his cover-up, a nice white hotel terry-cloth robe (the kind they stick $119 onto your credit card if you “forget” and take it with you). Boyd is furious that they didn’t tell him the mark was actually the dreaded Avery, instead of the hapless Calhoun. Katherine reveals that she’s sleeping with Avery, and that’s how she knew he was coming back to Kentucky with this huge wad of dough.
Boyd says he’s not backing out, just amping up: “I’m going to rob him, and then I’m going to stick a bullet in your boyfriend’s head.” Attaboy, champ. We were worried about you there for a second.
Boyd goes back to the room in the same hotel he and Ava have for the night. She’s in bed, still looking scared. He gets testy when she asks him for details about how much money he’s after. “Since you got out,” he says, “sometimes I feel like I don’t know who you are anymore.” Yikes — is he onto her? Or, really, is her heart really set on turning him in?
In response, she pulls the sheets back. She’s nude. He walks to her, as if pulled by a magnet.
Dang. Reeled him in just like that.
Nobody died this week, but I wouldn’t get used to that. Harlan is going to be mightily depopulated by season’s end.
Favorite line of the week: “I wish I had a second chance to make a first impression.” Boyd, to Ty and his beard.
Bourbon beat: That was not a real bourbon brand Boyd and Ava were drinking. The show’s producers said that because Ava leaves the bar and drives drunk, they didn’t portray an actual brand being misused.
Final ruminations: Is it just me, or is Rachel getting bossy now that she’s the boss? She needs to lighten up and shoot somebody. Avery, monologing to Ava, says that he’s been in a life of crime, but lately has thought of more sedate existence. Is that why he’s trying to buy up so much land in Harlan, to launder the cash and, I dunno, open up a nice little boutique distillery with a gift shop? Do any of us here believe that Raylan really wants to wind up in Florida with ball-and-chain Winona and that not terribly attractive baby? Me neither. And hey, Wynn has some pretty solid pecs. That was a real nice strap he was sportin’, too.