“We dug coal together.” – Boyd Crowder
Justified has come to an end. Damn. With all of the open-ended plot points left hanging at the end of “Collateral,” this could’ve easily been a 90 minute episode. Instead, Graham Yost and his longtime writers Fred Golan, Dave Andron, and Benjamin Cavell crafted a finale that wrapped up everything early and left plenty of time for a glorious epilogue.
The pace of the finale revealed a lot about what has been going on this season as far as Markham goes. He was never meant to be a big baddie – just a side note to Boyd and Raylan’s inevitable showdown. For the moments where he did disturb things in Harlan, Sam Elliot was flawless. His range from being so cool as Raylan sat across the desk from him to putting a gun to Ava’s throat – Christ, Elliot nailed it.
Speaking of guns, the Raylan/Boon showdown was incredible. In the pilot episode, Boyd makes a comment about Raylan wearing his hat too high. This subtle note may have thrown Boon’s aim off, but I think he was a shit shot since he bucked down Loretta’s boyfriend. The duel was shot Sergio Leone style, with cinematic attitude to spare – almost mirroring Boon’s six-shooter fantasy. It’s perfect that Loretta (his “girl”) got the final say in who lives and who dies in the shootout. Looking back over Justified’s many villains, Boon is a striking, mesmerizing standout.
The fact that Raylan snatched Boon’s hat is a subtle homage to the lord Elmore Leonard, who never liked the hat Raylan wore from day one. Leonard thought Givens should wear a smaller hat with a flatter brim. He got his wish in the final episode.
And viewers were granted the wish they’d been riding for six years: a Boyd vs Raylan showdown. The amazing thing is, after practically begging Boyd to draw, Raylan left him in cuffs – carried away in custody and humiliated. This is the lawman Art always hoped Raylan would be. The man who uses his badge before his gun. It was an impossibly tense moment, brimming with nuance. But in the end we knew how this would go down. With Boyd raising a flock in prison. “You’re repeating yourself.”
But all this wrapped up within the first 25 minutes. The rest was all epilogue, exploring where these amazing characters ended up four years later. And hell, it was perfect. From the way Ava’s child buttons his shirts all the way up like Boyd to how Winona left Raylan (a wise choice), “The Promise” left nothing dangling. Not only did it do that, it also harkened back several times to the early days of Justified.
In their showdown in the shed, Boyd says, “You make me pull, I put you down.” Later at the Kentucky field office, Rachel makes a comment that mirrors her comment in the second episode about a bigger Stetson. Also, when Ava greets Raylan at the door later on, her drink menu shadows the same one in the pilot.
Moving on, this is a show where plenty of tragedy could’ve happened. But it didn’t. Raylan may have been an anti-hero, but in this universe he was always a hero, with a capitol H. His send-off in “The Promise” was borderline perfect – as the protector of Ava. I’ll miss these characters, their universe, and their cutting dialogue a great deal.
Episode / Season / Series Rating: ★★★★ Very good