|Season 3, Episode 1|
|Air date||January 17, 2012|
|Written by||Graham Yost and Fred Golan|
|Directed by||Michael Dinner|
|U.S. Viewers||3.07 million|
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"The Gunfighter" is the premiere (first) episode of the third season, and the 27th episode in the series overall. The episode was written by executive producers Graham Yost and Fred Golan and directed by executive producer Michael Dinner. It first aired on January 17, 2012.
Raylan Givens recovers from the gunshot wound he received in the shootout with Doyle Bennett. He returns to light duties and reconnects with his ex-wife Winona Hawkins, now carrying his child. He is drawn into Tim Gutterson's case tracking the fugitive Fletcher "Ice Pick" Nix. Nix is obsessed with testing his skill against gunfighters and has ties to the Dixie mafia as an enforcer. He offers his victims the chance to grab his gun, which he places on the table between them. However, Nix always cheats by stabbing them in the hand with his ice pick and then kills them. Gutterson insists Raylan accompany him to meet with Dixie mafia middleman Wynn Duffy. Nix kills a watch store owner who three times defended his store against armed robbers. He narrowly escapes capture in a brief elevator encounter with Raylan. He then tracks Raylan to his home and attempts to best him at his game. Raylan pulls the gun to him using a table cloth and shoots Nix in the shoulder.
Nix's employer Emmitt Arnett is murdered by Robert Quarles, a Dixie mafia lieutenant out of Detroit, for his losses in the property market. Quarles allows Duffy to live but he witnesses the murder. Boyd Crowder provokes a fight with Raylan and is imprisoned with his rival Dickie Bennett. Boyd's attempts to sell the Bennett marijuana are soured by poor storage conditions spoiling the crop. With Boyd away Ava Crowder exerts her authority over his crew.
Winona drives away from town when she is pulled over by a police car. It's a "courtesy stop" as the ex-Mrs. Givens has been called back to town by Deputy U.S. Marshal Art Mullen. Later, she walks purposely toward Art, who explains that Raylan has been shot but is still alive. "He's a lucky son of a gun," Art says. Winona then walks into the hospital room to find Raylan sleeping.
Three weeks later:
Raylan takes target practice — and winces not just at the pain in his side, but also at his poor marksmanship. Later, Raylan arrives at his desk to find Boyd Crowder waiting. Boyd explains that Ava, like Raylan, is "healing." Raylan then questions Boyd about a flurry of activity after the death of Mags. Turns out the marijuana stash was raided and the various storehouses were overturned — as if somebody was looking for something. Boyd, naturally, denies all knowledge before demanding that the Deputy Marshal hand over Dickie. Raylan, naturally, refuses — sending Boyd into a fury. He punches Raylan and a wrestling match ensues. It concludes when the tussling pair burst through the glass in Art's office. A still angry Boyd is dragged away by other deputy marshals.
Later, we meet Robert Quarles, an icy man representing the criminal bosses in Detroit, who visits the real estate offices of Emmett Arnett to demand payment on a debt. Emmett agrees to pay within 24 hours and then, after Robert exits, asks a dangerous looking hoodlum named Nix if he wants a job. Nix agrees.
At Boyd's house, Arlo and Devil are offering burlap sacks of marijuana for sale. Ava arrives. "You figure Boyd's locked up so you might as well go into business for yourself?" she asks Devil. Devil tells her not to worry about it. He then becomes furious when the potential buyer, Rodney from Memphis, notes that the marijuana, having been bagged damp. is rotten with mold — it's value having plummeted from more than $100,000 to maybe $2,000-$3,000 after sitting in the shed out back for three weeks. Oops. These boys clearly need Boyd, after all.
Later that night, Raylan and Winona cuddle in bed after making love. Raylan suggests looking for a house for their future family. They can't stay in the motel forever.
Nix breaks into the house of a wealthy man using a hijacked pizza delivery man as a front. He is there to steal a safe full of expensive watches. Nix explains that he easily disabled the house's security system because he was one who installed it. The home-owner and the pizza man are soon dead — both shot in the head by Nix, who takes the watches and exits.
The next day, Deputy U.S. Marshal Tim Gutterson approaches Raylan with news of the killings, explaining that the security system was installed by Wynn Duffy's company. Raylan very reluctantly agrees to escort Tim to Wynn's offices in a single-wide trailer.
