|Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television|
Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers which also once took a blow torch to a former Promised Land cast member.
One thing Justified tends not to be is obvious. When it gets the chance, it usually subverts the expectation. Like Boyd taking the long way round of finding Drew, assuming that Ava's plan would be more difficult (or, as I read it, having to rely on the generosity of others rather then doing it himself). The subversion there was, even Ava was expecting a fight, but everything practically fell into her lap. So it bruised me a little when the best way they could come up with to show Ava's grief and deterioration over the "killing" of Ellen May was to just crib a scene from Macbeth. Surely they might have come up with something a little less cliched then that?
Now, if we're talking less then cliched, we might as well jump right to the only reason this episode will have any lasting memory in the minds of fans, and that was the subdued but still unorthodox marriage proposal that came at the end. I talked some last week about the polarities that Raylan and Boyd inhabit, the sides to the coin that is them. Boyd started off this episode showing that he is the world's most polite home invaders, countering Raylan's continuing position as the most punchy Marshal. And just as Raylan cannot for the life of him find any stability with his personal life, Boyd and Ava have journeyed from in laws with firearms, to the King and Queen of Harlan. Boyd's aspirations for the future (another theme we'll get to in a minute) have a touch of Tywin Lannister to them, less concerned with his own lifetime, and looking out more for the generations to come. It's just a shame that the show chose such horrible music to put over the scene. I am also concerned, as happiness is never something that lasts on this show, and with Johnny's plans moving slowly ahead, that Boyd and Ava might be in for some grief before season's end.
Not surprisingly, since the season started in flashback, that time is very much a part of this season. Boyd and Raylan are each looking to the future, and the past keeps drawing them back. One of the better scenes this episode was Shelby's relating of his first killing of a man (which began with Raylan's honest admission that is has been a time since he drewdown on anyone). Jim Beaver is a boon to any show, and he keeps making Shelby an interesting character to watch (considering he started as a one off guest). That Raylan doesn't trust him because of his history with Boyd, and that Shelby doesn't trust Raylan because he's his father's son was a nice touch, and a quick way to bury the point that the past never leaves you behind. Which makes Boyd's hope that in three generations the name Crowder won't be looked down on a little dozy. The hills of Harlan have long memories.
One aspect I've enjoyed about this season was how separate the Boyd and Raylan story lines were keeping themselves. Last week was joyous, as it felt like the one place two roads meet, and go off again in their own directions. The Marshals do it their way, and the Dark Marshals do it theirs. So I was actually disappointed by Raylan and Boyd's brief scene together this week, partly because it added nothing to either's way. Sure, the banter was witty, but the whole thing could have played out without Raylan present, and imparted the same "move the plot forward" info. And I am concerned that by season's end, their roads might cross again, as Shelby drops Ellen May's name, which resulted in Raylans reserved but threatening "I liked Ellen May." I'd much rather that story stay out of the Lexington office, and in the hands of Shelby.
As an aside, I would warmly welcome any sub-plot that would result in Jim Beaver and Patton Oswalt teaming up together.
The kidnapping of Gerald McGrainy, who gets less quality lines this week then he did last last, but still is a lot of fun, didn't pay off in the way I suspect most were hoping. It was all rather hoe-hum and under developed, and saw the end of Arlo's lawyer far too quickly, considering it was only last week we learned she was dirty. It might have had more meat on it if the show hadn't, out of nowhere, decided to follow the also mirrored lieutenants of our bold leaders. Tim went off to help a friend, taking a page out of Raylan's "shit I know I shouldn't do" book which I'm sure will come back to bite him in the ass, and Cole got caught up in a hooker abuse subplot that seemed like filler. Cole's situation is not being handled well, and his "hunt" for Ellen May, while justified last week, now seems likely to be drawn out. Have we come across this season's "bag of stolen money" sub-plot? I liked the character when he was introduced, but now the shine is beginning to wear off.
So, it was a night of moments rather then a whole. Joelle Carter's breakdown scene was well acted, but I felt cut short by them then having to go out and look at the lights of Harlan. It disrupted the tension, and it should be said, does not solve her problem of being haunted by Ellen May. When the truth comes out, I can't yet tell if it'll be a good thing or not for the soon to be again Mrs. Crowder. The use, yet again, of the promiscuous Roz, now seemed unnecessary, but again, provided some good moments with the large Native fellow. And Art, in his brief pun-filled appearance at the start, provided the night's most solid laughs.
Next week should prove to be a marked improvement over this, as the story credit is given to the creator himself, Elmore Leonard. Might this be the appearance of novel character Jackie Nevada I've been waiting for, or do they have something else in store?