10 Things We Learned From This Week's Heart Shredding "Justified" Finale
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10 Things We Learned From This Week's Heart-Shredding "Justified" Finale

By Joanna Robinson | TV Reviews | April 3, 2013 | Comments ()

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Thank you all for reading along with us for this truly phenomenal season of "Justified." For the second time this year, I'm including an optional soundtrack. Play along or not as you choose.

Things We Learned:

  • We are going to spend plenty of time on the male leads of this show. Trust me. But I'd like to start off by recognizing the rock solid performances from the two actresses who ended up being the beating heart of this finale. First, credit where credit's due to Natalie Zea for Winona's impressive role in the events last night. I've never been a fan of Winona, it's true, but I've also never found fault with Zea. Mostly with the characterization. But she brought it in spades last night. The contrast between Zea's beautiful tear-streaked face and her gritty (and classic Winona) stubbornness in when confronted with violent aggression was enthralling. I'm as glad as anyone that they didn't draw this conflict out over the entire episode (we were all pretty sure Yost wasn't going to kill a pregnant woman, right?) and that the real battle came with what Raylan chose to do after. Regardless, thumbs up to Zea and to the writers for making her cool. For once.

  • And then, of course, we have the lovely Joelle Carter. Carter's been nothing short of fantastic for at least two seasons now and as the noose slowly tightened around Ava for the last few episodes, Carter has done a remarkable job showing the alloy of steel and vulnerability that make up this Crowder's spine. The writers promised this season they'd fully explore the ramifications of Ava's descent into the criminal underworld last year. And as Boyd's voice-over in the "Previously Ons" intoned, their world has a high cost of living. Let's all take a moment and appreciate this absolutely stunning shot of Carter set against a liquid black background, her fingers close to the gun behind the bar. She's hunted and desperate and serene all at once. Well done.

  • What's going to happen next year to Ava? I've no clue. I think it would be a cheat to have her get out of jail in any easy way and though I'll be sorry to see her go, I think it would make the most sense to have her appear just about as much as Winona did this season. Boyd's on the dark(er) path now. That being said, I wouldn't say no to a Kentucky Prison Spin-Off show. You know you miss these two.

  • What was up with the ghost of Cassie St. Cyr? Okay no she wasn't literally a ghost, but she didn't really belong there on the side of the road. Did she just happen to drive by? There was certainly no reason for her to be involved in that police action. What she did, however, was remind us all that as much as we may love Boyd he was absolutely guilty of murdering an innocent man earlier this season. Passively murder, but murder nonetheless. "Justified" steers clear of other-worldy nonsense, but in an episode called "Ghosts" with more than a few Shakespearean allusions, it's not out of line to think of Cassie more as a manifestation of Boyd's guilt than a random passerby.

  • In fact: "Sammy and Nicky aren't very fond of each other. It's all very Shakespearean." It got super "Game Of Thrones"-y up in here with the battle for the Tonin throne. Sammy may not be the leader the Detroit Mafia needed, but he's certainly the one those sh*tbags deserve.

  • Be careful what you wish for. The Bard is awfully fond of those cruel twists of fate and what a rough twist we have here with Boyd getting what he wanted (a fortune) and losing everything that mattered in the same day. Goggins plays the beat-down fortune's fool so perfectly here. The earlier shot of his ink-stained fingers showing the permanent legacy of his white-supremacy past is a reminder that try as he might, he can't wash it all clean.

  • Are Raylans hands any cleaner? As Nicky Augustine says, Raylan's got his badge to hide behind. But just as Boyd tried and failed to cut loose of his father's shadow by class climbing this season, Raylan, ultimately, failed to escape Arlo's legacy of violence and moral ambiguity. This season was all about origins and our inability to escape them and even if it seems like Raylan got away clean, I think we all know that what he helped execute at the airport will continue to gnaw at him. P.S. How amazing was Mike O'Malley? Dark and menacing and fantastic.

  • This. All day.

  • We all knew this episode would end badly for Boyd and Ava. Most of us have had Ava at the top of the Death Watch list ever since the proposal or well before. Is this worse? It might somehow be worse. It was certainly heart-wrenching. The beauty of this season is that even though everything played out exactly the way we expected it to, it didn't, for a minute, feel like lazy or predictable writing. It all felt like fate. And doom. And even though you know that the last act of Hamlet will end with almost everyone bloodied, that doesn't make the story any less compelling. And did I mention sad? Jaysus.


