by Billie Doux
Not what I expected. But that's okay.
For a show as violent as Justified that features two mortal enemies on opposite sides of the law, I couldn't help but expect a violent ending. Instead, they went for this Elmore Leonard-ish wordy sort of thing, with a long coda set four years in the future. I didn't think it was working for me, either. But then, that last conversation between Raylan and Boyd really got to me.
Even though Boyd and Raylan didn't shoot each other, we did get gun battles. The mess in the Bennett drying shed was a shocker, especially when Boyd refused to pick up the loaded gun and actually surrendered to Raylan. I thought they'd established this season and certainly in the penultimate episode that Boyd was an outlaw who'd die before going back to jail. Maybe when he was actually faced with that death, Boyd realized he just wasn't ready to go.
The Raylan/Boon showdown on the road was satisfying too, as well as oddly comical. I laughed out loud when Raylan pushed back his coat in an old West kind of way to free his holster, and laughed again when Ava and Loretta slid down behind their respective dashboards in tandem. And then I was totally shocked when Raylan went down and didn't get up. For about a minute, I thought they'd done it -- they'd killed their leading man. But no. And I absolutely loved that Raylan discarded his old hat because it had a bullet hole in it, and took Boon's.
We got one final rendition of "You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive" right before the Raylan/Boon gun battle. What a perfect auditory cue to make the possibility of Raylan dying feel more possible. In season two, Raylan saved Loretta's life. She finally returned the favor by standing on Boon's gun hand before he died.
The ending for Ava was satisfying, too. I didn't want Raylan to take her in, and he didn't. (I think it was seeing her small son, close in age to Willa, that did it.) It's a bit sad that she didn't get to keep any of the money, though. Although Wynn Duffy getting away with it all in his dog grooming van also made me laugh out loud.
There were so many callbacks to the pilot episode that I'm sure I'll miss mentioning most of them. But what I liked the most was Raylan and Boyd reconnecting in prison as Raylan was spinning cover for Ava. In "Fire in the Hole", the short story that the series was based upon, the last line was Raylan saying why he cared about Boyd: "We dug coal together." Here, they gave that last line to Boyd. Even though I had been expecting Boyd to die in the finale and they'd given us every reason to believe he would, returning to Boyd's need to preach, his desire for redemption, was quite lovely. Or maybe it was just a pleasure to see Walton Goggins giving a raucous sermon again to a brand new flock.
There was a lot more to love about this episode, too. Raylan and Art buried the hatchet and said a fond farewell to each other with what was probably very expensive bourbon. Tim and Rachel both lived through the finale and the Lexington office will continue as it was. I was so glad that Constable Bob survived. And I loved Lappicola, the officer who arrested Raylan, telling him to shut up or he'd put him in the trunk.
Best of all, Raylan made it out of Harlan alive, and spent four years in Florida building a relationship with his daughter Willa. It's a shame that things with Winona didn't work out, but honestly, I wasn't surprised. Winona had said she was ready to accept Raylan as he was, but that might have just been too hard for her. And Raylan would never find it easy to settle down.
Bits and pieces:
-- Gold acting stars for Sam Elliott, who was a terrific final season villain. When his character was introduced, he and Katherine talked about taking out someone's eye, and that's how Markham died. Nice foreshadowing there.
-- The casting gods also did a fine job with Raylan and Winona's daughter Willa. Absolutely adorable child, and she could act. And Willa shares Raylan's love of ice cream.
-- How perfectly Boyd, throwing sticks of dynamite at the marshals from above.
-- Boyd and Ava stared at each other as the marshals were taking him away. It was just a nice little moment there, their last sight of each other. I like to think Boyd wouldn't have killed Ava if Raylan hadn't shown up.
-- When Raylan left, he gave Tim a dogeared paperback book, The Friends of Eddie Coyle by George V. Higgins. This is the book that made Elmore Leonard decide to switch from westerns to mystery/suspense. Nice tribute.
-- Also nice that they let us see Ellen May and Limehouse again.
-- Wynn Duffy's van had on it, "Down on All Fours Mobile Grooming: The experts of Doggy Style." Hilarious.
-- They brought in Jason Gedrick for about a minute to play Winona's husband or boyfriend, Richard. I think they wanted a recognizable actor in order to make it believable that Winona would prefer him to Raylan. Oddly, I just finished watching the first season of Bosch, in which Gedrick played a particularly creepy serial killer, so my reaction wasn't positive.
-- Who killed Vasquez's boss, Simon Poole? Was it Wynn Duffy? I guess it's not important.
Blue Moon bartender: "You wanna drink in here, you need a badge or a pair of tits."
Raylan: "Art, show 'em your tits."
Boyd: "Goddam, Raylan, your timing sucks!"
Art: "You tell Winona I said hey. I still don't know what she sees in you."
Raylan: "It'd be weird if you did."
Rachel: "Nice hat."
Raylan: "I tried it on and it fit."
Another callback to the pilot episode.
Winona: "You're the most stubborn man I have ever known."
Raylan: "Beats angry."
Ava: "All I got is water and water."
Raylan: "No Coca Cola or RC? Coffee?"
Ava: "It's not like you find me here running whores or robbing banks."
Raylan: "Every long time fugitive I've ever run down expects me to congratulate them for not doing what no one's supposed to be doing anyhow."
Boyd: "Raylan Givens, I know that you have never believed a word that has come out of my mouth, though I have harbored the secret hope that you have nevertheless enjoyed hearing them."
Raylan: "I suppose if I allow myself to be sentimental, despite all that has occurred, there is one thing I wander back to."
Boyd: "We dug coal together."
Raylan: "That's right."
That final scene between them was pretty much perfect. Their battle of wits ended, and Raylan won.
This finale was excellent, even if I found it a tiny bit unsatisfying. It was true to Elmore Leonard's style, and I understand why they chose to do that. Did they intentionally leave all of the major characters alive so that they could return to them someday when Boyd escapes from jail, which he inevitably will?
Four out of four black hats,
Billie Doux is the founder of Doux Reviews and has been reviewing her favorite shows for quite some time. More Billie Doux.