Six Rounds on Tonight’s Justified.
1. The world of Justified just got a whole lot smaller, and not just because there are but two episodes left in this whole shootin’ match. Let us count the ones who left us, starting with poor Carl, who was never quite smart enough to figure out how much to trust Boyd (which, to be fair, makes him about as smart as everyone else on this show), and in trying to split the difference finds himself dead at the hands of a man who doesn’t split a thing. Boyd’s crew has had a dearth of memorable henchmen since poor Devil, but Justin Welborn brought an effortless authenticity to a mostly boilerplate role, particularly in creating a vivid emotional relationship with Mike Dorsey as little brother Earl in spite of the fact that the two had relatively few scenes together over the course of the season.
2. Sensibly, Mary Steenburgen was just about the only new thing to survive the wreckage of Season Five. Perhaps because of those inauspicious beginnings, her Katherine was never going to reach iconic Mags Bennett levels, but her sexy, cosmopolitan Dixie Mafia widow was a welcome change of pace from the show’s usual small town wonders. (And remember that time in Season Five when there was a Russian mail order bride? That was weird.) The show played coy with whether or not Katherine or Avery or both were rats and/or betraying one another, and while her wily maneuvering fit in with the show’s other studies of female power in a male criminal culture, it also meant that she had to spend a certain amount of this season treading water in order to keep us presumably guessing what she’s capable of, rather than just showing us what she’s capable of. That being said, it’s a hell of a way to go out, getting tossed around by Wynn Duffy’s bodyguard while the bullets you’re firing at point blank range seem to only make him angrier. Her “Oh Jesus…” eyeroll at Mikey when he turns her “partner code” talk against her was an MVP moment.
3. And oh, Mikey. Poor, poot Mikey. Sorry: Poor, poor Michael. Turns out he hates being called Mikey, and he loves classical music, two things Duffy ought to have known if he wasn’t such a controlling prick. But for Mikey, Wynn was family, for better and (so much) worse, and so he made a noble sacrifice–much, much more noble than Wynn himself could ever do–in a spectacular close-quarters brawl between brawn and gun. Kudos to director Jon Avnet cinematographer Stefan von Bjorn for the shot of Wynn aghast at Mikey’s blood pouring through the bullet hole in the table. And kudos to Jere Burns and Jonathan Kowalsky for that lovely final moment, as Mikey begs Wynn to hold him as he dies, and Wynn does so without snark or remove, giving his trusted valet a moment of unvarnished connection before inevitable slithering off unhurt.
4. And speaking of slithering off unhurt: Raylan Givens. It’s always nice when the show reminds us of what an ethically compromised lawman he is, but as the show seems to be wrapping up with Raylan entirely ducking a scandal poised to ruin the careers of Vasquez, Rachel, and possibly Art (all shaved and dressed up for work), I had never noticed before how similar he and Wynn Duffy really are, watching the small time foibles of their criminal acquaintances with ironic remove until the time to fight or flee. Granted, most of the time Raylan chooses to fight while Wynn chooses to not, they both have a teflon quality to them which makes the moments when they break all the more affecting. Raylan’s rescue of Earl from Markham’s crooked cops proves once again that Angry Olyphant is the best Olyphant.
5. And finally Grubes. Grubes, we didn’t really get to know you, but you certainly made an impression. and odor. Ava now finds herself stuck in the mountains with no guide down and all of Kentucky law enforcement after her. Is it too late for an Ava spinoff titled Fugitive Number One starring Joelle Carter and Jeff Fahey?
6. “911. What is your emergency?” “Oh…where do I begin?”