Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"Justified" finale recap: "Bulletville"

Spoilers on the excellent, bloody finale of FX's "Justified" below. Don't click through if you don't want to know.

Wow. Now THAT is how you end a freshman season. Over its 13 episodes, "Justified" has juggled simple, stand-alone stories (Alan Ruck's escaped witness in "Long in the Tooth"; the double-crossing art thieves in "The Collection") with more serialized storytelling. Though some of the stand-alones got repetitive (there were maybe too many stories about dishonor among thieves) the mix mostly worked.
But it's only fitting that the final pair of episodes focused solely on Deputy Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant, proving once and for all that "Deadwood" was no fluke) and his array of complex relationships. Last week's episode set us up to see showdowns between Raylan and both his dad and the Crowder clan. And this week's offering, the aptly titled "Bulletville," didn't disappoint.
We saw Arlo (Raymond J. Barry, in one of the many great performances on this show) seeming perfectly willing to help kill Raylan to make things right with Bo Crowder. But was he? There was little to no regret in his eyes as he reached for that gun. On the other hand, given how well Arlo knows his son, his failure to have made a contingency plan in the very likely event that Raylan found him out makes me doubt his commitment to engineering Raylan's murder.
 Raylan spares Arlo's life in the wake of the murder attempt, just as he spared Boyd's in the pilot. Despite his violent tendencies, Raylan has a conscience. There are certain people he can't bring himself to kill, which might come back to haunt him in season two (however, he had no qualms about killing Bo's henchmen or the assassins at Bo's cabin).
At least it seems that his decision not to kill Boyd was a wise one. Apparently, Boyd was at least partly serious about his spiritual rebirth (or maybe he just got to believing his own act), and is devastated when a bloodthirsty Bo murders his flock. This sets the stage for an unlikely, but plausible, alliance between Raylan and Boyd.  Boyd helps Raylan free Ava and fend off the cartel. In return, Raylan lets Boyd escape into the Kentucky wilderness.
I guess for all its machinations, "Justified" is really just the story of two men who have been unbelievably messed up by their rotten daddies. At any rate, I look forward to seeing what happens next.
Here are some more thoughts on "Bulletville":
* Some of the earlier episodes of "Justified" were fairly bloody, but this one by far took the cake. We had multiple shoot-outs, a brutal beating and that incredibly grisly scene of all of Boyd's followers suspended from the trees. I don't consider myself squeamish, but there were several moments of "Bulletville" that had me curled up on my couch in a fetal position. Yeesh.
* Once again, excellent work by Walton Goggins as Boyd. Goggins gives this snaky, but somewhat honorable, character the right amount of hammy bravado, but also enough soul to render him believable. That scene with him alone in the campground, quietly asking God why he'd been betrayed, was amazing. I'm so glad Goggins is back on FX, and hope we'll see more of him next season.
* I haven't said much about our two leading ladies, but the season did end with Raylan at crossroads with both Winona and Ava. Gary has apparently moved in his health club, and Winona is looking to "talk" to Raylan in wake of their dalliance in last week's episode. Meanwhile, it's clear that Raylan has still feelings for Ava as well, even though their relationship is severely damaged. It was pretty hard to misread his meaning when he told Arlo that Ava never had to chase him. So what will happen? I don't know, but it seems like this is one of those love triangles where both points are viable options, making for some credible drama.
* I'm guessing that M.C.Gainey's Bo is really dead. At least he got a few more great scenes. No one, but no one, sneers like Gainey.


Bill Scurry said...

Too bad Gainey was gunned down -- guess he had other commitments elsewhere on out TV dial. Yost an Co. did a great job slipping this ship into port, making crackling dialogue, compelling characters, and we;;-photo'd action sequences look easy. "Justified" has been my favorite new show of 2010, easily.

Tara said...

Great review, I love that show and I want to see what happens next in the 2nd season.

I was hoping Boyd wouldn't get killed in the crossfire, he is one of my favorite actors in that show.

The Colonel said...

I really regret missing out on this show. God, i suck.

IScreen said...

You do suck, Col. But I forgive you. I think all the eps are on Hulu, so you can catch up if you so choose.
Bill -- I, too, will miss Gainey. But I'm sure there will be a new, equally fine group of character actors showcased next season.
Let's hope, at the very least, the Deadwood cast continues to make appearances.
I'd love to see Titus Welliver, John Hawkes, and William Sanderson, among others. I fear Ian McShane is too much to hope for, though.
Tara -- I, too, am glad Boyd got to live. The dynamic between him and Raylan is really excellent.

bert freeman said...

Love the show. So what about the promised 2nd season? Talk suddenly just disappeared, like Jimmy Hoffa's body, into thin air.....