“Sounding,” the fifth episode of the final season of Justified, feels like a bit of a stopgap for the narrative. It’s a quiet episode, one of contemplation and careful movement. There are no huge moments, no momentous confrontation. Instead, it’s an episode that takes its time to establish where all the characters are both physically and psychologically, which will certainly pay off in the coming episodes.
“Sounding” begins with Ava and Boyd working their way through a police checkpoint, one that, unbeknownst to them, has been set up by Raylan and Tim in order to get a sense of where Ava’s head is at. The officer who briefly talks to her reports to Raylan that she seems shaken. It’s a catalyst for the developing (or rekindling) relationship between Raylan and Ava, as the former spends most of the episode making sure that Ava not only feels safe, but that she understands how her keeping her cover is the safest thing she can do for herself.
Ava does what she can to keep that cover, making a hearty, and wonderfully artery-clogging breakfast for Boyd in order to show her faith in him and his new plan to get into the legal weed business. It’s a bit of a heartbreaking scene, not just because we know Ava is up against it, but also because we see how much Boyd cares for her. He’s a criminal, sure, but seeing his face light up as Ava informs him about her intention to make her famous fried chicken that evening lets us know that he’s not just a coldhearted killer.
Ava, still not convinced that she can keep the facade going, calls Raylan and asks to meet him. He agrees, but when he shows up at the junkyard where they planned to meet, she’s nowhere to be found. She’s ditched her phone and seems to have disappeared. That forces Raylan to call Constable Bob Sweeney (Patton Oswalt) for help. He tells Sweeney that he needs to find Ava, but that such information can’t get back to anyone else. In the meantime, Tim and Brooks scope out Albert Fekus to make sure he isn’t being squeezed. Sure enough, when they plant Fekus in a seedy motel in order to draw out anyone who might be tailing him, Duffy and Mike show up. They get a few shots in with a cattle prong, but nothing of consequence. For now, it’s enough for Brook and Gutterson to know that Duffy hasn’t caught on to much of anything.
Raylan isn’t the only one calling in favors from characters that previously graced the screens of Justified. Ava pays a visit to Ellstin Limehouse up in Noble’s Holler, hoping that she can negotiate a deal for a car that will get her out of town. Limehouse is obviously wary, but when Ava says she knows where some cash is buried, his interest is piqued. He gets Errol to go with Ava to retrieve a car, after which she’ll take him to the money. They never make it though; Ava convinces Errol to stop in at a hardware store to buy a shovel to dig for the money, but Sweeney is on their tail and quickly calls Raylan in. With his marching orders from Raylan, Sweeney distracts Errol–I think using a stun gun on him counts as a distraction–while Raylan gets Ava out.
Raylan is angry that Ava would even try to make a run for it, but you get the sense that it’s not just about the case against Boyd; it’s also, to an extent, about keeping Ava out of harm’s way, of making sure she gets her chance to truly break free of Harlan and start over.
NEXT: Things with Boyd get explosive