There have been a lot of moments this season that harken back to previous ones, creating a sense of coming full circle. The inevitable showdown between Raylan and Boyd is, of course, something fans have waited years to see. The opening scene of “Alive Day” showed that these two can still run verbal circles around each other, owning some of the show’s best dialogue and its thickest tension. I’m guilty of forgetting that Raylan and Ava were the show’s original power couple. They slept together a lot during the first season and Raylan (in his own roundabout way) even admitted back then that it was her that kept him in Harlan.
That lust for Ava resurfaced tonight, as Boyd taunted him, stroking her legs in front of him and pondering on what’s keeping Raylan from moving to Florida. Boyd knows it’s not Ava’s getaway sticks though, it’s Raylan’s bullheadedness – his refusal to walk way from a county full of criminals shuffling around under his boots. Art worries about Raylan’s motivations as well, suggesting to Rachel that she may want to consider pulling him from the case.
Speaking of things that Boyd knows, the phone call from Limehouse at the very end of the episode confirmed what it’s safe to say he’s suspected all along: Ava is a snitch. This is the “unknown unknown” Limehouse refers to – something you don’t know that you don’t know. So it’s halfway through the season, and Boyd knows Ava is in Raylan’s pocket. Raylan told Ava that Boyd would rather kill half of his own crew before admitting to himself she’s a snitch. That’ll be put to the test now. He’s way too cunning to blow his top, and will probably either feed her false information or keep her at arm’s length.
While Boyd has that to chew on now, there’s also the “unknown” issue of Zachariah. As he tells Ava, after Bowman used her as a punching bag, he’s not too fond of Crowders. The Benton Creek mineshaft is a dangerous place, and Zachariah is taking advantage of that, but something tells me Boyd is going to catch on to that mighty quick.
The episode title refers to the date of an anniversary of a close scrape with death — a military tradition that goes back to the Vietnam War. Boyd has something to celebrate next year thanks to the incident in the mine, but unfortunately for Choo-Choo there will be no more alive days. What an amazing job the writers did humanizing him before his demise. The scene with the train was perfect and his “close your eyes and things will be different” line was some powerful stuff coming out of his slack-jawed mouth. That’s two deaths this season for the other side of the law that were emotional gut punches (Choo-Choo and Dewey). Though he was only on the show for a very brief amount of time, Duke Davis Roberts is going down as a classic character for sure.
Now that the marshals have been in a firefight with Ty Walker and his crew, it’s a safe bet they’re going to come down hard on Markham. This goes with what I guessed last week, that Markham and his gang wouldn’t make it to the end of the season, leaving the last handful of episodes or so to focus on Boyd vs. Raylan.
What do you think?
Episode Rating: ★★★★ Very good
• The quote Raylan says, “Wonderful things can happen when you plant seeds of distrust in a garden of assholes,” is from Elmore Leonard’s Glitz.
• Markham pulled his own surprise tonight, proposing to Katherine with a rock that could choke a donkey, and revealing that he believes it was her that snitched on Grady. Could she be Markham’s weak spot or is he playing her?
• Limehouse expressed to Ava his desire to stay the hell out of all the drama, so what are his motivations for calling Boyd?
• I loved Choo-Choo’s subtle jab at Chris Kyle, the “sniper guy.”
• It’s nice to see a lawman actually shoot someone’s tires as they’re trying to flee. (Editor’s note: YES!!)
• Ava’s line about the “bullshit burdens of southern hospitality” harkens back to the first season, when she seemed to always be offering to cook something for Raylan. Seriously, she spent a lot of the first season in the kitchen.