With only two hours remaining, Justified gets a little metaphorical as characters go up and down the mountain.
Let’s bitch it out…
Surveying the online response to ‘Collateral’, I find myself in the minority in that I’m not gushing with praise. Don’t get me wrong – I thought this was a great, solid episode of Justified. As a penultimate episode, however, I found myself dismayed that there are still so many balls in the air with only a single, regular-length episode to come next week.
Still, it’s hard to fault an hour of television that offers a preview of Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) and Boyd’s (Walton Goggins) inevitable shoot-out, brings back the simple, but sweet Constable Bob (Patton Oswalt) and doesn’t say farewell for human cockroach Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns). One thing that ‘Collateral’ does exceptionally well is keep the machine greased, as nothing feels particularly rushed, frantic or unearned and everyone gets a little slice of screen time to advance their plot*.
*The exception being Justified‘s always dependable supporting cast of Art (Nick Searcy) & Tim (Jacob Pitts) – both of whom are barely glimpsed – and Rachel (Erica Tazel) – who is completely absent. If creator Graham Yost has anything to answer for when the series wraps, it should be his mistreatment of these fine actors who seem to be forever sidelined in favour of colourful villains and guest stars.
Nearly all of ‘Collateral’ finds characters in search of others, in particular Ava (Joelle Carter) and her uncle Zachariah (Jeff Fahey). The pair must decide whether to remain on the mountain, which Ava suggests is suicide, or make a run for it, which is tantamount to acting without a plan. In the end they split the difference with Zachariah trying – and failing – to lay a trap for Boyd while Ava heads back down, only to be apprehended twice. I’m inclined to agree with Alan Sepinwall of Hitfix that I’ve grown disinterested in Ava’s fate, as her role in these final episodes is mere fodder to force Raylan and Boyd together. Both men are in hot pursuit and, as Boyd’s trigger happy actions and the adversaries’ desperate night time shoot-out attests to, they’re ready for true violence. Gone are the sarcastic quips and the playfulness; by the end of the series one or both of these men will definitely be dead.
The increased stakes are ultimately why I found ‘Collateral’ unsatisfying. We’ve spent six years invested in the outcome of Raylan and Boyd’s battle, but instead of being able to focus on them, we’re still spending time with Avery Markham (Sam Elliot), Boon (Jonathan Tucker) and cranktankerous ADA David Vasquez (Rick Gomez). In any other season, I would be psyched to see how things unfold with all of these characters, but with only one hour remaining, I desperately wish that the supporting cast had been handled so that we could focus on the main event exclusively in the series finale.
- Just in case you didn’t know we’re near the end: Raylan gives Arlo’s house away to one of the mountain men he and Boyd tangled with back in S4. It’s the last physical vestige keeping Ryland in Harlan aside from Boyd’s body.
- I really liked Shea Whigham’s nuanced turn as Merrill Hagan, the man that Boyd forces to drive him around at gunpoint. Hagan clearly knows who Boyd is and what fate awaits him, so there’s an inevitability to his fate. I was most intrigued by their conversation, which mines the legacy that Boyd will leave behind for the community. Hagan suggests that Boyd is Harlan’s outlaw and if you think about it, the bank robber has done good things (albeit for bad reasons) that have inadvertently helped to keep Harlan in the hands of its people. At the end of the day, however, he’s also a neo-Nazi, petty criminal who is unafraid to car jack an innocent man and shoot him. It’ll be interesting to see which Boyd goes down in history when this is all said and done.
- While I still feel that Avery and Katherine have ultimately taken away focus from the main event, his scene with her corpse, as he laments her inability to wait for him, is really well done. Quiet, poignant and devastating from a man who has kept his cards close to the vest.
- Speaking of Markham, it looks like that uncomfortably tense showdown with Loretta (Kaitlyn Dever) a few episodes back may pay off yet. With Boyd in the wind and Boon breathing down her neck, Loretta makes a pitch to partner with Markham. I definitely think that she’s going to be the sole inheritor of Harlan when the smoke clears next week.
- I initially figured that Wynn would high-tail it out of there, but it looks like my favourite Justified character is sticking around to try and weasel his way into a portion of that $10 million payload. If there’s one character I want to see survive, it’s this guy. I just honestly love Wynn Duffy (and Jere Burns’ delivery of his dialogue) SO MUCH!
- Seriously Vasquez has done a complete 180 this season into full-on asshole territory. I suppose after witnessing Art and the rest of the Marshal service handle Raylan with kid gloves for years, it would be frustrating to see him continue to receive special treatment, but putting out a BOLO? That’s a dick move. Plus it has the unfortunate result of potentially landing Raylan in jail to start off the series finale, which is yet another complication to resolve. There’s no time for this kind of stuff!
- Duffy (when Vasquez suggests he stick around): “Raylan Givens, Boyd Crowder and Avery Markham are soon to converge, Mr. Vasquez. Like the aligning of the planets, if those planets carried guns and hated my guts. I don’t ever plan on returning to Kentucky.”
- Art (responding to Tim’s inquiry about where he is) “Oh you know, just out scouring the countryside for dumbass”
- Officer Bob (arresting Ava): “And before you try to seduce me, you should know that it’s been tried before.”
- Boyd (before shooting Hagan): “I don’t give a shit about what you said: I’m an outlaw <gunshot>”
- Raylan (as Boyd inquires how he knows it was him): “Your teeth glow in the dark.”
Your turn: were you hoping for more resolution from these secondary story lines? Did the warm-up gunplay between Boyd and Raylan wet your appetite for the final showdown? Did you think that Constable Bob would die? Do you care about Ava’s fate? Will Loretta inherit Harlan? Sound off below.
Justified airs its series finale next Tuesday at 10pm EST on FX