Justified: A Cluster Bomb Of Betrayals, Game Changes And Consequences

Episode recaps
Photo Courtesy of FX Network

Warning: Spoiler Alert

At some point, an interested TV historian is likely to come along and compare Justified Episode 6.10 to other major episodes in the history of the medium.  The name of this one, Trust, referred to the seemingly countless times that it was breached and relationships were torn asunder.  Has any major, critically-acclaimed television series ever featured an episode with as many long-term alliances (however fake some of them were in nature) torn asunder?  In chronological order, they proceeded as follows:

1 Boyd and Earl/Carl – Sensing a trap regarding where Avery’s money was headed, Boyd served up another of his interchangeable henchmen to the authorities as a decoy.

2 The Marshals/AUSA Vasquez and Ava – Vasquez decided that Ava’s testimony would never hold up in court because she had been burned and so he decreed that she would be heading back to jail even she helps to nail Boyd.

3 Mikey and Wynn – Wynn’s sidekick did more than continue to grouse about his snitching; he attacked him and called Katherine to serve him up to the Dixie Mafia.

4 Katherine and Boyd – Having set up a fake kidnapping, these two lured Avery with the $10 million in “ransom” only to have Boyd make off with all the money and endanger Katherine’s life by rubbing her betrayal in the old guy’s face.

5 Katherine and Avery – The fact that Avery realizes that she was tricked into believing that he was the rat who got her husband killed and thereby was tricked into gaslighting him may be the only mitigating factor that could save her.

6 Ava and Boyd – She was working with Raylan to try to serve up Boyd, but the line was crossed for good when she shot him and made off with his stolen millions.

7 Ava and Raylan – When Ava went into business for herself and left, holding a gun on Raylan the whole time, she sealed her fate with the law and with her old flame.

That, right there, is an implosion of the majority of remaining alliances on the program outside of the Marshall service – and considering that Rachel is likely to be unhappy with Raylan’s handling of the situation and that Limehouse may have a bone to pick with Boyd and/or Ava for being tricked into being bought so cheaply – groundwork was laid for future ruptures as well.  The magnitude of the work achieved in this episode is compounded by the fact that it had such a tough act to follow.

[Post-shows such as the ones always contained at the bottom of this column are always interesting to record in the immediacy bubble right after Justified.  One can only speculate about how the rest of the world is reacting to the episode when the show is being analyzed from the moment that it goes off the air.  And those early (and real-time, thanks to Twitter) reactions are critical to forming the consensus of the masses; former Washington Post publisher Phil Graham once referred to journalism as the first rough draft of history and today’s “culture of now” reflects the extreme acceleration of this phenomenon over time.  The rapid shaping of the collective opinion on matters extends most definitely to today’s critical favorites on the tube such as Justified.  As such, hazarding a guess about what the rest of the world is saying while we are recording the postshow is always a gamble, no matter how obvious something seems in the heat of the moment.  Last week, we proclaimed Burned as one of the great episodes in show history, just as we did last year with Shot All to Hell.  In both instances, our reactions were ratified by most of the public, including conventional wisdom barometer AV Club — who awarded a rare “A” grade to both.  Having said that, however, it was jarring to see Alan Sepinwall, the granddaddy of Internet long-form reviewing, refer to Burned as essentially very entertaining filler — since he asserts that many fundamentals of this season remain unchanged after the episode.  Considering that the Zach Randolph storyline peaked last week and Wynn and Loretta had their progressions moved forward substantially, we will simply have to agree to disagree with Mr. Sepinwall about what of lasting consequence transpired.]

Significantly, the serial shattering of relationships chronicled above did not even come close to summing up the entirety of events on this most consequential of occasions.

^ The return of Limehouse, as a would-be navigator for Boyd and Ava on the run, raises the possibility of one last visit to Noble’s Holler for the program – although Limehouse and Ava gave voice to their serious mutual dislike.

^ After voicing suspicion about the information that he received from Wynn last week, Boyd just flat-out assumed this time that Raylan was feeding him data through Wynn in terms of the alleged money route to Charlotte.  If Wynn survives his Dixie Mafia problems somehow, he’s going to have to face down a dangerous and wounded Boyd Crowder.

^ Amidst the hullabaloo about his money from the bank vault, Avery remains a dangerous man simply with his other resources.  Loretta’s great-aunt was put to death when she refused to cooperate with him and his new trained assassin, Boon, is one sick puppy – as he demonstrated with some sadistic bullying in a coffee shop simply for the benefit of his own jollies.  Loretta’s in the crosshairs of these two reprobates and that’s a bad place to be.

^ The gator teeth left behind by Dewey Crowe seemed like they were going to play a tangible role in the investigation of Boyd, but Raylan was dismissive of them when Ava offered them to him.  Raylan was right to suspect that Boyd covered his tracks even if he did murder the hapless dummy, but to Ava, that smacked of simply shooting down her initiatives for his own reasons.

^ Perhaps Ava hadn’t fully formulated her escape plan – from her fiancée and the law – when she showed Raylan the fake ID that Limehouse had obtained for her, but now Raylan’s going to be able to add that to the description of her that will be going out to law enforcement agencies.

In terms of the Justified endgame, the creative team has lulled the audience into focusing on the climactic conclusion to the series-long Raylan/Boyd dynamic and other adjacent endings, like the finale of Raylan’s time with the Marshall office in Lexington.  The moment of reminiscing that Ava indulged in with Raylan prior to her implementation of the double-cross seemed like others that had come before and others that might lie ahead in the future.  But Episode 6.10 proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that when this series is over, nothing will ever be the same.  We won’t be able to imagine RV rides continuing to be shared with Wynn and Mikey once the show goes off the air.  Katherine’s world will be turned upside down, if indeed she still inhabits it and the examples go on and on.  We indicated last week that the endgame had begun with a truly great and historic episode.  This week, the momentum continued and even accelerated and now only three episodes remain.  If Graham Yost and Company can keep matching this feat over the last three weeks, the five-episode arc to conclude the season may go down as one of the greatest multi-episode blocs in TV history and the show’s already-strong claim to immortality will be strengthened even more.  We can only hope.

As is now the custom with the Justified reviews here at NJATVS, here’s an extended version of commentary for this episode: an immediate post-show breakdown of the episode recorded in real time.  Past webcasts for Season 6 can be found when searching the Justified category on this site.  Additionally, here’s our Season 6 preview and our 10-hour Season 5 “box set” containing a season preview, review and analysis of every episode.



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