Somehow, some way, Justified has managed to up the ante with every passing episode of its final season. Just as it looks like the show has reached its peak and might settle into a more meditative episode, one that recalibrates where each character is before the final blowout of the series finale, an episode like “Fugitive Number One” airs and lets us know that there’s no time for contemplation in the world of Justified.
Harlan is a town of action and consequences, and there’s not a whole lot in between. So even though there have been palpably intense moments in the past few episodes (e.g.: Boyd almost dying in the mine; Ava shooting Boyd and taking off with Markham’s money), this episode suggests that the momentum isn’t going to let up. It’s full throttle until the series ends in two weeks.
With Boyd Crowder in the hospital, Raylan’s priority is finding Ava, who escaped at the end of last week’s episode. For Raylan, this is a simple case of finding the fugitive and bringing her in, but for the rest of the Marshals service, and especially for Vasquez, Raylan’s involvement in the case is now particularly suspicious.
Why didn’t Raylan shoot Ava and bring her in? That’s the question that lingers under the surface of the interactions each character has with Raylan. The suggestion is that, while Raylan has always been a loyal Marshal, he’s also known to be a loose canon. Couple that with his romantic history with Ava, and some people start to wonder if Raylan is maybe hoping to get out of Dodge with Ava and the money. $10 million could be tempting to even the most loyal of government officials.
With those suspicions running wild, Art, who’s officially back on the job, orders Raylan to come back to the office and answer some questions. While he initially obeys the orders, this is still Raylan Givens, so he manages to find a way to avoid going back to the office and talking to the team about the burned C.I. and his involvement in the case.
The catalyst for Raylan’s disobedience is the sudden escape of Boyd Crowder. Carl shows up at the hospital after being intimidated by Markham in prison, set on shooting Boyd and saving his own life. Boyd has that silver tongue though and convinces Carl to set him loose so that the two can go after Markham, and then his money, together. As soon as Carl uncuffs him though, Boyd shoots him in cold blood, adding a little cowboy hat-flip in there for good measure.
Boyd being on the loose is all the excuse Raylan needs to avoid any of his other responsibilities. He shakes down a crooked cop at the station in order to get Earl into his custody, and from there he goes to confront Markham about how everything bad in Harlan seems to be revolving around the Colorado mogul.
Before all of that happens though, Justified gives us one of the most violent and Elmore Leonard-esque scenes in the show’s six-season run. Katherine Hale shows up at Wynn Duffy’s motor home, having received a call from Mikey that he has something she might want. Killing the man who snitched on her husband is everything Hale has dreamed of for two season now, so she shows up to the motor home with a purpose.
NEXT: Mikey has a change of heart