We’re almost halfway through the final season of Justified, and given how great this season is turning out to be, I’m truly pained to type those words! In Episode 6.06, “Alive Day”, Ava’s (Joelle Carter) position between a rock and a hard place seems to be getting more slippery by the day while Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns), Avery Markham (Sam Elliott), and Katherine Hale (Mary Steenburgen) are tangled up in a cat’s cradle of double-, triple- and quadruple-crosses. Meanwhile, Raylan’s (Timothy Olyphant) wayward ways are a cross that Rachel (Erica Tazel) has to bear and Choo Choo (Duke Davis Roberts), nicknamed for an inanimate object, suddenly becomes the most painfully human of Avery Markham’s henchman.
The episode begins with Boyd (Walton Goggins) coming back to Ava’s place and finding Raylan’s car parked out front. Raylan makes it clear that he’s there on “Marshal Business” and asks about Dewey Crowe. I still think that Dewey is inadvertently going to throw a monkey wrench in Boyd’s plans from beyond the grave, because that’s what he did when he was alive, and also we got the shot of Earl (Ryan Dorsey) draping his crocodile tooth necklace in Boyd’s bar. That can’t have been a coincidence! And it would be such an Elmore Leonard ending if it’s actually Dewey’s murder that ends up getting Boyd put away. But I digress! In response to Raylan’s questions, Boyd tries to finger Markham’s gang for anything that may have happened to Dewey by saying that Dewey was headed to the pizza parlor when Boyd last saw him. Boyd also gets into a very public display of affection with Ava which is also a pissing contest with Raylan.
At Calhoun Schreier’s office, Sea Bass (Scott Grimes), Choo Choo, and Ty (Garret Dillahunt) examine the corpse of the late realtor. Sea Bass says that Calhoun’s regular hooker/girlfriend saw them come into the office, so Ty orders Sea Bass to kill her. Sea Bass cavils at always having to “clean up” after his large and terrifying buddy, and Choo Choo says he’ll kill her because this is his mess for punching Calhoun too hard. None of the three want Avery to know about the murder because this is the second time they’ve screwed up and, as we know, Avery’s management style includes disposing of his henchmen’s body parts if they don’t do their jobs right.
Ava’s Uncle Zachariah (Jeff Fahey) stops by to collect Boyd for their second attempt at the deserted old mine. He has a brief chat with Ava about when Ava was a kid and her father died after being trapped in a mine collapse, and then Zachariah regrets he was unable to stop Ava from marrying Bowman Crowder. Ava tells Zachariah that Boyd is nothing like Bowman. Boyd comes out to tell Ava that Errol will be installed in her guestroom to “protect” her. Now, Errol’s no Dewey Crowe, but he’s not far up the evolutionary ladder from that alligator-tooth-loving would-be mastermind, so I’m not sure how much protection Errol could possibly be against Avery Markham. Ava asks Boyd whether it was really a good idea to hire Zachariah, and Boyd tells her that he needs her uncle’s expertise.
Avery and Katherine are both wrapped up in hotel bathrobes after one of their assignations. Katherine comes in from the bathroom to find an enormous diamond ring waiting for her. Avery proposes that they get married, but Katherine doesn’t exactly leap at this opportunity. She tells Avery that, between them, they have multiple failed marriages and she prefers to keep things as they are. Avery tells her to come clean about being the snitch who sent her husband Grady to prison, but of course, she isn’t the snitch, and believes that Avery was the man who betrayed his partner, her husband Grady Hale. Katherine promises to think over Avery’s offer.
Unfortunately for Choo Choo, Ty, and Sea Bass, Calhoun’s body is found almost immediately on the deserted trail where they’d left it, because it’s bearhunting season in Harlan County. The homicide detectives have called in Raylan and Tim (Jacob Pitts) because they found Raylan’s card on Calhoun’s body, and they tell Raylan the interesting detail that
Calhoun seems to have been killed by a single punch. They can actually see the knuckle marks in Calhoun’s head, and one of them describes it as “almost as if he were run over by a truck.” Or a choo choo train.
As soon as Raylan and Tim hear that, they know exactly where to look for their prime suspect. Avery, Ty, and Sea Bass come out for a meet and greet, and it turns out, much to Raylan’s surprise, that Avery doesn’t know anything about Calhoun’s death.
Meanwhile, Choo Choo is out tracking down the hooker who was with Calhoun and who can identify him and Sea Bass. They make small talk about how just because someone talks slowly, it doesn’t mean that he’s unintelligent. The girl manages to charm Choo Choo enough that he feels guilty about killing her. (By the way,Duke Davis Roberts, the actor who plays Choo Choo, is just fantastic!)
Boyd, Zachariah, The Pig (Shawn Parsons), and Carl (Justin Welborn) go down the mine. Zachariah rips into Carl for bringing a gun into the mineshaft, and makes Boyd make Carl get rid of it. Carl waits for them near the entrance. Uh oh!
