Well, you can’t say that the last two episodes of
“Justified” haven’t been exciting! The previous nine episodes took
their time setting up a dozen combustible elements, and the last two episodes
have taken a lot of pleasure in just watching them pinball off one another to
see what explosions result. Last episode’s series of betrayals culminated in
Ava’s big play, and this episode has several moments of shocking violence. It’s
damn fine television.
Even though last episode Boyd outed Katherine as the one who
originated the idea of stealing Markham’s millions, Markham still manages to
find it in his heart to forgive her. Of course he’s skeptical at first, but Katherine
pulls the “while I was conning you I fell in love with you for real”
card, and while that seems like a dinosaur con on the surface, Katherine’s just
old school enough for the audience to buy it as truth. Markham buys it, too,
and vows to find the money and bring Wynn Duffy’s head back to Katherine. Of
course, this being “Justified,” two criminals finding happiness
together just won’t do at all, so there’s darkness on the horizon for both of
Poor Mikey (or Mike, as it turns out he prefers). What
initially seemed like a simple disdain for snitches turns out to be much more
romantic. Wynn was the closest thing Mikey had to family, and he never even let
him choose the radio station. He’s not angry at Wynn, just so disappointed.
Katherine wildly miscalculates when she gives a speech to Wynn about loyalty,
because Mikey’s heart grows three sizes and he can’t bring himself to let
Katherine kill Wynn. Mikey and Katherine have a terrifying struggle, as Mikey
gets shot an alarming number of times, but still manages to crush Katherine’s
windpipe with a well-aimed blow. Mikey, shot to pieces, pleads to Wynn,
“Will you hold me?” and Wynn cradles him in his arms as he dies, the
strings of Pachelbel’s Canon in D soaring in the background. It’s sheer
cheeseball melodrama, which is sort of the perfect way for Mikey to go out. And
Wynn proves once again that he’s completely unkillable. If you dropped a
nuclear bomb on the guy, he’d manage to find the nearest refrigerator.
We get another choice Boyd/Raylan scene as the two of them are
able to agree on one thing: They need to find Ava before Markham’s men do. Boyd
is justifiably angry at Ava, but he’s still got a soft spot for her — of
course, that softness applies only to Ava, as Carl learns to his detriment.
Markham gets Carl to agree to assassinate Boyd after threatening Earl, but Carl
still can’t bring himself to turn on Boyd, making him that rarest of birds: a
loyal Boyd Crowder henchman. Which makes it all the more tragic when Boyd
decides the easiest way to escape the hospital is in the confusion of a fatal
shooting, and he puts a slug in Carl’s chest. Boyd is still only looking out
for number one, but now he’s burned all his bridges and he has no allies left.
This might play up Boyd’s romantic perception of himself as an outlaw, but it
could also prove detrimental to achieving his goals. Still, you can never count
Markham, who was well on his way to bouncing back this
episode, finds all his work may have been for naught. His plan to kill Boyd
backfires in more ways than one. Not only does Boyd get away, Earl is spirited
away by Raylan, who wants him to testify against Markham. And the worst of all,
Katherine is killed the same day he finally fully reconciles with her. When
Raylan comes to gloat about Earl, he also gets to be the one to tell Markham of
Katherine’s death. And Raylan being Raylan, he can’t help but twist the knife.
“All this is on you. As you undertake your grieving, may that guide you as
you contemplate your next move.” Raylan thinks he has Markham in a
checkmate, but it’s possible that he’s a bigger threat than ever. There are few
things more dangerous than a man with nothing left to lose.
Boon, meanwhile, wants a showdown with Raylan so bad he can
taste it. He even commissioned someone to make him a dark cowboy hat, so he can
truly live the gimmick of being Raylan’s evil opposite. Raylan is not much
impressed. Raylan’s casual dismissal of Boon these last couple of episodes is
worrying: Boon has gotten a lot of screentime for so late an addition to the
cast, and hell, someone other than Boyd has to be a physical match for
Raylan. You always have to keep an eye out for someone younger and hungrier
than you, and Boon fits that bill. Ryalan ignores him at his peril.
Speaking of Raylan, his tunnel vision for getting the job
done means he has a complete unwillingness to follow orders if they contradict
his mission. Raylan’s insubordination has been one of his defining traits
throughout the series, and here he’s given an ultimatum he could never hope to
meet: drop his pursuit of Ava and Boyd and come back to Lexington to address
Vasquez’s charges of collusion, or else.
I talked earlier about Boyd’s romantic self-perception, and
that applies to Raylan, too. He can’t go back to Lexington because he has to be
the one to find Ava and arrest Boyd. He’s the hero, damnit! Why else would he
wear that hat? But the thing he didn’t count on is Art, who vows to come after
him. Art, the man who most likely knows Raylan’s greatest sin: His complicity
in the murder of Nicky Augustine and the man who could certainly end Raylan’s
career, or worse. One more combustible element.