I haven't been all that happy with Justified this spring, but these last two episodes were an improvement and a return to form. And they just set up what could be a blow-out of a final season.
It took every bit of cleverness Boyd had to stay alive this time. Changing Raylan's name on his cell phone to Darryl's was inspired. (Isn't it delightful that Raylan is one of Boyd's cell phone contacts?) Boyd also tried to turn Alberto's minions in exactly the same way Johnny turned Hot Rod's, but unfortunately, they'd already been to Vegas. And then he showed serious courage in the face of a horrible death at Alberto's
Like Boyd, Ava also did a lot of clever and courageous things in this episode while trying to stay alive. Confronting Gretchen publicly was a clever move, even though it didn't work. So was picking a fight in order to get tossed into solitary. Ava was stuck between a prison rock and a marshal hard place, wasn't she? It made sense that she would make a deal; clearly, that was what they were setting up all season.
It's sad, though. I don't like the idea of Ava as a snitch. Will she really betray Boyd in the end? Will Boyd ever even suspect that Ava could betray him? Boyd is very smart and one hell of a survivor, so maybe he'll figure it out, but Ava has always been his weakness. He won't want to believe it, even if it becomes obvious.
So Raylan played two huge cards here -- setting up Ava's release, and turning Wendy against Darryl. While I still think that what Raylan did to Kendal was awful, he did it with the best of intentions, and the scene where Raylan good-copped Kendal by telling him about Arlo forcing him to kill a feral pig may have been the best scene in this episode.
Darryl's final scenes were good, too, mostly because of Wendy. She pulled it together, got Darryl to confess on tape, and then she shot him in self-defense -- not once, but twice. What she said to Darryl in the end sounded genuine, that he'd become hard because he had to survive, and I believed that she really did love him. I just wish the Crowes had been more interesting villains. I usually care about the bad guys on this show because of the complex characterisation and excellent acting. Although I found Wendy and Kendal marginally sympathetic, I didn't care much about the Crowes.
I do care about Rachel and Tim, though, and this episode gave them a lot of great stuff to do. I was worried that Darryl would get the better of Tim during that tense confrontation in the street, but fortunately, no. And instead of Raylan, it was Rachel and Tim on one end of the gun battle at Ava's house, and they were the ones to take out Alberto and his minions. (Okay, Boyd got one of them with his hands literally tied behind his back; that was pretty damned cool.) This episode also included two of the best Rachel scenes ever. Rachel stood up to Darryl, even though she looked like she was three feet shorter than he was. And then she did the same to Boyd and said she was going to get him, in that nice, soft voice. I believed her. She isn't Art's favorite for nothing.
I was relieved that Art made it, and with his wit intact. Killing off Art would have been a hard one to take. But it was sad that Raylan and Art have indeed reached the end and that Raylan was ready to accept his transfer and move back to Florida.
That is, after he takes down the man in the center of everything: Boyd Crowder. The final season of this series always had to be Raylan versus Boyd. It had better be epic.
-- As soon as Ava's lawyer said that her cellmate and the guard changed their story, I knew it was a set-up. That was way too simplistic a plot fix for a show like Justified.
-- We found out what happened between Katherine Hale and Vasquez. She had his boss murdered to derail her husband's trial. Since it looks like we're getting more Mary Steenburgen next season, I bet we'll get more Vasquez, too.
-- I'm so glad that Wynn Duffy survived the season and will still be working with Boyd. Jere Burns didn't get enough to do this season.
-- As Raylan decided to go home to Winona, Boyd was fixing Ava's house. Always in parallel, these two.
-- I just realized one of Alberto's minions was one of the scary twins from Breaking Bad. And oops, he's dead.
-- The frightening Mr. Yoon still exists. Villains don't conveniently just go away on this show.
-- The final moments featured a different version of "You'll never leave Harlan alive", this time with a female vocalist. I hope that wasn't a hint that Raylan might live to depart, but Ava won't. Not that I don't want Raylan to survive the series, because I do.
Boyd: "You ever pulled off a shot like that, Mister Ranger Sniper?"
Tim: "Good guys don't need to shoot people with their hands cuffed, Crowder."
But it was still really cool.
Raylan: (to the dying Darryl) "Didn't I tell ya you were gonna wish I killed you? Well, dontcha?"
Raylan: "I'll see you again before I go."
Art: (quietly, to himself) "Darn."
Winona: "Did you hear that, sweetie? Daddy's comin' home so that Mama can finally take a nap."
Ava: (looking at her house) "Are those bullet holes?"
Boyd: "It's been a tough couple of months, Ava."
Boyd: "I don't need a weatherman to tell me which direction this wind is blowing. I'm done with heroin."
I liked Boyd's little smile when Katherine Hale brought up robbing banks. Even though it might be the death of him.
Three out of four bullet holes, although I bet I used bullet holes before,
Billie Doux is the founder of Doux Reviews and has been reviewing her favorite shows for quite some time. More Billie Doux.
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