[Review] - Justified, Season 6 Episodes 7 And 8, "The Hunt" And "Dark As a Dungeon"

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television
These two episodes were all about transition. You'd hope and expect that from the episodes that open directly into the back end, leading us down a path towards the finale. And as episode eight made very clear, the past is a shadow, and the future is a question mark. These episodes were about these characters stepping out of that shadow, a shadow that has cast long and shrouded much, and into the blaring unknown of what is to come. The question mark in question is a lot of things. What will happen over the next five episodes, and what will happen to them past that, when they break free of their cinematic bonds, and get to exist as free ideas again.

Elmore Leonard's characters are noted for their inability to move on. they get stuck in their ways, and repeat the same mistakes over and over. It is a signature of his style, and it is often a fatal flaw in his crooks and lawmen. So it is no small thing that characters are putting their lives in order, and moving on. It gives a glimmer of some hope for Raylan, who seems so possessed by the idea of putting things to rest that it is inspiring him to deed, while poor Boyd remains seduced by the ideas of the past. Will avarice and greed lead the Crowder gang to early graves, while the hero walks solitary into the sunset?

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that are going to miss this when it's done.

So... Wynn's the snitch, right? I mean, everyone else is picking up on that, it isn't just me, I hope. The show has done a great job seeding doubt in the minds of the viewers as to whether or not Catherine or Markham might have been the snitch, by not revealing too much of their truer intent. But this episode showed so much of the extent to which Catherine is going to determine who killed Grady, and who killed the old AUSA for it to be a cover. She's having Wynn pull files, colluding with the Marshals, and all of it privately. I'm confident that Catherine is the least guilty of the bunch, at least as far as this incident is concerned. Which leaves Markham or Wynn. And Wynn, the ever-living cockroach, is too close, too familiar, too involved and too still alive not to have had some hand in things. We know Wynn is a man who plays all sides, so that no matter which side comes out on top, he wins. We've seen this behaviour in him before. So it is no small stretch of the imagination that he played Grady against Markham, and the Marshals against them both, and killed the AUSA to protect himself when things worked in his favour.

One aspect I enjoyed of episode eight was the notion that, Markham isn't that Big a Bad as he has previously been represented. In conflict with Boyd, he is certainly a thorn in the paw, and menacing to boot. And he is not without his own sins, having hired a militant goon squad to strong arm, threaten and kill those that got in their way. But from a purely business point of view, he isn't doing anything wrong. Certainly not anything to garner attention from the Marshal's service, and certainly nothing - on the surface, mind - to preclude the Marshal's from working with him. Some episodes back, when Raylan got wise to Markham's plan, of buying up land in anticipation of Kentucky going pro-pot, he practically congratulated him on a idea well thought. It's just business. It's the killing that gets in the way.

Of course, now Markham is without his dogs. Walker and his men are dead or in the wind, and these episodes were the death rattle of Walker himself, a wonderful character this year, and Garrett Dillahunt was as spectacular as always. I enjoy watching characters loose their calm, and Leonardian characters are always so damned calm. It was a treat wot watch Dillahunt take Walker from a reasonable man of words to a desperate, bleeding wreck trying to find an angle on survival. I especially enjoyed his and Raylan's final interaction, with Walker lying bleeding in the grass, shocked that Raylan had shot him in the back, to which Raylan simply responds "if you wanted to get shot in the front, you should have run towards me." Truths are sometimes revealed best when they arrive simply and unexpectedly, and that line speaks volumes about the notions of nobility and the flaws of character at play in this series.

Everyone is playing a game. Everyone is trying their best to avoid the bullet with their name on it. And very few are willing to just come at one another straight. True, those that do often end up with a bullet in the chest or impaled down a dog's grave, but occasionally, they dodge and keep on running. Ava, for instance, has spent this entire season weaving and lying to Raylan and Boyd in an attempt to give herself a measure of safety. That caught up to her in a big way when Boyd asked her point blank. And, surprisingly, she came at him straight. She fessed up, and managed to dodge the bullet. It was a smart move on the part of the writers, as they wouldn't have been able to maintain the lies for the rest of the season, and this now gives Boyd the allusion of the upper-hand. Next episode though, when Raylan asks her if Boyd is wise to their deal, she turns tail and tries to outrun what's coming, and the bullet catches her in the back. So now, Boyd knows, and Raylan knows Boyd knows, but Boyd doesn't know that Raylan knows that Boyd knows. And Ava stands to get shot in the front and the back because of it.

Raylan said once, if he shoots someone, they'll have a gun in their hand, and he'll be facing them. Raylan runs towards folk. It all he's ever done. More often than not, it's enough to put them off centre, and give him the edge he needs to draw and shoot while they're still getting over the shock. Raylan doesn't get caught up in the bullshit plans of mice and shitheads. Like with Walker. Lost in the hills of Harlan, rather than waste time and money and effort, he finds the path of least effort/most gain, and goes full steam ahead. And more often than not, this works for him. It got him Walker. It's gotten him a lot of collars (or, cases closed with "suspect deceased" stickers on them). And it seems, finally, it's gotten him Winona. I've always been a fan of Winona, I've always liked the character for what she represented, and while I understand the reasoning behind her being pushed into the background so as to open up more story possibilities for Raylan,

I've often felt that the writers did it backwards, that Winona should have been minor in the beginning, and worked her way to the foreground. Her return to Raylan's life, and her (and his) acceptance of their flaws in order to be together was lovely, and felt deserved and earned. It also gave Raylan that additional urge to gets things done with Boyd and get the hell out of Harlan alive. Elmore's heroes often ended up with the girl, if not always the girl you'd expect, but Winona was already the women we didn't expect, when he was with Ava back in season one, and Winona hated him and was his ex and all. In Elmore's books, the hero often ended things, a field of bodies before him, and a woman of varying degrees of guilt left for comfort. Winona's return gives hope that Raylan might make it out of this alive. Getting rid of that tombstone was also a step in a hopeful direction. Raylan has a lot in his past, but for the time being at least, he doesn't have a deadend in his future.
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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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