‘Justified’ Season 4 Finale Review – They Always Pull

Published 2 years ago by

Timothy Olyphant in Justified Ghosts Justified Season 4 Finale Review – They Always Pull

All season long, Justified and its characters have been pondering the future while constantly examining the road they have taken to get there. In ‘Ghosts,’ the season finale, the future is here, and it goes by the rather unlikely name of Sammy Tonin.

If Max Perlich’s diminutive, follicle-challenged Sammy Tonin seems like an unlikely successor to the throne Theo Tonin recently abdicated, that’s because he is. As season 4 progressed, the shadow of Sammy’s father took on an almost mythical quality – he was an invisible boogeyman to some and a vengeful god to others, but all that power couldn’t prevent Raylan Givens from making sure Drew Thompson (a.k.a. Shelby Parlow) lived to ensure Theo’s retirement in Tunisia happened a little earlier than anyone had imagined.

In the end, Sammy’s ascension – highlighted by a brief feud with the overconfident Nicky Augustine – puts the perfect cap on the most thematically rich season that Justified has so far produced, connecting the idea of legacy with the realization that choice matters most in deciding an individual’s future.

At either end of that spectrum, of course, are Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder. Raylan seems to have spent the better part of his life running from his miserable upbringing at the hands of his late father Arlo – which played a significant role in his becoming a lawman and validates his feelings about being reassigned to Kentucky when he’d done so much to earn a ticket out. Unlike Raylan, Boyd has embraced his past and become a criminal like so many Crowders before him. Despite the difference in their approach, the two seem to be headed in the same direction. That is: Raylan and Boyd are doing what they do to make a better future not just for themselves, but also for generations of Givenses and Crowders to come.

Timothy Olyphant as Raylan and Walton Goggins as Boyd in Justified Ghosts Justified Season 4 Finale Review – They Always Pull

When you get right to it, this season of Justified has also been leading up to the answer of whether or not Raylan Givens is truly his own man, or if all the years of abuse and neglect he suffered at the hands of his father – and later, the father/son connection Arlo shared with Boyd Crowder – would inevitably inform for the viewer (and Raylan) that the same stuff which made Arlo the meanest cuss God ever strung a gut through is also running through his veins.

Much of that answer lies in how things eventually ended for Nicky Augustine. Sure, without Raylan’s intervention, he may have assumed the head of the Detroit Mafia, but considering what he pulled with Winona and her unborn child, his time at the top would have undoubtedly been brief. And as great as Mike O’Malley has been in the role, it was the manner in which Nicky was removed from the equation – and Raylan’s willful omission of his involvement in the gangster’s demise – that ultimately speaks volumes about Raylan as a character, and where he’s headed in storylines to come.

As Raylan discusses with Boyd while en route to Nicky’s last stand, it’s clear both men define the term “bad guy” differently. Raylan can look the other way as the man who threatened to kill his family is gunned down by gangsters simply because he’s “suspended,” whereas Boyd will threaten and manipulate any number of individuals to keep Ava from the reach of the law.

Joelle Carter in Justified Ghosts Justified Season 4 Finale Review – They Always Pull

At the end of the day, Boyd loses Ava not because she killed a vicious pimp and dumped his body down a mineshaft (that’s what sends Ava to jail). He loses Ava because, in an attempt to rise above his place in Harlan, Boyd earned the ire of nearly every other criminal in the county, and he failed to treat the death of the snake-handling Billy St. Cyr as something that would come back to bite him. And to top it all off, Wynn Duffy returns to present Boyd with the financial means to the future he’d dreamed of, just as the reason for wanting it is pulled from his grasp.

The season signs off by leaving Raylan to mend the wall in the house he couldn’t wait to escape as a substitute for the mending that never occurred between him and Arlo. Meanwhile, Boyd is left to ponder the future that came too late by staring out the backdoor of a dream house that was ill-suited for a man his nature.