"It'd be so much easier to just beat a confession out of me, wouldn't it, Raylan?" Wynn taunts. Tim asks if Wynn ever employed a criminal named Nix, known as "the Ice Pick." Wynn refuses to answer any questions and, after the authorities leave, calls Emmett to ask why they're asking about Nix. Wynn then warns Emmett that Raylan will soon be looking for him. Later, Ava visits Boyd in prison and explains that marijuana has gone bad. Boyd is disappointed—then orders her to burn it all lest it attract any more unwanted attention.
Raylan goes to Emmett's office. After unwittingly riding up in the elevator with Nix, Raylan is met by Yvette, Emmett's secretary/lover. She takes Raylan to a nearby bar and start talking. She explains that Emmett's clients are creepy — especially some new guy named Nix. She then says that Emmett and Nix are scheduled to meet later that evening at a cab stand. Raylan urges the woman to quit her job as Emmett is heading for a fall. Later Yvette goes outside to meet for whom she was working all along, passing Raylan the exact information Quarles wanted planted.
Back at the office, Raylan explains to Art that the information from Yvette came easy — almost too easy. But Art assures Raylan that "we'll be fine."
At Boyd's house, Ava tells Devil and Arlo to burn the weed. "Those are Boyd's orders," she explains. "You ignore Boyd and I get ornery." To make her point, Ava bashes Devil in the nose with skillet. Her point is taken.
Tim, Rachel, and Art, meanwhile, stake out the spot where Nix and Emmett were supposedly meeting. A black SUV pulls up and the man inside, an Emmett employee sent by his boss, has a gun. He is immediately surrounded by cops after being approached by a suspicious-looking character. Nix, nearby in a cab, pulls away unnoticed.
Raylan and Winona return "home" to their motel room to find Nix waiting with the drop on them. He orders Raylan to carefully put his pistol and holster on the ground before sitting down across the table from Raylan and asking Winona to count to 10. Nix lays the gun on the table, explaining that Raylan is free to reach for it when Winona reaches zero. It's the same game he played with the homeowner earlier, having sadistically pinned his hand to the table with an ice pick before shooting him to death.
Winona reaches two as Nix reaches for his concealed ice pick, intending to pull the same stunt on Raylan when the Deputy U.S. Marshal reaches for the Nix's gun.
Raylan, however, anticipates the ploy. He yanks the tablecloth toward him, making Nix lunge, and then easily shoots Nix with his own gun as Nix impales the table with his ice pick. "Sorry about your tablecloth," Raylan tells Winona.
Quarles meets with Emmett and Wynn. "You had a good thing going here, Emmett, but you let go of the rope," Robert says before shooting Emmett and then Yvette in the head. He turns to Wynn. "You know me now?" Quarles asks. A shaken Wynn can barely speak: "Yeah." Quarles exits, leaving Wynn alive — at least for the moment.
Later, a disheveled Dewey Crowe waits in line in prison while having a conversation about tattoos with Dickie Bennett when his mouth suddenly drops open. A guard is escorting Boyd into the facility. Boyd looks meaningfully at Dewey as he passes, on his way to his cell.
- Robert Quarles - Detroit crime boss looking to take over the Oxycontin business in Harlan
- Fletcher Nix - Enforcer for Emmitt Arnett, nicknamed "Icepick"
- Delmar Coates - Jewelry store owner who had bought a security system from Wynn Duffy. Shot by Nix.
- Eddie - Pizza delivery man held hostage by Nix to gain access to Coates' house. Shot by Nix.
- Emmitt Arnett - Shot by Quarles.
- Yvette - Shot by Quarles.
- Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens
- Nick Searcy as Art Mullen
- Joelle Carter as Ava Crowder
- Jacob Pitts as Tim Gutterson
- Erica Tazel as Rachel Brooks
- Natalie Zea as Winona Hawkins
- Walton Goggins as Boyd Crowder
- Raymond J. Barry as Arlo Givens
- Jeremy Davies as Dickie Bennett
- Jere Burns as Wynn Duffy
- Steven Flynn as Emmitt Arnett
- Desmond Harrington as Fletcher Nix
- Damon Herriman as Dewey Crowe
- Mickey Jones as Rodney Dunham
- Richard Lineback as Delmar Coates
- Kevin Rankin as Devil
- Neal McDonough as Robert Quarles
- Jennifer Birmingham as Yvette
- Michael Broderick as KSP Officer
- Adam Johnson as Homeless Man
- Jonathan Kowalsky as Mike Cosmatopolis
- Bill Parks as Eddie
- Tim Trobec as Arnett's Bodyguard