[Review] - Justified, Season 6 Episodes 10 And 11, "Trust" And "Fugitive Number One"

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television

Elmore Leonard had a lot of tricks up his sleeves when it came to making his books engaging. And one that he often used, though not in a showy, "hey look at me, aren't I clever" sort of way, was the act of unexpected betrayal. Usually in the form of someone switching sides when it best suited them, or someone pulling a gun on their partner when they least expected it. Another is that Elmore's female characters rarely take things lying down, and before novel's end, would take matters into their own hands, when the hero wasn't working fast enough for their liking.

Well a slow clap to the writers of Justified for pulling off a fantastic misdirection this season, working on our expectations that it would boil down to Raylan and Boyd standing apart one another. And then, just as one might expect from Elmore's books, as we're getting down to the last few chapters, a gun was pulled unexpectedly, a shot was fired, and things took off in an entirely new direction.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that have been to Mordor, but not through the mines.

Of course, we shouldn't have been surprised. This season has been all about Ava. Ava has been front and center, her desperation the driving plot, and she the linchpin between every action Raylan and Boyd have taken this year. She was a wild cat, backed into a corner. Of course she was going to lash out, biting and tearing and fighting to live. Shooting Boyd though... Did not see that coming. But again, Elmore's style was not to leave everything to the end. Showdowns were a plenty, but often that was just the wrap up. The real conclusions, the ends that mattered, came well before. And that is what these two episodes were all about: the ends that come before.

We're on the slippery slope now, with only two episodes left. And conclusions are begging to be had. So, Ava is on the run, Wynn is in a jam, it's all hands on deck, and Raylan is slipping back into his old ways. After a season of looking after himself, and looking yards ahead, Raylan opted to lay down his badge, put the blinders on, and finish this on his own terms. Which is exactly the sort of desperate, shortsighted action that leads good men to their doom. But these aren't good men, so much as desperate men. Raylan is desperate to put an end to things, while Boyd is desperate to reclaim whatever he can from the catastrophe that is his life. Wynn is desperate to survive, as always, Markham is desperate for the same, and Art is desperate to salvage what he can from the wreckage he foresees developing around him.

So lets talk about death. Death on Justified has always been ubiquitous, and occasionally played for laughs, and while always meaningful, it has rarely been powerful. Death is starting to take on power now. It is looming over everything that happens. It's getting personal. Raylan bounded through episode 11 with a Joker's smile across his face, he was so damned giddy at the idea of having finally gotten Boyd, even if it meant loosing Ava, and knowing they'd get her soon enough. But Raylan was also the bearer of bad news at the end here, delivering unto two different folk the news of the death of their kin. Should we read into that, that Raylan delivers death like pizza? That he, alone in Harlan, imparts this "gift" to others, or that he's simply been in it's company long enough that he knows is better than most?

More than likely its just that the luck of others runs out faster than his. That is more in keeping with Elmore's style. It's all down to who is faster on the draw (and there is no doubt now, that Boon has himself a black hat, we'll be finding out who is faster on the draw between them soon). Boyd took a bullet because he wasn't paying attention, and Ava got the drop on him. Wynn got taken prisoner because he wasn't expecting Mikey to start thinking. Karl took a bullet because he was thinking too much on himself and not enough on Boyd to recognize that Boyd doesn't care about him. Catherine was so focused on Wynn, she didn't see Mikey coming, and was so bound up in her idea of revenge she never conceived that it would go wrong on her (minus points for not expecting Wynn to find some way to survive). Now, Ava's in a pickle because she was putting all her hopes on a crazy mountain man, who ends up dead because of his own prejudices, leaving her with no salvation.

So who isn't Raylan paying attention to? Well, perhaps the problem is that he's paying too much attention. He's working all the angles, and watching too many balls in play. He isn't focused. He claims he's after Boyd, but he's thinking that getting Boyd will get him Ava, and getting Ava will get Markham, or Markham will lead him to Boyd, or some combination therein. Raylan is so dirt-positive of his skill, that shaking one branch will cause the whole tree to empty. He sees Boon, standing in the middle of the street, his hat tipped down and a hand on his hip. He hears Art coming form a mile off, whacking at the grass with a stick. He's a step ahead of Ava and he's honed in on Boyd. He knows everything that could go sideways on him, and that makes him think he's safe. I feel that, if anything takes Raylan down, it won't be the thing he doesn't see coming, so much as everything coming at him at once.

These episodes were fantastic, and most of that comes from a real feeling that everything is paying off. There hasn't been anything wasted this season; they're using the whole buffalo. Every move, every character, every intent is coming to a head. Even a last minute addition like Boon doesn't feel forced of mishandled. The only thing that came out of nowhere was Mikey's unexpected betrayal of Wynn, and his again unexpected heel turn towards protecting him again. It felt a little manufactured, in order to put Wynn in peril, and to give both Mikey and Catherine a hell of a good bye. And I'm willing to overlook it, considering how amazing that scene was. And Wynn and Mikey's good bye was about the most emotionally charged and draining scene the show has put together. Certainly packed as much punch as Boyd's proposal.
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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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