“You think you’re better than me because you play by the rules? Whose rules?!”
It’s remarkable how well Justified can still toy with the invisible line dividing Raylan Givens from the right and wrong side of the law after six whole seasons of it. From day one, Raylan has always occupied the blurred space between doing a little wrong for what’s ultimately right. It’s a concept that’s gradually become harder for Raylan to interpret when it comes to his antithesis, Boyd Crowder.
Yet the penultimate episode of the series managed to push Raylan to the outlaw point of no return, much on the run from the very same marshal service he works for, before ultimately proving once and for all whether his drive to end Boyd would tip him to become the same type of men he’s been chasing all his life.
To really set the tone I thought it was smart to show Raylan’s initial forest run-in with the Harlan woodsmen acquainted with Arlo. Raylan has always disassociated himself with his law-breaking father, a man who even ran with Boyd for a few seasons, so it was interesting to see the forest man make the comparison between the two Givens men and the ways they both managed to manipulate people for their own idea of a greater good. By making that written deed to his property, it almost felt like Raylan was desperately trying to separate himself from his dad, something he’s been able to do with his badge but is having a harder time doing since ditching it in his car.
In almost a parallel scene, Boyd also seemed to be having his own identity crisis after the man he car jacked saw right through his fast-talking facade into who he truly is. However the scene instead seemed to consequently have the opposite effect on Boyd, who instead chose to show just how much of an outlaw he truly is by blasting the man’s head off. It was such a Wild West scene that hammered home the idea there of being an opposite to Raylan.
While the two men tried to figure themselves out in their pursuit of Ava, Justified’s version of Bonnie Parker stumbled upon her own set of issues thanks to Zachariah’s incapacity and unwillingness to enter the mountain mines. Zachariah really underestimated Boyd’s determination to go after the money by assuming he was dead or in jail, so seeing him hear Boyd was on the loose through the police scanner gave me a small sense of catharsis. But it turned out that as resourceful as Zachariah had been in the past, his in-the-moment problem solving wasn’t nearly as helpful. He basically ditched his niece and the money the minute he realized how difficult being on the run could be. The worse Zachariah ever got for his involvement was a stern talking to by Raylan (and that gory suicide by dynamic a move he pulled near the end of the night). Unfortunately the same couldn’t be said for Ava, who wound up getting picked up by Avery’s crooked cops.
As annoying as I’ve found Vasquez the past three episodes, his determination to bring Raylan in did create another perfect opportunity for Graham Yost to bring Patton Oswalt’s Officer Bob back again. He’s such an honest, driven cop (particularly compared to Raylan) that it felt right to see him accidentally stumble upon Ava while Raylan was busy physically hunting the girl out. He’s centuries away from main character status, but my heart still broke knowing that Bob was left bleeding by himself thanks to a bullet from Boyd.
Although the episode was full of great lines, my favourite had to have been when Raylan told Boyd that the left-for-dead Bob could take care of himself. “Oh hell, Raylan. Then I have already won,” Boyd replied, hinting at the moral side to the win-lose power struggle between the two. It was the perfect culmination of Raylan’s struggle between doing what’s right and getting his ultimate revenge. Seeing Raylan pick the good side by saving the injured Bob was the assurance we needed to know he’s the same, mostly law-abiding marshal in Lexington. But it’s now going to take a little more than that to convince Vasquez now that Raylan’s being taken in for indictment.
At least Boyd doesn’t have to worry about any more attacks on his life from Zachariah…
As much as I was gunning for Loretta to take on Harlan by herself, I respect why she had to team up with Avery. Here’s to hoping creepy Boone has something coming for him next week.
“Before you try and seduce me just know it’s been tried before.” Oh, Bob. You slay me.
Justified airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on FX and Super Channel.
Samantha Sobolewski has been a TV Junkie since learning to count with The Count on Sesame Street. Since then she's graduated her TV tastes to the likes of such shows as Sons of Anarchy, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, The Newsroom, New Girl and Pretty Little Liars. You can find her freelance writing, sitting in the nosebleeds at a Raptors game, binge-watching The West Wing or on Twitter: @samsobolewski