Warning: Spoilers Ahead
I can remember when I first heard about this show. I’d been a serious Timothy Olyphant fan for a long time and I’d been waiting for him to land somewhere as a series regular. He’d starred in Deadwood (a show I enthusiastically and wholeheartedly recommend to anyone who hasn’t seen it) a few years prior and had a small, but great role on Damages. So what was the next thing? To be honest, I was going to be excited about whatever it was. But the fact that Justified was based on an Elmore Leonard short story, got me excited because I was such a fan of Leonard’s writing. I loved the idea of Raylan Givens, this old-fashioned (in a way) lawman, who was quick on the draw and in trouble for it. And FX had been doing great shows for years already so I knew I’d at least give it a chance. When I tuned in and watched the pilot, I was hooked and I’ve been enjoying this ride ever since.
Is is a little bittersweet to be saying goodbye to such a consistently great show? Yes. But I’ve enjoyed getting to know these (and so many more characters) during the course of the series. We’ve had some amazing villains — first and foremost Mr. Boyd Crowder. Now here’s a man I never thought I’d root for when I first met him. He’s a white supremacist and a career criminal, who’s well spoken and intelligent. But as I got to know more of his story and watch his love story with Ava blossom, he got to me. And even though I’ve seen him do some truly horrendous things, I was still holding out hope for him and Ava. Do I still want to see that? I honestly don’t know, but as of now the likelihood of that happening seems pretty small.
And what about our “hero” Raylan Givens — and, yes, I put hero in quotations for a reason. He’s a deeply conflicted man. He’s got so much baggage — with his family, with his love life and with his job. But that’s what I love about Raylan Givens. He’s great at his job, even though he probably draws on and shoots more people than is strictly necessary. But he always gets his man. The exception to that rule is Boyd, but that may not be the cast for too much longer. He’s got interesting and complicated relationships with everyone in the office, which makes for great office politics. For a while I wasn’t sure if Winona was the right woman for him, but I think she is. Earlier this season we saw serious progress in this relationship. She told Raylan she knows exactly who he is and she wants to be with him anyway. That’s huge. He needs to lock her down immediately. But is it even possible for Raylan to get a happy ending? And would being a family man be a part of that? I honestly have my doubts.
And what about the rest of the deputy US Marshals in the Lexington office? We’ve got alcoholic, PTSD suffering Tim Gutterson. He’s a master of the sly remark and it’s fun to see him give Raylan a hard time. But he’s incredibly loyal and when he’s got your back, you don’t have to worry. We’ve got Rachel Brooks, who was briefly promoted when Art had to take some time off to recover. I loved seeing her as the boss and I think she did a great job. We know she got herself out of a bum marriage and is taking care of her nephew. Family’s important — both blood and the people she works with. And Art Mullen. What can I say about Art? He and Raylan have had their struggles, but Art is the closest thing he’s ever had to a role model. He’s the farther Arlo should’ve been if Arlo had been a better man. Art has put up with a lot of shit from Raylan, but there’s been mutual respect and admiration on both their parts. He’s protective of his agents and he knows how to get the job done.
Ava Crowder’s been a bit of a wild card in all this. She and Raylan had an extremely inappropriate relationship when Raylan first returned to Harlan. Then she ended up engaged to the brother of her dead husband. I think the thing I loved most about that relationship is that they were partners in everything. They didn’t keep secrets and they just got each other. Things didn’t really break down between them until Ava was left to fend for herself in jail. It became a matter of survival and if she had to sell Boyd out to do it, she would — and she did. Now it seems likely that Boyd will kill her, which is such a tragic end to this love story. But maybe Ava has one more card to play. We’ll have to wait and see.
I got the chance to talk to EP Graham Yost as well as Timothy Olyphant, Joelle Carter, Erica Tazel and Jacob Pitts at the Justified event, hosted by the Paley Center for Media. We didn’t get much time with them, but they all had great things to say about the finale and what they’ve enjoyed most over the past six seasons of the show.
The series finale of Justified airs Tuesday, April 14th at 10/9c on FX.
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