With an episode title like “Bloody Harlan,” we expected a body count in Justified‘s season 2 finale, and we got it. Here’s my countdown of the five best scenes. What’s yours? SPOILER ALERT!
5. Winona tells Raylan she’s pregnant, when he’s wearing a white tank and jeans and about to take a pee. The best Timothy Olyphant has looked all season? Yes. And after Winona admitted she was scared of staying in Kentucky, you had to think she wasn’t going to make it out of Harlan alive. But, she did.
4. We wait for Johnny’s house to blow up (thanks to the promo), and watch Ava, who should’ve stayed in the cellar, make coffee in her window-filled kitchen. Unexpectedly excruciating suspense, right? And all while Boyd and Mags were having their parlay in the weapon-free church. Love that camera shot through the window of the three Bennett thugs walking toward Ava. Johnny’s house blew, but he wasn’t in it. He used a remote detonator. You thought the Crowder crew had the assault at Ava’s under control because they knew the Bennett posse was coming courtesy of the cop Boyd had bribed, but no. There was Dickie in Ava’s kitchen putting a bullet in her chest. Luckily, he hit the right side. She should survive? Does Dickie like to gun down women in their kitchens? Granted, both Helen and Ava tried to pull their trigger first, but that’s what you do when someone enters your home with a gun. At least in Harlan.
3. Dickie almost gets his revenge on Raylan, by pretending he’s a piñata. So many delicious things about that scene: From Raylan hanging on a tree by one leg instead of two so he could make a more interesting shape and bring some levity to the situation (and also deliver his lines at a better angle); to Raylan remaining calm enough to crack jokes as Dickie wielded a bat (“Go back to the part about you reading” — did you hear Raylan actually laugh?); to that second of fear when you realized Raylan was totally on his own and helpless; to Boyd stepping out from behind another tree and saying he wasn’t sure whether to shoot Dickie right away or let him take a couple more swings and then kill him (“I vote for the first one,” Raylan answered); to Raylan agreeing to let Boyd alone with Dickie (“Dickie, I didn’t pull the trigger, but I’ll sleep like a baby knowing he will”); to Boyd handing Raylan back his hat; to Raylan asking Boyd to let him take Dickie with him to the Bennetts (“Boyd… “). Walton Goggins phoned us to talk about how that went down.
2. The marshals help Raylan, by putting a bullet in Doyle’s head. Who would have imagined a shootout starting by Loretta putting a bullet in Mags’ leg? Doyle’s thugs got trigger-happy and fired on Raylan — and hit him in his perfectly sculpted torso. Doyle called them off, then stood above Raylan telling him the bullet that was about to leave his gun was on its way for 20 years. And bam, Doyle took a bullet to the forehead. I’d like to think it was from former sniper Tim. It reminded me a bit of Caitlin’s death in season 2 of NCIS in terms of shock value, but this was a happy surprise. Winona begging Art to have the marshals help Raylan had worked. I’d argue Art using the megaphone to shout “Drop your weapons or you will be shot. Assume the position now. Do you dumbass peckerwoods understand English? On the ground, hillbillies. Now,” was his second funniest scene of the season. (The first, of course, was the oxygen tank foot race.) But how relieved did you feel when Art asked, “Raylan, or you okay?” and Raylan told Art, the good father he never had, that it was good to see him? Will it be harder for Raylan to think about leaving for Glynco now that he’s back in the fold? Can you imagine Justified not being set in Kentucky?
1. Mags drinks some apple pie. To be honest, someone committing suicide had entered my mind, but it was when Loretta took a little too long to hand Raylan her gone. (That would have been so wrong.) What a perfect ending to the season — Mags and Raylan, both with gunshots, sitting down for some of her apple pie to ease the pain. We saw her grab glasses from two different places, so we all knew she was poisoning someone. And it’s Timothy Olyphant’s show. Still, the way she shook Raylan’s hand to end the feud and held on to it and smiled. “Mags, what did you do?” Raylan asked. The same thing she’d done to Loretta’s dad. She held on to Raylan’s hand as she started to shake. “This is the hard part,” she said. God bless, Raylan, for staying with her and just letting her talk. She wanted an end to her troubles, to see her boys again (sorry, Dickie!), to know the mystery. Cue Brad Paisley’s “You Will Never Leave Harlan Alive” (and Margo Martindale’s Emmy nomination). I hope they play that song at the end of every season finale. I imagine it will always fit the moment.