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Justified: Alive Day

"Wonderful things can happen when you sow seeds of distrust in a garden of assholes."

Episodes like this one are the reason Justified is such exceptional television. Who knew that I would ever care if a brute like Choo-Choo lived or died?

Maybe Choo-Choo could have justified killing a bartender who was skimming pocket change, but he simply couldn't make himself kill a prostitute for his own mistake. Even with his mental limitations, Choo-Choo was aware that he had taken a course that would probably lead to his own death at Walker's hands, but he was compelled to do it anyway. It's too bad he couldn't go out the way he wanted. When the train braked before hitting him, I went "aww".

Seeing Walker as a human being for the first time was a surprise for me, too. Even though he is accustomed to killing (a hundred guys for the three of them is a lot), Walker just wasn't emotionally prepared to take out one of his own guys, and it showed. Gold acting stars for Garret Dillahunt (Walker) and Duke Davis Roberts (Choo-Choo).

Speaking of outstanding acting, how about Sam Elliott as Markham? He keeps making my skin crawl. Raylan said that mercenaries like Walker and Choo-Choo know killing, but they don't know crime. Avery Markham knows crime, and he is utterly devious. I have no idea why he proposed to Katherine with that great big diamond. Does he truly believe she ratted out her husband? Is he deflecting because he himself was the rat? Does he know Katherine is plotting to kill him? I have no idea where they're going with this, but the possibility that Markham knows what Katherine is up to is sort of fascinating.

Then there's Ava's uncle Zachariah, who just tried his best to bump Boyd off and ended up taking out the Pig, instead. I wasn't expecting that, although the set-up when Ava and Zachariah were talking about the lights on the helmet and how her father died in a cave-in should have clued me in. Boyd's minions tend to die horribly, don't they? Who'd want that job?

And then there is Boyd, who just got an interesting telephone call from Limehouse. How will he react to the news that Ava was trying to leave town? Which way will he jump? Boyd expressed some serious jealousy and possessiveness when he found Raylan hanging out in Ava's house, so I'm guessing Boyd still loves Ava and he is going to be shocked. (I was seriously disappointed in Limehouse, who is an active protector of abused women. I forgot that Limehouse is also all about the money, and what Ava did to fool Errol was bound to have consequences.)

Boyd did kill his friend Dewey Crowe, as we were reminded when Raylan asked about Dewey's whereabouts. I'm pretty sure Ava is in a different category than Dewey in Boyd's mind, but betrayal is betrayal, isn't it? I've been thinking all along that if Ava truly loved Boyd, she should have told him the truth from the beginning and trusted him to help her figure out a way around the situation with Raylan.

Which brings me around to our hero. I still have no idea what Raylan is doing with Ava. Did he kiss her to shock her back on track as his C.I. (a little more train imagery), or did he just want to hang out at her house to rile Boyd and get in some digs about Dewey Crowe and Mexico?

Nice scene with Art and Rachel. They were so on the same page, maybe not a surprise considering she was his first choice to replace him. It's so interesting that Art and Rachel pretty much agreed that pulling Raylan off the case and starting over was the smart thing to do, but they weren't going to do it. I bet Rachel will end up regretting that particular decision.

Walker is still alive. Maybe he'll turn on Markham. We shall see.

Bits and pieces:

-- Choo-Choo told Caprice about his "alive day," which is a close escape from death. (See Alive Day Memories.) It turned out to be Boyd's "alive day," though. When he went down through the hole in the mine floor, I jumped out of my chair.

-- Boyd has set up Earl in Ava's guest room for her protection. I bet that won't end well.

-- I'm not a fan of gunfights, but the ones on this show are always tense and unpredictable. This one was so real. Very well done.

-- I was so sure that Caprice the kindly hooker was going to die, but she didn't. Maybe it was because she was so nice to Choo-Choo. Even the nasty Seabass wasn't enthusiastic about killing her.

-- Wynn Duffy knows the four C's of diamonds: color, clarity, carat-weight, cut. I love Wynn Duffy. I really do.

-- Walker's beard reminds me of Rick Grimes in The Walking Dead, whose beard has gotten out of control. We had a fun discussion about "handsomely bearded and psychotically bearded" this week.


Ava: "Anyone but me just plain tired of the bullshit burdens of Southern hospitality?"

Detective: "Some murders the good Lord just wants to see solved."

Tim: "Silver lining. You keep that card on you, cops ever find you buried in a shallow grave, they know to give us a call."

Raylan: "Wonderful things can happen when you sow seeds of distrust in a garden of assholes."
Tim: "You just come up with that?"
Raylan: "I read it somewhere."
Tim: "Well, do me a favor and say it again slow so I can write it down."
According to Goodreads, it's an Elmore Leonard quote from Glitz. Of course.

Wynn: "The fact that he asked you to marry him doesn't mean he's not playing you. [...] Either way, we're gonna have to kill him."
Katherine: "Oh, it matters. If he's playing me, we're gonna have to kill him slow."

Four out of four C's of diamonds,

Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.


