Justified: Season Six and So Long

Despite the weakness of last season, I was still looking forward to this, the final season of Justified. It promised a final showdown with Raylan and Boyd and seemed like it would develop the most useful theme of season five, that the characters’ pasts were coming back on them and what worked easily before was no longer working now.

Season six was a monster. It started out like a runaway locomotive and didn’t let up. The best thing I can say about this season was that I didn’t really speculate too much about where it was going to go; I was content to just let it unfold. The strange thing about the season was, apart from some surprise deaths, it didn’t feel like a final season. Although Raylan and Boyd were both after their “last big score” I didn’t feel like we were heading toward a conclusion. Last night’s final episode was that conclusion, and I want to talk more about it. I will after the spoiler tag.

Referring to the show in general, I’m going to miss it. Justified wasn’t a “great” show, it was a pretty consistently good show with some good characters and one great one. There are other actors and roles on the show that did fine jobs, but without Walton Goggins’ Boyd Crowder I don’t know how far this show would have gone. Boyd was the rare case of a fan-favorite character becoming the focus and it actually paying off. The other villains of the seasons usually were just trying to keep up with him, and often failed to do so.

The second season of the show is considered the best, mostly because of Margo Martindale’s role of Mags Bennett. Five was probably the weakest, but starts strong and still has some great moments. (Maybe four is weaker; I don’t know too many people who cared about the Drew Thompson mystery.) But honestly, the whole thing is just a solid show with some great characters, action, and humor. I don’t know what, if anything, will be able to replace it for me.

Now I’m going to talk about last night’s episode, so

I have to say, I was kind of disappointed in this final episode. It had two jobs to do: end the season and end the series, and I felt like it skimped on the latter in favor of the former. And I think I know why.

Leaving aside the “final season” stuff, this was a strong storyline. Avery Markham as a sort of reverse Mags Bennett worked, especially when he was going up against Loretta. The crosses and double-crosses were a lot of fun. Even the last-minute addition of Boon completely worked.

The wrap-up for the storyline was a little abrupt, but considering what we’d gone through to get there, it was fine. I’m not sure how many more near-misses and twists it would have supported.

But then suddenly everyone got stupid. Art just reverses on Raylan, with very little prompting. And who thought having Raylan drive Ava was a good idea? This is especially bad since Vasquez had made a pretty good argument for it looking like Raylan and Ava were in cahoots. This entire scenario — $9 million unrecovered, Ava missing, Raylan taking off afterwards — is exactly in line with his scenario and yet apparently nothing comes of it? Raylan just freely heads off to Florida to work with Todd Packer?

Boyd goes to jail to go back to preaching and Ava goes straight, with little Boyd Jr. in tow. Raylan makes it to Florida but oh no, it didn’t work out with Winona, surprising nobody. Wynn Duffy gets away. Everyone gets a more or less happy ending and everyone gets more or less out of Harlan alive. No showdown, no slaughterhouse, no shock ending.

Also very little satisfaction. It didn’t feel to me like we got a series finale so much as an indefinite hiatus. Every element is still in place for if we change our minds and decide to do more Justified in a couple years. And I feel like that’s the reason we got the ending we got. I didn’t buy that Raylan suddenly decided to go by the book instead of shooting Boyd. Raylan, frankly, hasn’t otherwise shown much growth along those lines. I think we just didn’t want to screw up the possibility of Justified 2. And that felt weak. Maybe with another hour I could have been sold the ending we got, but as it is it didn’t feel earned.

And no Loretta in the “4 Years Later” bit? Really?

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