One of Justified’s greatest strengths has always been juggling multiple groups of villains who have varying agendas. On top of that, just like in the stories of Elmore Leonard, the villains are entertaining as hell, so we don’t mind waiting to find out what their endgame may be. So far, season 6 is exemplary of this. The Tiger Hawk Security boys on one side with Avery Markham, Katherine Hale and Wynn Duffy on the other, all with Boyd and his gang wrapped up in the middle. It’s still early in the season, but it’s shaping up to be right up there with the show’s best work (season 2 is the one to top, in my opinion).
Last week I mentioned that Boyd might be getting in over his head by trying to blackmail Calhoun with the stolen bank ledger and deeds. After his sit down with Markham at Ava’s house, it’s safe to say his escape plan is pretty fouled up now. He was wicked timid and for the first time in the series, he seemed afraid of another man. Markham telling Boyd that he’s not a real badass, that he’s only “playing pretend” pretty much made memories of Boyd’s infamous “I am the outlaw” speech crumble. It was crazy to see Boyd shaken up like that.
Markham also put some things into perspective for Ava, telling her she’ll “never be nothing but a token, something used to keep your man in line.” While her motives are still foggy, it was clear this episode that Ava’s a bit sick of Raylan and the fed’s squeezing her for information. Vasquez downright bullied her at the Givens’ house and Raylan has been laying it on thick too. She seems to be leaning more towards Boyd now, running reconnaissance for him in the pizza-bank’s basement, but we’ll have to see where that goes. Boyd still has his guard up around her a bit as well, though he didn’t mind a roll in the sheets at the end of the day.
On the other side of the law, “Noblesse Oblige” saw Raylan and Rachel hunting down the source of the Emulex explosives used in the bank robbery. Boyd’s crony Earl (Ryan Dorsey) has been lifting it from one of Raylan’s old coal-digging buddies, Luther. While I didn’t particularly like this side story, it was interesting for the sole reason that Raylan is delivered some fatherly advice. Luther talks to him about doing anything for your child, guidance that will certainly stick with him.
Episode Rating: ★★★★ Very good — Damn fine television
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• “And when you search Crowder, make sure you get his cigarettes.” That was a fun callback to last season’s exploding pack of smokes.
• The scene with Walker inside the Crowder bar was terrifically tense. Pretty much any scene where Justified’s baddies get to talk shit in close proximity is going to be great.
• Of course Wynn has a tanning bed in his hotel room. Of course he does.
• It’s nice to see Rachel out in the field again. Erica Tazel has a nice, natural air of authority to her.
• That tracking shot inside Pizza Portal was fantastic.
• Could Markham sitting down at Ava’s dining room table be a bit of foreshadowing? Two men have been shot there already.