There are many things I love about Justified, but I think two particular examples from last night’s season finale really highlight what makes the show so great: First of all, the opening scene with Raylan, Winona, and Nicky Augustine’s elf and elfgoons. That could have easily been dragged out as the focus of the whole episode (Raylan trying to figure out how to save Winona and Baby Rayleen — which, again, is officially the baby’s name as far as I’m concerned — while he was a hostage himself, tons of “don’t hurt the baby” drama, etc.). Instead, within the first 10 minutes or so, Mama and Papa put about a dozen bullets into the bad guys and we were off to deal with other important business. This show moves fast. Try to keep up.
The second example was the whole bit with Delroy’s body. In an episode that started with a fetus being held hostage, and included heavy themes like heartbreak and the lengths to which both “good guys” (Raylan) and “bad guys” (Boyd) will go to protect the people most important to them, we also got an extended, darkly hilarious grave-digging/corpse-swapping farce. And, somehow, it totally worked.
But the real story last night — for me, at least — was that we finally got our big Raylan/Boyd moment, and it was a doozy. Showrunner Graham Yost has said in a number of interviews that one of their goals this season was not to lean on that crutch too much, which was probably a good thing, but last night, with the Drew Thompson situation resolved and Ellen May alive in a safe house, the time was right to put the two men in a truck and let them talk. What was interesting about that scene, besides the terrific dialogue, was that it was the exact moment where the two men were sliding past each other on the Can They Have It All? Scale. After a season of turmoil and a tense moment where he almost lost his unborn daughter and ex-wife, Raylan was about to settle family business once and for all with the help a strange bedfellow. Boyd, on the other hand, was in the middle of watching his happy suburban future with Ava melt away like Dairy Queen soft-serve in the sun. That’s what made their exchange so powerful. What do they tell themselves that allows them to not feel like bad guys, especially given the frequently fuzzy means they employ to achieve their frequently fuzzy ends?
Goddamn, I love this show.
And now, the highlights:
- Raylan successfully delayed his suspension for the better part of half a season. Strong work on his part.
- Say what you will about Winona, and I know many of you have said plenty, but it takes a mighty special woman to shoot a mob goon in the groin while carrying around a tiny human in her belly. Verdict: Down-ass chick. (NOTE: Important GIFs on the next page.)
- Raylan Givens, grief counselor: “That guy you shot… you good?”
- Raylan got suspended for doing his job. That’s why the Chinese are kicking our ass.
- What do you think Roz has been up to these past few episodes? I liked her.
- WYNN DUFFY BACK
- Everything about the confrontation between Raylan and Nicky Augustine was delightful, although I will miss making GUTS references now that he’s gone.
- Couple good reads, if you’re interested: Graham Yost’s interview with Alan Sepinwall, and his final postmortem with EW.
- For all Boyd’s eloquence, he is not always great at hiding his purpose. (“Ava, why don’t you go behind the bar and pretend you’re cleaning up?”)
- Speaking of Ava, yuuuuuuuuuuuuup. The writing was on the wall for something bad to happen to her, and sho nuff, there it was. Even though they’re both unrepentant murderous whoremongers at this point, that scene between her and Boyd at the end was heart-vaporizing. Boyd’s face after they kissed? And the shot of him looking at the pretty backyard they may never get to share? Hoo boy.
- So Boyd will go on an absolute rampage next season, yes? This is what we’re getting at? Because, if so, YESYESYESYESYESYES.
- The season ended perfectly, with Raylan closing up the hole in the wall that started the Drew Thompson fiasco, drinking a beer, and making silent peace with the fact that his no-good father was in the ground, and there’s a open spot nearby waiting for him if (or when) his own reckless lifestyle catches up with him, all set to the tune of “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive.” That’s some heavy sh-t.
Two notes in closing:
- Many, many thanks go out to Chet Manley, who provided us with 10-15 excellent GIFs from every episode. I have no idea how GIFs get made (my working theory is that they are the result of sorcery), but I do know that every morning when I woke up and got ready to pound these recaps out, I already had an email full of badass animated images waiting for me in my inbox. Everyone go follow him on Tumblr.
- Congratulations to Otto Man, who will be the recipient of Justified Season 3 DVDs for his consistently top-notch commenting in these discussions. Lots of you earned the Raylan badge, so it was a tough choice, but Otto brought the heat week-in week-out.
Thanks again, everybody. This season was a blast. Please do not shoot me while I’m sitting in my limousine.