Things We Learned:
This week's round-up is going to be pretty much the same as any week's except I'll be highlighting the various narrative seeds that flowered in this fantastic finale. Or, to use the parlance of Harlan County, let's count all them pah-tick-u-luh chickens that came home to roost. And let me say, right off the bat, that this was one of the most satisfying conclusions to a season I have ever enjoyed and that all the quibbles of the previous episodes wash away in the face of its awesomeness.
As much as I enjoyed the ballistics discussion y'all had last week, Trooper Tom is dead and Cousin Johnny is lying...again. When Arlo walks into the bar, Boyd says, "I got family members concerned about me." Arlo off his meds.
An angry, grieving, out of control Raylan is not good for the show in the long run but is effective as hell in small bursts. Even Wynn Duffy thinks so. Glen Fogel and Harlan Roulette.
When Limehouse and Boyd meet on the foggy bridge it's a nearly identical shot to one at the beginning of the season. Only Devil's missing. Where's Devil? Where's the boy, Crowder?
In a composition we'll see echoed later, there's a Mexican stand-off between Erroll, Raylan, Limehouse and a cleaver. "I ain't my father and I don't care to be confused with him."
The purchase of Sheriff Shelby.
Theo Tonin was an adoptive father to Quarles and though he has rejected Quarles, Tonin is the only one who can allow him to go home. Why does Quarles want to go home? Why so he can be a better father to his own son...have you grasped the theme yet?
Raylan's warning to Ava that she would get hurt when they inevitably came to arrest Boyd.
Ellen May. Though the commenters were right to suggest it was dangerous for Ava to allow Ellen May any leverage over her, I believe the girl when she said she was loyal. I did not approve of Ava smacking her around. It's not how Boyd would have handled it, it's how Deroy would have handled it. And we all know which model Ava should be following. I was disappointed in this, it doesn't bode well for Ava, who is one of my favorite characters. I suppose we can chalk it up to panic and fear over the fate of Boyd, but it doesn't sit well with me.
Quarles disarms (ha!) Raylan before they head to Noble's Holler and Raylan says "That one you can keep". . .The gun that killed Gary Hawkins.
Limehouse is not only a father figure to Errol, but literally reminisces about the man's father before casting him out of the Holler. We've seen Errol's end coming for awhile now.
Johnny Crowder as Judas. I can't wait to see what happens when Boyd susses that one out.
First of all, the piggy bank. Nice. Is that what Limehouse was doing earlier when he was picking out pigs for the slaughter. Assessing which pork belly would hold the most cabbage? Also, I love how often Limehouse speaks in BBQ-ese. "Marshal, you are one strange piece of chicken."
The importance of Robert Quarles' left arm and Limehouse's cleaver. We've been speculating and griping all season about that arm and that gun. "Ugh, writers," we said, "if it jams, we saw it coming. If it doesn't, you talked about it too much. You've ruined the surprise. You're the worst. . .etc." Boy howdy we were wrong. Go ahead, tell me you saw that coming.
Trooper Tom. (Cause of Death: Looks like it was Arlo. Probably. Most likely. Damn your lies, Johnny Crowder.)
Errol. (Cause of Death: Quarles' rail gun not jamming in his moment of need.)
Bobby Quarles. (Cause of Death: Limehouse's cleaver and the disarming charms of Raylan Givens.)
Deputy Marshal Rachel Brooks and Deputy Marshal Tim Gutterson Line Count: Probably one of the biggest disappointments of the season. I really hope they find a better use for these two next year.
Rachel = 2
Tim = 0
In an episode/season that was so patently/obviously/inevitably about fatherhood and family, this was the only place the episode could have ended. And I loved it. Were any of you worried that the episode would end with a Raylan voice-over? I was. Perhaps that concern made the usually unwelcome sight of Winona so welcome to me. But their interaction was lovely. Winona was pert without wandering into b*tch territory. Her wry takedown of Raylan's too-pleased-with-himself "I disarmed him" line was pitch perfect. So after the cutting betrayal of his own father, Raylan comes to "pat the belly, see the latest sonogram." We've no assurances of where this storyline will go. I can't see Raylan balancing his high-risk job and fatherhood. Raylan wants to be better than Arlo, but does he want it enough to walk away from the life he's built?
Favorite Lines: My favorite interaction was, of course, one of those classic Boyd/Raylan conversations. We've had them in every season finale. The layers in the dialogue and the subtle affection/tension between the two characters is just pure magic. Raylan's smile at Boyd wriggling free once again was a favorite moment.
-"One bad apple spoils the barrel."
"Well Raylan even in a little town like Harlan I think the apple barrel is obsolete."
"But the expression ain't because of the truth contained therein."
"You trying to tell me we ain't talking about apples?"
-"That's the apple, the barrel and the tree."
The Gist: I think that this particular season of "Justified," more than any other, showed us how brilliant the writers are. Every complaint I had, every doubt and niggling concern paid off in a way I never expected. We knew Arlo would play a role, we didn't know how huge it would be. Essentially, the writers planted a million of Chekov's guns (and cleavers) throughout the season and set them all off at once in this finale. In retrospect, the theme of family flavors damn near every interaction we've seen, including Dickie's search for his Momma's money (and, by extension, proof of her affection for him). And, just as Loretta replaced Dickie, Boyd replaced Raylan. Arlo's approval is never something Raylan has sought during his adult life (though he protests a bit much on that front), but his betrayal this time cuts deeper than ever before. I'm going to copy something I wrote a few episodes back not because I'm lazy, but because it shows how well the writers built this season:
"We've been talking a lot this season about power moves and brokering. (The plot actually bears a pretty close resemblance to the upcoming season of "Game Of Thrones." We can call this "The War Of Five Kingpins" instead.) But behind the ever shuffling players lies the deeper connective tissue that make "Justified" such an unforgettable show. From the shared experience (everyone knows Limehouse doesn't keep his money under the church!) to the families that we build when we don't like the ones we're born into, the characters on this show are linked by more than circumstance and weekly plots. Art's presence this episode was extremely welcome. Both his parental demeanor and his sarcastic reminder to Raylan that, in his effort to be the smartest ass in the room he missed the point about Theo Tonin's men, help humanize and humble Raylan in a way the Winona character never could. Similarly, the Crowder crew are their own little family, Arlo, Ava and Johnny each vying for attention and prominence in their own way. But the sticky web of this universe is tenuous at best and the writers have been planting bombs all season. Someone's about to set it off, and his initials might just be Boyd Crowder."
I was wrong. For all the Boyds and Quarleses...Dickies and Limehouses. This show is and always will be about that man in a hat.