The criminal Raylan has to destroy an old woman. Maggie runs the only other serious criminal organization around – her family having been at crime for several generations. There is a suggestion here about the contrast between love of the good & love of one’s own. This woman’s sons are rather incompetent & therefore untrustworthy. She is her mother’s daughter, but has no girls. As dumb as the boys are, she is sophisticated; they are simpletons – she is clever.
Unfortunately, the virtues most needed to pursue the life of crime may not run in the family. Her only capable boy is the sheriff. He only shows he knows deception by using his office to hurt family enemies. This family rules their town by fear. The people know crime, fear death, & have learned that nobody is going to do anything for justice.
Crime teaches both the criminal & his victim about the good, though only the victim fears death. Justice for the people & honor for the men are far too costly. The good is far easier to achieve, or some part of it, at least, but it can never be taken for granted. The people are the many; Maggie can rule them by concealing terror; but indirect rule would require that she let her boys think they are independent. In foregoing this, she provokes them to choose between doing what is prudent & doing what they want.
Raylan stumbles into this town. This is just as inevitable as the fact that his enemy is a family. He looks around; his opinions about people’s lives & about the law cause him to notice things, especially things that happen. Then he starts making trouble, trying to see through deceptions. He forces criminals to be far more violent than they would otherwise be. He bullies in the name of the law. Strangely, everyone thinks he is doing this for family reasons, because they are undeceived by legal appearances & suspect a personal motive in fighting crime.
To the contrary, the women do not care for the law, they care for their own good, especially their children. It’s strange to see how much Raylan does to protect women, when he should see that where women rule, there are no laws.
Boyd Crowder returns to home, the life of crime. There is little left of his family, but his ambitions are undiminished. Survival has taught him about self-restraint & deception. He seems to have first thought that killing is a show of strength; then that killing is punishment for wrongdoing; & now that killing is doing the necessary. But survival gives way to ambition, & empire requires an opinion about how to rule.