At some point, it was going to have to come down to this, to Raylan, Boyd, and Ava tangled in a web of lies, misdirection, and miscommunication, stumbling along just trying to survive while hopefully having time to save the people that they care about. We’re not completely there yet—there are still three episodes to go in the series—but in many ways, “Trust” is the season’s story lines coming to a head.
The catalyst for the eventual convergence of these storylines, including a huge moment with implications for the relationship between Katherine Hale and Avery Markham, is Dewey’s necklace, the one that’s been hanging off a stuffed squirrel (or something very closely resembling a squirrel) since the beginning of the season. Ava finds it while Boyd is having a meeting with Limehouse in order to procure his identity-changing service, giving him the $100,000 reward that Markham was forced to hand over after Boyd “turned in” Walker.
On a practical level, the necklace is tangential proof that Boyd killed Dewey. There’s blood on the necklace, and Ava is smart enough to understand what really happened to him; she knows what happens to the most disposable of Boyd’s associates. On a more figurative level though, and this is perhaps more important in driving the plot in this episode, the necklace is a symbol of Boyd’s manipulation. It shows Ava that Boyd will never be truly honest with her, and that if she’s to ever make it out of Harlan alive and live a life where she’s not always looking over her shoulder, that she needs to take matters into her own hands.
Still, she’s convinced that the necklace could be useful otherwise, especially after Raylan comes to her house and tells her that Vasquez won’t be honoring her C.I. contract anymore because she hasn’t substantially held up her end of the bargain. Much of this episode boils down to an exploration of Ava’s toxic relationships with the two men in her life, Boyd and Raylan. This scene on the porch of her house is one of the more heartbreaking ones to witness in a season (and episode) full of them.
Raylan is loyal to the law, but it breaks his heart to tell Ava that she’ll be going back to prison. He practically begs Vasquez to find a way out for her, but he knows he can’t show that kind of loyalty to her, not so transparently at least. So when he tells Ava that her C.I. contract is no longer valid, there’s real devastation on his face. Notice the way Timothy Olyphant plays the scene too, shifting around much more than usual and rarely making eye contact with Ava. That’s not the cool and collected lawman we know; this is Raylan Givens, not Deputy U.S. Marshal Givens, the man who has a history with Ava, knowing that he’s let her down.
It’s possible though that being let down is exactly what Ava needs. She now fully understands that, despite putting her trust in Boyd and Raylan to find a way out for her, she has nobody to rely on but herself. As much as the botched C.I. contract isn’t Raylan’s fault, he’s certainly been manipulating her to his advantage throughout the season. With that knowledge, and with the newly-discovered necklace as a symbol of Boyd’s own manipulative and secretive behavior, Ava finally has the motivation she needs to make a move for her own survival.
NEXT: Ava draws down on both Boyd and Raylan