Tuesday, March 31, 2015

REVIEW: 'Justified' - Raylan, Boyd and Avery All Try to Find Ava and the Money in 'Fugitive Number One'

FX's Justified - Episode 6.11 "Fugitive Number One"

Raylan and the marshals scramble to deal with a crisis that threatens all of their careers. Wynn Duffy, Mike and Katherine question the meaning of loyalty.

Justified is racing towards the finish line. Only two episodes remain before the stellar drama is done for good. The pressure is palpable to every single character on the show. The final act of the series began at the conclusion of the last episode. Boyd was successful in stealing Avery's $10 million only to have Ava shoot him and run off with the cash while Raylan watched. It was a devastating and personal blow to both Raylan and Boyd. It presents a plethora of complications for all elements of the show that adds this incredible amount of urgency to the narrative as it heads into the final stretch of what has been a terrific final season.

Ava is trying to escape the area with all the money in the same way that she and Boyd were planning on getting Walker out - through the maze-like backwoods of the surrounding mountains. Unsurprisingly, Zachariah is still alive and helping her carry the money up the hills. For an episode called "Fugitive Number One," not a whole lot of time is spent on Ava. Granted she's the character whose fate I care about the least right now. I still see her as a very important piece on the mosaic that is Justified. It's because of her that all of this chaos and turmoil is occurring. And yet, the focus is much more on the chase and the need to find her. All the parties invested in the money have an urgency to find her before anyone else. That's great dramatic tension spread out throughout this episode. Everyone is trying to get the upper hand and that makes for great TV.

But the search for Ava is also very personal and comes at a cost to everyone involved. Raylan is forced into acting as a rogue agent. Every single person in the marshal's office is at risk of losing their jobs because of what Ava has done. She was their informant. They signed off on all the paperwork. Sure, Vasquez was planning on going back on the deal and sending her back to prison. But that plan hadn't come into motion yet. It helped give Ava one final push to pull that trigger on Boyd. But Vasquez is just as liable for this whole mess as everyone else. The only question that persists though is why did Raylan allow Ava to shoot Boyd and just drive off with all the money? They do have a history together - one that has complicated arresting Boyd for his crimes before. It's not a big leap for Art and Rachel to believe that maybe Raylan and Ava are working together again. $10 million is a lot of money. Raylan has a love for the job above anything else, but the marshals still have to do their due diligence.

Raylan doesn't care about that perception though. He has one focus right now: finding Ava and the money. Once he finds both of them, he can finally bring closure to this case. Of course, things never go easily for him. They never do. He has the smarts to figure out what's happening with Boyd and Avery and likely where to find Ava. But now, he's going to have to do so without the assistance of the marshal service. He is a man of the law. He respects the badge and what it represents. He hates the dirty cops who are a prominent fixture of his hometown. He has the sway to get things to go his way. He is a very resourceful man. But now, he has the added complication of Art coming after him to make sure he doesn't potentially screw this investigation up any more than he already has. Raylan is the one who wanted to leave after this case was over. And now, everyone is at risk of losing their jobs because of what happened. That's not something he wants. He'll do his best to fix the situation. But that means finding Ava before Boyd and Avery do.

Boyd survives the bullet shot through his chest by Ava, but awakens in a lot of pain and chained to a hospital bed in federal custody. That doesn't stop him from using his charm and his words to stage an escape. It's a devastating blow to Carl. He has been a loyal servant to Boyd. He was preaching in his jail cell that there is no honor amongst thieves. And yet, his loyalty to Boyd kept him from pulling the trigger when he snuck into the hospital after Avery got him sprung from jail. Carl has been unsure about what being in business with Boyd means when Boyd is actively trying to leave the business all season long. He has seen the fire in Boyd's eyes. He didn't care what it took to get Avery's money. He just wanted it so bad so that he could leave and be with Ava. Losing both the money and Ava was devastating. But he now has to face up to Carl who he turned against in order to give the marshals a diversion. It didn't work all that well for Boyd and brought Carl's animosity further to the surface. He couldn't kill Boyd because he has more faith in Boyd than Avery. Sure, it was misplaced faith nevertheless. But he trusted Boyd to save his brother more than he believed Avery would honor his word. Carl's death inadvertently helped Raylan persuade Earl to provide information. But it also brought about the unpredictability of Boyd being free in the world again. A free Boyd is a dangerous Boyd - even if he is injured.

And then, there is Avery who has been an unpredictable factor all season long to the grand Raylan-Boyd conflict. He's still trying to intimate Loretta in order to get what he wants as the ruler of this local community. However, his focus is getting his money back and figuring out what to do with Katherine. Mary Steenburgen has been a lot of fun in this villainous role. And yet, there really has been a genuine love connection between Katherine and Avery. That's why it is such a personal blow to him when he learns that she's dead. Her death is a fantastic sequence as well. She sees it as her responsibility to handle Wynn Duffy's betrayal. He has been hurting her for decades now. And now, she has the opportunity to end his life. She is going to take that moment. She feels she needs to be the one to kill Wynn - and that's what ultimately does her in. She needs to explain why this payback is necessary and that leads to Mike having a last second change-of-heart in regards to his boss. Sure, she was able to fight off Mike for a little bit. But both of their deaths were coming and they came in a brutal way that was later accentuated hilariously with Wynn telling the 911 operator he didn't know where to start when it came to his emergency. And yet, it is a very personal blow to Avery. Raylan has the knowledge and is able to use it against him. But that will only make him more dangerous moving into these final chapters of the story.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Fugitive Number One" was written by Taylor Elmore & Keith Schreier and directed by Jon Avnet.
  • Wynn is miraculously still alive somehow in the end. He's a character who is always able to survive somehow even in a situation where it seemed like his fate was already seen as a foregone conclusion. But him staying alive does still come with a personal pain because he has to watch Mike die right after he saved Wynn's life.
  • So, did Ava know that Zachariah was still alive when she was asking Boyd and his men what happened to him? If so, she was obviously planning this heist for longer than we first thought.
  • Boon popping up in the back of Loretta's truck wasn't as memorable as their previous encounters. I'm getting really nervous that something bad is going to happen her.
  • Art shaving because he knows he's in trouble probably won't carry a lot of weight but it was still something he thought he could to do to better his situation. Also, is he in charge of the office again? He's sure acting like it.