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Review: ‘Justified’ Season 6, Episode 6, ‘Alive Day’: Way Down In The Hole

Review: 'Justified' Season 6, Episode 6, 'Alive Day': Way Down In The Hole

PREVIOUSLY: Review: ‘Justified’ Season 6, Episode 5, ‘Sounding’: Everyone Gets Electrocuted

There’s been a lot of talk of coal mining over the years on
Justified,” which makes perfect sense, considering how Harlan County
is built on coal. But despite so many characters being tied to the business in
some way or another, we’ve seen very little actual mining on the show, which
again makes sense, since the show isn’t called “Mine Cops” (although
someone call FX, because I’ve got a new pitch for them). So it’s very
interesting to see Boyd back at his old profession this episode, as he and his
men start digging towards Markham’s safe in earnest.

The scene is prefaced by Ava and Zachariah discussing Ava’s
father, who slowly suffocated to death in a cave-in. The threat of danger hangs
over every mining job, and Boyd seems pretty ill at ease, even before he nearly
falls to his death when some boards give way beneath him.

Turns out Zachariah decided to hold a grudge after all, and
laid the trap intending for Boyd to fall to his death. When Boyd’s latest
henchman (whose name, according to the subtitles, is “The Pig,” for
reasons we can only guess at) notices that the boards weren’t rotten, but cut,
Zachariah tosses him down the shaft to keep his secret. The family grudge
Zachariah holds against the Crowders apparently runs deeper than we realized,
or else Zachariah’s got another play in mind. On “Justified,” another
play is never far off.

Which brings us to Markham, who proposes to Katherine this
week. Imagine the balls it must take to propose to the woman whose husband you
had sent to jail and murdered. And then you accuse her of being the one to send
him away. Now that’s villainy. But maybe Markham really didn’t snitch on Hale
and we’ve got another mystery on our hands. Rachel doesn’t seem to know who the
snitch was when Art brings it up at the office, and even Wynn Duffy has to ask
Katherine to be sure it wasn’t her. Since the major characters on “Justified”
are all so smart, it’s tough to guess what they do or do not know in any given
week, which makes it all the more fun.

Something amazing I noticed about Wynn Duffy this week: The
way he sits is amazing. When he’s in Katherine’s hotel suite, Jere Burns has
Duffy slouch way back on the couch, so his head is resting on the back. Wynn’s
smart, but he doesn’t have to sit at attention to show it. His hard-core
lounging can probably be attributed to his past as a
laid-back surfer
. It’s little details like that that make Burns such
a pleasure to watch in the role. Making him a regular was one of the smarter
moves the creative team made in the last few years.

Ava got some marks in the win column, managing to get young
Earl wrapped around her little finger and finding out which mine Boyd and his
crew were working in. So naturally the episode ends with Limehouse calling Boyd
to tell him about Ava’s adventures the day
before
. And Rachel found out that being in charge means making the
hard decisions, AKA “letting Raylan get away with stuff because he gets
results.” She was going to have to learn that lesson sooner or later.

Finally, the sad ballad of Choo-Choo came to a conclusion
this episode, with a story that reminded me of the more successful one-off
episodes from Season 1. Those episodes would introduce an intriguing new
character (such as Alan Ruck’s dentist in “Long in the Tooth”) and
tell a complete story about them encountering Raylan Givens. Choo-Choo’s tale
this episode had a similar trajectory, as we learned more about him, became
sympathetic towards him, and watched him be consumed by his loyalty to his
brothers-in-arms, because he literally has nothing else.

When Choo-Choo is tasked with killing Natalie, one of
“Justified’s” patented Prostitutes in Peril, he quickly falls for her
charms and asks Ty if perhaps there’s an alternative to murdering her. Ty may be
an asshole, but he’s loyal to Choo-Choo, at least until Markham blows enough
smoke up his ass about leaders having to make the tough decisions.

And honestly, Markham is right in his own ruthless way about
Choo-Choo being more trouble than he’s worth. But even with faced with Ty and
some nameless goons about to gun him down, Choo-Choo can’t bring himself to
side with the law, and is shot several times for his trouble. He still manages
to get away, and as he’s bleeding out, decides to kill himself in the most
obvious way possible: by stopping his tiny car in front of a speeding
train.  Except the train isn’t so
speedy and manages to stop right before colliding with Choo-Choo, who succumbs
to his wounds. It’s both sad and kind of hilarious, and it was nice to see
“Justified” put the spotlight on one of its more colorful supporting
characters. RIP Choo-Choo: your name was so fun to type.

Grade: A-

READ MORE: Justified’ Showrunner Graham Yost Shares Tips on Pitching a TV Show

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