Justified: Wrong Roads

Dewey: “I told you we shouldna taken the highway!”

Well, the title pretty much says it all this week, eh? We’ve had a lot of different threads this season, with many, many characters struggling to get ahead, get themselves turned around, or to make a fresh start, but somehow they’ve all managed to end up on the wrong roads. Boyd. Ava. Dewey. The Florida Crowes. Even Raylan. Sadly, few of them seem to fully recognize it yet.

[I’m subbing in for Billie on Justified this week and next, while she’s dealing with her move. But no worries: she’ll be back in plenty of time to cover the season’s final episodes!]

Raylan. Oh, Raylan. He starts the episode struggling to comprehend why Alison wouldn’t want to date him anymore, and then proceeds to spend his vacation chasing bad guys instead of visiting his baby daughter. He thinks that’s a good thing. The dedicated federal officer, just doing his job and responding to a tip. “Meaning you can’t go on vacation because you’re working. ‘Cause that’s who you are, Raylan. You’re a working man.” He seems to have forgotten Alison’s apt spiel about him heroically rescuing people from the burning buildings he’s set on fire. He just doesn’t see any problem with doing things the way he does. At the end of the day, he wins again and that’s a good thing, right?

Art would beg to differ. He sees Raylan exactly the way Alison does. And it scares the crap out of him.

“You know what? My wife is right. I’m the crazy one here. Thinking that you’re gonna change. I mean what the hell’s ever gonna do that? I’ve already torn you so many new assholes you don’t know which one’s the original, but you’re still the same guy they kicked up here from Florida. I tell you what to do, you do whatever the hell you want. Somehow it all works out, and I’m the dumbass losing sleep over it.”

It seems that’s a big part of why Art’s so pissed about what went down with Nicky Augustine. Raylan keeps putting himself in these increasingly dangerous situations --- that he really shouldn’t be involved with in the first place --- and Art is afraid he is going to get himself or someone innocent killed. The road he’s on doesn’t lead to a happy destination. But Art can’t make him see the folly of his ways any more than Alison could. Both have decided their best move at present is to distance themselves from the situation.

It’s too bad Raylan doesn’t get the perspective the audience does with our obvious Raylan parallel for the week: doomed DEA Agent Alex Miller. Miller is so much like an older version of Raylan, it’s scary. He’s a handsome man with a relaxed easy swagger. He likes his guns and trading witty banter. He’s quick to draw and to put a man down. He doesn’t much care about screwing over his colleagues, and he’s gotten himself into some “epic shit” on the job over the years. He’s estranged from his family. “Yeah, I’d do that from time to time. Take some time off, go see my kids. But somehow that never seemed to quite end up happening.” This is the road that Raylan’s on. Never going anywhere without his trusty flask. Drinking on the job. Getting himself taken out by a couple of crazy criminals he confronts while off duty. If he doesn’t get himself turned around, the future doesn’t look bright for Deputy US Marshal Raylan Givens.

The Crowes. Just like Raylan, Darryl Crowe Jr. is pretty deluded about the path he’s on, and about the detrimental effects of his choices. He thinks he’s this close to finally making things happen for his family, but he’s blind to fact that very few of his relatives are interested in being part of what he’s got planned. Wendy and Kendall want out, and don’t want any part of murdering three people and taking over the Kentucky heroin business. Dewey’s had enough. Enough of getting roped into his kin’s criminal activities and getting treated like garbage for it. “Simple piece of shit.” And Danny … well, Danny’s just a psycho. The only place this road leads is to the “family business” blowing up in Darryl’s face and taking everyone down with him.

Boyd. Boyd seems the closest to recognizing that he keeps taking the wrong roads. All his best laid plans have managed to go horribly awry this season. Billie said last week, “At least Boyd finally got his dope.” It sure seemed that way at the time, but it turns out he still doesn’t have it. Not all of it. Every time he thinks he’s got things nailed down, another board pops up. He keeps trying to make things work and to do what he can for Ava, but he’s tired. And he’s starting to reach the limit of his tolerance with all the needy graspers trying to get a seat at his table or usurp his power. His response to yet another crew showing up to claim their piece of the pie was quite telling. “Why don’t we all just pull right now, shoot this shit out, and see what’s what when the smoke clears, huh?” Almost as telling as his downtrodden and resigned demeanor as he stood outside the car while Jimmy murdered Mr. Swain. Is Boyd going to snap when he learns about the latest Crowe wrinkle? What is his breaking point going to look like?

Ava. Ava may also recognize that she’s on the wrong road, and she may even be coming to terms with her own culpability in getting herself there. She tells Boyd “it’s not your fault,” but then quickly cuts short their visit. Possibly because she does blame him. Or maybe she’s starting to realize a lot of the blame for her circumstances lays at her own feet, and is pulling back out of shame. Or perhaps she’s withdrawing because she needs to find a way to stand on her own. Even if every turn she makes seems to lead her farther from where she wants to be.

Bits:

This one had some weird directing and editing touches that felt a bit too stylistic to me.

RIP, Hot Rod Dunham. I was surprised to learn you spent 15 years as a confidential informant for the DEA. But not so surprised that you were using that role to take out your competition.

