[Review] - Justified, Season 6 Episode 1, "Fate's Right Hand"

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television.
So, here we go folks, the final season. We're now only twelve weeks away from the very last episode of Justified. And it would bring a tear to my eye if I weren't of the opinion that all good things must come to an end. An end can be a far better thing than a lingering. And Justified is ending in the best possible way: on it's own terms. And based on the quality of last season, by far the weakest of the five to date, there might have been some that thought perhaps the time hadn't come soon enough. Certainly, season five was less than the sum of it's parts, but there is no denying that the individual parts of last season stood better on their own than as a unit.

But this season seems to be different. It's hard to tell what the big picture will look like when we've only just gotten started, but this season is burning with a laser focused intensity not seen since season two, or even season four. Raylan is gunning for Boyd, though not literally, which is a change. He coming after hi, and doing it by the book, and it's eating away at him when he know he could end everything with a bullet. Meanwhile, everyone else is very aware of the exact same thing.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that are so hungry, they'd eat the ass out of a low flying duck.

Death, the record will show, is something I feel very strongly about in fiction. Death needs to mean something. It needs to move things forward. On a show like this, where rarely does an episode go by where someone doesn't end up in the ground, it is the death so much as the who. Because, yes, for the sake of action and occasionally comedy, death is played fast and loose on Justified. There have been some spectacular examples over the years of dying stupidly. But when it comes to characters we know, not just episode drop ins and goons, but the characters that make up this universe, death has always meant something. Maybe that's why last season felt empty to me. I never connected with the Crowes enough for their deaths to make an impact, and the show seemed disinterested in having their deaths mean anything more than the fact that they weren't around. Wade and Hot Rod's deaths were the most impactful of the season. Because those characters meant something to us, and those deaths meant something to the larger fabric of the show.

Which brings us, sadly, to the end of the Ballad of Dewey Crowe. He's been with us since the beginning, and always seemed to avoid the fate that has claimed the lives of every other recurring character on the show. When he was the lone Crowe to walk away form last season, I thought that Dewey might be saved, tucked away in prison where he could live out the rest of his simple life in ignorance. But it was not to be. He was needed to be made an example of. His death wasn't for him, it was for us, and for Ava. Because Ava is in a bad way, worse than she knows. And she isn't as clever as Raylan and Boyd, though she's close. But she's been through some things and it's clouded her vision some. She doesn't know what's coming for her, but we do. Because Dewey Crowe gave his life.

We can't talk about Dewey without talking about the rest. Boyd is a broken man. Everything he believed in has been torn asunder. He's even given up hope for Harlan, which he declared a ghost town with nothing left for him and his. He came as close to being the Kinpin of Harlan as he'll ever get, and he still couldn't hold on to it, so he's letting it go. Ava is in a bad way, still suffering from her time in prison. She's waking up late, drinking vodka out of coffee mugs, and she's got the Marshal's service on her back, forcing her to act the rat aagainstBoyd, which isn't helping her stress levels none. Then you've got Raylan, gifted with magnificent purpose. There is a bounce in his step, he's literally smiling at the thought of putting Boyd down once and for all, but the Givens in him is itching to get out, knowing that things could get taken care of as quick as a draw.

The writers are taking us back to the very beginning, in a lot of ways. The episode was filled with references, both visual and situation, to the pilot. Because really, the entire series has been that single short story that inspired everything: Fire in the Hole. A problem cop called to help with a case he's singularly able t provide assistance on, going after a bank robber while dealing with the fractured mental state of an abused woman. We haven't wandered out of the original narrative. It's almost cyclical. Raylan and Ava having heart to hearts about knowing one another, Raylan bashing Dewey's head against steering wheels, Boyd robbing banks and telling people what they want to hear in order to get ahead. And it all leading to a showdown between men what used to work a mine together.

It's tempting to call Boyd the Big Bad for this season in a way that he never has been. Hell, he resorted to murder, something that he has done only three or four times in the course of the series and only ever out of extreme necessity (and like the first time he saw him do it, it was a head shot). Except that he isn't Big, and while he certainly Bad, he isn't as Bad as all that. He's a cornered dog, ready to bite and rip and do as much damage as possible. Somehow I'm thinking that the end of the season will be less like a shoot out and more like Butch and Sundance, except they'll both be hold up across from one another, pinning the other down. Dewey had to die to give Boyd merit. To give Ava tension. To give Raylan force. Dewey died to make certain that we, the audience knew, that even the children aren't safe. And when the most damned fool among us aren't safe, than no one is.

Of course, it isn't all replaying the past. There are plenty of things left to explore. Wynn Duffy and Mary Steenburgen are out there, somewhere, exerting influence over an increasingly uncontrollable Boyd. And a new comer in the form of a magnificently bearded Garret Dillahunt, with designs on the Given property and unknown motives, presented a cool and chemically compatible foe to distract Raylan from his prize. There is plenty in the world yet to make things run less smooth for our two heroes and their fate. In the near-final words of our dearly departed, "a smarter move I cannot imagine."
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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