  1. This episode was definitely unexpectedly poignant. I had no idea I would end up finding Choo-Choo's swan song so moving. All the credit to both Garrett Dillahunt and Duke Davis Roberts, as you said, Billie. Both the scene in the car between Choo-Choo and Caprice and the one in the pizza shop between Walker and Markham were really great. This season they've done a much better job all around of giving us bad guys and side characters that it is a joy to spend time with, even when they are doing terrible, no good, very bad things.

    Sam Elliott as Markham is definitely making my skin crawl. I still become intensely afraid any time he looks over at Tim after Tim has made some smart ass remark. My brain starts screaming "Stop talking to that guy, Tim! Don't you know that you are supposed to just be quiet and still so that the scary monster can't see you? You are a secondary character on a show in its final season, don't draw attention to yourself!"

    I had myself a good laugh over the diamond four C's discussion. The fourth C popped into my head as it was going along, and I yelled out "Cut!" immediately before Wynn Duffy did the same. Then I had to pause the show because I was laughing so hard.

    Also, I had that very same thought about Walker's beard as I was watching the episode, Billie. :) Probably because we were discussing Rick's beard the day before. Those two characters should have a "who looks crazier?" beard off. (In general, I think Rick looks a bit more psychotic than Walker, but I have every confidence that Dillahunt could give him a run for his money on that front. That man's talented.)

  2. This show is on fire with great acting and writing in its last season! I love how they are taking pains to bring back all of the fascinating characters for at least one more encore. Even the minor ones like the hardware store clerk. Seeing Mags Bennett one more time would be the acme of this roll call, but alas she’s buried in them deep dark hills along with what must be two thirds of the recurring guest cast.

    Props also to Walt Goggins as Boyd for his acting in the coal mine. When he fell in that hole the fear on his face was unbearable, especially because he’s always in control. It made me really feel what it’s like to be down in a coal mine. I’ve done some caving in Eastern Kentucky but natural made limestone caves are nowhere near as scary as being down in a human dug coal mine. Only other time he got close to losing it was when that preacher picked up those real snakes. It will be fascinating to see how he reacts to Ava being a CI.

    Whatever goes down in the end game (and that is so deliciously unpredictable at this point!) I think Ava will be right in the middle of it. I do fear greatly for her.

    My only nitpick about this show, and it’s one I can live with, is the locations. I was raised in Kentucky, lived in California most of my life, and rode quite a few motorcycles on the back roads of both. Grass Valley California, the stand in for Ky on Justified, is nothing at all like Eastern Kentucky. And with the drought that’s more true than ever. Grass Valley was chosen because it was the one part of Cali that’s green nearly year round. Now even it has turned brown. Sure wish they had actually filmed in Harlan. They could use the money there.

  3. I'm also loving this season (in no small part because I've marathoned all the episodes in about 24 hours, which is the best way to do it).

    Like Jess, I'm really on tenterhooks about the prospect of Tim dying. But I'm also sort of enjoying how many other people are dying. (Wow, that sentence makes me sound like a psychopath, doesn't it?) It's a nice reminder of the stakes, as well as just how little a life of crime pays.

  4. Oho man, Choo Choo rules! Can't believe he'd end up hitting me in the feels... that stuff where he seems to be aware on some level of what he had before the shrapnel-to-the-head damage... :( As for me though I wasn't disappointed when the train slowed down so much as amused. I mean I felt bad momentarily that he didn't get to end it as he meant to, but then we find out he expired right there anyway, and I felt sorta glad for him. And it just felt like prime Justified humor that the train would slow down.

    The problem with really cool mini roles like this is that I start feeling less patient with main character roles in comparison... namely the Ava-as-CI stuff. This Ava is just not interesting at all, even if it's still an improvement over the prison stuff. But it makes it feel like even more of a waste because I was hoping for more of a PUNISHED AVA arc once she was released with the horror she experienced there. But she's just... scrabbling to get away. I mean I get it... but it's just there, soaking up time as it only ever remains the thing that gets us to the thing (though the last scene was a very cool and ahead-of-schedule development indeed). And I like Limehouse (and Errol) so I'm glad to see him sticking himself into the endgame plot.

    Avery Markham is great, but I was really looking forward to Katherine being a force of nature of her own, and here's she kinda just been someone reacting to another villain more scary than her. But she's still interesting, and I wonder what they'll do with her.

    Great episode. Like it was said on BrBa, "Nothing stops this train." ;_;

  5. My read on the Ava and Raylan kiss is that Ava is VERY desperate to get out of her situation and using her feminine wile (as she later calls it) to lure Raylan in. Raylan, at this point, is single and lonely and a pretty lady kisses him, so he obliges. I think he's also doing it to get Ava back on track. I do not think these two have any lingering feelings between them. Raylan never seemed remotely as interested in Ava as she did in him in S1/S2. There's a reason she was always asking questions about Winona and was visibly upset when he said that Winona was the most beautiful women he ever saw (and to be fair. Winona is insanely gorgeous while Ava is cute).


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