  • Detroit Mafia Nursery Interlopers (Cause Of Death: The Surprisingly Effective Givens/Hawkins Combo.)
  • The Dream Of Love In America (Cause Of Death: That Strumpet, Fate)

    Deputy Marshal Rachel Brooks and Deputy Marshal Tim Gutterson Line Count

  • Rachel=2
  • Tim= 3
    These two have really mastered the "casually looking at a folder while killing it with the line reads" brand of acting.

    Favorite Lines:
    Jimmy: "What do we do now?"
    Boyd: "Take a few moments to contemplate the mortal remains of Henry Willis and to thank him for being more useful in death than he ever was in life."
    Jimmy: "You knew this guy?"
    Boyd: "Ironically I did. He started drinking at ten got hooked on oxi by the time he was fifteen and that was all she wrote. But we all end up where he is sooner or later."

    Why? Because I'm both a fan of LA Story and an incurable, pretentious English major.

    The Gist: I think I've already hammered home what I think this episode (and this season) was all about. The writers wanted to show us the central twin stories of the Harlan melodrama. And they did. For all the fool-headed preachers and duplicitous bartenders and cold cases, the story that played out was the tragic failure of these two men. Raylan's not the hero and Boyd's not the villain. They both started out this season full of hope. Squirreling away money for a golden future. And where did they end? Buried in the past. Haunted by what they've lost.

    Joanna Robinson will miss the whole Harlan crew. Big ups, as usual, to Chet Manley and his fantastic gif work.

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  • Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

    • FANTASTIC recap. Although it breaks my heart to see more pics/gifs of Boyd getting his heart broken. Raylan is an amazing character but Boyd trumps him. I love his self-assurance regardless of how poorly things are going for him. Seeing him in the dirt getting his ass kicked by the police made my stomach hurt. His brother turned on him, Ava in prison, partnering up with Duffy, how am I supposed to while away the hours until this fantastic show comes back on?

    • SBrown

      Beautiful, amazing Joanna - your recaps are full of just as much joy as watching the episodes. Thanks to you (and Chet) for adding even more depth to one of my favorite shows. I've come to find your posts as an integral part of the Justified experience. Rock on awesome lady!

    • kbenton

      "Why? Because I’m both a fan of LA Story and an incurable, pretentious English major."


      And thanks for a great recap overall... damn I'm gonna miss this show for the next 8 months!

    • wsapnin

      Do we know what happened to Cousin Johnny? Do we assume he is dead? Or did Rachel put him in WitSec?

    • Art Vandelay

      Johnny's twisting in the wind, and likely will return next season. Graham Yost mentioned in an interview they didn't have time to give him the attention he deserved so they left his immediate fate unclear.

    • Three_nineteen

      Um, I'm pretty sure Boyd is the villian. I don't care who he falls in love with, Boyd is still a murdering drug dealer. Although I don't agree that he murdered the preacher. Boyd told him straight out that the preacher had been using milked rattlers, and that the rattlers in the bag were not milked. Cassie is blaming Boyd for her brother believing the lie she perpetuated.

    • dizzylucy

      That was one fine episode, and one fantastic season.

      I loved how things sort of went full circle for Raylan, patching the hole in the wall was a perfect ender to the beginning of the season, where the hole kicked this whole story off.
      Wrong as it might be, I kind of loved Raylan letting Sammy do his dirty work for him, just like Boyd had the Detroit guy take out the guys threatening him a few episodes ago. Raylan and Boyd, peas in a pod. Their conversation in the car was perfection, and I loved the parallels as always, and the polar opposite of Raylan and Winona being in a good place and Boyd and Ava getting destroyed.

      That about broke my heart. Even though I knew she was doomed one way or another, when those headlights showed up, I thought NOOOO! Joelle was really great all season, I think she has grown tremendously as an actor since the beginning of the show.
      Loved the moment of Boyd hanging his head when he saw Cassie, and knew his own actions led to Ava being caught.

    • kilmo

      Joanna, love the recaps. I'm in South Korea and I always try to stay up to get first crack at the recaps! It never works.

      I really can't feel sorry for Boyd when Ava acted so recklessly. It's her own. Damn fault. Also why was no one wearing gloves during those body switching scenes. Seriously, so simple. I don't understand why people keep commiting crimes on tv without gloves. Serious pet peeve and takes me out of the moment.

