TV Review: “Justified” – A Fitting End for a Damn Well-Fitted Hat

Written by Spencer Sterritt April 14, 2015

Justified

After six seasons of cowboy hats and gun-slinging, “Justified” is coming to an end. One of FX’s most reliable dramas, it won the Peabody in 2010 and was nominated for several Emmy’s in its first and second seasons. It’s always been an entertaining show, but the last two seasons were less than stellar, and the show was marking time by introducing lesser tier villains. As it barrels towards the final shootout, though, “Justified” has found itself renewed, and is on track to finish up in a…dare I say it…justified manner.

As long foreshadowed, the endgame of “Justified” is about the final reckoning of Harlan County and the bad men and women who populate Kentucky’s most criminally diverse town. For being a relatively podunk nowheresville, Harlan certainly attracts some big names for US Marshall Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) to throw down with. Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) is the biggest and baddest of them all. He and Raylan have squared off for five seasons, and it’s time for their final showdown.

“I gave up guessing why people do what they do a long time ago.”

Throwing a wrench into the works is Sam Elliot as Avery Markham, a long-in-the-tooth criminal who rolls into Harlan to buy all the land and grow the best marijuana in the South. Boyd wants to rob him, and Raylan wants to catch Boyd in the act. It’s a very complicated case, a lotta ins, a lotta outs, a lotta what-have-yous. And in the mix is Boyd’s fiancee Ava (Joelle Carter), who after five tumultuous seasons has become a snitch for Raylan.

Justified

The best part of this creatively renewed season is that it streamlines and distills “Justified” down to its essence. The first two seasons were exciting and clever and season three was interesting though flawed, but seasons four and five took a relatively steep nose dive into mediocrity. Those seasons were over-stuffed with double-crosses, and complex to the point of obfuscation. Thankfully, season six has done away with most of that while keeping the pacing tight and thrilling. Avery Markham’s (Sam Elliott) scheme brings everyone into the fold and keeps them constantly orbiting one another, instead of going off on their own plots (like previous seasons have done).

“The past and the future are a fight to the death.”

“Justified” was always roughly intended to last six seasons, but it couldn’t be Raylan and Boyd going at it season after season, so their relationship changed dramatically into something bordering on friendship as they constantly fought a common enemy. This added a welcome grey area to the proceedings, but since the show was always going to end with Raylan and Boyd vigorously trying to eliminate each other, it reeked of the writers spinning their wheels and waiting it out until the final season.

justified

Now that the end has finally arrived, Raylan and Boyd are back against each other with more venom than ever. There’s still the complication of Avery’s plan and Boyd’s counter-plan (which does not go off without numerous hitches), but Raylan is now really gunning for Boyd and there’s no way both of them will leave Harlan alive. The two seasons of pseudo-alliance still linger over season six, and Raylan and Boyd have many non-lethal face to face conversations about their intentions to kill each other. Roughly the first 2/3 of the season are taken up by Raylan trying to catch Boyd in the act, while the last 1/3 are all about their warpath to each other. It’s nice to see “Justified” not take the easy route and make their confrontations purely black and white, but still. The show used to grapple with how justified (wink wink) Raylan’s itchy trigger finger was. The kill count for the first few seasons were astoundingly high for one man. Those concerns went by the wayside, but they’ve resurfaced in the last few episodes as Raylan grapples with how far he’ll go to bring down Boyd. Everything’s coming full circle, in the way that the best “Justified” stories do.

“This is one of them classic stories where the hero gets his man and then he rides off into the sunset.”

Both Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins are on their A-game this season. They’ve never really been off their game since “Justified” has continually been one TV’s best acted shows, but this season has been intense. A shootout in the twelfth episode, with Raylan in the high ground shooting at a hiding Boyd in the forest, features some of the best acting so far.

Justified

After six bloody years, “Justified” has finally arrived at the showdown to end all showdowns, the final confrontation between Raylan and Boyd. After so much anticipation, it does not disappoint. Season six has been complex but not confusing, tight but not simple, and most importantly exciting. With no need to keep various plots in motion, “Justified” has been downright ruthless in it’s endgame, bringing the show back to the glory of it’s early days.

My Rating: 8.5/10

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About Spencer Sterritt

Spencer Sterritt

Spencer Sterritt: former Editor-In-Chief for We Eat Films, future President of the Men With Beards Club, and hopefully candidate for ruler of the world.

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