There’s this thing that big fancy television series do in their final seasons where the penultimate episode is a blood-soaked fiasco. It’s hard to cite examples of this without spoiling two or three really good shows in the first paragraph of a recap for a different show, so it’s best if you take my word for it. My point is that, heading into last night’s episode of Justified, I was wondering if/how Justified would attempt to up the carnage from last week, and whether doing so would result in Harlan turning into a smoking lifeless crater like a meteor hit it. The answer, for the most part, was “Nah.”
It makes sense, though, for a couple reasons. First of all, because they just killed off Carl in the hospital and Katherine and Mikey in an extended, heartbreaking Winnebago fracas, and killing off more important characters this week would be brutal on the audience. Everyone needed a bit of a breather after that, especially if we’re all gearing up for the final standoff between Raylan and Boyd next week. That’s kind of the second point. Justified hasn’t always played by the rules of other prestige-type dramas because at its heart it’s more of a cowboy show. A very good, very fun cowboy show, but still. And like any good cowboy show, it’s setting up for one big final showdown at sunset.
And set up it did. The big moment was obviously the teaser duel between Raylan and Boyd, which was ultimately fruitless but still very telling. Raylan has killed a lot of people over six-plus seasons, but this was the first time it appeared to be pure bloodlust. He just wanted to shoot Boyd so bad, and not in his capacity as a lawman, either. Just straight-up murder. And Boyd, for his part, had just quite literally declared himself an outlaw by blowing an innocent man’s head off in a pick-up truck and maiming Constable Bob off-camera. They’re two predators hunting different prey (Raylan/Boyd, Boyd/Money), all of which had become quite complicated by the end of the episode, thanks to Ava getting apprehended by Markham’s men and Raylan getting apprehended by half the law enforcement agents in Kentucky after dropping Bob off at the hospital. So, there’s that. Next week should be fun.
Also, I’m aware that I’m talking about an episode that depicted violent deaths of at least three people, one of whom blew himself to kingdom come with dynamite in an attempted murder-suicide, and I’m describing it as largely non-violent deck shuffling. Justified is that kind of show.
– Lot going on in Wynn Duffy world, too. Short version: His assets are frozen by the government as part of the fallout from the scene in the RV last week, but he doesn’t particularly care because he’s planning on going after the Markham money in a dog grooming van he acquired using a diamond tennis bracelet he pulled off a corpse and stored inside a prescription toothpaste tube as payment. Wynn Duffy is the greatest. I hope next episode opens with him getting six feet of air in the speeding dog van like in Dumb and Dumber.
– Something our own Chet Manley pointed out: How long could you have watched Vasquez go through Wynn’s personal items? Correct answer: Hours. The man is fascinating. I could probably watch an entire episode of him describing the things he owns, like Cribs. I’m picturing an entire storage locker filled with women’s tennis memorabilia.
– You know what’s fun? Picture a TV show where every single thing that happens in Justified happens, but it’s all from Vasquez’s point of view, and he’s the hero. Like, a lawyer show called Kentucky Justice about him trying to bring down organized crime figures while investigating an incompetent and possibly corrupt deputy U.S. marshal whose entire office tries to cover for him. It… it kinda works, right?
– “So, it looks we can’t keep the whole Raylan-Givens-gone-rogue thing in-house.” Tim’s insistence on remaining sarcastic and refusing to give a single hoot about anything is practically life-affirming at this point.
– R.I.P. one-off character played by Shea Whigham, probably best known as Eli Thompson from Boardwalk Empire, killed by Boyd Crowder in his own pickup truck after his attempt to butter Boyd up by calling him Harlan’s own Billy the Kid went for naught. Very cool that Justified was able to snag him for what amounted to a few minutes of screen time.
– R.I.P. Uncle Zachariah, killed in a self-inflicted dynamite explosion outside an abandoned cabin in the woods. This seems about right.
– R.I.P. Loretta’s dipsh*t protection/kinda-boyfriend, Derek, killed by Markham after Boon shot him and left him to wriggle in pain on the floor of a barn for an unspecified but not insignificant amount of time. You were a total boob and it’s incredible you made it this long.
– Speaking of Loretta… At first I thought she was New Mags, due to all the moonshine and the Harlan Pride stuff. Then I thought maybe she was New Boyd after the sneaky drug plotting and passionate speech at the Pizza Portal. But now, after watching her sidle up to Markham in self-preservation after essentially doing the same with Raylan and Boyd earlier in the season, I think I figured it out. She’s New Wynn Duffy. It’s tough to pick up on because she’s not as fancy or outwardly sleazy, but she’s a survivor who will cash-in whatever chips she has to stick around. She’ll buy a tanning bed with her drug money eventually. I know it.
– I spent about 10 minutes this morning thinking about that hillbilly showing up to a real estate office with this piece of paper and trying to claim Raylan’s land. I giggled the entire time. Seriously, picture the agent’s face as it bounces back and forth between the hillbilly and this very official looking document. I hope they do a webisode about it.
– One episode left. I am both ready and very, very not ready. Time to find out once and for just who ain’t leaving Harlan alive.
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