      Jimmy is still one of my favourite tertiary characters. His grave site freak out was hilarious. Also glad Wynn Duffy and his main henchman Mike are back.

    • Laura

      That's the first thing my husband said when we watched that scene: "Where the fuck are their gloves? Are they professional criminals or what?"

    • yemayah

      There is so much to love in what was a satisfying season finale. I will miss this show so much my heart already aches. Thanks, Joanna, I will also miss and your recaps.

      Raylan is still bound to Arlo, bound to the house, his memories and to Harlan. IMO, he walled off his actions/regrets for doing what he needed to do to keep his family safe just as sure as he was covering over that hole in the wall. That psychological plaster offers no more protection than the dirt over Arlo's grave protects him from the ghost of Arlo. It is not yet known if he can reconnect with Frances (=The Mother reflection within). How will Raylan transcend the grave? Does he believe he is trapped by the fate Arlo planned for him: psychological and physical death (symbolized by the headstone Arlo swindled and likely planted to purposely terrorize his child), or that he believes he has the free will to alter his inner compass and claim his course while still remaining true to his professional oath?

      I love that Winona- without snark or posturing or accusation- declared her love and stated honestly why she loved him. She fell in love with the lawman, the knight, the lover, the friend. She fell in love with the man who would save her (From Seas.2: "I know you will save me"), the man who would go after Loretta. She cannot change him, otherwise he would not be the man she fell in love with. Selfishness in love fails. They do not have to marry (again) or live together. That is another journey. She slayed the vile thug side-by-side with Raylan, no hesitatioin. They are bound by that.

      The conversation between Boyd and Raylan during the ride to the airstrip for the meeting with Nick was the outward expression of their own interior conversation, mirrowing their own inner struggles and failures. Each is navigating an inner dark road just as they are travelling in that very dark of night. The scenes that followed were all dark and photographed very, very dark. I don't believe that it is an absolute that Boyd murdered Billy, as Joanna says. If that is an absolute, then Raylan absolutely murdered Nick. Neither one prevented the death, no matter how it is spun. How is Raylan going to spin it in his mind: Was it justified? Was it justice? Was it both because of the life Nicky chose and the threats made?

      Their car trip reminded me of the scene in Bullettville (1.13), in which Raylan was driving during the night in that ep, just as Boyd is driving in 4.13. In both episodes, I love the symbolic (and necessary) gesture of Raylan returning the gun to Boyd. Boyd left Ava vulnerable to go with Raylan, and I believe he went of free will, not because of Raylan's coersion/threats. Boyd again had Raylan's back. IMO, Boyd would not tolerate any harm to Raylan's family or to Raylan from these thugs. It is a love and bond between them.

      I never had a doubt about the safety of Winona and the child. It would make no sense thematically to harm/kill her or her child. If Raylan is to transcend the darkness, find the balance, listen to the voice of his mother, the path between darkness and light, then not only does she have to be alive to be his guide, but also their child is the hope for something greater, something that can't be bought with money.

      Building a case against Ava for killing Delroy is fraught with a lot of problems. That crooked sheriff and Lee have a lot more to fear to even allow Ava to get charged with tampering with a corpse without incriminating themselves. Now that he is Wynn's agent, Boyd can buy protection for Ava inside. My fear for Ava is that she will break or be broken down, threatened and tricked while in custody because she is away from Boyd, scared, vulnerable, and seems to accept, in her despair, that Boyd cannot save her. Oh, so heartbreaking. All their current journeys end in failure as a result of greed, selfishness, hubris, not letting go of their past, and plain asshole-ery. Raylan included.

    • lowercase_ryan

      I don't see any problems at all regarding the case against Ava for killing Delroy. Paxton and the deputy are totally in the clear. Also, Ava is stronger than you give her credit for. She's not breaking down any time soon.

      I also don't think Raylan regrets anything he did this season.

    • Slash

      I'm kinda wondering why Boyd et al didn't go get the body way earlier (like weeks earlier) when they had a chance to do it without anybody knowing. Poor planning on their part. Would have been prudent to not leave your future in the hands of a vulnerable ex-junkie prostitute.

    • Slash

      Yeah, O'Malley is awesome. So scary. As big an asshole as the character is, and as richly as he deserved to die, it is kinda sad we won't see O'Malley anymore. He's kinda like Goodman like that. In some roles, the friendliest dude you'd ever want to meet, but in others, goddam terrifying.

