Six Round on Tonight’s Justified
1. What does it take to move forward, and indeed, what does moving forward even mean? There was a lot of walking imagery throughout tonight’s Justified, from Raylan and Avery’s talk of past as a shadow that either trails you or engulfs you as you walk (depending on which man’s philosophy you subscribe to), to the ignoble dispatching of Ty Walker while attempting to make a run for it. Raylan puts two bullets into his back, and as Ty uses his dying breaths to protest this fate, Raylan replies, “If you wanted to get hit in the front you shoulda run toward me.”
2. Running toward things, however, has never exactly been Raylan’s style. That’s not to say that he’s a coward or ducks his obligations, as we have five and a half solid season behind us saying otherwise. But from the first episode on, Raylan has been presented as a man who has left plenty of things behind him, whether or not those things were quite done with him. Tonight’s cold open has Raylan planning to move forward the only way he knows how: by razing what came before. In this case, it means torching Arlo’s old locker box in a whiskey-fuled blaze and planning the excavation of his parents’ bodies from his property, the better to sell it off and leave Harlan forever. But, as the mortician reminds him, the bodies at this point are just boxes of dirt. What he’s really relocating is the idea of their remains, and skilled though Raylan is, it’d be a hell of a trick to outrun an idea.
3. Speaking of ideas…okay. Raylan’s a clever fellow, we all know this. And at this point the show only has five more episodes to go, so there’s very little time to waste; as much as we all would enjoy (and have) hours upon hours of Raylan and Boyd staring each other down in Ava’s front yard, it’s time to get to the fireworks factory. I get it. That being said, Raylan began the episode not knowing hardly anything about Boyd’s scheme, and ended the episode as practically a silent partner–and mostly through some pretty contrived means. Raylan visits Zachariah, sees the dynamite, and figures that Boyd is gonna blow up something to get Avery’s money (reasonable enough); Raylan convinces Avery to put up a $100,000 reward for the capture of Ty Walker in order to paint a target on Walker’s back, so to speak (sure); Raylan shows up at Ava’s house while Ty happens to be holed up in there (I guess…); Raylan kills Walker, then accompanies Boyd to claim the reward from Avery (kinda funny), which Avery pays (wait…), giving Boyd a solid look inside that pizza vault, which apparently was Raylan’s plan all along (but how–). Not only that, by Ava not facing any reprisal from Boyd for allowing Raylan in the house while Walker was hiding, Raylan intuits that she’s told Boyd about her CI status (oh come on!). Plus, now he knows that Boyd plans to blow the vault open from underneath (okay fine).
4. Then again, maybe Raylan is psychic now, as evidenced with his conversation with Arlo from beyond the grave. Raylan ends the episode exploring an old shed on the Givens property, where Arlo would spend time alone, and where young Raylan would invest every scary, hate-filled thought he ever had about his father. Turns out, the shed was just an empty room of Arlo’s own. This might be a little too on-the-nose, if not for the welcome return of Raymond J. Barry. When Arlo was killed off in Season Four, I worried that the show would suffer in Barry’s absence, and while Justified‘s problems in Season Five were certainly bigger than that, tonight was a solid reminder of the what great chemistry Barry has with Timothy Olyphant, and what a great flavor he provided to the Justified stew.
5. Raylan refers to Harlan as “a hell of a place to make your fortune.” I feel like I’ve heard that somewhere before.
6. Tonight’s episode takes its title from a Merle Travis song about the dangers of the mining life. Here’s Johnny Cash: