“The past and the future are a fight to the death.” – Ava
In Harlan County, roots run deep. It’s how Justified is able to introduce new characters like Ava’s uncle Zachariah without it seeming out of left field. It’s why Boyd is frequently bringing up his family’s mining past and talking about the men who didn’t make it out. It’s why Dewey Crowe was shot in the back of the head while looking upon a photo of the miners dead and gone.
Perhaps the most explicit visual signifier of these deep roots that anchor the natives down are the three tombstones on the Givens’ lawn. It’s where Frances and Arlo Givens are buried, leaving only Raylan left to take his rightful spot. But after Winona put all her cards on the table last episode and Raylan had a “bring your daughter to work day” with Willa, it seems like he’s finally, genuinely, ready to pull up his roots like the toxic weeds they are, and be the family man down in Florida. For the past five seasons, Raylan’s tombstone has symbolized his family legacy, and that no matter what good he does as a lawman, he can’t shake his blood.
“Dark As a Dungeon” saw Raylan kicking against that legacy, smiling as he had his parents’ graves relocated, and burned up Arlo’s old photos and letters from the war. He got a glimpse last week (crying baby and all) of what he could have if he leaves all this behind.
And then there was the shed key. This was one of the most interesting moments probably in Justified history. As far as I can remember, this is the first we’ve heard of the shed, but its contents have clearly haunted Raylan his whole life.
We’ve heard him talk plenty about how rotten and abusive Arlo was, and the shed is the physical representation of all that family bile. This was Raylan’s Dagobah Cave moment, if you will, where he faced down his dark side and found nothing but dust. It was a heavy moment, accented by the ghost of Arlo (an odd choice for the show, but I got to admit I loved seeing Raymond Barry’s menacing mug one more time). It also added another dimension to Arlo, a ripe son of a bitch who during the war needed a place in his mind to escape to.
When he wasn’t burning bridges, Raylan was full-steam-ahead in playing the baddies against one another. Having Markham put up a $100K reward for Walker was brilliance on Raylan’s part – it’s got to be one of his most clever moves ever. I don’t think Markham was entirely bending over for Raylan and Boyd though. He could’ve just as easily told them to wait upstairs while he retrieved the reward from the safe. Perhaps he, like Raylan, wanted Boyd to see the stacks he’s holding down there, daring him to try and come after it.
And holy hell did he take the bait. He was practically giddy back at the bar with his pretend stacks of money. As cunning as Boyd the philosopher is, Boyd the outlaw is more sporadic and apt to flip on plans at the whiff of more dough. In Bulletville, he and Ava bared their hearts, though his testimony was more of a test (as was the empty clip). In “Dark As a Dungeon” their relationship was more about business, as Boyd, still not trusting her, tries to convince her that Raylan can never offer her what he can. Ava’s at the end of her rope though after being shaken to shit by Walker. She spills the “details” to Raylan about Boyd’s mining expedition beneath the safe. Now, she’s “burned” – compromised to the marshals. She doesn’t have much to dangle from any longer.
Adios, Walker. You made a solid final go of it. His finals words, “Not just money…”, may have been alluding to what Markham was talking about last week. How enough money isn’t just money, it’s freedom. Garret Dillahunt did a phenomenal job. Now give him a lead role in his own FX show, please.
Episode Rating: ★★★★ Very good
- The subplot involving whether Markham ratted out Grady Hale isn’t really doing anything for me at the moment. I love that it’s keeping Art in the picture, but it feels like small potatoes compared to the plays Raylan and Boyd are making.
- Markham has a way with words, but without his cronies he’s WAY less threatening.
- The Pig has been in four episodes this season and I had no idea his name was The Pig until tonight.
- Walker’s got good taste in movies. The “I don’t see you pulling thrill-seeker hold-ups with a ‘born to lose’ tattoo on your chest” is straight out of Heat.
- Wynn loves guac! Kathleen finds it strange anyone would eat guacamole at 9:30 in the morning, but a stiff drink is fine.
- I could be wrong, but the order of the Givens’ family tombstones seems to have changed. When Arlo was buried there in the season 4 finale “Outlaw,” the order, from left to right, was Frances, Arlo, Raylan. In this episode it was Raylan, Frances, Arlo. It’s pointless nitpicking but I couldn’t help but notice.