Season 4 will likely be remembered for its wonderfully executed (but sometimes wildly digressive) storyline that did without a typical big bad – a move that seemed risky at times, but ultimately paid off by putting the characters ahead of the plot. Bringing the story around to focus on the main characters is exactly what a good season finale is all about, and ‘Ghosts’ doesn’t just send season 4 out on a high note, it challenges ‘Bloody Harlan’ in terms of solid character building and affecting drama.

This was an outstanding finish to another strong season of Justified.


Justified season 5 will premiere in 2014 on FX.

TAGS: Justified
Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:


Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to Gravatar.com and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.

If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it. Keep in mind that we do not allow external links in the comments.

  1. Justified. It rolls in slow when the sidewalk is cold and the nights are too long. It marks the season. You look forward to next week just when the weeks were draggin’ without it. It changes your outlook and carries you through and while building stronger you become stronger too. At it’s strongest it sets you free when the days linger longer with the promise of sunshine. You feel like you can begin again. Again. And maybe you will. The feeling is enough and that is Justified. You’ll miss it but it’ll be back just when you need it.

    • @ Robert Palmer
      Before yesterday I hadn’t seen a comment from you in a while and I had thought you had moved on from Screen Rant, or maybe we were just reading different threads.
      What’s my point?
      I always enjoy your comments and the one above is proof why.

      • Very kind of you to say Kevin7. Thank you.

        I was just flying below the radar for a while, reading but not writing.
        I did not think my absence was noticed and it is nice to hear it
        was, and from you since I enjoy reading your posts too.

    • So perfectly stated

      • And how sweet of you to say too, Lauretta. Thank you.

  2. Can someone help me out? I dont understand how Bill St Cyr factored into to Boyd’s demise at the end. I didnt get the significance of the glance that Boyd and Billy’s sister shared right before the cops sent him on his way. But great finale to this season. I feel like this show should be more popular with how good the writing and diversity of its characters. I mean who doesnt want to be Raylan. I know I sure do haha. Really great stuff this season

    • Ellen May told the Preacher’s sister about the murder and dumping of the body in last week’s episode, so she was there to see the man who basically killed her brother with the snakes “get his”.

  3. Again. And maybe you will. The feeling is enough and that is Justified. You’ll miss it but it’ll be back just when you need it.

  4. I don’t think that this was the season any of us expected from one of TV’s best shows. We have been treated to 3 seasons of clear cut good guys and bad guys, with one ultimate bad guy facing off with Raylan at the end of each season. Raylan’s character now is in a state of limbo where he does what is necessary to protect his family which includes bend the law to his liking. Most importantly, Boyd has now made that turn to full fledged bad guy with a serious axe to grind. Though he has the means to live a fulfilling life now, he has Raylan to thank for his fiance’s imprisonment. I think season 5 will be the most gripping season yet as Raylan and Boyd now directly oppose each other. Raylan and Boyd have put off the direct confrontation we all know is inevitable each season this show has been on. But like a true western, this conflict will come to a head and only one man will be left standing at the end. This is pretty much the only route that can be taken next season. It will definitely be a confrontation of epic proportions with the series forever being changed. Each man now has what they have always wanted but at a significant price. Now that they will both be at the top of their fields, they will have no choice but to come to blows.

  5. Now that the season is over can we all say bravo to the writers, directors and actors for the best season of one of the best shows on TV? I’ll start…
    For me Justified was always one of the best and I had thought season 2 would always be held up as the gold standard for the series. But IMO season 4 is now at the top. I thought the absence of a “big bad” at the beginning of the season might set the show back but boy was I wrong. Having more of a mystery unfold gave us viewers the opportunity to spend more time inside the heads of some of the best characters on TV. We already knew how Boyd and Raylan would handle immediate threats but it was a great gift to us to see how they would not only confront the bad guy but also themselves and it made Justified a better show because of it.
    Now, if Emmy & Golden Globe season rolls around and once again Justified is pretty much ignored it’s time to seriously call a foul. I’d happily argue with anyone who claims this isn’t one of the top 5 dramas on TV today and it’s about time that it’s recognized as so.
    I’m already anxiously awaiting next season.

