Justified is back for its final season and it is my sincere hope, like that of all its fans, that season six is better than season five. Last season was generally disappointing with occasional highlights (Art’s conversation in the diner with Elias Marcos being a big one) and I really want Justified to go out — okay I guess I may as well say it — with a bang.
This piece assumes you’ve seen all the episodes of Justified up to and including 6.09, or that you never plan on watching the series.
From its beginning, Justified has been a battle between the past and the future. Based on Elmore Leonard’s short story “Fire in the Hole”, the series took the basics from Leonard and created characters and a setting that is as rich as any fantasy world. In Justified‘s Harlan County, those who refuse to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it, unless it kills them first. In its sixth and final season, Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder are going to resolve the conflict that began in the pilot (and in “Fire in the Hole”), a conflict that has much to do with the past and the future.
Season four is another good season of Justified, containing what may be its most enjoyable episode (I’ll let you figure it out) as well as great guest appearances, including Patton Oswalt. The season centers on an old mystery that becomes relevant again in Harlan, you know, because the past is always present.
Watch the episodes over on Amazon Prime and then come here and read the recaps.
Season two of Justified is generally regarded as the series’ best, and I agree. All the themes laid out in the first season are more fully developed, plus Margo Martindale guest stars as Mags Bennett. It’s great from start to finish.
Watch the episodes on Amazon Prime and then read the recaps here.
In season one, the writers on Justified were just learning what they had. The source material on Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder was the short story “Fire in the Hole”, plus Raylan had appeared on Pronto and Riding the Rap. It was a tricky project, to honor Leonard’s characters and prose, to figure out how best to use Timothy Olyphant and, after the decision was made to keep Boyd around after the pilot, Walton Goggins. Plus, the writers had to figure out how serialized they wanted to make Justified. It was a work in progress but by the end of the season the writers found the right balance. I mention this because season one was easily the weakest season of Justified, at least until this season.
The penultimate episode of a season should put all the pieces in place for the season finale, and “Starvation” does do that. But what if you don’t really care about the pieces or, in this case, what if you really don’t care about one of the big pieces? I haven’t been interested in Daryl Crowe Jr for most of the season and while that means I am looking forward to Raylan taking care of him next week, it’s more for relief than for anything else.
There are a number of previews of the new season of Game of Thrones airing now, and there is a quote in one or more of them that is one of my favorite quotes from the books.
I will hurt you for this. I don’t know how yet, but give me time. A day will come when you think yourself safe and happy, and suddenly your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth, and you’ll know the debt is paid.
This quote has been on my mind because of my excitement for the return of Game of Thrones, and I was reminded of it watching “The Toll”. Daryl Crowe turns himself in and gets his nephew Kendal to take the rap for shooting Art. Raylan wants to kill Daryl but says that he won’t, and that instead he will ruin Daryl’s life. One day joy will turn to ashes in Daryl’s mouth.
This season of Justified is finally starting to gain momentum thanks to its best episode of the season last week and a good episode this week. Although I haven’t enjoyed the dark turn that Boyd has taken this season, it is gratifying to see that there is a payoff. While “Weight” could be applied to a number of things in this episode, it was clear in Boyd’s conversation with Ava that the burden of everything he’s done to get her our of prison weighs heavily.