I just love the small beats in this show. The armadillo crossing the road in the cold open made me chuckle, as did the way poor Caleb freaked out after being abused by so many of Boyd’s visitors. “God damn! !! What the hell kind of place is this?!” The way Daryl smiled while giving his pitch to Wynn Duffy amused the hell out of me, too. “We appreciate the opportunity, and we are excited to be part of all your endeavors.”

Jay and Roscoe had a nice flair for the dramatic. Hammer and anvil, baby! The “last song you ever hear” routine. The King Lear analogy. “Meet Roscoe. Say hi, Roscoe.” “Hi.” I’ll miss them.

Wendy needs to get while the getting is good. I know she wants her seed money to make a new start of things with Kendall, but she might need to reevaluate the risk-reward equation.

The “working on the graveyard shift, until I die” song playing in Miller’s car was a bit on the nose, yes? Assuming he’s dead, of course. I’m pretty sure Dewey ran over him with the tow truck after hitting him.

Quotes:

Darryl: “We’s just trying to make ourselves useful, you know.”
Boyd: “Well in the process, Darryl, you made yourself a liar.”
Darryl: “What, you an honest man, Boyd? A full blown honest man?”

Raylan: “I’m on vacation, actually.”
Miller: “Vacation? And you thought you’d come to Memphis and kick the hornet’s nest, huh?”
Raylan: “And have some ribs.”
Miller [mocking]: “And have some ribs. Yeah.”

Picker: “Right, it’s on its way. We just have to agree to this new gang of idiots terms, right? Jesus Christ.”

Wynn: “We’ll go down to Harlan County, we’ll play nice, and everything will be fine. Get some rest. That place can be exhausting.”

Raylan: “Miller, would you call this a herd, a gaggle, or a flock of assholes?”
Miller: “I would call this a United Nations of assholes.”
Boyd: “Well, that’s funny because we were just discussing ratifying some shit.”

Boyd: “Raylan? Can I be excused from the table?”
Raylan: “No, you may not.”

Raylan (re: Roscoe’s King Lear routine): “I don’t understand what these two are talking about, but I gotta admit, I’m interested.”

Art: “I’m still the god damn boss, until somebody tells me otherwise. And if I say you’re not here, you’re not here.”

Three out of four bourbon-soaked has-beens

Jess Lynde is a highly engaged television viewer. Probably a bit too engaged.

8 comments:

Jess Lynde said...

Apparently assuming people are dead on this show is as dangerous as assuming Boyd finally got his dope. :) Per the post-episode breakdown with Graham Yost over at EW, neither Roscoe nor Agent Miller are dead. It seems we've got to see you actually bleed out and stop breathing to be dead on Justified. Should have double-checked the 10 Rules of Television before posting the review!

Billie Doux said...

Thanks so much for subbing for me, Jess -- terrific review. Eric Roberts was *so* an older version of Raylan, if he manages to live that long. I thought Wood Harris did a marvelous job in that scene where he nearly threw away his own life after losing his brother.

I'm starting to wonder when Boyd will reach a breaking point with his drug business and with Ava. Maybe that's where the season is going?

Jess Lynde said...

You're quite welcome! This was a good episode to think about and respond to in depth.

I agree about Wood Harris. He was great in that whole UN meeting sequence. I especially liked the way he reacted to Boyd, first thinking he was the man, then with his "Hold up, now! We were just getting along so well" bit. I hope they find a way to bring the brothers back in the future.

Freeman said...

I definitely feel like this season is gonna leave most everybody in a very bad place. Ava seems to be at a point of no return, Boyd can't catch a break, and Raylan seems content to dig himself into an even deeper ditch.

Jay and Roscoe are fun characters, so bombastic. I wonder if this is the last we'll see of them. If this show had a longer lifeline I wouldn't doubt them popping up again but now I ain't so sure.

I thought it was a fun little thing that when Art left the office, the word "integrity" could be seen quite clearly on the Marshal slogan.

Josie Kafka said...

Wow. I think my DVR cut off parts of this episode. The last scene I saw was Roscoe's brother (who will always be Avon Barksdale to me) putting down his gun. Was there more after that?

Jess Lynde said...

Yes, the episode ran about 10-15 minutes longer than normal. I heard some other folks had DVR trouble, too. I wonder if FX made the episode available online given that it seems a number of folks had this problem.

A fair amount of pretty significant stuff happened after Jay put down the gun, including confrontations between Art and Raylan, Daryl/Wendy/Kendall, and Dewey/Danny/Agent Miller. Do you want the full run down, or do you want to try to see if it is available for viewing somewhere? That last chunk is certainly worth watching.

Josie Kafka said...

Thank you for the offer, Jess, but I'll shell out the $2 to watch the last bit online, as it sounds like important things happen. Avon Barksdale putting down the gun did seem like a strange note to end on.

ChrisB said...

I thought adding in a character like Miller was inspired. Yes, we can all surmise where Raylan is headed and we probably don't need it spelled out. But, wasn't it wonderful to see all the parallels at the same time we were realizing that Raylan did not.

Great review, Jess.