Ava drinks an awful lot of bourbon and receives an ominous visit from Ty Walker and Avery Markham.
Credit: Byron Cohen/FX
S6 E3
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You know you’re in for a stellar episode of Justified when the first scene sees Ava and Boyd drunk on bourbon at 7 a.m. Apparently their celebration in regards to finding out about the Pizza Portal’s currency-holding capabilities went all night. The fun is spoiled in the harsh light of the morning though, as Ava gets a text from Raylan to come see him. Ava makes up an excuse to leave–she says she has to go cover a shift at the salon, and I guess Boyd is drunk enough to believe it–and meets Raylan. She’s halfway through reprimanding him for the sticky situation she’s in when she realizes that Vasquez and Brooks are there, too.

The presence of Vasquez and Brooks underscores the seriousness of the situation that Ava is in. If she doesn’t deliver any information about Boyd very soon, she’s going to go back to prison, information that would harsh anyone’s bourbon buzz. There’s still a lot of chemistry between Raylan and Ava though, so as much as Brooks and Vasquez want to push Ava to do more, Raylan pleads for more time. It’s a scene that’s representative of the season’s larger themes of lust, love, trust, and circumstance, and how all of those things can be confused, especially in a town like Harlan.

After that, we jump back to Boyd, who’s inhaling a cheeseburger in an attempt to cure that nasty hangover. Boyd gets his own reality check in this moment, as Ty Walker wanders into the bar. This is a great excuse to get both Walton Goggins and Garret Dillahunt in a scene together, as both of their characters have this eloquent, seductive way of speaking that’s just absolutely a joy to witness. As Boyd says, “damn son, you like talk just as much as I do.”

Walker confronts Boyd about robbing the bank, mentioning that even though Boyd thought he was robbing Calhoun, he wasn’t. So now Walker has come to clear the air, so to speak; “I’m just a weather vane—‚I don’t make the wind blow” he says, invoking his status as just a henchman, not a decision maker. Boyd brushes off the attempt at intimidation and executes a bit of his own braggadocio, kicking Walker out. I’m sure it’s not the last we’ll see of these two together, and I’m excited to see Dillahunt and Goggins share the screen again and gleefully chew up the scene.

NEXT: Luther Kent pleads guilty

Further into his investigation now, Raylan decides to find out how the dynamite used in the bank robbery made it into the hands of Boyd. He seeks out his old coal-mining buddy Luther Kent and takes a look at his log. There’s a signature authorizing a discrepancy, but Luther pleads ignorance. Raylan isn’t so quick to believe him, but Luther is above board. It turns out that the Kent who approved the discrepancy was Luther’s son, Tyler, who’s in the midst of possibly selling more dynamite to Boyd’s crew, namely Earl.

When Tyler refuses to give up the dynamite, Earl convinces him to rob his old man instead; oh, they’ll wear masks during the robbery so that Luther doesn’t recognize his son. It’s a flimsy plan at best, and sure enough, Raylan and Brooks break it up. They can’t bring in Tyler though, as Luther takes the fall for him. It’s a wonderful scene that ties back in to the common theme of Harlan as a place of violence that people can’t escape from. Luther knows his son is an idiot, but he’s willing to give him every opportunity to get out of Harlan, to make something for himself.

Ava is trying to do the same, trying her best to get out of a sticky situation and start over. In one of the episode’s best scenes, she stakes out the basement of the Pizza Portal where there’s a giant vault. While there, she runs into Choo-Choo and Walker. Ava and the two henchmen have a quick back-and-forth that highlights the strength of the writing on Justified, where every conversation is loaded with subtext and is meant to obscure the truth.

Ava’s backed into a corner right now, forced to be a CI for Raylan and therefore put in the dangerous situation of getting wrapped up in Boyd’s world of lies and crime. The severity of her situation is never more apparent than when she’s paid a visit by Ty Walker and Avery Markham. The two men sit down with Ava at the same dinner table where she escaped an abusive relationship with Bowman Crowder back in the first season. Things aren’t so rosy this time around, as Markham warns her that maybe she better think about getting out of town as soon as she can. He has a sense that she’s wrapped up in something that she doesn’t fully understand. Is that true, or is he underestimating Ava? That’s something that will surely be addressed in subsequent episodes.

NEXT: Boyd has all sorts of fun in a hotel

As backed into a corner as Ava is, Boyd may be even worse off. He’s stuck trying to get the money for Duffy and Hale, and Walker is on his trail, as evidenced by the men he sent to kidnap Boyd and put a beating on him as a warning. Boyd isn’t going to back off so easily though. He’s dead set on finding a way out of Harlan for him and Ava, and if that means teaming with the Hale and the gross, sinewy, spends too much time in a tanning bed body that is Wynn Duffy, then so be it.

That persistence leads to the final scene, which is beautifully taut. Watching as Ava tries to lure information out of Boyd as he resists, insisting that he’s taking care of everything and that she needn’t concern herself with any details, is intense. It’s clear that Boyd’s suspicious of Ava, but he can’t quite figure out why. And it’s clear that Ava knows this, but is doing everything she can to keep him distracted, even if that means being sexually involved with him once again.

What was everyone’s favorite scene this week? There was so much to choose from! I for one loved the dinner table scene. Sam Elliott is sinister and seductive all at the same time, and Joelle Carter did some wonderful work as Ava, portraying through facial expressions a woman who’s constantly evaluating her increasingly dangerous situation.

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