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Relationship Recap: Art and Raylan on Justified 

Photo Credit: FX

We’re winding up the stellar second season this week, and we’ve been thinking about the love story at the center of Justified. No, not that one. And not that one, either. We’re talking about the romance between Art and Raylan, which has seriously hit the skids in the aftermath of the Winona-stole-the-money debacle. Kara and I are of two minds on what makes them click.

Heather’s Take

For me, it’s a father/son relationship that Raylan never had with Arlo, and likely didn’t have with any of the men in the matriarchal burg of Harlan. We know from the pilot that Art essentially hauled Raylan’s ass out of a sling when he killed the suspect in Miami. The Marshal’s service could have fired him, or dropped him off in some Godforsaken hole, but instead, they sent him to Art, his former training agent. Granted, Kentucky is the last place he wanted to be, but it was home, and Art understood that.

Their relationship was relaxed to the point that Art knew Raylan was a loose cannon who was going to slip the confines of the badge now and again, but when he realized that Raylan’s judgment had been so clouded that he concealed Winona’s theft to the point of wild goose chasing Art’s entire staff, that was it. The relationship was damaged. And as the Harlan issues have heated up, and Raylan’s been less and less present in the Marshal’s office, Art has washed his hands of him.

Raylan finally twigged that he’s in trouble without Art and when he tried to talk to him about it, Art shut him down, adding insult to injury with the parting shot that he’ll likely be dead soon enough so why bother. Raylan’s just lost his mother in Helen. He needs Art now more than ever to keep him tethered to the right path. Hopefully they’ll get back on track.

Kara’s Take

It’s been a tough road for Art and Raylan lately. I’ve always liked the dynamic between these two and this season it’s been amplified. What does Raylan see when he looks at Art? Someone to aspire to. Someone who has a personal life that seems to be healthy and happy. Someone who isn’t consumed with the job. Someone to respect and admire. But also kind of like a romantic partner. Weird? Let me explain. Things looked like there were going very well between these two (or least not badly) until Raylan decided to help Winona cover up her theft. Was it jealousy? No, but it kinda looked that way. And I’m not saying Raylan shouldn’t have done it. Raylan and Winona have a long and complicated history. Part of me feels like they belong together but another part of me thinks they only bring out the worst in each other. In many ways Art’s the much healthier alternative.

Art seems to have given up on Raylan and that’s been more hurtful than anything Arlo’s ever done to him. I do see the father/son relationship here that Heather talks about but I think there’s something else there too. It’s important for at least one person in your life to see redeeming qualities in you, reasons why you’re worth having around. I feel like Winona sometimes feels that way. Until the Winona incident, I feel like Art felt that way all the time.  Maybe Art saw himself as a mentor to Raylan, saw his raw potential and what he could help mold Raylan in to. Maybe he saw himself as something more. I don’t know. What is clear is that there’s disappointment all around and Art’s done. He probably feels like he has to distance himself from Raylan – emotionally and physically – so he’s not devastated when Raylan disappoints him again.

Photo Credit: FX

The Finale

We are on the edge of our metaphorical seats for the finale this week. Will you be watching? Do you think Art and Raylan will get a chance to reconcile? If you’ve seen the preview you know some serious shit goes down. Here’s hoping.

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