[Review] - Justified, Season 6 Episode 12, "Collateral"

Courtesy of Patton Oswalt
In some ways, this hasn't felt like a final season. This certainly, while dripping with overtones, didn't feel like the penultimate episode to a stellar series. It felt very much in keeping with finale run-ups of the past. And going into next week's last, last episode, it really feels like just another season is ending. Certainly, a lot more characters are catching bullets this year, but the show has managed to avoid all the hokiest and overly self-congratulatory missteps that some series make when they know the end is nigh. Harlan isn't burning, Kentucky doesn't have to keep it's speed up over 55, and Raylan isn't running for president. It's just business as usual, and hell if that isn't the way it should be.

Though, this episode did feel an awful lot like "the last time" in a lot of respects. This is the last time we'll see this character, this is the last time we'll get this kind of joke, this is the last time all these elements come together in just this way. Because there won't be time for all this in the finale. The finale is shaping up to be full, so fill your boots while you can.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that cannot be seduced; it's been tried.

Ah, Bob. All credit to the writers and to Patton Oswalt for taking a minor character, that could have and should have been a one-off, introduced more than half way through the series run, and turned him into such a presence. And such an element that, when he suddenly reappears and gets in on the man hunt, it doesn't feel like a forced way to bring the character back one last time (like Limehouse did earlier this season). With all this going down, it would have felt stranger if Bob weren't putting his foot in where it didn't really belong. And damned if he didn't almost bring it all together. He got Ava, and he nearly had Boyd. This series almost ended with Bob being the Big Damned Hero, which all things being equal, wouldn't have been that strange a note to end on.

But we've got one left in the chamber, so Bob took one in the gut and the chase continues. And Raylan and Boyd got to have their shootout. Not like we were expecting, but it did the trick. I'd like to think that this will be the last time they run up against one another. It follows more closely to Elmore Lenoard's way of doing things, that they two men who've spent the most time gunning for one another, would meet the last time, with shots fired overhead, in the dead of night, and have both walk away with a purer understanding of one another, leaving them for others to take care of. Elmore's bullets rarely came from guns expected, and more often from gunmen less cautioned. I think to Louis and Ordell, or Jack Foley and Cundo Rey, or the whole damned plot of Tishomingo Blues.

This episode took one last good, long hack at the character box, and out spilled the lack revelations of Raylan and Boyd. Boyd, with nothing left in the world, has embraced what we has always resisted becoming: a thug. For all the teeth and pocket watches he may have, he's just the gun thug who shot a man in the back of the head in the pilot. He no longer has aspirations for granduer, and he no longer craves a throne carved into a hollar. He wants money, and to be gone, and there is nothing between him and that that he cares one bit for. Raylan, after working so damned hard not to become his father, has given in. He's crossed the line, but he's done it with both eyes open, so he says. He figures the only way to end things is to end them himself, even if that means leaving nothing left of himself, or for himself. It'll still all be over.

I liked their scene. Their best scenes have been those that saw them talking things through. They understand one another, these men, and understand the other side of things. They don't begrudge one another unless they interlope in their affairs. And they are civil, even when things are uncivil. So here, when Boyd is at the end of his rope and Raylan is chalking up his own, they talk things through. The gun fire is mostly because it's expected, and it's missing wide of the mark. The words though, those are landing dead-shot.

You known what I'm most terrified of? In the past, there was some solace to be taken, knowing that no matter how bad things got, the Baddie wouldn't succeed. Each year, some high minded opportunist would wander into Harlan with an aim to taking the place over, making their fortune, and sitting pretty. And every year we knew that they'd catch a bullet, and keep that song honest. Not this year. Because there is no more next year, literally anything can happen, including Markham succeeding in his schemes. With Loretta with him, that sure seems like an unbeatable team. Hell, even if Markham bites it, Loretta will be left holding the reins. Death is uncertain, and success equally possible. This is territory not yet explored; there be dragons here.

The reason I'm terrified is because that suggests that anything is possible. Now, you could say we've known that from the start. This season has been about things not going the way we'd expect, and the hanging danger has been that Raylan, Boyd, Ava and the whole lot could just as easily not make it through. And I'm not one to get sentimental. At this point, any character dying or living would seem right. In fact, for a few, survival would be a greater burden on them. So I'm not getting itching about a beloved character dying. As of this time next week, they'll all be dead, reduced to reruns with no future left in them. This is a good kind of terrified. I have no idea what will happen next. I know the players, but I can't see their moves. I'm looking at the tracks in the snow, trying to see which direction their headed, trying to suss out their eventual destination, and I'm only puzzled. And that is exactly how a series should end. I'm looking forward to next week like Christmas in July. I'm not sure what I'm going to get, but it's going to be good.
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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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