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Did the 'Justified' Season Finale Redeem a Weak Season, Or Just Make It Worse?

By Dustin Rowles | TV | April 9, 2014 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | April 9, 2014 |

The plotline with the Crowes finally came to a much-needed resolution in the season finale of Justified last night, after Wendy Crowe grew a set and killed her own brother to protect her son, Kendall (although, it should be noted that Dewey is still in the mix). As promised, Raylan didn’t end up killing Daryl, although he did allow it to happen, and it’s hard to say whether dying by the hand of your sister is really that much worse than being shot by a marshal. Once you’re dead, you’re dead, though I suppose that Daryl felt pretty rotten about the fact that his own sister shot him in the balls during the 20 seconds it took for him to bleed out.

In either respect, Art — conscious now — was thankful to Raylan for his role in the death of his shooter, and I guess that he repaid the favor by letting Raylan know that his transfer to Florida had come through.

Meanwhile, the Mexican cartel, which ultimately made for lousy finale-villains in a season that saw the deaths of far better, more interesting characters — took out Jimmy in the episode’s only real stunning moment. It knocked Boyd off his game for about ten minutes, at which point he was able to regroup and save himself (barely) with some clever text messaging, just as Elmore Leonard obviously would’ve drawn it up. That left Boyd somehow free from any immediate criminal charges, despite his obvious connection to a sh*tload of heroin. Of course, now Boyd is going to turn right around and join Wynn Duffy and Katherine in a bank-robbing venture.

Elsewhere, after things got particularly desperate for Ava, instead of finding a clever way in which to deal with her situation, she sought out Raylan and agreed to turn on Boyd in exchange for her release. On the prompting of Vasquez (who is in it more to get Katharine than Boyd), Raylan decided to do “one more job” before he transferred: Take down Boyd, using Ava as his informant.

I suppose there are different ways in which to view that set up, which laid the groundwork for the final season. On the bright side, it does set up the last episodes the way you’d like it to be set up: Centered around Raylan, Boyd, and Ava, the show’s three central characters. On the other hand, that premise also destroys much of what Graham Yost has built over the course of five seasons.

Foremost is the relationship between Boyd and Ava. It was bad enough that Ava dumped Boyd for no good reason at all a few episodes back, but despite Boyd’s best efforts to protect her in prison (efforts that ultimately failed), Ava is going to sacrifice the love of her life to spare herself? That’s a huge leap to make from the end of last season to the end of this season, and I don’t particularly like it when it means obliterating the strongest connection between two characters on the show (though, I will allow for the possibility that Ava figures out how to double cross Raylan and save both her and Boyd, or at least attempt to).

But what I appreciate even less is Raylan’s sudden surge of interest in taking down Boyd Crowder. It seems to me, at least since the end of the opening season, that Raylan and Boyd have led respectful, parallel existences on each side of the morality line. The rivalry between those two has never really coursed with much animosity. There’s always been a sort of kinship, an understanding between the two that — as long as they remained out of each other’s business — no harm would come to either one, and where their interests did intersect, they almost seemed to look out for one another.

The thing is, Raylan has had several opportunities to take down Boyd over these last four seasons, and he usually lets it slide, hence the file he’d built up on him that he’d been saving to use one day as leverage. Why now has he decided to go after Boyd? And if he’s so invested in removing Boyd, why not use the file, as he’d promised, rather than go through RICO, which is about as boring a means to an end as there can be in a show involving criminal statutes. Is the 50 years under RICO that much worse than the multiple homicides that Boyd could have been investigated for had Raylan shown a keen interest? (Granted, I will allow for the fact that Raylan is not a homicide detective, and must use federal laws to obtain jurisdiction, but still … )

It simply doesn’t track for me. There’s been no real intervening incident to fuel a sudden antagonistic rivalry. Boyd has not directly harmed someone close to Raylan, and Raylan — up until he turned Ava on Boyd — hadn’t given Boyd much cause for animosity, either. I don’t discount the possibility that those intervening moments will arrive early in the final season, but they wouldn’t retroactively provide the appropriate justification for Raylan’s sudden malice.

Or hell, maybe Raylan is just using Boyd as an excuse to avoid moving to Florida and playing Daddy with Winona. That makes more sense to me then suddenly deciding after four years that the most important thing he could do with his time is to take down a guy he’d only been peripherally interested in up until now using a federal law designed to snuff out ongoing criminal activities.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.