What is Mags Bennett using in the glasses on Justified?
May 6, 2011 7:09 AM   Subscribe

On the TV Series Justified, any idea what Mags Bennett is supposedly using to coat the glasses?

I tried to be vague in case someone considers that a spoiler, but really by the time the character is introduced in the first episode, anyone watching would know what I'm talking about.

She says it's all natural, from the hills, or such like. Having read Wicked Plants, I'm trying to guess which one it is.
posted by Jase to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
For those who don't know, symptoms of the poisoning include: Coughing, a feeling of strangulation?, then collapse and raspy breath. Also includes top-notch character acting, bad ass hats, and ample locations ending in "-holler"
posted by Think_Long at 7:22 AM on May 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

I think its just some plant that they made up, although I wouldnt be surprised if they actually chose a real plant native to the area.
posted by BobbyDigital at 7:29 AM on May 6, 2011

I don't know the answer, and I haven't seen the finale yet, but Dickie Bennett better get it.
posted by kbanas at 7:30 AM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'd guess coniine isolated from Conium maculatum (hemlock). Hemlock is native to Europe, but was introduced to the US in the 1800s. Kentucky is one of several states where hemlock is considered an invasive species. Ingestion of even a small amount can lead to death by asphyxiation due to the paralyzation of the respiratory muscles. This sort of sounds like the symptoms you describe, but I don't think death by coniine poisoning is as rapid as depicted in the show. Mags Bennett makes her own moonshine, right? That sounds like the right set of skills to isolate and concentrate a lethal, but almost invisible, quanty of the alkaloid Coniine from hemlock.
posted by RichardP at 7:45 AM on May 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

Note that coniine is a colorless liquid, so hard to detect by sight, but it has a strong odor and a burning taste. This sort of matches the depiction of Mags Bennett's poison: it is shown to be invisible but she has to disguise it with her moonshine in order to get her victim to ingest it. I think it probable that moonshine could disguise a burning taste, but hiding a strong odor seems harder.
posted by RichardP at 7:54 AM on May 6, 2011


...from Wikipedia...
Conium maculatum is known by several common names. As well as the American "Poison hemlock" and the Irish "Devil's porridge", there are also Beaver Poison, Herb Bennet (not to be confused with the geranium of that name), Musquash Root, Poison Parsley, Spotted Corobane and Spotted Hemlock. The seeds are sometimes called Kecksies or Kex.
posted by Jase at 7:55 AM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Fwiw, it's also appears that Maggs keeps a stock of glasses that have been pre-coated with the poison. You never see her pour anything other than her Apple Pie into the glasses. That's cold.

Loved the finale, more or less. Now, I wait for season three.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:52 AM on May 6, 2011

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