    • I agree, the writers of this show are the best in the business. The relationship between Raylan & Art is phenomenal. There are so many great shows on now in this “Golden Age of Television” but after this season, Justified is giving me the biggest Marshall Stiffy of them all.

      • I couldn’t agree more about how great this age of TV has been.
        Sure, some would argue that because of the thousands of shows that are on now that it can alter the numbers but IMO there has never been this many great-outstanding shows on the air, and I watch a lot, seriously way to much TV. :)
        I’d start listing them but it would take to long.

        • Justified is my favorite scripted show on television right now.

    • Too true. In my journal Justified is the best show on TV.
      Others become media darlings — Game Of Thrones, Mad Men,
      The Walking Dead, to name just a few and I do watch them too.
      But Justified is head and shoulders above them all and secretly so.

  6. Is Raylan’s boss & mentor Deputy Chief Art Mullen actually the mole the mob has in the Marshals Service, as he knew first hand about the baby, where to find Winona and (presumably) where to send the mob to find her?

    The writers kept having Art harp on Raylan to “go be with Winona” in the dialogue about the suspension.

    Also, the mobster thugs in the nursery insisted on having Raylan “lead them to the safehouse,” the same safehouse Art & Raylan had just discussed in his office in the previous scene in between discussing Winona’s pregnancy and rocking chairs.

    Art had also worked on the Drew Thompson case since back in the 1980s. As the senior member of that Marshals office and most tenured, he was the person most familiar with the history of Drew Thompson on whom the mob could rely.

    Finally, Art had warned Raylan to “don’t bother coming back” if he went after Nicky Augustine.

    • You make some great points but in all honesty I’d not only be surprised if that’s the case but more than anything I’d be dissapointed.
      IMO that would throw everything we’ve learned and seen of Art into turmoil and we’d then have to look at every episode and every scene he’s been in differently and that would hurt the show.
      But again, great points and I’m sort of relieved that I’m not the only who dissects the show so throughly. :)

      • I agree, Art is old-school police. His dynamic with, not only Raylan, but Tim and Rachel, is something that makes the show as great as it is. He is the father figure that neither of his marshals have ever had.

        • Hi, LIfe Model Decoy.

          Art is indeed a father figure to Raylan and Tim, presumably moreso to Raylan (see: Arlo).

          However, who else in either the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office or the Marshal Service knows about much about Drew Thompson (specifically, the cumulative case history thereof) and the intimate details of Raylan, his work status & schedule, his loved ones and their whereabouts?

          The writers never show us Raylan sharing that level of personal detail with anyone else on the show other than Art.

          Unless intended to be deliberately misleading and redirecting the audience by the writers, I doubt it is purely coincidental that the mob keeps showing up or referring to details that Raylan and Art had just touched on in the previous scene.


          Additionally, I recall the articulate speech Art gave Rachel and Raylan about how THE MARSHALS should take in a [bad@$$] like Drew Thompson and not let the Kentucky State Police take him into custody.

          At first viewing, I thought that was merely workplace pride.

          Now, however, it seems Art could feed better info to Nicky & company on Drew if Mr. Thompson was under his nose and not the “Staties.”

          • I was wondering who Nicky was speaking to on his cell before Raylan entered the limo. It wasn’t Sammy Tonin. I doubt he was calling Theo Tonin in Tunisia. Now you’ve got me thinking Nicky was talking to Art. Uh-oh.

    • Good points, but it could be something as simple as Art’s office being bugged.

      • Hey, Lindy.

        I might be inclined to agreement with Art’s office simply being bugged, but Nicky Augustine specifically said he had SOMEONE (i.e. a person) on the inside who was feeding him information.

    • Darn it!!!
      Now I’m overthinking. The conversation Nicky was having was odd and we were obviously shown that for a reason.
      What about Rachel?
      We heard a few things earlier this season about her marriage falling apart and she was having a tough run. Maybe she’s fallen on hard times financially?

      • Hey, Kevin.

