It’s common for a show in its final season to call back to
its first, and “Justified” is no exception, as the sixth season is
centered around the inevitable final showdown between Deputy Raylan Givens
(Timothy Olyphant) and minor Kentucky crime boss Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins).
Raylan vs. Boyd is the most obvious final conflict the show could have, and
it’s to the writers’ credit that this relationship hasn’t been played out to
the point of exhaustion. In previous seasons, Boyd usually had his own parallel
storyline, and he and Raylan’s interactions were kept to a minimum, so there’s
still mileage in this contest.
“Justified” has never been much for a spectacular
kick-off, generally choosing to play its hand slowly, introducing several
colorful characters and disparate story elements over several episodes, then
crashing them all together in a bullet-filled crescendo. So when I say the Season
6 premiere is a little pokey, it’s no slight on my hopes for the season
overall, especially since things pick up considerably in the episodes to come.
Still, the premiere is mostly set-up, with very few of the touches that have
made “Justified” one of the most successful crime shows around.
In his quest to catch Boyd, Raylan is playing by the rules,
at least as much as he can and still be Raylan. His plan requires the
cooperation of Ava (Joelle Carter), Boyd’s estranged fiancée turned informant.
Ava’s not sure how to go about winning Boyd back, and Raylan’s not sure to what
extent he can trust her.
We also check in on Raylan’s old boss Art (Nick
Searcy), who’s still recovering from a gunshot wound received last season. He
advises against going after Boyd as Raylan would like, guns a-blazin’, since
Raylan is supposedly moving to Florida to be with his infant daughter once
everything is wrapped up in Harlan. It’s to be seen how much having a family
will affect Raylan’s approach to catching Boyd, but for now he’s playing it
Speaking of Boyd, he spends this episode planning and
executing a bank heist, but only winds up with some deeds and a ledger, much to
his lackeys’ chagrin. Again, just getting pieces in place without much in the
way of intrigue.
Garret Dillahunt shows up for a brief scene as Ty Walker,
who’s looking to buy Raylan’s land with a briefcase full of cash. (You can tell
Ty’s going to be one of the season’s villains, by virtue of being a character
played by Garret Dillahunt.) The scene between Ty and Raylan is vintage
“Justified,” with Walker as one of the show’s signature carpetbagging
interlopers. Raylan immediately puts him on notice: “Forgive me if I ain’t
the run-of-the-mill tater tot whose eyes go all pinwheel at a stack of stolen
money.” Any and all “Deadwood” cast reunions are welcome in my
house, and this one is no exception.
But a big potion of the episode is given over to Dewey
Crowe’s last days on Earth, as he tries to get back into Boyd’s good graces.
Dewey runs all around town, generally acting like a goof and getting the
runaround from Boyd and most everyone else. Heck, he even gets his head smashed
against a steering wheel by Raylan, for old time’s sake. But it’s an awful lot
of screen time considering the episode ends with Boyd giving Dewey the “Of
Mice and Men” treatment, blowing his brains out while Dewey admires a
photo of Boyd’s grandfather. It’s not too great of a shock, since it was rather
surprising that Dewey made it out of last season alive, and the show has to
re-establish how dangerous Boyd is.
The episode as a whole is a decent showcase for Damon
Herriman as Dewey, who’s always done an excellent job of balancing Dewey’s lack
of smarts with his underlying sweetness. Just look at his face when he thinks
his old hooker friend is offering him a quickie, when she’s actually offering
him a breakfast special. How can you stay mad at that guy? It’s a shame that a
lot of the Dewey material feels like padding — like a box the show has to check
off, before it can get down to the real business of the season.
airs Tuesdays at 10pm on FX.