This episode was one explosive hour of television with almost every character's future on the line.
Editor’s Note: As this series winds down to the finale, just two more hours of storytelling from the end of this episode, there’s no filler, and events take on Shakespearean proportions. Please don’t read any further if you don’t know or aren’t ready to be spoiled.
Art Mullen (Nick Searcy) returns to the marshal’s office clean shaven but worn-out. He expresses displeasure that Rachel Brooks (Erica Tazel) had talked to the director. She explains it was her duty to take the blame because, as she says, “I let an untrustworthy CI get away with $10,000,000.” She removes her nameplate from Art’s desk as he tosses her a compliment that she caught Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), something he failed to do over the last several years. High five for those who would prefer to see Rachel stay in charge?
Since last week’s bombshell ending where Ava (Joelle Carter) shot Boyd, we discover that Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) had left Boyd chained to a bumper to bleed out. Raylan visits in the hospital and mockingly tells Boyd, “You could hear the sirens on their way. Must have given you some solace.” Boyd does offer Raylan a valuable tip that Zachariah Randolph (Jeff Fahey), Ava’s uncle, is the man the marshal is looking for.
Meanwhile, Ava and Zachariah pull the mammoth bag of dough to a closed mine rescue station. The plan is simple: contact a mountain man named Grubes who knows the meandering moonshine trails and escape the dragnet that’s imminent. Zachariah is confident Boyd is history, but Ava is a little more acquainted with her ex’s high survival rate and believes that he is probably short of extinguishing all his nine lives.
Avery Markham (Sam Elliott) confronts Katherine Hale (Mary Steenburgen) on his part in her life. Admitting to her that she was always the prize for him, he now suspects he was nothing more than a mark to her. Katherine candidly concedes at first that was true but then her feelings for him deepened. Avery isn’t buying it, and neither am I. “No, don’t tell me … love?” but apparently Avery is so madly in love with Katherine that he’s still willing to give their relationship another try. No fool like an old fool.
Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns), tied to a chair in a motor coach, tries to talk himself out of his predicament but Mikey (Jonathan Kowalsky), who doesn’t like being called Mikey, punches Wynn for his trouble.
Elsewhere, Loretta Mcready (Kaitlyn Dever) is threatened by Boon (Jonathan Tucker) into joining Avery's side, but she coldly shoots down the offer. And let's just say that I wish Boon had shown up a season or so earlier. He's a superb addition, and here's hoping him and Raylan have a classic Eastwood/Van Cleef showdown.
Avery, who has paid off some dirty cops, and Boon visit Carl (Justin Welborn) and Earl (Ryan Dorsey) in jail. Avery gives Carl one option and that’s to kill Boyd Crowder. Carl reluctantly accepts with the understanding that if he doesn’t his brother will be killed.
Raylan and the rest of the law enforcement posse track Ava and Zachariah to the mine rescue station but they are already gone. The warmth in the cabin and drags marks on the floor indicate Ava and her uncle can’t be far. They call for helicopters to scour the ridge.
Assistant U.S. Attorney David Vasquez (Rick Gomez) levels the accusation to Art and Rachel that Raylan and Ava stole $10,000, 000. “It’s beyond bad, Chief, its career ending.” From the narrowed faces of Art and Rachel it may seem like they may believe they were duped by Raylan’s seemingly long con game. Then, just as Raylan is preparing to hop a helicopter in search, Art calls to say he wants him to return to the Marshal HQ in Lexington. I was surprised when Raylan did as he was told. I was hoping he would claim the proverbial bad signal and hang up, but instead, he dutifully jumps in his car and heads back.
Carl turns the table on Avery’s plan of killing Boyd after tricking the police protection guarding Boyd’s hospital room. He considers killing Boyd who’s handcuffed to the bed but Boyd does his Jedi mind trick on the dumb-as-rocks Carl who he promises half the money to and saving his brother Earl. Gotta give weasel Boyd his dues — this hardcase operates best with ten-to-one odds and all hell raining down around him. Carl frees him, Boyd dons a policeman’s uniform and — surprise, surprise — shoots Carl dead and then escapes.
Raylan is given a reprieve with these turn of events, taking a detour to the hospital. Tim Gutterson (Jacob Pitts), who week after week gives some of the funniest dry lines, quips, “It’s creepy how excited you seem right now.” Tim repeatedly attempts to convince Raylan to go to the office, but fat chance. He heads to the jail to collect Carl’s brother Earl, arriving just as the corrupt locals are taking him away on Avery’s command. “Earl, step away from the dirty cop and come with me.” Raylan says. After a quick, sobering chinwag back and forth with the corrupt locals, Raylan leaves with Earl in his custody.
Katherine goes to where Wynn Duffy is being held and disarms Mikey. Wynn laughably tries to convince Katherine he did her a favor by killing her husband since she was sleeping with Avery. Then in one of the one of the most extreme hard-boiled scenes of the series (or any show of recent memory), Mikey has second thoughts about killing Wynn and takes several bullets from Katherine. He wrestles with her, and finally crushes her windpipe before he himself succumbs. If Ava shooting Boyd and then Boyd shooting Carl were unexpected shocks, then Mikey and Katherine’s dance of death was indeed eye-popping. Wynn calls 911 and when the dispatcher asks what your emergency is. Wynn replies, “I’m not sure where to start.”
Raylan blindsides Avery with the news Katherine is dead, saying “All this is on you. As you undertake your grieving, may that guide you as you contemplate your next move. ” Soon after, Raylan leans on Earl for info on who supplied the marshal with the name Grubes. Back at the mountain, Ava and Zachariah come to the home of Grubes. But, in an episode stock full of slapping hands to foreheads, they find old man Grubes desiccated corpse — his body looking like a relative of the crypt keeper.
The episode ends with Art giving Raylan forty-eight hours to wrap things up before he himself will be coming after his deputy.
And one other thing’s for sure, there's going to be more of a thinning out process as Justified winds down.
Read all of Edward A. Grainger's posts for Criminal Element.