Tuesday, January 20, 2015

REVIEW: 'Justified' - The Stage Is Being Set for Raylan and Boyd's Final Showdown in 'Fate's Right Hand'

FX's Justified - Episode 6.01 "Fate's Right Hand"

Raylan guides Ava through the process of informing on Boyd and tries to turn Boyd's old ally Dewey Crowe against him as well, all while Boyd works to pull off a daring heist right under Raylan's nose.

Justified is just one of the great shows that will be coming to an end shortly. The show lost its way a little bit in Season 5. It really did feel like the show was dragging things out. The end game has always been the face off between Raylan and Boyd. That was the story arc that was always going to be the big thing at the end of the series. The introduction of the Crowe family only felt like a plot that kept the characters from heading into that final direction. But now, all of that is in the past. Justified was able to go into this season knowing that it would be the final one. It set up a great foundation in the fifth season finale. Raylan is determined to take Boyd down before leaving town to be with his family. Boyd is planning on getting out of the business but needs one last big score to do so. Stuck in the middle is Ava who was released from prison but only to be an informant for Raylan against Boyd. It's a concise foundation for what is likely going to be a dynamic final season.

"Fate's Right Hand" is already a major step up from Season 5. It doesn't waste any time getting into the specifics of this season's story. Raylan and the rest of the marshals are collecting evidence against Boyd while he's planning his latest bank robbery. Ava is trying to figure out what she wants out of life. Yes, it's fun to see Boyd and Raylan trying to stay one step ahead of each other. But that also comes from each character's understanding that the end is near for this series-long battle. Raylan could simply head down to Boyd's bar and see who could outdraw the other. That would remove a violent criminal from this world. But it would also come at the expense of Raylan's professional and personal livelihood. Winona is so happy that Raylan is going to be with his family again. Raylan does have an attachment to Harlan County but his future is with Winona and his daughter in Florida. In order for that to happen though, he has to follow the rules somewhat more than he usually does. That's a great inner conflict for him. It takes Art pointing out all angles of the potential outcome for him to reach that clarity over this upcoming journey. Raylan still may end up at Boyd's with a gun pointing at his old foe. But right now, he's committed to doing things the official way.

However, Boyd has always been elusive of the law because of his understanding of how the law works in this part of the world. Sure, I don't know why he was doing anything with his attempt at joining the heroine trade last season. And yet, his motivations this season are abundantly clear. He's survived this long because of his insane ability to correctly read a situation. He realizes that the way of life in Harlan is changing and slowly dying. This community just won't last for much longer. As it was, it was a perfect setting for him and his criminal enterprises to thrive. He's had so many different professions throughout the life of the series. Him returning to bank robbery provides nice symmetry to the way things started six years ago. It's a lot of meticulous planning for a job whose only profits are some documents and a journal. It's not the big pay day that he was alluding to earlier. That is still on the horizon. This is just a stepping stone in that direction. He wants to take that money and leave town to officially start his life with Ava.

Boyd does have a slight blindness when it comes to Ava though. During the middle seasons of the show, their love story was something the audience was suppose to believe in with a passion. They envisioned living in a nice house in the suburbs. And then, she was sent to prison. She was released early in order to provide information to Raylan. Boyd is a very smart person. He should know that something is up with her being let out early. And yet, it doesn't seem like he suspects her all that much. When Dewey comes back to the bar, Boyd figures that he is working with the marshals yet again. He did so just recently to help them lock up Daryl Crowe and foolishly got himself sent to prison too. His release does cast that shadow of suspicion. Boyd doesn't trust Dewey. And yet, he still provides some value to Boyd. Boyd sees Dewey as a henchman but Dewey wants to be seen as a friend. Dewey believes that things can just go back to the simple times of the early seasons. That's simply unattainable now. The community around them is just too far gone. Boyd knows that. So killing Dewey is the only way to eliminate the uncertainty he brings to the equation that is Boyd's exit.

However, Dewey wasn't working with Raylan and the marshals. He wanted nothing to do with Raylan and was only loyal to Boyd. Ava, meanwhile, is working with Raylan. She hasn't provided any actual information that Raylan can use yet. However, Raylan is doing a great job convincing her of her own abilities. He knows that she can be deceitful and get the information that she needs to stay alive. She doubts herself but now she seems to be in the right mindset to do the job. It remains a very precarious situation for Raylan because he can't completely trust her. She doesn't share Boyd's plans to escape to Costa Rica or Brazil with loads of money. She could easily use her tactics against Boyd or Raylan. Act in a way that would lead either one into a trap without them ever seeing it coming. That's dangerous as well as ominous. Boyd sits by Ava's bed watching her sleep at night obviously contemplating about something. He could know that something is up. That's just what makes this cat-and-mouse game interesting.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Fate's Right Hand" was written by Michael Dinner, Fred Golan & Chris Provenzano and directed by Michael Dinner.
  • Garret Dillahunt pops up as a mystery man trying to buy Arlo's house from Raylan. He seems shady but let's see how he gets weaved into the final season's story. Plus, that's a great beard.
  • As much as I enjoy Dewey, his death felt right. He somewhat felt like a reminder of the fifth season. It was his family after all that shallowed up so much time. Justified loves killing characters. But Dewey's death does showcase some urgency. He has been on the show since the first season!
  • Rachel is still calling the shots at he Marshall's Office. Will Art be making a triumphant return any time soon? Or will he be stuck in his house giving wise advice to Raylan?