How can we not kick off by saying one thing: Raylan left his badge behind. He dropped it in the seat of his car, with Earl all cozy and cuffed in the back, and took off to bring in Boyd, Ava, the money, or all three, Art be damned. He’s been a petulant agent since Episode One, but now all the bets are off. Raylan is determined to rid Harlan of its snakes and finally wipe his hands of the whole goddamn town. Florida awaits with Winona and Willa, but his drive goes deeper than that, and these final episodes, will surely be dictated by how far he’s willing to go. Phew, it’s gonna be a long two weeks.
Last week’s Justified was titled “Trust,” and in “Fugitive Number One” many of its characters continued to explore their trusts and loyalties. In fact, this whole season has really been about loyalty and self-preservation. We’ve seen what Ava will do to survive, and we’ve seen the brutal fallout of what happens when people like Wynn Duffy turn rat (what a gut-wrenching scene that was). There was a whole lotta bloodshed in this unpredictable episode, and as we close in on the final two chapters ever (how sad is that?) it’s clear that Graham Yost and Co. have a few bloody tricks up their sleeves.
The Ballad of Boyd Crowder surely couldn’t end with him bleeding at Raylan’s feet, so it’s no surprise that hospitalized incarceration did not put a stop to him. The moment he shared with Raylan while he was ankle-cuffed in the tiny hospital gown was great. I was hoping they’d share more scenes together during this last season. Besides crossing paths in the real estate office, this is the only other time. It was a damn good one though, with them asking each other if push came to shove, would either shoot Ava (or allow Markham to kill her)? Raylan didn’t lift a finger to shoot out her tires let alone draw his weapon at the end of “Trust.” He wants to bring her in, no doubt about that, but to him she is Boyd’s most trod-upon victim, meaning maybe the ol’ softie wants to cut her some slack, too.
Ava reunited with Zachariah, who dragged her and the $10 million up some old moonshine runner trails to a dead man’s cabin (how Justified is that?) Judging from her reaction to his rotting corpse, this Groove’s fellow was her only way out of Harlan. Ava is a survivor, but a lot of times her end game involves help from other people who always come up short. Like with Limehouse, Raylan, and now Zachariah, she puts her faith in other people and it winds up biting her in the ass. At this point I want her to succeed – homegirl deserves it.
Markham didn’t do too much this episode but state the obvious: he loves Katherine but doesn’t trust her worth a damn. He’d like to bring Wynn’s head to her as an early wedding present but before he can make a move, Katherine heads to the Wynnebago to confront Duffy and Mike (don’t call him Mikey). It’s amazing what they did with Mike in these last few episodes, and Jonathan Kowalsky has, to put it bluntly, killed it. I’m sure it’s not easy to shine alongside Jere Burns week after week, but Kowalsky has done an exceptional job. His death, along with Katherine’s, was worthy of their characters. It was bloody, frenzied, and kind of beautiful all at the same time. Justified has always done violence in a very matter-of-fact manner, but this was a time when it warranted some cinematic melodrama.
Now let’s talk about Boon, the foster-parented history buff who at this point we can conclude is the scariest villain on TV. He’s scary because now that he’s got that new hat (which looks like a replica of Eastwood’s from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly) it’s made him a whole lot more itchier to pull the trigger. Now he feels like a real cowboy. That’s scary. The showrunners wouldn’t give this much time to someone only to just kill him off. I’m convinced Boon is going to buck down someone major on the show, whether it be Raylan or his boss Markham (for threatening Loretta again). Either way, Boon is easily the most hypnotizing character on cable right now.
You guys, there are only two episodes left and this sumbitch show continues to exceed expectations. Place your bets.
Episode Rating: ★★★ Good
• Where does Duffy go from here? He’s always been a semi-obedient middleman but now that the head has been cut off the snake, where does he turn? Could he call on the Dixie Mafia still, or is he too detached at this point?
• Carl calls Boone “The Hot Kid,” referencing Elmore Leonard’s 2005 novel.
• I love Raylan’s aloofness towards pop culture. His reply to Tim saying he’s been to Mordor but not through the mines, “Is that a yes or a no?”