The final season of Justified keeps piling on the delicious complications of plot and adding to (and subtracting from) its wonderful cast of characters. In “Sounding,” last night’s fifth episode, Boyd (Walton Goggins) returned to his coal-mining roots, Ava (Joelle Carter) did something impulsive and kind of dumb, and Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) seemed poised to do something even more impulsive and even dumber.
Boyd and Ava return from their trip to Lexington, and while they’re stopped at a Kentucky State Police roadblock. Boyd is full of his grandiose vision of becoming a marijuana entrepreneur, and Ava muses that they’ve changed positions on staying versus leaving Harlan, because she wants to get the hell out of there.
Ava and Boyd finally get to the front of the roadblock, where the policemen seem unusually concerned about Ava’s well-being. Boyd seems not to find this suspicious because he’s already caught up in his plans to put a spoke in the wheels of Avery Markham’s well-oiled property purchasing machine.
We cut from Boyd and Ava to Raylan who’s waiting out of sight. It turns out that he set up the roadblock to make sure that Ava was OK, though from what the state police guys say, Ava is visibly nervous and uncomfortable. It’s remarkable that Boyd hasn’t noticed anything yet, given that two men who’ve never met Ava before recognize that she’s in a fragile state. Raylan sends Tim (Jacob Pitts) to Lexington to find Albert Fekus (Danny Strong), the prison guard who recanted his story about Ava stabbing him, before Albert “blows this whole thing up.”
Two kids argue about some kind of video game. Their grandmother, who is none other than Katherine Hale (Mary Steenburgen), tells them that if they don’t stop fighting, grandma’s going to lock them in the closet. Heh! I think I like her.
I’m pretty sure the kids are only there so that when Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns) arrives, he can deliver the line “there are children in your room” as though he’d just walked in on Katherine cuddling a scorpion. Jere Burns is so delightful that part of me hopes for a Justified version of Better Call Saul in which we follow Wynn Duffy from his beginnings in the mean streets of Kahului.
Katherine and Wynn discuss their suspicions of Ava. They’re keeping an eye on Albert Fekus too, and Wynn says that if law enforcement shows up at Fekus’s home, they’ll have their answer. “I like Ava,” Katherine tells him. “It’d be a shame to have to kill her.”
Especially when Ava’s such a great cook! She makes Boyd a huge breakfast of pancakes, eggs, and sausage that looks delicious. But if I were Boyd, I’d be a bit nervous about eating one of Ava’s meals at the same table where Ava shot Bowman and where she prepared the meal Boyd was eating when Raylan shot him in the very first episode of the series. I keep wondering whether history will repeat itself with a second Crowder brother, especially the way the show is circling back to its beginnings this season.
Boyd takes this occasion to give Ava back the engagement ring and Ava starts to cry, whether because she remembers the good old days when she and Boyd were a power couple of the underworld, or because she thinks Boyd will kill her and dump her body in a slurry pit the instant he suspects she’s not acting in good faith.
She tells Boyd she has to go to work and calls Raylan from her car because she’s so worried about the Albert Fekus situation. Raylan assures her that Tim and Rachel (Erica Tazel) are in Lexington and going to talk to Fekus, but Ava doesn’t give them much credit for being smart about it. She asks Raylan what would happen if she walked away from being a CI, and Raylan tells her she’ll go back to jail. If she keeps cooperating, and giving them good information on Boyd, though, she’ll get a place in the WitSec program. Ava tells Raylan that she just wants cash and she’ll disappear on her own, but that’s not an option that Raylan recognizes. He insists that Ava meet him face to face at the junkyard, and Ava throws her really nice iPhone out of the car window in frustration.
As mentioned above, Tim and Rachel are far too smart to go barging into Fekus’s home. They notice the man watching the house and keep driving, so for the moment, Ava’s still safe. Phew!
Meanwhile, Wynn Duffy and his henchman Mikey (Jonathan Kowalsky) are having a truly one-sided Scrabble match. Wynn is surprisingly tolerant of the fact that Mikey just makes up words like “aplex” (as in “I don’t like that guy, he aplexes me” and “You look aplexed” to Wynn when Wynn gets word that Fekus has left his house.)
