'Justified': Somebody's Always Got to Go First

[This is a review of Justified season 6, episode 10. There will be SPOILERS.]


It is not often that a series will offer as many surprises and twists in its final season as Justifiedhas during its concluding tour around Harlan County. But that’s just one of the many unexpected things about the season that, week after week, has proven to be one of the finest in the series (and one of the best series on television at the moment), making the development in the closing moments of ‘Trust’ an unanticipated turn for the ages.

Of all the possible scenarios that could have brought the episode to a close, Ava shooting Boyd point blank in the chest (as a gift to Raylan) and then promptly absconding with $10 million of Avery Markham’s drug money did not seem high on the list. But, considering an episode titled ‘Trust’ managed to showcase nearly every kind of betrayal a group of Kentucky criminals could muster against their enemies and their allies alike, seeing Ava repeat with Boyd the performance that left her widowed and him without a brother may not be too surprising after all.

On that note, it’s time to praise Joelle Carter’s performance and her character's arc this season. After season 5 saddled her with a listless prison plotline, it’s refreshing to see the character in a position where her story doesn’t rely on waiting for the inevitable to happen, but instead it actually commands a portion of the plot. For all the threats of violence that Ava had to endure at the hands of her fellow inmates (and guards), seeing Ava play both sides of the law, in a bid to stay out of prison and out of an early grave, has already delivered ten times the storyline the character was saddled with in season 5.

But take a character like Ava, put her back in her usual surroundings, and then back her into a corner, and fireworks (or gunshot wounds) are bound to ensue. After all, this is the woman who justifiably murdered her abusive husband after going to the trouble to make him his favorite (and last) meal, just so he wouldn’t get suspicious.

Walton Goggins and Jere Burns in Justified Season 6 Episode 10

To that end, Carter’s performance has been phenomenal. Her usual onscreen presence has afforded her the chance to play everything from seductress to hardened criminal, but Carter is at her best when Ava’s playing for Team Ava, and Team Ava alone. There’s no indication that Ava was planning on shooting and robbing Boyd before she actually did it – which certainly helped with the surprise – meaning it was either a spur of the moment deal, or she thought it up while she and Raylan were discussing what she would or wouldn’t do to get a confession out of her soon-to-be-bloody beau. Either way, Carter plays it with palpable desperation, and the challenge she offers to Raylan – to pull his gun, and to come find her –hitches a ride on the anxious energy that’s been plaguing (or powering) Ava all season long.

‘Trust’ is no one-and-done deal when it comes to betrayals, however. This is an episode that ostensibly blows up nearly every relationship season 6 has going. Perhaps treachery was kicked into high gear last week, when Zachariah nearly blew Boyd up in the failed attempt to access Avery’s vault. But as far as the sheer number of irrevocable actions is concerned, it’ll be tough to top the backstabbing on display here. Between Mikey planning to sell Wynn Duffy out to Katherine Hale, and Boyd giving Avery the lowdown on Katherine’s plans to rob him of his millions (not to mention hanging literal brothers-in-crime Carl and Earl out to dry) it’s astonishing there wasn’t an actual backstabbing on hand during the hour.

But with three episodes left in the series, the question is: What is everyone’s next move? Avery and Katherine obviously have a lot to talk about, since his delivery of the cash more or less proves his affection for her was the real deal. (It was also a nice touch for director Adam Arkin to attach the camera to Boyd’s pickup, so the screen shook when Avery dropped the weighty bags into the truck bed.) And with Boyd down and bleeding at Raylan’s feet, there’s a tremendous shift in priority for the deputy marshal.

With the hunt for Ava Crowder and Avery’s millions likely on, one has to wonder whether or not it is the new “job number one,” for Raylan. As catching Boyd in the act was the driving force behind Raylan’s actions this season, it asks the question: What’s in it for Raylan? His job is done for the most part – he got his man. But it’s a good bet Boyd won’t be down for long. After all, Dewey Crowe was caught on tape confessing to a murder, and he wound up on the roomier side of prison in a heartbeat. If you consider the surprises that Justified has been delivering as of late, seeing Boyd skate on his actions in ‘Trust’ wouldn’t be too hard to swallow.

Is Raylan even interested in chasing Ava down? Or is the allure of bringing one last job to its conclusion simply too much temptation for him to pass up? There are many questions brought up in the last few minutes of the episode (not the least of which is: what’s Boone’s deal and whose crosshairs is he going to wind up in?) and that’s a great place for the series to be at this point in the season. For all the straightforwardness of the season’s goals, it has wound up delivering one surprise after another.

For now, it looks as though Raylan will have to forego his plans to ride off into the sunset for just a little while longer, as it seems Justified may just end up as Boyd said, like “that other classic, where a guy chases a whale to the ends of the earth till he drowns for his troubles.” The only difference is, no one expected Raylan’s Ahab to be chasing Ava.

Justified will continue next Tuesday with ‘Fugitive Number One’ @10pm on FX.

Photos: Prashant Gupta/FX

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