On January 20th, FX’s Justified began its sixth and final season. Based on several Elmore Leonard works, Justified follows Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant), a US Marshal who is “exiled” to his hometown of Harlan, Kentucky. Raylan frequently finds himself in conflict with erstwhile mining buddy, now criminal mastermind, Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), as the two attempt to coexist in a world that seems a little too small for both of them. Justified highlights the local culture and explores numerous themes, such as family, religion, history and the thin line that divides the good guys from the bad.
Join Jeff (of Slazenger1) and me in the coming months as we honor this criminally underrated drama with a series of “RayActions” to each of Justified’s Season 6 episodes. These posts will not be particularly formal, but will give us the chance to make some observations and reflect on each episode, likely culminating in a full Season 6 Dead Season Discussion after the finale.
This week’s RayAction is focused on Justified Season 6, Episode 4 – “The Trash and the Snake.” It contains SPOILERS for the entire series of Justified. Fire in the Hole!
“The Trash and the Snake” was an episode that, presumably like Negroni, takes a little while to grow on a person (or me at least).
Wynn Duffy took Boyd on an adventure to meet his “crack” safebreaker. (See what I did there? Wynn would be proud.) Jake Busey’s and dirty blondes with snakes named Rudy were involved before Jake randomly exploded. That happened about halfway through the episode and it was never mentioned again. I enjoy Justified’s unique sense of humor as much as anyone, but this was too predictable and too meaningless for me to really enjoy.
Ava and Katherine Hale went on some cocaine-fueled escapades, stealing a diamond bracelet so Katherine could relive the good ‘ole days when she was Queen Regent of Harlan. I loved this story because it was really the first character development we’d gotten from Katherine since her introduction at the end of Season 5. Finally, she has a past, personality, and motivations. Oh, she used to run Harlan from behind her husband and now she wants revenge on her husband’s killer while regaining some of her former power? I can get into that.
In addition, this was the first time Hale has seemed dangerous. “Crime advisor” doesn’t exactly strike fear into the average viewer’s heart, but something about the way she smiled at Ava, suggesting she knows more than she’s letting on, was downright terrifying. Even more terrifying was the name “Albert Fekus,” not because of his potential impact the season, but because it’s going to remind us of that not-so-good section of Season 5.
A quick scene with Dickie Bennett (and holy smokes, how good is Jeremy Davies?) reintroduced Loretta McCready as another property owner under siege by Markham. Raylan, having assumed the role of “father figure” to the disinterested Loretta, swooped to the rescue, giving us one of the most memorable scenes of the season. Raylan and Markham do little more than trade barbs and threats. However, hanging over the entire scene was a glass of “Apple Pie” (recipe from a “dear friend”) sitting in front of Walker, and then Markham. Would anyone drink? Was it poisoned? I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, even as Markham asked Loretta to try a little first.
That was the moment Avery Markham soared as a Justified villain. We’ve seen plenty of vicious criminals with bad intentions roll through Harlan since Season 2. Robert Quarles, Nicky Augustine, Darryl Crowe. All have come and gone, usually because of their failure to understand Harlan. They underestimated Raylan or Boyd or both (or the quickness of Limehouse’s cleaver hand) and they paid the price for it. Markham grew up in Harlan. He will not make that mistake. He’s vicious, he’s smart, and he knows his environment.
What did you think of “The Trash and the Snake,” Jeff? And is Avery Markham the best non-Mags villain in Justified history? Is there a chance for Markham to finish the series at #1?
Is Avery Markham this season’s Preacher Billy? We get an outstanding scene in Loretta’s packed dining room (seriously, how did Tim and Walker and Loretta have only one line each?) that rivals last episode’s dinner table meeting at Ava’s. Raylan and Markham size each other up and by the end of the scene, they know where the other stands. Their cards are pretty much on the table. And this is episode 4. I can’t imagine they can drag/escalate this tension for another 9 episodes, or even 3 or 4.