        I had considered Rachel as well, but we didn’t see her having knowledge of the safehouse location for Drew Thompson (or even if one was being used) or the whereabouts of Winona like Art did.

        Also, Art kept forcing Raylan’s suspension (presumably to get him de-armed and vulnerable) and kept on him to “go see Winona.”

        Additionally, was hinted at in one of the first scenes of this year’s very firt episode, we learn that Art’s mandatory retirement is looming.

        Even with a government pension, being able to retire in 2013 costs $$$$$.

        • Jimmy
          I want to say again you’re making great points. So please don’t think I’m disagreeing with you just for the sake of doing so it’s just that I can’t see Art being the mole.
          Like I said before it would just go against everything we’ve learned and seen of him for the past 4 seasons and IMO that’s not a path I can see the writers taking…
          But hey, who knows??? You could be right and if so I’ll eat a plate of crow and come back to this thread a year from now and applaud your prediction. :)

    • If anything plays out in season five I wouldn’t be surprised if its AUSA Vasquez. The lawyer.

      I had no reason to susspect him before but the way he played his role in the final episode made me wonder. Am i being paranoid? Watch his performance and tell me.

      Art? No. That would suck. Art is one of the most loved character on this show. I don’t think the writers would do that.

      That suggestion is in the sucky line along with Arlo is not Raylan’s real father.

  7. An excellent season.

  8. Wow, great season. Round of applause to the writers and actors, this season is amazing. Hated the fact that this show is so underrated.

  9. On the mole thing, the writers keep it vague for a good reason… like Drew Thompson, maybe they haven’t decided who should be the mole. As fans of the characters, you would hate for it to be Art, Rachel or Tim… but it would be a killer twist to do so.

    The only issue I had with the finale was the de-leveraging of Paxton. From what I recall, the “Harlan Royalty” were in Boyd’s pocket because he had the Detroit Mafia behind him. Even if they did find out about Ava’s crime, how does that stop Boyd from having Paxston killed? And now, with Boyd moving up the ladder with Winn Duffy (who we all knew would return), doesn’t that put Paxston in a more precarious position? Or are we to believe that because they have Ava in custody, that will keep Boyd at bay? Very un-Boyd-like to me… and now with the resources of the Thonin clan at his disposal, I don’t think Ava will be in jail much longer.

    Although I did like how they did the whole Nicky execution scene, I think it would have had more impact if Nicky and Raylan came out of the limo to board the plane and be surprised to see Sammy walk out and this would entail:

    1. Raylan would tell Sammy about their conversation just like he did.
    2. Nicky would deny it but eventually would ask Picker to shoot Sammy but then Picker would turn on Nicky.
    3. Nicky would yell at Raylan telling that him that he will take the deal.
    4. Raylan telling Nicky that he would but that “He’s suspended”.
    5. Then they shoot Nicky.

    This way Nicky knows it was Raylan who set him up. And while this somehow makes Raylan more of a bad guy, it’s “justified” because Raylan knows that as long as Nicky is alive, his family is at risk so even giving him the deal now would probably come back to bite him.

    As a side note, now that Raylan is a witness to Sammy, the new boss, murdering someone, doesn’t that make him the new Drew Thompson?

    2014 is too far away… Graham Yost needs to give us some filler stuff between seasons.

  10. On a side note…
    I just listened to Walton Goggins on The Nerdist podcast and if you’re a fan you should check it out. He maybe one of the nicest actors out there. Also, who knew Walton was a Oscar winner?
    Apologizes to Screen Rant for plugging another podcast. S.R. Underground is still my favorite. :)

  11. I’m late to the debate, I know. Lacking cable I depend on the DVDs. What is the instigating act that set off the ‘find Drew’ storyline?
    Yes, Josiah sent the children to Raylen’s house to find the bag, but WHY did he do that? I never heard any explanation of that action.

    • @Feron:

      Arlo knows the true identity of Drew and he didn’t want anyone finding out when he heard that Raylan was selling the house (with a possible clue in the wall).