[Review] - Justified, Season 6 Episode 6, "Alive Day"

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television.
It has been a concern of mine this season, a minor yet growing concern, that the show was loosing focus on the plot of this final season. Raylan had been given one last chance to take a straight run at Boyd. It was the culmination of both the series, and the payoff of the pilot episode. And yet, they keep adding additional distractions. Catherine, then Walker, then Markham, and now Zachariah. It is all a lot of new players, all forcing Raylan and Boyd to take their eyes off the prize: each other.

But then, maybe that is the point. It certainly is something the writers have recognized, as they had Raylan and Art discuss that very issue, that there is no such thing as one last case, that there will always be some strand to pick at, some shit-kicker to run down, some bust that never goes as smooth as it should. But more than that, and certainly within the canon of Elmore Leonard, it is when the eyes are off the prize that things tend to go the most wrong. When distracted, you rarely see the bullet coming at you.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that are proof that "wonderful things can happen when you plant seeds of distrust in a garden of assholes."

After last week's tire-spin episode, this episode found traction and lurched forward, moving everyone toward next week's fulcrum episode (the episode where, traditionally, things start to tip in the other direction). Big moves were made by all involved, and a blood price was paid. The episode began with a confrontation between Raylan and Boyd, and those are never not fun. There was little time for flirting here though, as both had the misery of intent behind their words. Depending on what Limehouse reveals to Boyd during their phone conversation, I expect that Raylan's visitation will reflect more worryingly on Ava, but at the time, it played out as two men sizing each other up. Allusions were made to when last those three sat in that kitchen over chicken, and foreshadowing of a final confrontation to come was well seeded.

But perhaps the biggest take away from the conversation is the feeling that, after years of banter and opposition from one another, these are two men who are finally tired of one another's shit. Boyd began the season a man tired of everything. You might have even thought he was suffering form depression. He was willing to pull up roots, high tail it out of town and never look back. He was a failed pharaoh without a dynasty or empire. Meanwhile, Raylan began the year full of eagerness and promise. He had a family waiting for him, far from danger and the past. He was motivated and enthusiastic. And in the six episodes since, they've moved closer towards a middle, with each having had their high and low eroded or elated, so that now, they are each just a man who wants to get things done, and be done with them. However that might be possible.

It's also worth noting that Tim and Rachel have been put use as never before in this final year. While never absent, in past years, they time-shared the series, with one gone while the other was around, and the occasional episode where they were off screen while the action focused on the mains. This season, they've both been front and center, with Tim serving as Raylan's sidekick as they troll Harlan county, and Rachel keeping the office and the case sane. These have long been interesting, fantastic characters, and it is nice to see that in the finale year, the writers have went out of their way to make extra and better use of them. It is Art that has taken the step back, serving this year as a kind of Gandalf for the show, appearing mostly to foreshadow and plant the seeds of doubt in the minds of the true believer, but only ever speaking truths. 

It seems to me that a lot of the distracting influences buzzing around Harlan will self destruct long before the final hour arrives. Markham's crew is already falling in on themselves, with Choo-choo's death undoubtedly spurring an emotional reaction from Walker. The very idea of killing his brother-in-arms was enough to raise fire and tears in his eyes. Any loyalty that Walker might have had for his boss will surely be harmed by the passing of their simple compatriot. With disloyalty in the ranks, Markham might think he'll find solace in Catherine, who is a snake in his boot. Wynn hasn't had much to do this season, but he's a danger that Markham doesn't yet know is pointed at him. Whether his surprise proposal is a play to distract her, or genuine, I doubt he recognizes the full extent to which he is surrounded.

Meanwhile, Markham is making a play against Boyd, as is Zachariah, who has taken the opportunity to play out a long-gestating revenge scheme against the lone surviving Crowder. Zachariah's plan seems the sort to be hopelessly doomed, with Boyd coming wise and making a greater enemy of Ava after dispatching her apparently lone kin. Or, if Boyd is now aware of Ava's duplicity, that it will call Zachariah's loyalty into question long before he has another chance to drop Boyd down a hole. The up shot was, we were treated with something quite rare: Boyd was hugely, completely, utterly afraid of something. There was terror in his eyes as he clung to gravity, sitting pinned in that hole, and it was a much needed humanizing moment for a character who is all pomp and style. He's the smartest man in the room, but that doesn't mean he isn't still a man. He loves big, he distrusts often, and now we know he scares; not easily, but completely.
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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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