At the Marshals’ Office, Art (Nick Searcy) comes in to ask Rachel about the Hale task force of which she was a part. As far as Rachel knows, there was no snitch; the case was made through wiretaps. Art asks whether Markham could have been the snitch, and Rachel tells him it’s certainly a possibility because Markham and Katherine were sleeping together and still are, if their CI Ava is to be believed. Art asks why Rachel doesn’t trust Ava, and Rachel replies that she thinks Ava tried to run away the day before, or Raylan and Ava are sleeping together, or both.
“What a dumbass!” Art says about Raylan. Yes, but he’s our dumbass!
Rachel tells Art that if she can confirm what she suspects then she has to pull Raylan and then their case goes up in smoke because Ava can’t be a CI any more. She asks Art what he’d do. Art says nothing but Rachel goes on to say that Art would let it go, wouldn’t risk the case to save his own ass, realizing that she may soon have to make that same tough call.
Tim and Raylan sit outside the pizza parlor and discuss Markham. They’re both agreed that he seemed surprised about Calhoun’s death. “Wonderful things can happen when you sow seeds of distrust in a garden of assholes,” Raylan muses. Like Tim, I want him to say it slowly so I can write it down.
Raylan gets a call from Ava who whispers to him about Zachariah’s visit, and tells him she is being watched by Errol. Raylan tells her not to be Nancy Drew but thanks her for the information.
Katherine and Wynn, my favorite murderous and botoxed couple, discuss Avery’s proposal of marriage to Katherine. Wynn drives himself crazy trying to remember whether it’s four or five “Cs” for diamond purchasing and what they are. Wynn also asks Katherine if she was the snitch who put Grady away. Katherine vehemently denies that, so Wynn points out that Avery may be playing Katherine, that the diamond ring may be a way for him to lull her suspicions. “Either way,” Wynn points out, “we’re going to have to kill him.” Katherine says that if Avery is playing her, they’re going to have to kill him slowly.
Having heard the whole story from Ty, Avery tells Ty they’re going to have to kill Choo Choo. Through some miracle of storytelling and acting, I’m not at the point where I feel sorry for Choo Choo, especially after Ty tells the horrific story of how Choo Choo was injured. Avery is all “for the good of the many, the few must be sacrificed,” so Ty eventually reluctantly agrees to kill his former comrade.
In the woods (again, because these people never learn about things like bear-hunts), Choo Choo calls Ty and says there must be another way because the girl said she wouldn’t betray their involvement in Calhoun’s death. Ty tells Choo Choo they should be having the conversation face-to-face.
At her house, Ava discovers that she doesn’t have to whisper conversations to Raylan because Errol is sitting there with enormous headphones on his ears listening to thrash music. Ava could probably clog dance while she put Raylan on speakerphone and Errrol still wouldn’t hear a thing. After she hang up, she pumps Errol for information and he tells her which mineshaft Boyd and the others went down.
At the mine, Zachariah and Boyd drill the ceiling. Zachariah asks Boyd to hand him an oil can; Boyd steps wrong and falls through a rotting board. Do not fear, Boyd lovers! Uncle Zachariah manages to use his expertise in a mine to rescue Boyd. If only someone could rescue Ava!
Ty and two other henchmen show up to the spot in the woods that Choo Choo has chosen for his crisis of conscience. Before they can kill Choo Choo or the girl, Raylan and Tim show up and overhear Ty ordering Choo Choo to commit murder. Tim and Raylan try to get Choo Choo to switch sides by telling him (quite truthfully) that Ty’s come to kill him. Tim asks why Choo Choo is still taking orders even though he’s not in the army; Choo Choo says taking Ty’s orders is all he’s got. Suddenly, I start to feel quite bad for Choo Choo because he’s clearly not long for this world. Raylan and Tim get into a shooout with Ty and his men, klilling both of his henchmen and wounding Choo Choo and Ty, both of whom get away in separate cars.
Down in the mine, Zachariah and The Pig keep working, even though Boyd had to bow out earlier due to shock. The Pig notices that the boards where Boyd fell weren’t rotten but sawn through, so Zachariah pushes him down the mineshaft before he can share his observations with anyone else.
In the woods, Raylan speaks to Rachel, who tells him that the hooker told the police what happened with Choo Choo, Sea Bass, and Calhoun and they have an APB out on Choo Choo and Ty. Rachel asks Raylan how his CI is, and Raylan tells her that Ava is fine.
After the shootout, Choo Choo drives his car over some railroad tracks and parks in the middle, and I have that weird twinge of sadness and pity for him again. The train actually manages to stop before it hits Choo Choo’s car, but he’s dead anyway from blood loss after getting woudned by Raylan’s gun (presumably.)
Boyd returns home from the mine to find Ava listening to thrash with Errol; he pretends to be slightly jealous, but of course, isn’t. It’s already very idyllic until Boyd gets a phone call from Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson). Limehouse promises Boyd information: “something you don’t even know you don’t know” before he asks whether Ava told Boyd anything about what she had done the day before and the episode ends on an evil cliffhanger!
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.