TV doesn’t get much more fun than tonight’s season finale, an episode that brought damn near every story thread of the season to its conclusion, and violently, gloriously so (I mean, not to fanboy-out on your ass but Raylan shooting that dude with his own gun and kicking the gun out of Bo’s hand? Fucking amazing). Thing is, shit seemed so definitive that there’s hardly anything left to do next season, what with Bo’s whole outfit being blown to shit by Raylan. Like I said, though, it just seemed that way because, of course, your Nerd has predictions on just what remaining storylines might be addressed next season, because blind assumptions are just so much goddamn fun, right?
But first let’s go over what was officially fucking settled in “Bulletville.” Whether Boyd was just using him to learn when the ephedrine shipment was coming or whether he really did (for a brief time, I suppose) want to take over his father’s turf, it turned out that Boyd had told Johnny Crowder that he was just going to steal the truck for the two of them, not blow it to hell. Johnny is naturally pissed and calls off the partnership only to later be the one called upon to deliver the beatdown on Boyd (in a very passion play-ish sort of scene). Then Bo wipes out all Boyd’s followers sans Boyd, truly testing Boyd’s faith like never before.
Turns out that in order to appease the Miami Cartel for losing their shit, Bo’s gonna have to do more than just kill a dozen people responsible for the offense: they want Raylan’s head for taking out that dude in the very first scene of the entire series (it all comes back around). Seeing how Arlo owes many debts to Bo and has easy access to Raylan, Bo leaves the hit to Arlo (echoes of the first season of The Sopranos, anyone?). As if there were any doubt, Arlo is up for doing the job, but Raylan shuts it down, even gleefully puts a bullet in his arm in a scene both shocking and fucking hilarious.
His plan for getting rid of Ava and the traitorous Johnny is pretty ingenious, though I wish they’d found a better way to deliver that exposition than Bo’s Bond villain-like spiel to the dying Johnny (some more kin-on-kin violence). That set up comes in handy when Arlo and Bo’s men fail to bring in Raylan. Of course, this being an unabashedly pulpy TV show, Boyd shows up just in time to tag along to the family cabin outside Bulletville, allowing him the chance to kill his own father. We never get a chance to see if he could really go through with it because the Miami folks take Bo out first (Raylan could only bring himself to wing his old man, but he’s the law). There’s a huge shootout where damn near every bad guy dies except one who Boyd goes after – cut to credits.
But while Bo’s reign of terror may be over and the season has a nice satisfying arc to it, there’s still a few things left to work with next season. Obviously, the Miami folks are definitely not going to be through with Raylan after he killed a bunch more of their men. Also there’s the question of what Raylan will do with his father now that he’s been blatantly assured that indeed yes, Arlo is the most despicable human being of all time. We learned that Winona and Gary have split up and she’s making it pretty clear that last week’s incident wasn’t just a fluke, making the love triangle between the two of them and Ava even more intense. Lastly there’s the matter of what will become of Boyd and whether he and Raylan will remain friends. Boyd says near the end of the episode that Raylan is the only friend he has in the world, but he’s such a fucking wild card who knows if such an association can keep him on the straight and narrow.
I kind of think that, since they killed off so many local adversaries in “Bulletville,” next season will probably be similarly structured to this season. We’ll probably get another half-season or so of disposable episodes with greater-arc undercurrents in them until some bigger story comes fully into its own, and then the show will be fully serialized in the home stretch. I hope I’m wrong and that the show never again has disposable-ish episodes, but even if I’m right I’m more than pumped to see where this story goes from here.
This has been a very strong season – one where I’ve had complaints from time to time, for sure, but all in all this was a helluva good way to spend an hour each week. Unlike many of the best crime shows of recent years (The Sopranos, The Wire, Brotherhood, Breaking Bad), Justified was perfectly willing to be a straight-up pulpy show, not terribly “cerebral” and never very challenging or particularly dark. Yeah, sometimes thematic shit was mildly present and plot turns were often inspired, but most often it all came down to great action and dialogue – just like the best of Elmore Leonard’s novels. How is it that out of all the cop shows on television, only one can pull off the basic cop show thrills in a smart yet totally unpretentious way?
Thanks for keeping up with me over the last few months, it’s been a shit load of fun hanging out in Harlan with y’all (wow, my balls just self-detached themselves from my body after I wrote that send off).