Justified Season 6 Episode 6 Review: “Alive Day”


It’s oddly fitting that last night’s episode of Justified is titled “Alive Day,” because throughout the hour, there are so many near-deaths (and more than one actual death), from Tim and Raylan’s shoot out with Walker and his men to Boyd’s unexpected fall. However, the most dangerous situation in “Alive Day” is the episode-ending phone call from Limehouse to Boyd, not for what it presents to us in the moment, but for what it suggests is coming: that Boyd will soon be learning the truth about Ava’s extracurricular activities.

With such a pervading sense of death hanging over the whole episode, it makes sense that so many characters throughout last night’s Justified took time to reflect on their lives, looking back at the past to find some answers in their present. This is even true in the fantastic opening scene of “Alive Day,” which features Boyd coming home to find Raylan at his house with Ava, leading to a tense and layered conversation between the two men that ends with them remembering the last time they sat at a table to eat Ava’s fried chicken together. Raylan says how the evening “ended unpleasantly,” referencing how he shot Boyd in the chest, while Boyd tells him that Maybe this time, things end different,” hinting that this eventual showdown between the old coal digging buddies may be a similar situation that we’ve seen before, but one with a much different outcome.

And it’s not just Raylan that Boyd is reflecting on life with, as his time in the mine shaft with Zachariah not only causes him to remember his old coal mining days (it’s very clear how out of place Boyd feels in the mines, whereas they are home for Zachariah) but to also come to grips with his own mortality. Boyd’s fall isn’t just in this episode of Justified to remove him from the scene before the deadly twist, which shows that Zachariah certainly isn’t what he seems to be. It’s a reminder to Boyd about just how dangerous the life he has chosen is, and whether he’s in a mine shaft or sitting at his own kitchen table with Ava and Raylan, he’s never truly safe; death is always waiting around the next corner–he just has to be quick enough to escape it.

Along with Raylan and Boyd, Rachel also finds herself looking to the past, Art’s past in particular, for the answer of how to address her current Raylan/Ava problem. She ultimately decides to follow in her former chief’s footsteps and let any suspicion or worry she has go, so that Raylan can keep on doing his job. However, we can already tell how difficult it is for her. How long will she be able to give Raylan free reign in catching Boyd before she has to put her foot down, which may or may not compromise the whole investigation? We’ll have to wait and see.

But, unfortunately, someone we won’t be seeing anymore is Choo-Choo, who has been one of my favorite additions to Justified‘s sixth season so far. Sadly, the big, simple-minded criminal ended up dying (naturally, while sitting in his car on the train tracks) but only after his reflection, his wondering about what type of person he should be, got him shot. Choo-Choo (just like Walker, who discusses the two men’s time together in war, pleading with Markham to not make him kill him) gets so distracted by who and what he used to be in the past in “Alive Day” that it causes him to be blind to the threat of the present, which is how Raylan and Tim are able to get the jump on them, killing Choo-Choo and some of Walker’s other men, as their leader is able to drive off, wounded, but alive for now.

The only character who doesn’t seem to be fascinated with the past in “Alive Day” is Avery Markham, who proposes to Katherine, telling her that he’s come to understand who she is and can let go of the fact that she ratted out her old huband (his face says otherwise). But Katherine, along with Wynn, can’t help but be suspicious of Markham’s impromptu proposal, believing that he may be playing her.

Since Markham appears to be the only with his eyes open to not just the present but future in this episode of Justified (well, I guess the only besides Limehouse, really), they’re right to be a little worried. Everyone else keeps looking back, while Markham seems to never cease moving forward, and right now, that makes him the most dangerous man in Harlan.

Other thoughts:

– So good to see Art back at the Marshal’s office in this episode. If there’s one thing Season 6 has been missing, it’s Nick Searcy.

– I like that it was left somewhat ambiguous to us if Raylan and Ava have started up with anything intimate again. It’ll be interesting to see how that is dealt with in future episodes.

– I’m so anxious to see how Limehouse’s phone call to Boyd plays out in next week’s episode. Will he just be more suspicious? Will he discover all the details? No matter what happens next week, that scene was a perfect ending to “Alive Day.”

– Also exciting about next week: Winona and Raylan’s daughter are in town for a visit. I could see something potentially dangerous happening to them, though, with all the problems that Raylan’s been causing Markham and Walker.

– Two storylines I can’t wait to learn more about: the old case against Katherine Hale’s husband, Grady (because I feel like it’s going to have major implications for this new case), and what Zachariah’s ultimate plan is. Is this simply to get revenge on Boyd for how Bowman would abuse Ava?

– More Rachel in these final seven episodes, please. I’m happy to see she’s getting more of her own storyline know as chief. Erica Tazel is just too good to waste.

– “Well we could keep them holstered.” “Where’s the fun in that?”

What did everyone else think about last night’s episode of Justified?

[Photo via FX]

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