    • emilya

      Thanks for the amazing recap! I always spend my Wednesday mornings at work looking forward to these and I will miss them! When the episode ended I was initially disappointed that we hadn't had a Quarles/Limehouse/Raylan standoff because I was so sure Raylan was going to somehow be responsible for Ava dying this season, but I also thought we might get a Boyd vs Raylan vs Ava vs Nicky vs other thugs vs tim/rachel shoot out. It was so understatedly brilliant and beautiful in the end and was exactly the way to end the season.

      And the end of the episode...just beautiful. The kiss between Ava and Boyd pretty much broke my heart. Boyd staring out the window of the clover hill house broke my heart into more pieces and by the time hottie mc hotterson raylan came on the screen, i felt like someone had shoved a lit grenade in my heart and tiny pieces of heart were raining down in the living room.

      My only issue with episode was that i had a hard time figuring out how/who shot the elf and thus had to watch that scene over and over again and finally gave up understand the mechanics of the scene.

      Raylan in non-work clothes with the hat and boots gave me a major stiffy of the non-marshal persuasion...yum.

    • Thew4

      Winona shot the elf. There was a scuffle, a gun was dropped, Winona grabbed it just as elf grabbed her. She put her arms behind her back, still holding the gun. Some threats, some talking, she shoots.

    • Slash

      Yeah, me too (RE the scene in the nursery). (shrug)

    • Nadine

      For once I actually agree, Winona was pretty great this time around. I am still pissed (what, I'm petty, I never claimed not to be) that Yost literally said the words 'there will not be a gun pointed at the belly' and then went ahead and pointed a gun at the belly, but it was a nice twist that it ended so fast and set the episode off and start Raylan back down that path he's been walking.

      Personally, I never thought for a second Yost was going to kill the baby(and I think the baby is a terrible idea in general and would much rather have had another season of Raylan and Arlo)

      I do hope Raylan's comment toTim was a sign that next season he and Rachel wont be relegated to the background again. Does Justified have webisodes? It would kill with webisodes.

      As for Ava and Boyd...honestly, for some reason I wasn't as carried off with this episode as I am normally, and so all I could think for the entire time was why didn't they burn these bodies in the first place? I just can't think of a single reason why they don't burn the body. It was sad but I just wish they'd burned the damn body. WHY AVA! WHYYYYYYYYYYYYY! Boyd will get her out, though. I don't believe for a second Ellen May will continue to be safe, Boyd will go after her and Ava will let him.

      I'm sad to see Nick Augustine go. I don't know why but I didn't like his writing for this episode. I know he was on the edge but there seemed to be something missing in that scene.

      As finales go, I find myself more interested in what the events of this episode will lead to than the episode its self.

    • F'mal DeHyde

      Seriously, they were right there at a mortuary. Mortuaries have crematoriums, don't they? But yeah, this leaves it open for some surprise twist next season.

    • Not all funeral homes (which is what that was) have crematoriums. And firing one up is a big deal, and the coroner would notice the lack of a body. They're sharp like that.

    • F'mal DeHyde

      No, really?

      Ahem. They had another body, remember?

    • Nadine

      That was all I could think. I'm heartbroken about them being split up but also so pissed at them for not burning the fucking body.

      I want Boyd to go to all lengths to get Ava out. I want to see how evil he can get.

    • They didn't burn the body because, next season, silly!

    • Nadine

      aaaah yes!

    • The shot of Raylan walking away as Nicky gets gunned down was awesome. Pure badass, as was this episode and the entire season. Thank you so much pajiba for getting me into this show.

    • Lucas

      I took Cassie's presence at Ava's arrest as a sign that she's the one who tipped off the police, not Ellen May.

    • lucas

      i don't know why i insist on not reading the other comments before i post one saying the same thing. probably cause i'm a dummy.

    • ShinyHappyPeopleLaughing

      Thanks Joanna, great recap, as usual. It's going to be a long wait for January! Oh, and Chet? You are the master of gif.

    • Olyphantypants was beautiful at barely letting Raylan's emotions out all season long. They just simmered under the surface of his facial tics and cheek biting. But the moment when he was with Art, being told what he couldn't do...when the camera just showed the shadow of his face, mostly hidden under the hat--HOW DOES HE SHOW EMOTION WITH NO EYES? I don't know, but he did.

