After tonight, no more Harlan County, no more wise cracks from Tim Gutterson, and no more Raylan Givens. It’s an end of an era that should be getting more attention than it is.
With only one more episode until FX’s Justified comes to a close, devout fans need to prepare for one of television’s best characters to hang up his hat. And with Raylan also goes one of television’s best relationships – his rivalry with Boyd Crowder. Over the last few years we’ve watched Marshal Givens square off against mobsters from Detroit, drug runners from Miami, and the Dixie Mafia. But the one man who really makes the show go is Boyd.
Much like Timothy Olyphant’s adversarial chemistry opposite Ian McShane on Deadwood, Oylphant’s Givens is supplied by a near perfect foil to play off of by Walton Goggins’ Crowder character. The interaction onscreen between these two is the thing I will most miss about Justified. From friends to adversaries and back again, Boyd and Raylan are the heart and soul of the show.
“No Raylan, I’m gonna bet my life on you being the only friend I have left in this world.” – Boyd Crowder
The show has had its ups and downs, hitting its peak early with their first season finale (Bulletville) and carrying on through their second (and strongest) season matched up against the Bennett clan. The next few years, while still better than most of the other shows on TV, weren’t quite as good as that sophomore effort was, but they’ve come back strong now in the sixth and final season.
This most current season has displayed Raylan, in his desire to catch Boyd before retreating to Florida to be with his daughter and the woman he loves, make himself a target of law enforcement. Sam Elliot’s turn as Avery Markham, crime boss returned home to take over the weed trade in Harlan, has seen this season’s body count skyrocket. Seems like a lot of story left to squeeze into one last episode. Boyd, Ava, Markham, Boon, the Marshals, Florida; Raylan is gonna have a busy night.
Good storytelling aside, this show is really aided by the strength of the people around Boyd and Raylan. From Art, Rachel, and Tim at the Marshal’s office, to black hats like Wynn Duffy, Dickie Bennett, and more recently Avery Markham, the show has always boasted a rich cast of characters. Loretta McCready in particular has come into her own as of late, and been allowed to play off a character I wish would have been introduced sooner; Jonathan Tucker’s Boon, a wannabe gunslinger with a desire to test Givens’ speed.
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So the casting is superb, the writing is great, and the characters are well-rounded and memorable. But Justified is more than just cool dialogue and fun casting. Justified filled a hole in television programming, and reintroduced the old west gunslinger in a modern setting, and it did so with the tip of a hat and a confident smirk. It gave us a show worth watching that wasn’t set in New York, Chicago, or LA, and it felt fresh, despite the classic theme. It managed impressive season arcs shown through beautiful cinematography, and excellent musical accompaniment. Simply put, it’s had a terrific run and a really strong final season. Sad to see it go, but at least it’s not limping out.
Justified‘s series finale airs tonight on FX at 10pm.