“Stories of outlaw legends…they ain’t passed down by the families of the murdered.”
The penultimate episode of Justified was a disarmingly somber affair that meditated on the effects of the past six seasons. In a couple of clutch scenes, “Collateral” paused the action to explore the previous seasons’ effects on Harlan’s locals and colorful characters. The action has been romanticized, and the characters may have been drawn from the pulp mold, but it’s all had a real effect on the land. The violence that’s followed Boyd and Raylan for six years has had its consequences, and “Collateral” took some quality time to examine that bummer territory.
A short appearance by the almighty Shea Whigham revealed the tragedy of Boyd’s outlaw status. In a beautifully subtle manner, Whigham encompassed all of Boyd’s heinous acts, and what the sonsabitch thinks of his adoring “fans.” I absolutely adored this part because far too often, America romanticizes its shittiest outlaws. Jesse James, John Dillinger – they were men who ruined families and murdered innocent people. Yet they’re remembered as folk heroes. Boyd has been headed down that path for years. The brief screen time of Whigham served as an excellent reminder that as fun as it is to root for the bad guy, especially on a show like Justified, they’re “bad” for a reason.
Raylan’s tromp through the woods saw him crossing paths with a cousin who can’t feed his kin anymore, thanks to commercial mining and their shaving off the tops of the mountains. I wish the penultimate episode explored these themes deeper – how ravaged Harlan really is. I think it would’ve made sense without taking away from the series’ closing moments. But for what it’s worth, “Collateral” set us up for an emotionally heavy and appropriate climax Elmore Leonard would’ve been proud of. In a truly beautiful moment, Raylan winds up signing away Arlo’s land to this husky schlub. In a wonderful way, this scene reinforced Raylan’s agenda of ridding Harlan of the snake Boyd so he can dust off for Florida. Our hero really does want to leave Harlan alive so he can become a daddy. How sweet is that?
Until this point we’ve only seen Boon kill someone offscreen (Loretta’s grandma). Here we see him shoot Derek Waters, and his reaction here suggests he’s as cold-blooded and out of touch with reality as we feared. And as fast as he boasted. That draw was ridiculously smooth and swift. Granted, he drew on Derek, but it was still a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment. The dude is fast and shrewd so for the next seven days I’ll pretty much be clenching my ass thinking about how he’s going to use those skills in the finale.
Let’s talk real quick about Wynn and what the hell that slippery bastard is up to. After the massacre in his mobile home, he’s recovered his Billie Jean King autographed tennis ball and requested a dog grooming van with a hidden storage compartment big enough for two or three large duffel bags (certainly Markham’s money). Also, he wants a topographical map of Harlan. I love that Wynn isn’t going quietly into the night, but is he really capable of tearing into the remnants of Harlan’s badasses? What ties to the Dixie Mafia does he have left? Could he call in more reinforcements than an errand girl on a bench?
Jere Burns has been an immense joy to watch week after week, and what they’ve done with him this season has been tremendous. It seriously makes me upset that I’ll no longer be able to watch his hilarious, tanned ass every week. Moving on…
“Collateral” ends on an alarmingly down note, and it’s humorously characteristic that this down note is “police custody.” Ava is in the hands of Markham’s crooked ass cops and Raylan has been absconded by legit officers of the law (sadly not Tim; it would’ve been perfect if Tim had to bring Raylan in). The law versus pariah, marshal versus desperation, Harlan versus the world…it all goes down next week. Christ.
Episode Rating: ★★★★★ Excellent
• It’s great how much Kaitlyn Dever has been revitalized as a major character this season. Though she’s only appeared sporadically since season 2, Loretta is one of the show’s richest characters.
• Boon’s gun is named Jenny. Of course it is.
• We’ve seen a lot of people get shot on Justified, but Derek might be the first character who actually makes us feel his pain. Bullets hurt, man, and his whimpering and whelps of agony are probably the most realistic depiction of a shooting yet (especially one week after watching Mikey take several point blank ones and still have the juice to body slam Katherine).