Plus, there’s Ava. She goes on a drug assisted robbery field trip with a quietly threatening Katherine Hale, which ends with her scared out of her mind. She’s about to confess her deal with Raylan to Boyd at episode’s end (at least that’s how I read it) and then he stops her and tells her they’re going to stay in Harlan and farm pot legally. Oh boy, just what she wants, if you can’t tell by her crying. I don’t see her holding out for more than another episode or two, being pulled in so many directions.
Boyd probably has a little bit longer game going on, especially if they give him more disconnected side stories like the one in this episode. Every scene with Wynn Duffy is a gift, but I so wish Justified would have given us the present of seeing the car trip with Boyd, Wynn and Wiz all lined up in the front seat of Wiz’s Ranchero (it looked kind of like a Ranchero anyway). Alas, we didn’t get that, but we did get Wynn describing a Negroni, talking about his surfing trophies and getting covered in blood, again, when Jake Busey went boom just like in Contact. Ultimately, this semi-entertaining side story was pretty inconsequential, though it might get people talking about Shasta McNasty again. Just kidding. Nobody wants to talk about that.
Art shows up again to be a harbinger of death, but instead of “what if the bullet finds you?” it’s “I’m telling you not to get your ass bit.” If this happens again in episode 7, I’m going to be pretty worried about Raylan. Raylan doesn’t seem too worried though, or maybe he’s secretly nervous about going back to Florida, so he wants to be Harlan’s own St. Patrick. I love that he’s still protecting Loretta though. She and Dickie Bennett are always welcome sights on this show. Just gotta get some Bob Sweeney now!
As for your questions. I liked this episode more than you, but probably not more than I liked last week’s (which was slightly less than you, I think). Quality judgments/comparisons are weird. I love Markham so far, but I need to see how his story plays out, and whether he sticks it out for the whole season, before I can make a call on where he ranks. He’s matched wits with Boyd and Raylan now, I’m not sure if there’s anywhere else for him to go.
LINE OF THE NIGHT
Patches: “F.Y.I., my guy’s a handful; irritating. His brain’s fried from who knows what kind of drugs. You’re gonna want to punch him, but he’s very good. I’m saying have fun with it.” –Wynn Duffy, warning Boyd Crowder about The Wiz.
Patches: Will Justified find a way to make a complicated season work? This is shaping up to be a complex season with tons of villains, forty schemes and counter-schemes, and Ava as what seems like a quintuple agent at this point. Generally, the simpler the season, the better the Justified. Will they buck the trend?
Jeff: How is Boyd going to find out about Ava? I feel it has to happen soon, the question is, will Ava tell it, Katherine spill it, or some other option, like Ava somehow convincing Boyd she’s informing for someone else?
Patches: The Wiz or Leslie Arzt: Which random explosion you got?
Jeff: Arzt, definitely, though if you’re willing to go a non-lethal route with the same amount of blood splatter, I can link to this glorious Mad Men gif.
Jeff: If this is the last we see of Dickie Bennett: A) was it even worth bringing him back for one short scene, and B) are you satisfied with his swan song?
Patches: A) Yes! Dickie Bennett is always worth it, plus it served the purpose of reintroducing Loretta. B) Dude, he greeting Raylan and Tim with a “Ho ho! What up, pimps!” I don’t think they’re gonna top that.
Patches: Does Raylan want to go after every snake because he’s a great lawman or because he’s a terrible father?
Jeff: I have to believe it’s a bit of both, though I suspect it’s more the former than the latter. I think he just sees an opportunity to leave Kentucky with fewer loose ends dangling.
Jeff: What does Tim imagine Sigourney Weaver’s last words to him will be? “There is no Dana, only Zuul”?
Patches: I don’t know… Maybe he’s a big Galaxy Quest fan and it’s “Whoever wrote this episode should die!”
Patches: This season ends with Ty about to murder Loretta when her dad wakes her up and tells her she was having a nightmare, doesn’t it?
Jeff: Of course. But only if her dad is Tim Allen.
Jeff: Will Justified give us the satisfaction of a real showdown between Raylan and Walker, or will they subvert it somehow a la Danny Crowe?
Patches: There’s too many villains for them not to subvert one of them. That said, they teased something about the two subverted villains throughout the season (Quarles’ wrist gun & Danny’s 21-foot rule). I’m not sure what there is to subvert at the moment.