Justified; Season Finale


Raylan: So, your conversion was sincere.

Boyd: Was it? Do you believe in God?

Raylan: Yes, I do.

Boyd: Raylan, tell me about your God.

Raylan: You know, white hair, long beard, sits on a heavenly throne.

The season finale of Justified aired this week and it was a bit of a shocker, at least to me. Spoilers after the jump.

Boyd Crowder may be the most compelling character in Justified, primarily because he’s so hard to pin down. He’s an uneducated redneck from Harlan County Kentucky who loves blowing shit up and who’s probably never been far outside the state lines. But he wraps his hillbilly drawl around some really articulate sounding phrases, and his schemes seem drawn up by either St. Paul or the Marquis de Sade. The problem is, it’s nearly impossible to tell which.

All this time, I have had my money firmly on the probability that Boyd was faking his whole come-to-Jesus attitude. I thought his woodsy Jim Jones-style Church of the Wayward Lambs was was just an attempt to recruit more devoted soldiers for his crimes. Like his white-supremacist organization before he got shot, Boyd has never struck me as a true believer, just an opportunist who knows how to play on the beliefs of others to his advantage.

But as the finale, “Bulletville” (yeah, the name of the episode is a real subtle use of foreshadowing) finally reveals, Boyd was, at least in his mind, 100% sincere in his efforts to bring about a sort of screwed up religious revival among the down and out three-time-losers of Harlan County.

Unfortunately, Boyd’s father Beau is not in a repentant mood, and Boyd’s not-so-irresistable force for good meets a real immovable object of evil when it runs headlong into Beau’s plans to expand his meth business.

There’s a really fascinating interaction here in the last couple episodes between the two sets of fathers and sons. A lot of Raylan’s pent-up hostility and anger comes from his upbringing (such as it was) by Arlo, while Beau’s regrets (such as they are) about his failings as a father come up in conversation repeatedly. These are fathers who are extremely disappointed in the lack of loyalty being exhibited by their sons. And these are sons who are, in turn, very disappointed in the manner of fathers they have found themselves saddled with. The unfulfilled expectations and familial tensions are as palpable as the back of a razorback hog. Makes you glad if your dad was just halfway normal.

Meanwhile, Raylan can’t swing a dead cat without hitting either Ava or Winona, even though he has put very little effort into staying involved with either one. It appears that Winona’s efforts to get Raylan back (while not actually making any commitiment at all) are going to carry the day, but something tells me we haven’t seen the last of Ava. That girl is nothing if not resourceful.

The season finale may answer a lot of questions, but it raises others about whether Boyd will see the inside of a prison again as a result of the fallout from all of the violence in which he participated. It’s also hard to see where the story goes from here. Is Boyd a man to be trusted, now that he has allied himself with Raylan, or was that just a temporary stop on the way to more extra-legal shenanigans? What is the day of reckoning going to be like when the kingpins in Miami find out what has happened (again!) in Kentucky? And what about the supposedly ongoing investigation into Raylan’s shootings?

Let me know your thoughts on this and any other season finales you watched. Was this the best one you saw? (BTW, Any mention of Lost will be summarily deleted. You can go back undisturbed to your very own room to talk about that.)


29 thoughts on “Justified; Season Finale

  1. It’s the character ambiguity that makes this show. People are three-dimensional; they screw up, show nobility and humor, and screw up again. And then there’s the villains, which are a bunch of nuts for the most part, with some psychotics and some bona fide evil-doers thrown in the mix. It’s just a lot of fun to watch an intelligent show that takes character development seriously.

  2. Love the show. I mentioned this on another thread, but the guy who plays Arlo, who has only had bit pieces in several movies and TV shows, is perfect. After a little bit of build-up with his character, I was expecting him to be played by a bigger actor, but I’m glad they picked the guy they did.

    The character of Boyd’s father though seems out of place in this show though. I don’t find him all that interesting nor believable. And the mass execution in the finale also seemed a little much for the show.

    But I anxiously await the arrival of Season 2.

  3. Funny you mention that, Tim, I think the actor that plays Beau seems like he has been having some trouble getting around. That, and a couple other things made him seem less than convincing to me, but, because of the outcome of the finale, it looks like we won’t need to worry about that going forward, since Beau looks to be wormfood. I agree that the mass execution seemed over the top.

    I have to say that I will be surprised if Johnny Crowder is dead. It sounded to me like they were setting things up for Johnny to live through that shotgun blast. If he does, look for Johnny to take over Beau’s operations and lots of problems between Johnny and Boyd and Raylan.

    I also hope we see more of the CI that Raylan would meet in the restaurant. We need more of him.

  4. I thought the finale was great TV. It was sort of like an out of control train or snowball coming down the hill—just kept coming and coming faster and harder. The season had a complete vision and parts of most other episodes still mattered at the end. So far so good.

    I thought the conversation quoted in the OP between Boyd and Raylan was extraordinarily well done, deeply ambiguous. My money is on that it was a genuine conversion, but after the massacre and seeing what he perceived as his ‘good work’ (taking down the meth operation) was not rewarded as he expected, Boyd is now a doubter. If we were confused about it, old Boyd is twice as confused now.

    For me, at this point, if I could only watch one hour of TV a week, this would be it.

    Has it been renewed for another season?

  5. Yes, it has been renewed. Metacritic has it as “universal acclaim,” so I think it was pretty quickly picked up.

  6. That’s a nice observation about Boyd, JFD. You’re right that he’s really swimming in a sea of uncertainty right now. There’s no telling where he will touch land.

