Justified finished out its first season in a way that tied up loose ends, gave us at least one action sequence that could be taught in film schools, and set up a few story lines for next season that should leave anyone who developed a hankering for this show yearning for more, now.
The episode, entitled “Bulletville” (any chance that was a little homage to “Poisonville” in Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest?), found the Crowder family at odds with each other. Having blown up the supply of meth ingredients Bo had bought from his Florida kingpin, Boyd knew he was about to face earthly retribution: “I am ready to reap the whirlwind,” he told Ava when he appeared at her house to apologize to her for the trouble she’d been caused by the Crowder clan.
But the punishment meted out by the Crowder paterfamilias was beyond even the son’s imagining. The killing of Boyd’s forest-camp flock, and the beating of Boyd himself, was brutal stuff, and enough to shake Boyd’s faith: “Maybe I’ve just been talking to myself.” (The doom-struck character of Boyd sometimes reminds me the young Jerry Lee Lewis, a God-believer whose cousin is Jimmy Swaggart. The rock & roller can quote the Bible chapter and verse, and said long ago that in choosing his line of work, “All right, I’ll go to hell.”)
In quick succession:
• Raylan tumbled to the idea that his daddy Arlo was in cahoots with Bo, and shot pappy in the arm before the old coot got the drop on him.
• Ava was kidnapped by the Crowders.
• Raylan and Boyd teamed up, in the twosome we didn’t know we were going to get, but boy, was it satisfying to see those two old pals working together.
• The way the unarmed Raylan over-powered either “Heckel” or “Jeckel” (Boyd’s terrific cartoon reference for Bo’s henchmen) and shot him through-and-through with his own gun while kicking Bo’s gun out of the old man’s hand — as I said above, a sequence that could be taught in film school for how to edit a TV action scene.
• What do you think Boyd plans to do when he finds that woman from Florida? And didn’t you find it satisfying that the entire season circled back to the pivotal moment in the pilot, when Raylan shot Tommy Bucks in Miami?
I’d be tempted to say that Justified has achieved a loamy richness to its portrayal of backwoods family life that takes on a complexity worthy of William Faulkner. That is, if I didn’t know that Faulkner’s sort of ornate storytelling is precisely the opposite of the kind of lean narrative-craft that Justified birther Elmore Leonard prides himself in avoiding.
I’m left wondering a few things. Do you think Ava — who’s lit out for the territory — might really, finally take Raylan’s advice and get out of Harlan? There’s a sense in which this character has done about as much as she can do, short of simply continue to be an obstacle/temptation preventing Raylan from reuniting with his ex-wife. (Be seein’ you next season, Winona!)
And do you think Boyd has lost his faith, or is it merely shaken? Me, I’d be happy if he prayed as much as he liked, if he’d just stop talking like (in his daddy’s apt phrase) “a tin-pot messiah.” I like Walton Goggins when he’s tossing hard-boiled dialogue right back at Raylan.
Finally and least important, do you think Raylan will remain hatless into next season?
What did you think of Justified‘s season finale?