      Ava and Boyd left me absolutely heartbroken. I know Boyd will figure out a way, but damn, the looks between Carter and Goggins, the kiss at the car window, each of them staring out their respective windows. Heartbroken.

    • yemayah

      Everyone was brilliant. But OMG, yes, how heart breaking was that kiss? Walton Goggins- that face! He tears me to pieces. Every time he is on the screen in Justified is a treat. Anytime his character is breaking apart and tearing inside is something to watch. I'm at season 6 of my 4th rewatch of The Shield: can't get enough of Goggins' tour-de-force performance, especially in the series' final season.

      Olyphant..I just can't get over what he can do beneath his skin and inside his eyes..even when you can't see them!! You can feel the soul of his Raylan. Not a false move of tone or body language in his seamless characterization.

    • I got the feeling Cassie was in on catching Ava, and she showed up to let Boyd know he was paying for his sins.

    • yemayah

      I'm still scratching my head over Cassie being in that scene. Perhaps she had been shadowing Ava all along, not really sure what she would find out, but waiting for an opportunity to do some harm to Ava to get back at Boyd. She just happened to be at that place at that time, not hiding herself because the cops came along??

    • lowercase_ryan

      She wanted revenge and that meant letting him know she played a role in his demise. Not to mention it was supposed to be Boyd they caught dumping the body.

    • Enrique del Castillo

      I wish they had made her role in Ava's arrest clearer, her whole storyline was one of the few things that dissapointed me this season and that shot of her could have been done better, Still, a great season, not my favorite, but stil very good.

    • JoannaRobinson

      But how would she be involved?

    • Art Vandelay

      Ellen May had confessed to her in the tent church. As Raylan said, once she starts talking you can't shut her up. So Cassie probably had all she needed from that to drop the dime on Boyd.

    • Yeah, I just read the post mortem. That's what happened. She tipped them off.

    • JoannaRobinson

      Well they did a shitty job of communicating that, no?

    • Also, I may be communicating poorly. In the post mortem, Yost doesn't say how Cassie knew, just that she tipped them off.

    • I think by having her there, we could assume she tipped them off. The particulars of how it happened--whether Ellen May told her something or she just figured it out--we could have gotten a little hint or something. But then again, that would have ruined the "I got you" moment.

    • Could have been as simple as a phone call. Maybe Ellen May told her everything, and Cassie kept an eye on Boyd and Ava?

    • lucas

      Ellen May gave Cassie all the pertinent information (namely where the body was dumped) when she made her confession in the church tent.

    • Three_nineteen

      Well, yeah, that was how they found the body in the mine shaft. How did Cassie know where Ava was going to dump the body after they stole it? There's no way Ellen May knew that, right? I thought Ava got rid of Boyd's underling so no one would know Delroy's new resting place and be able to tip off the police.

    • Yay! I didn't make it up.

    • emilya

      when ellen may is confessing to cassie before Ava, Tim and Colt show up, EM tells cassie exactly where the body is

    • lowercase_ryan

      you mean how did she get with Paxton and Mooney? I have no idea.

    • ed newman

      I think she tipped off Mooney who understood her hatred of Boyd, and he returned the favor by letting her be there when they busted him. As to how they knew where they were disposing of the body, well, Paxton and Mooney both knew where they stole the body from in the first place, so they just followed them when they left Paxton's Funeral Home.

    • lowercase_ryan

      Great recap as always JoRo.

      Concerning Ava getting out, I have the sneaking suspicion that wasn't Delroy they pulled out of the mine. The way they put off identifying the body til morning feels like a setup. I know they needed the extra time for the body snatching stuff, but I just have a feeling. Like someone already swapped the body? I know there are holes in the theory but my spidey senses are tingling.

    • Morgan_LaFai

      I'm with you. Ava can't have been the only person to use that mineshaft as a dumping sight. The show even referenced rumors about bodies existing all the time.

      On the other hand, all that Eva did to swap the body is pretty illegal, so she is almost certain sure to spend time in jail for grave robbing, obstruction of justice, etc. And given that Boyd used all his money to buy Drew does he have the liquidity to even get Eva out on bail?

      Oh the ways this can play out. I will certainly be tuning in next season.

    • lowercase_ryan

      He'll have hella heroin money shortly. Plus the juice of Detroit.

    • lowercase_ryan

      We've been waiting for this all day. Now I'm gonna go read it.

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