Justified continues its swan song as the wagons continue to warily circle each other before the lash hurrah.
Let’s bitch it out…
I have a bit of a love / hate relationship with this episode (Side Bar: we might blame the fact that I’m getting up early to watch these episodes and I’m usually kind of groggy). On one hand, I’m growing increasingly tired of what has begun to feel like extraneous plot courtesy of Avery Markham (Sam Elliott) and Katherine (Mary Steenburgen). I think that if this were any other season, I would be completely enthralled in their story line, but because this is the final season, it feels like these two are detracting from the real showdown between Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) and Boyd (Walton Goggins). Admit it: do you actually care if the snitch that got Katherine’s husband killed was Avery (or Avery-adjacent)? I’m guessing the answer is probably not.
With that said, it’s hard to deny that watching thespians like Steenburgen, Elliott and Garret Dillahunt (RIP Ty Walker) tear up the screen is damn entertaining. In the grand tradition of Justified, these folk are doing amazing work, so it’s hard to fault them for bringing their A game to these disreputable characters.
‘Dark As A Dungeon’ is about setting up the end game. For the first time, characters are laying their cards on the table, which means we get a lot of very candid talk and a few unlikely partnerships. Raylan opens the episode by cleaning house following Winona’s visit, the clearest move yet that he’s ready to leave Harlan behind. He approaches Avery with a plan to smoke out Boyd, dangling Avery’s fortune in front of the bank robber like bait in order to accelerate his downfall. It’s a gamble, for sure (Avery’s face when he hands Boyd the $100 grand reward for selling out Walker is priceless), but Raylan knows that this is the best way to convince Boyd to undertake a final heist. As Raylan repeatedly says throughout the episode, money is a surefire motivator.
For me the big scene of the night is when Raylan straight up admits that he’s gunning for Boyd on his front lawn. The verbal gloves come off as the men challenge each other. Raylan admits to Boyd that his arrest is the sole factor keeping him in town and Boyd, knowing his adversary just as well, questions whether Raylan can really leave him behind. They’ve danced around this issue for years, but to hear it stated aloud – and so explicitly! – is kind of amazing. Boyd knows that Raylan is out to get him, but he can’t walk away from the $10 million jackpot, even as Ava (Joelle Carter) begs him to take the smaller pay-out and run. But he won’t do things half-ass, just as Raylan anticipated. Now the stage is set for the final confrontation.
- Raylan is easily able to deduce that Zachariah (Jeff Fahey) is part of Boyd’s plan. Despite finding the dynamite for the heist and learning the details courtesy of Ava, the Marshal doesn’t act, though. He may be emptying his house in his eagerness to leavem, but he won’t move against Boyd unless he can be assured his nemesis takes the fall.
- Speaking of fall, Ava’s deal is up. Raylan correctly deduces that his CI has changed sides and he tells Rachel (Erica Tazel) as much. This means that Ava is officially fair game, yet strangely this feels the safest she’s been all season. Sure she’s thrown in with Boyd, but she’s probably not going to get a bullet in the back of the head unexpectedly any more.
- If all of these partnerships work out, I will eat a Marshal’s hat. I’m betting that Avery runs his own plan to take out Boyd.
- Speaking of unlikely allies, Katherine enlists Art (Nick Searcy) to help her. This is the second Art scene in as many weeks that doesn’t do much to advance the plot, but just like his contentious interview with Avery last week, it sure is fun to watch him verbally spar.
- Early in the hour, Raylan finds Arlo’s (Raymond J Barry) war crate and burns the contents. The exception is the key to his father’s hidey-hole, which Raylan always believed was filled with dark secrets when he was a child. When he enters at the end of the hour, however, Raylan is surprised to discover that the room is empty. Again, this isn’t the most important scene in the final season, but it is nice to see the pair of actors interact one (presumably) last time and to offer closure to the worst father/son relationship on TV.
- Katherine (when Mikey mentions Wynn cleaning his shirt): “Guacamole? It’s 9 in the morning.” It’s like Katherine doesn’t know Wynn (Jere Burns) at all!
- Boyd (to Raylan): “Do you want to lean in for a kiss?” I’m sure there’s already slash fiction for that.
- Raylan (when Ty calls BS on being shot in the back): “You wanted to get hit in the front you should have run towards me”
- Raylan (after Boyd’s lawyer gets them off): “You’re a good lawyer. All of the good ones have ponytails.”
Your turn: do you feel that Avery and Katherine are drawing attention away from the main event? Are you surprised at how frank Raylan was with Boyd? Is Ava in big trouble now that her CI protection is gone? Sad that Walker exited with a whimper? And where do things go from here? Sound off below.
Justified airs Tuesdays at 10pm EST on FX