Justified has always been a show with a sense of history, something that has helped to ensure that Harlan County doesn’t just feel like a fully-formed fictional location but a real place that any of us could go and visit (although we’d probably never leave alive, as the song that ends each season tells us). Boyd and Raylan can reminisce about how they dug coal together, or, as in last night’s premiere, offer up new information about their respective families, and it only adds to the deeply rich universe that Justified has created.
Last night’s final season premiere, “Fate’s Right Hand,” was every much a bit of a first chapter in this final story that Justified is telling as it was a reflective meditation on everything that has come before it. Raylan and Ava talk about the day he returned to Harlan County and first showed up outside her door. Similarly, Dewey Crowe brings up being a part of “Crowder’s Commandos,” also from Justified‘s pilot, a time that Boyd calls “simple days, good days.”
But, as Boyd also tells Dewey, “It’s all coming to an end,” and those who want to survive it cannot afford to dwell on the past. That’s why Raylan not only talks about how Ava kissed him when he walked through her door the first time but also reminds her that he knows that she can put on an act for Boyd, since she did it for his brother, Bowman, before she shot him in his seat at the kitchen table. And that’s also why Boyd has Dewey stare at a picture of his grandfather and other kin before putting a bullet in the back of his simple-minded head; he could trust the Dewey of old but doesn’t have time to try to reestablish that trust now that it’s gone–he has to keep moving forward.
And that sense of urgency and purpose fills “Fate’s Right Hand,” as not only do Justified‘s writers seem to know the show is nearing its conclusion but so do the characters. Boyd is looking to leave Harlan and move to some place with Ava that has “white sand and blue water.” Meanwhile, Raylan is so anxious for this final job to be done and over with, allowing him to reunite with Winona and their daughter, he even throws out the idea of trapping Boyd in a situation in which he could shoot and kill him, a plan that, as Art tells him, could just as easily end with Raylan dying as it could with Boyd (“Unlikely,” Raylan says to him).
The fact that the lovable, dim-witted Dewey Crowe perished in this first episode illustrates that this final season of Justified means business, that the show, unlike last season, is no longer spinning its wheels and is ready to tell this story of Raylan versus Boyd, a showdown that has needed to happen since the events of the series’ pilot. It’s no longer a question of when the show will do it (it’s here right now), and the only uncertainties that remain are who will survive when it’s all over and who will only be a photograph on the wall, just a memory of Harlan’s past.
– A moment of silence for Dewey Crowe (and his four kidneys). May they all rest in peace.
– “How am I supposed to read that? It’s in Mexican.” On second thought, can we bring Dewey back for my lines like this, please?
– Joelle Carter has always been great on this show (even when Ava was stuck in the awful prison storyline in Season 5), so I’m happy to see her front and center here along with Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins. Whatever new projects the three of them find themselves in after Justified, I can promise you that I’ll be checking them out.
– The best par about the final scene of this episode is how ambiguous it is. No one really knows what’s going on in Boyd’s head (Does he suspect Ava? Is he just desperate to regain the connection the two of them used to have? Is he worried for her safety?), and it’s all because of Walton Goggins’ unreadable expression.
– As happy as I am that this season will be mostly centered on the showdown between Raylan and Boyd, I’m still awfully curious to see what exactly Garret Dillahunt’s character is up to and how he will fit into this year’s story. His first scene with Raylan and Tim was great. You can clearly tell that something’s off about this guy.
– And speaking of Tim, can he get his own spin-off once Justified ends? Even if it’s just him and Raylan going back and forth on the phone, I’d watch it. His “some guys peak too early” response to Raylan’s story about Dewey working at Disneyworld as Goofy was hilarious.
– The promo for the rest of this season showed that Dickie Bennett is returning, and I couldn’t be happier.
– “Good things happen to those who wait for stupid.” “I believe that was in the Sermon on the Mount.”
– “I told you I’d be in touch.”
[Photo via FX]