Justified has always done a wonderful job of limiting the interactions between its two big dogs, Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder. The lives of the two are constantly intertwined, but the show understands that their relationship is built upon tension and unpredictability. Scenes between Raylan and Boyd are actually few and far between, which adds significance to the scenes where they do come face-to-face. This week’s episode, “Alive Day,” begins with one of the finest scenes Walton Goggins and Timothy Olyphant have ever shot together.
It starts with Boyd coming home late at night and finding Raylan’s car in the driveway. Years of conflict imbue the scene with some serious tension; they’re both long-ago friends and current foes, and share a common love in Ava. It seems they’re always moments from shooting holes in one another, a feeling only accentuated by the fact that Raylan is alone in Boyd’s house with Ava. Raylan is provoking Boyd, but Boyd is giving it right back, rubbing Ava’s leg as if she’s a prize that he’s won, and insinuating that it won’t be the last time that Boyd Crowder beats Raylan Givens.
Scenes like the opening one from this episode are what the show does best. The dialogue is filled with insinuation and evasion; everyone has something to hide, and everyone is trying to get information out of someone else. The big players this season have to constantly be on guard, but also active in their search for relevant information. Here, Raylan wants to find out where Dewey Crowe has been. Boyd says the last time he saw Dewey he was hot under the collar and heading over to the Pizza Portal. It’s a nice story, but Raylan doesn’t necessarily believe it; sure, Markham and his men may have something to do with the disappearance of Dewey, but Boyd might also be getting Raylan to do his dirty work for him.
Thus, the opening scene paves the way for the rest of the episode, which sees Raylan and Tim working to track down and get some dirt on Markham, Walker, and the rest of his crew. That crew is in a mess of its own, working to clean up after Choo-Choo went all Muhammad Ali on Calhoun last week. Getting rid of Calhoun’s body is one thing; tracking down the prostitute who saw Choo-Choo and Seabass in his office is a little more complicated.
Choo-Choo does end up tracking her down, but after she treats him with a level of respect that he’s not used to, he finds himself morally conflicted. He knows that he has to kill her in order to cover up the fact that he killed Calhoun, but he can’t bring himself to do it. He doesn’t panic, but he starts to think of alternatives. Of course, in the minds of Walker and Seabass, there is no alternative. She has to be killed in order for their operation to continue to run smoothly.
NEXT: A modest proposal from Avery Markham