‘Justified’ Finale Cleverly Sets Up Final-Season Showdown

Justified FX

In hindsight, it’s pretty impressive how enjoyable “Justified’s” fifth season turned out to be, given some of the prominent things that were wrong with it. Yet the season finale of FX’s drama — which has a way of meandering, usually in enjoyable ways — deftly set up a sixth and final season that, as star Timothy Olyphant had telegraphed, will ultimately come down to the central trio of Raylan, Boyd and Ava.

Getting back to those roots (and Spoiler Alert if you haven’t watched as yet) and the long-simmering tensions surrounding Olyphant’s U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, his boyhood-chum-turned-criminal Boyd (Walton Goggins) and Ava (Joelle Carter), the woman who has bedded them both, takes the series back full circle to season one, and capitalizes on the resourcefulness Boyd has exhibited in surviving this long in the show’s grimy, cutthroat world.

That scenario also not only brings together the parallel tracks that characterized season five (with Boyd and Raylan’s stories operating separately, for the most part, while cleverly intersecting) but helps explain the protracted Ava-in-prison scenario — which at times felt like “Justified’s” less-appealing version of “Orange is the New Black” — as an excuse to have her turn informant against Boyd, a story line with oodles of potential.

Despite consistently being one of FX’s most enjoyable series, “Justified” has gotten by of late by relying on smaller moments and peripheral players, in part because the bad guys weren’t quite as interesting as the galvanizing characters (played by the likes of Margo Martindale and Neal McDonough) who enlivened the show in the past. Simply put, Michael Rapaport’s hillbilly family patriarch — while menacing — didn’t rise to the level of earlier threats other than perhaps the more perilous edges of his accent, although his assorted cast of nitwit relatives was highly entertaining.

Similarly, the program has excelled in casting comic actors in more serious roles (while still using them to extract disarming laughs) as well as conjuring unexpected dynamics, like pairing real-life brothers Steve and Wood Harris as a pair of menacing-yet-amusing enforcers.

Alas, prolific crime author Elmore Leonard — who died last August — didn’t live to see the series, one of the finer adaptations of his work, through to next season’s conclusion. But inasmuch as showrunner Graham Yost has talked about using his blessing as the producers’ guiding light and employing “What Would Elmore Do?” as a writers’ room mantra, season six looks set up to send “Justified” out on a high note.

Ultimately, “Justified” has always played like a classic western outfitted in modern garb. So what better way to end it than with a lawman, an outlaw and, after some protracted shenanigans, an old-fashioned showdown?

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  1. Joan Post-Brown says:

    Justified is the best series on TV. Please don’t take it off! At the very least, some sequels?

  2. Jamie Clayton says:

    I agree, the only way for a outlaw, and Lawman and childhood friends to boot well pardon the pun go out in a blaze of glory. Justified has been a wonderful show and I can’t wait for the final season do I wish that there were more of course but all good things must come to an end.

  3. Brenda Harvey says:

    This really sucks!!!!! We and all our friends get together and watch Justified all the time, waiting for the next and then the next. We were told about the series and then we tell a bunch of people and they tell a bunch of people. It is a great show, please reconsider ending the show it is such a highlight for us on Tuesday. PLEASE DON’T END IT.
    Thank you
    Brenda Harvey

  4. tracester says:

    I thought this season was very good. Michael Rappaport just walked in and took over. He should win some kind of award. I was much more interested in the dynamics of the Crowes than the Ava storyline. I thought most of what happened in the whole prison thing was predictable.

  5. Not the strongest season, but it’s a fantastic show and I couldn’t be more excited about the Raylan/Boyd face-off of season six.

    My review of tonight’s finale: http://www.untemperedtv.com/?p=783

  6. jonathan young says:

    i wish this show could continue for years……cannot remember enjoying tv more…thank you

  7. Marie says:

    Can you tell us a little bit about raylans back ground. What movies or shows he’s played in the past

    • bhammel103 says:

      If you want to watch Tim O. in something amazing, check out HBO’s Deadwood. He plays a character that is not too different from Raylan. WARNING: Deadwood has A LOT of swearing. If that bothers you, that might not be a show for you but it has some amazing actors, some amazing writing.

    • Jane says:

      I love the program Justified and will deeply miss it when it ends. I feel that the decision to shut it down prematurly is not fair to fans just as end X_Files ending was.

      I have seen many of Timothy Olyphant’s movies, Hitman, Perfect Getaway, I Am Number Four, Catch and Release, among others and loved him in all of them. I wish the powers that be will reconsider ending Justified.

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