Raylan waits in vain for Ava at the junkyard, and eventually realizes that she’s tossed her phone and that he’s going to require backup on this one! So he reaches out to the pocket-sized superhero, Constable Bob (Patton Oswalt), last seen helping Drew Thompson escape the Detroit mafia back in Season 4. Raylan tells Bob that this operation requires zipped lips, to which Bob says that “my shit is zipped.” (Bob is a treasure so I’m going to quote liberally from his lines!)
Bob is delighted to learn that he’s meant to be following Ava, whom he still remembers fondly from high school. Raylan and Bob figure out that Ava’s probably gone to see Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson) because that’s where she went when she was in trouble before.
They are correct (the more things change, etc.); Ava has indeed gone to Limehouse, who asks whether she’s running from Boyd or the law. Either one is a bad idea, and will end up causing Limehouse problems. Ava offers him cash and her diamond ring to help her get a new car, but that’s not even worth Limehouse’s time talking to her. Ava says she knows where Limehouse can get lots and lots of money and Limehouse takes the bait because he’s heard about the bank robbery Boyd pulled off earlier. He sends Errol (Demetrius Grosse) with Ava to get her a car and then have her lead them to the money.
Meanwhile, Boyd is working on his Avery Markham 2.0 impression by sending Carl to threaten people so they’ll sell their land to him. I think he’s also planning to use Avery’s money in the safe at the pizza parlor to buy the land out from under Avery’s nose, which is exactly the kind of breathtaking and fearless idea that makes me love Boyd. Part of Boyd’s plan involves an abandoned and very dangerous mine, which means they have to bring in another person to help out. Unfortunately, this person doesn’t feel very kindly towards Boyd, and threatened to fill him full of buckshot last time they met.
At the pizza parlor, Ty (Garret Dillahunt) and Seabass (Scott Grimes) are outraged that people are turning down Markham’s money (because Boyd’s been intimidating them); Choo Choo is much more concerned that the bartender is skimming $40 a night from the till. Tyler tells him that they have much bigger problems with the landowners, but Choo Choo doesn’t see the problem: if people won’t sell, they’ll kill them. Ty is in the middle of explaining that this method only worked that one time when Markham (Sam Elliott) walks in and makes Ty report on his failure.
Markham wants to know whether it’s Boyd or Raylan who is thwarting his business plans. He points out that whichever one it is somehow knows exactly which properties Markham intends to buy. He orders Ty to “shore up any leaks.” Uh oh! So far both Boyd and Raylan have seen Calhoun Schreier’s (Brad Leland) secret ledger of properties, but of course, Markham and his crew don’t even know that exists.
Meanwhile, Boyd and Carl approach the home of the guy whose help Boyd needs. Boyd carries some fine bourbon in hand as a peace offering to the wild man who comes out, rifle in hand. The man is Zachariah Randolph (Jeff Fahey), Ava’s uncle, who hates the Crowders because of the way Bowman treated Ava.
Ava and Errol continue to drive through town. Errol insists that despite the deal Ava thought she made, Limehouse told him to make sure they got the money first and then Ava would get her car. Uh oh! There is no money, of course, so now Ava has another powerful person who’s soon going to be angry with her. They drive past Constable Bob, who calls Raylan.
Albert Fekus arrives at a motel, with a bottle of cheap champagne that he puts on ice to await the arrival of Cindy, his girlfriend for the evening. He preens as he answers the door, only to discover Wynn Duffy and Mikey, who want to talk about Ava Crowder. Well, this isn’t going to end well.
Boyd brings a couple more of his henchmen over and tries again with Zachariah, pointing out that although the Randolphs justifiably disliked Bowman’s treatment of Ava, “Ava taking Bowman’s life should have ameliorated the situation.” He offers Zachariah $10,000 and a chance to do some interesting work, and this time he hooks the guy.
Fekus insists that the only reason he exonerated Ava was because he couldn’t bear the thought of Ava’s being killed because of something he did. “You had a crisis of conscience,” Wynn sneers, and Fekus is genuinely bewildered by these words because he has no idea what they mean.
Mikey and Wynn don’t believe Fekus, who tells them he’ll say whatever they want him to say. Unfortunately, they want him to say it after they poke him with a cattle prod, which looks and sounds every bit as painful as one might imagine.
Rachel and Tim are watching on a monitor from the next room as Fekus withstands repeated applications of the cattle prod and doesn’t give Ava’s deal with the Feds away. Finally he says that he loved Ava and wanted her to stop suffering, and Wynn calls it off, saying that “if the sorry little shit knew anything, he would have spilled by now.” Mikey is “aplexed” that they aren’t planning to kill Fekus, but Wynn just asks for his promise not to say anything about the incident.