  7. Since you opened the door on it (and I haven’t watched Justified yet, but it’s in the queue)

    Other finales:

    Law & Order: Way to go out with a whimper. Maybe if they’d been able to redo the episode knowing it would be the last one. Still, somewhat emotional having Lt.’s party at the end.

    24 : Sure, it doesn’t always make sense, but still way entertaining. I loved that he killed a room full of bad guys, including leaving some sort of ornate rod in the guy’s stomach, yet all we see is the aftermath. I wish he would have taken Logan out, though. The very end was very melodramatic, but a good way to end.

    CSI Miami: I actually stopped watching it last year, but I heard this finale was going to be good. I could see the show hadn’t changed much, but – hoo-boy – the cliffhanger ending was a shocker and a half. (If Wolf really is dead, I might come back to the show, but not if Calleigh is too.)

    Looking forward to the Community finale tonight, it’s been such a good show to look forward to.

  8. I think 24 had the same problem L&O had in not knowing this would be their final season. I thought this season was one of it’s best, but the ending was, like you said, very melodramatic. I think they could have done better than having Jack looking at the spy drone in the sky telling Chloe good-bye was very satisfying.

  9. I missed an episode of 24, kept meaning to watch it on Hulu – didn’t. And then I accidentally deleted the a few more of the episodes on the DVR. It’s sad as it started out fantastic. A return (I thought) to the quality of the first season. Then sometime around the time when the Persian Elvis was trying to get his daughter back it just lost it again. Like last year I just haven’t missed it. I’ll probably watch the rest of the season when it hits Netflix.

    Justified was fantastic this season. I wonder if they can keep it up next season. They were cribbing dialog and vignettes from a lot of Leonard’s novels. Although truth be told I think the show typically was better than the books.

  10. Great Justified finale. So rare to have so many great, well-rounded characters.

    Especially loved the season-long character/plot arc of the two father-son combinations.

  11. Ok I finally watched the last two episodes. Very gnarly. The finale was definitely more violent than I expected. Dead people everywhere by the end. But it really delivered.

    Seems like things are only going to get uglier between Raylan and the Miami mob in season two. I just hope they don’t kill too much time with filler episodes about local capers next season. I prefer episodes that actually move the overall story arc along.

  12. Oh and I predict Boyd and Ava become an item next season while Raylan and Winona rekindle the fire.

  13. I kind of liked the balance they had between “one off” stories and the story arc. I really liked how they riffed on classic western themes in some of the one off episodes such as the LA episode.

    Boyd and Ava? I don’t think so.

    One thing I’m a tiny bit curious about is whether they add the element from the books where Rayland and Winona have two kids. Of course in the books Rayland’s father wasn’t a corrupt SOB and was actually dead. I’m guessing no since the plot this season was about Rayland and Winona not having contact whereas kids would undermine that. (In the books it’s kind of funny as Rayland named the kids after country music stars and Winona calls them something else)

    Boyd is an interesting character as it’s pretty clear even he doesn’t know what to believe. I also like how the keep the character complex without going overboard into layers of grey the way Battlestar Galactica did.

  14. Um, Clark, I don’t know much about the books, but there’s no way Raylan and Winona have kids in the series. Or do you mean they will have kids in the future? That seems a ways down the road, since Winona is currently married to someone else. Though she did sleep with Raylan in the second to last episode. Hm, maybe she’s pregnant now, who knows? BTW, there’s no “d” in Raylan, at least in the series.

  15. Agree, I think we’ll see some Boyd and Ava action. We know Boyd’s into Ava. Boyd is Ava’s ex-husband’s brother. And she’s pissed/hurt about Raylan and Winona. Plus, it totally fits the backwoods, everybody-sleeps-with-everybody’s-kin cliche.

  16. Sorry typo on my part.

    I meant more that in the books they have two kids and I was wondering if they introduce some of that dynamic. Why do you say there is no way they have kids? (I actually agree – but I’m curious as to why you think that)

  17. I mean that there’s no way they have kids now. We would have seen them by now if they did. I’m confused as to how you think they could possibly have kids. If that development is going to happen, it’s at least a season or so away.

  18. Well silence doesn’t entail non-existence. It’d be hard to add them for the reasons you mentioned. Precisely because you’d expect him to go see his kids. But the writers could have that happening off screen.

  19. No, Clark, we’ve seen Gary and Winona at home. We’ve seen where Raylan is living. We’ve seen him sleeping with Ava many nights, sometimes at her house. If he and Winona had kids, we would know it by now. There would have been some mention of it. They talked about when he left for Miami and she was supposed to follow and she never showed up. That discussion of the end of their marriage would have included some mention of the kids. Support payments. Visitation. Holidays. Gary as a stepdad. We would have had some of that .

  20. Clark they clearly don’t have any kids in the show (you’ve been watching the show right?)

  21. Although it would be really funny if kids suddenly showed in season two. That would be the modern equivalent of a different Darrin showing up in season 6 of Bewitched

  22. Geoff – yeah, I said that a few times. Now I’m wishing I’d not brought it up. (grin) As I was suggesting it’d be hard to add them in, but not impossible given that Raylan and his ex were pretty estranged.

  23. That was an amazing season finale. Wow. I’m kicking myself for not watching the show from the beginning. So, yeah, I watched the finale first, then started watching the episodes still available on Hulu. I’ll have to catch up with the earlier episodes some other way (and I’m sure I’ll want to watch the rest of them again in order). Timothy Olyphant rules.

  24. For me this episode was actually the most I ever doubted Boyd’s sincerity, specifically at the point at which he got up to testify in church in a very theatrical manner (though there was the aspect of him continuing his vigilantism seemingly unchanged even after the unintended death of the CI meth guy (granted, he didn’t know it was a CI). I LOVE the depth of his character.

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