Justified is back for its sixth and final season. After 65 episodes and a lot of bodies, the show has come full circle. The previous season meandered a bit from the brutal and quirky tone that made the 1-4 so fantastic. It felt like there wasn’t enough story to pack 13 episodes. Thankfully, the finale of season 5 set the stage for the long-awaited face-off between Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) and Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins). Season 6’s premiere “Fate’s Right Hand” delivered on this promise with a lean, mean episode with plenty of Raylan’s casual violence and Boyd’s philosophizing about Harlan’s mournful history.
The episode opens in Florida, with Winona (Natalie Zea) standing by baby Willa’s crib and pondering what Raylan has to do that’s worth missing these intimate moments for. It’s a small scene but a great one for the way it displays what Raylan has to gain once he’s done with Boyd. If he survives it, that is. On the flip side, it also shows what he has to lose, which should add weight to every decision he makes this season. His visit with Art (Nick Searcy) later on really drove this home and further brought the show full circle with his callback to the series’ first episode. Raylan still has that (well-deserved) cockiness when it comes to the gun, but as Art reminds him, someday he won’t be the fastest draw in the south.
Last we saw Boyd, he was being put in the pockets of Katherine Hale and Wynn Duffy, who have him back robbing banks. The heist scene was pretty spectacular and staged really well. It had a nice cinematic feel to it and it was great to start the season off with a big, daring caper like that. Boyd seems more somber than ever. With that comes a determination to get the hell outta Harlan County, whose history he brought up a few times during the episode. He talked about how the county’s history is steeped in disappointment, much like their own lives. In a way he’s suggesting his own course is paralleling that of his ancestors, which will most likely lead him to a bloody end (remember Bo? And Johnny? And Bowman? Bullets love the Crowder men).
Which brings us to Ava (Joelle Carter), who currently has the most interesting subplot going on. She was released from prison last season on the condition that she inform on Boyd. As we see in this episode, she’s incredibly uncomfortable with this situation – putting vodka in her coffee and shaking like a baby bird around Boyd, who she’s clearly afraid of. Due to this fear, she’s not spilling all of the beans to Raylan (she left out Boyd’s talk of retirement). It could be that she doesn’t trust either man and is playing it safe for now. After all she’s been through (prison screwed her up big time), she could simply be confused as to where her loyalties reside. For now, she’s the wild card and I’m going to go ahead and predict that she’s pulling the trigger on someone before this is through.
I really like what the writers did with Dewey Crowe last season. His struggle with his brothers Daryl and Danny gave the typically moronic character a new dimension that made him more sympathetic. He was still a jackass, but after seeing his kin use him as a doormat and force him to kill Messer, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the bastard. Damon Herriman did a helluva job these past five seasons. His knack for playing stupid was hilarious (four kidneys?) and endearing. With Boyd’s swift disposal of Dewey (in a possible homage to Of Mice and Men), the showrunners are letting us know they aren’t screwing around anymore. There’s no more time to waste on the misadventures of Dewey Crowe. With that in mind, it’s safe to say this is going to be a brutal and grim final season.
• Garret Dillahunt made his first appearance as Ty Walker, the heavily bearded enforcer for Sam Elliott’s Avery Markham character. Dillahunt played two roles on Deadwood and he sure talks like it here. He’s just as loquacious as Boyd! And just like his character did in Deadwood, Walker’s here to buy up land (whether the landowner wants to sell or not).
• Rachel looked mighty comfortable sitting behind Art’s desk.
• More Jacob Pitts, please. The show can never have too much Tim Gutterson.
• This is the first time in a long time we’ve seen so much of Boyd’s Aryan tattoos – another nod that the show is coming full circle. I really hope we get to hear Boyd say “Fire in the hole” one more time, for old time’s sake.