After they leave, Rachel and Tim emerge from hiding, and Rachel assures Fekus that he’s totally free now and owes nothing further to the Feds. Tim fist bumps him because “[Fekus] took that shit like a man. Uncle Sam thanks you for your cooperation.” I love Tim!
Ava, not knowing that her goose has been pulled right out of the oven by Fekus, Tim, and Rachel, and still determined to get the car she needs for her escape, plays for more time. She tells Errol that the cash is buried, and they have to get a shovel. Errol is smart enough to know not to let Ava go to the bathroom by herself and insists that she accompany him in selecting the shovel. I’m concerned that someone is going to get hit on the head with this shovel now!
Bob is still watching over outside the hardware store when Raylan pulls up behind him. Bob wants Raylan to notice his new, sweet ride, for which he had to pawn mint condition Star Wars figures and his AK-47. Raylan doesn’t care, telling Bob that he needs to get Errol out of the picture so Raylan can talk to Ava. Bob, who is about three feet shorter than Errol, asks Raylan what he should do if Errol doesn’t cooperate. Raylan tells him that he’s got a badge and a set of balls and he’ll figure it out, so Bob adjusts his badge and his “set of Death Stars” and goes inside the store.
Using the flimsy excuse of some kind of arrest warrant which is actually a doodle on what looks like a napkin, Bob asks Errol to come outside with him. Errol refuses, and walks towards Bob who gets super nervous and tasers him (I think, given the height difference, that Bob actually gets him in the Death Stars, if you catch my drift.) Errol collapses unconscious from the pain. Yikes! There’s a lot of shock treatment going on in this episode.
Zachariah leads Boyd and his crew (now reduced to Carl, Earl and The Pig) through some watery sludgy place to the abandoned mine they are looking for, where they talk about some mine stuff that I’m not really clear on, except that the whole thing is dangerous and deep and also leaking methane. Predictably, Carl’s (Justin Welborn) idiot brother Earl (Ryan Dorsey) manages to cause an explosion by generating too many sparks with his chainsaw which interacts badly with the methane. No one is killed, however, and Boyd gets to look down a very, very deep mineshaft.
Meanwhile, Ava and Raylan talk, and by talk, I mean that they argue hammer and tongs. Raylan keeps insisting that he’s trying to keep Ava alive and Ava is sick of being yelled at by Raylan and of being constantly terrified of Boyd. (Hmmm, maybe she shouldn’t have gotten involved in all his criminal enterprises in years past and she wouldn’t be in this pickle now. I’m just saying!)
At his office, Calhoun Schreier bids his paid-by-the-hour lady love goodbye and just after she leaves, Seabass and Choo Choo show up to plug up the leak about Avery Markham’s property plans. They discuss the way they tortured people at Guantanamo, and Calhoun is clearly terrified, although he insists that he doesn’t know who’s behid the property purchases or how they knew which ones to purchase.
Seabass tells Choo Choo to give Calhoun a “starter tap” which unfortunately is like asking a stick of dynamite to give a genteel pop. Choo Choo hits Calhoun so hard that his head smacks against the floor. RIP Calhoun. At least it was really quick!
Raylan escorts Ava home, still arguing. He tells her that they’re going to finish the job they started and finish it together. I think he’s talking about that time when he had Ava as a witness against Boyd and could have put Boyd away for murder except that he and Ava slept together and totally tainted her testimony. Remember that time, Raylan, because I sense things might be headed in that direction again.
Ava tells Raylan she wants cash and a way out of the country and Raylan, never one to resist a damsel in distress, tells her he’ll find her a place where she’s safe, and happy, and can start over. Ava tells Raylan there’s a special hell for men who lie to women, and he tells her she doesn’t have to worry about that.
Ava leans in and kisses Raylan on the mouth. UH OH!
Boyd calls Ava, who tells Raylan that he should go. And Raylan, now looking a bit dreamy at the thought of being Ava’s white knight again, tells her he’s thinking of sticking around for a bit. It’s deja vu all over again, folks, with Raylan about to make yet another bad decision that’s based on his desperate need to see himself as a savior. Go to Florida, Raylan! Don’t do this!!
Regina Thorne is an avid reader of just about everything, an aspiring writer, a lover of old movies and current TV shows, and a hopeless romantic.