A review of tonight's “Justified” coming up just as soon as I'm an alcoholic porn addict with a full tank of gas…
“You can be with me and still be you, if that's something you want.” -Winona
There have been a lot of full-circle moments in this final “Justified” season, as characters look back on old cases, or fights, or other moments they remember even better than we do, since they lived them. “The Hunt” focuses primarily on the once and potentially future love interests of our main hero and villain, and returns to familiar settings for discussion what happened, what's to come, and how much one partner in each relationship has to accept the true nature of the other.
Raylan spends much of the hour taking some time away from the job to be with Winona and baby Willa, and if they're not staying in the exact motel room where he lived early in the series, it looks an awful lot like it. Though Willa cries through much of their time together – she's at her most peaceful, interestingly, when Raylan takes her to the office(*) – it's the happier, more optimistic romantic interlude of the episode's two. Winona is not only interested in taking him back – which she essentially was when he was on the verge of moving to Florida – but will now meet him more than halfway, even if that means returning to Kentucky, being the wife of a reckless U.S. Marshal, etc. Unless you assume that Raylan's recent advances with Ava were about anything but controlling his informant – and we still don't know exactly what they did together in between episodes – this is such an offer he can't refuse that one wonders if it's foreshadowing an upbeat ending for our hero, or just a cruel tease of what he'll be denied when he enters one gunfight too many.
(*) Though that may just be because he was driving her around in his car for a while. Cranky baby + car seat + long car ride = miracle, more often than not.
Boyd, meanwhile, decides the best place to confront Ava about what Limehouse told him is at his father's old cabin in Bulletville, which is where he and Raylan killed a whole mess of people in the first season finale of the same name. This is much uglier, more violent business, reflective of the higher stakes for this pair than for Raylan and Winona. It's perhaps as cold as we've ever seen Boyd, which makes sense given his feelings for Ava and how deeply her apparent betrayal must sting, but it's still tough watching him order her around, her use sex with him as a blatant self-defense mechanism, and in so many other ways give us a sense of what her life was like with Boyd's brother Bowman. She passes his test with the unloaded pistol, and he swears he can find a way out of this mess for both of them, but we've heard Boyd talk big plenty of times in the past, with mixed actual results. (That's one of the reasons he's left behind a trail of traitorous former allies, which he and Ava talk about here.)
In the end, Winona and Raylan come to a relatively healthy understanding of each other, while Ava and Boyd arrive at a far more twisted and precarious detente. It's hard to imagine happy endings for both couples, and possibly for either, but the odds certainly favor the man with the hat and the woman without enough sleep.
Some other thoughts:
* The show is committing to the idea of Art being done with active duty, but keeps finding ways to involve him in the case tangentially. Here, it's the marvelous scene where he slides into the conference room to have a chat with Avery Markham. It's a duet between two wily old liars, played by two wily old actors, with Art playing dumb, even as he knows that Markham knows he's playing dumb. I don't know if their encounter is going to add anything to the bigger picture of the season, but I was glad we got to watch it.
* Ty Walker's fugitive adventures play out in the background of the relationship drama, but he appears to be nearing the end of the line. Is the man he wants to see Markham, or Seabass, who chooses a stack of cash over his old comrade in arms?
* Given that Raylan and Tim instantly recognize that Ty gave away his credit cards to cover his trail, do you figure those frat boys just got to keep spending his money on the way to Florida, or would some kind of law enforcement be sent to check on them, just in case?
* The baby or babies playing Willa were pretty good, but were they “American Sniper” robot baby good? I don't know about that.
What did everybody else think?
Alan Sepinwall may be reached at email@example.com