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 10 – “Trust.” It contains SPOILERS for the entire series of Justified. Fire in the Hole!
How is next episode not the series finale?
“Trust” gives us SO MANY CLIFFHANGERS that I can imagine the show needing three episodes to resolve them, but the tension was so high this week that I’m already geared up for an explosive finale. So many things are left up in the air, it’s no wonder this episode clocked in under the 40-minute mark. Still, I’ll take it because by golly, things happen and people take action.
Mikey Cosmatopolis decides that he’s not all talk when it comes to his code. Plus, he’s probably tired of being harassed by Wynn. So he takes matters into his own hands, slamming Wynn’s head onto the table and handcuffing him inside the Wynnebago and removing all four(!) of Wynn’s deadly weapons. Of course, when he tries to call Katherine, he gets voicemail. Also, aren’t many RV tables made to come apart, collapse and fold into the wall? Maybe it’s too obvious by this point, but I kept thinking “I hope Mikey handcuffed him correctly.”
Poor Dewey’s blood-stained gator tooth necklace finally shows up again, hinting to Ava, who passes on to Raylan, that Boyd murdered Dewey Crowe. Raylan doesn’t seem to think there’s enough proof, particularly without a body. Seems to me that Tim picked up someone who just might know where the body is though, and he’s probably not particularly happy with Boyd, or at least he won’t be when he finds out that Boyd set him and Earl up to be arrested (I’m talking about Carl, in case you can’t tell).
Boyd nabs Katherine and uses her to get Markham to finally part with his $10 million. Trouble is, Markham already knows Katherine only cares about his money (if it wasn’t clear from her longing look at the dough), so how certain can we be that those bags are entirely filled with cold, hard cash? Boyd puts the cherry on top by revealing to Markham that ripping him off was Katherine’s revenge plan all along. She admits to Markham that she doesn’t think he killed her husband anymore, but the look he gives her to close the scene suggests they’re way beyond that now.
Boon, AKA Hillbilly the Kid, continues his campaign for best henchman with another great episode. I could watch him talk to Raylan for an entire hour (even if he should talk less), and his loyalty and understanding of how things work makes him seem like a younger, crazier Boyd Crowder. But it’s really his attempt to “find out what kind of entertainment this shithole has to offer” that might be the highlight of the episode for me.
It’s a four-and-a-half minute exploration of power, posturing and the building of tension. Boon starts things rolling with his opening observation about coffee-filling etiquette, snowballs through the business about the hat and reaches the cliff’s edge with his final pseudo-threat about “not leaving empty-handed.” It’s so good that I’m dying for resolution and I hope it’s a good one. It’s like a fun cross between this and this. The best part about this whole scene? We didn’t know any of these characters two episodes ago, but it’s still undeniably Justified. Brilliant.
Lastly, there’s the whole bit about Ava shooting Boyd (again) and taking off with the money, screwing over both her supposed fiance and also Raylan, who is unwilling to shoot her (or the tires of the truck). Just where the hell do we go from here? We’ve talked a lot about escalation and about getting this season’s new baddies out of the way before finishing the story of our Big Three, but Ava, and Justified have thrown us a bit of a curve. They’ve given us what might’ve been a penultimate episode two weeks early. It seems like a gamble. This episode is titled “Trust,” however. Is it possible not to trust that the Justified gang is going to finish strong?
Bit of a curve? I’ll do you one better and say that “Trust” may have up-ended the entire premise of Justified. We’ve been thinking this whole time that we were watching a show about Raylan and Boyd when in reality, we may have been watching a show about Raylan and Ava. Justified basically began in Ava’s kitchen and, lest we forget, Raylan was reunited with Ava before he ran into Boyd.
To directly answer your likely hypothetical question, “no.” I’m writing this four days after my first viewing, which seems to be how long it takes for me to separate an episode from what I wanted it to be. There are lots of people out there (I call them “The Joyless”) who are only happy when their expectations are fulfilled. I could see “Trust” being controversial on those grounds alone. Plus, let’s face it, a Raylan/Boyd showdown would make for an incredible finale.
However, Ava’s “betrayal” just makes too much damn sense. In a way, the audience has been placed in the boots of Boyd and Raylan all season. We, like both characters, took Ava for granted. Boyd and Raylan assumed they had Ava under their thumbs and we assumed the same. Some of us (such as yours truly!) played around with the idea that Ava was going to be more important than we suspected, but my guess is that most of us expected Ava only to choose a side. If we were surprised by Ava’s actions, imagine how Raylan and Boyd must feel. Both were looking past Ava towards their seemingly inevitable showdown, just like we were. It makes perfect sense for Ava to take advantage of that.
Perhaps best of all, this one decision pretty much justified Season 5’s worst storyline. I think both of us accepted Ava’s adventures in Em City last season as a sort of necessary evil to set up Season 6. Now, it’s clear that it was indispensable to Ava’s entire character arc.
As we recall, Ava’s drifted from one man to the next throughout Justified, relying on them for support, affection, and meaning. First, Bowman. After she shot him, she kissed Raylan the moment he walked in the door. When Raylan drifted back to Winona, Ava got together with Boyd. In jail, however, Ava was abandoned by Boyd and Raylan only popped in to use her in a case. I’m still not a fan of S5’s prison plotline, but it’s clear that Justified ends very differently without it. Prison is where Ava learned that she was on her own. In “Trust,” Ava did the only thing that made sense given that fact.
Elsewhere, meaning with the show’s other villains, things have taken a turn for the Shakespearian. Our remaining antagonists have found themselves about as star-crossed as imaginable. It’s clear that Avery and Katherine could have lived out their golden years together making obscene amounts of dope money and lounging around hotel rooms in their bathrobes. However, their mutual lack of trust has doomed at least one of them. Both believed the other betrayed Grady Hale. Avery could make peace with it. Katherine couldn’t. And when Boyd gleefully told Avery that Katherine was trying to steal his money, you could actually pinpoint the second when his heart ripped in half. There is no way both of them make it out of Harlan alive.
Wynn Duffy’s tragic flaw is hubris. He clearly sees himself as the ultimate survivor. This led him to take his bodyguard Mikey for granted and underestimate Mikey’s loyalty to “the code.” A better judge of character would have grasped either Mikey’s romantic ideals of “honor among thieves” or at least his willingness to abandon those ideals once they were shattered. Both of them are not going to make it out of Harlan alive either.
Speaking of hamartia, this season’s henchmen have had it in spades, and I love it! This has been my favorite season of Justified so far (/crosses fingers) and I think it’s been because of the sympathetic villains.
Both Carl and Ty Walker suffered from excessive loyalty. Ty’s loyalty to the men under his command got Choo-Choo, and eventually himself, killed. A less loyal man notices that Raylan is following him. As for Carl, he should have known better than to trust Boyd so implicitly. Remember that scene in “Dark as a Dungeon” (check out the screens at the bottom) when Carl noticed that The Pig’s death didn’t bother Boyd at all? That was a clear sign that Carl should have gotten out. He didn’t notice it and now he’s got a fat prison term ahead of him.
Choo-Choo felt he had no control over his life, so he stuck it out, dying defending his own potential murderers. Boon is obsessed with authenticity (and is also a smidge self-delusional), going so far as to paraphrase Unforgiven when talking with his boss. There’s no way Boon is reflective enough to understand that Unforgiven is an anti-Western. That’s liable to get him killed.
Seabass… well, Seabass’s tragic flaw was being an underdeveloped character in the Justified Universe.
There. I said it. Season 6 has been my favorite. Just three episodes left to finish the job and “justify” my “trust.” See what I did there? No? I’ll show myself out.
LINE OF THE NIGHT
Patches: “Hey Mikey, if you’re gonna mention your code again, um, we’re gonna need to pull over and get some bananas so I can eat something that tastes the same coming up as going down. Okay?” –Wynn Duffy, telling Mikey what he can do with his “Code.”
Markham: You ever notice how the necessities of our line of work weigh heavy on your conscience?
Boon: Always seemed to me, as far as conscience goes, the sweet spot is either be poor enough that you can’t afford to have one or rich enough you can afford to hire someone to carry the weight.
Patches: Is this the end of the series for Boyd? I mean, he did get shot in the chest, and quite close to the heart too.
Jeff: Is someone doing something that we’re not privy to? What I mean is, is it only money in Markham’s bags? Did Boyd do anything to the bags or their contents before meeting Ava? Is Limehouse planning something? Are Boon’s diner shenanigans entirely self-motivated?
Patches: At what point do you think Ava decided to take this course of action?
Jeff: While I think we might be able to assume she was “done with” Boyd as far back as prison (as you suggest), I think she probably decided to shoot him in this episode. Maybe it was Boyd’s determination to get the money, or his giving away the 100 grand to Limehouse. I don’t think she’d premeditate too long. She’s just lucky Boyd put the clip back into his gun.
Jeff: Is this the last we’ve seen of Carl and Earl? What about Limehouse?
Patches: Unless Carl and Earl are going to roll on Boyd, probably. Don’t worry about Limehouse. We’ll get to see more of him in his spinoff, Better Caller Holler.
Patches: Avery, Katherine, Wynn, Mikey. Who you got surviving this season?
Jeff: Wynn survives. If that’s true, I don’t think he can forgive Mikey, though I don’t necessarily expect him to kill Mikey. Your Romeo+Juliet take on Markham and Hale won me over enough to guess they’re both gone. Boon too, but not before making me love him some more.
Jeff: No Art in this episode. What do you imagine his off-screen cliffhanger involved?
Patches: Art is driving home from the US Marshals’ office, having gone out to stretch his legs only to find Rachel busy, Vasquez an asshole, and everyone else in the field. On his way back, he is RAMMED BY A TRUCK (using, of course, that one camera angle that totally telegraphs that a car accident is about to occur). Before Art knew it, he was held at gunpoint by several professional wrestlers and forced to participate in a promo for Ring of Honor Wrestling. He eventually gets roped into the match itself and climbs the turnbuckle. He clutches his suddenly bad heart and goes for an elbow drop…as the episode ends. Find out what happens next week!
Patches: Does this mean Uncle Zachariah is going to survive? What do you think he’ll do next?
Jeff: There’s always the possibility that Ava and Zachariah are somehow in this together… The uncertainty regarding his whereabouts is too big not to be addressed.
Jeff: Where did you buy your hipster hat?
Patches: Well, I didn’t buy it, but there was this guy behind the counter of the Uptown Diner in Minneapolis who was paying more attention to some U of M student than my coffee cup…