×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Justified’ Series Finale Goes Out With Its Boots On (SPOILERS)

FX has produced noisier series over the years that “Justified” has graced its schedule, but none better. The final season has been a particular treat, with terrific cast additions (topped by Sam Elliott and Mary Steenburgen) that augmented the central focus on the trio of Raylan, Boyd and Ava. Expectations were thus high for the series finale, which stayed true to the program’s modern-cowboy ethos as well as the heady mixture of drama, comedy and tension that has always defined the dynamics among its key players.

As usual, this adaptation of an Elmore Leonard story (which included a classy ending-credits thank-you to its late pappy) juggled a multitude of plots, and even by this season’s standards had to hustle to bring resolution to most of them. At its core, though, the entire finishing flurry has been devoted to the determination of U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) to tidy up loose ends regarding Boyd (Walton Goggins) and Ava (Joelle Carter) before relocating to Miami to be near his baby daughter.

In the finale (and SPOILER ALERT if you haven’t watched), credited to a handful of writers and directed by Adam Arkin, Raylan and Boyd did indeed face off. Yet Raylan ultimately couldn’t make good on his pledge to kill Boyd, instead putting him back in prison, where the two exchanged a moment at the very end that niftily captured their longstanding bond, essentially just two sides of the same coin. (Truth be told, Boyd’s final line, “We dug coal together,” came through a bit garbled, but the sentiment — the fine line separating cop and criminal in these hardscrabble precincts — was crystal clear.)

Similarly, Raylan’s willingness to let Ava go, having finally located her four years after her escape, felt right, as did his attempt to secure her peace of mind by lying to Boyd about Ava’s fate. Given all that’s transpired among them, that merciful act — and just allowing Raylan to be part of his child’s life — was probably as close to “happily ever after” as “Justified” could reasonably venture.

In a sense, the foundation for this first-rate finale was laid throughout this sixth season (witness the jaw-dropping exit of Steenburgen’s character) and throughout the last episode. That included an old-fashioned gunfight between Raylan and the gun-twirling henchman (Jonathan Tucker) who had clearly been itching for such a showdown since the two first laid eyes upon each other, following Boyd’s brutal shootout with Elliott’s Markham and his gang.

There was certainly a degree of symmetry in the casting of Elliott, someone so born for cowboy roles it’s a wonder he and “Justified” hadn’t crossed paths sooner — and who would have made a great Raylan himself a few years back. The series has a long history of memorable villains (hats off to Margo Martindale and Neal McDonough, to name two), but with Elliott, Steenburgen and other smaller roles this season, such as the “Of Mice and Men”-like Choo Choo, this season was as good as any.

A word, too, about Olyphant, who with this series and “Deadwood” on his resume, has enjoyed a better career in cowboy hats than seems possible, given how far Westerns have fallen out of favor from their TV and movie heyday. Nor should the combination of wry humor and tough-guy bravado he brought to the role be downplayed just because the actor made it look easy.

That sense of effortlessness, frankly, might explain why “Justified” was sometimes forgotten in the discussion of great dramas — widely lauded by critics, yes, but anointed with scant attention in awards circles. (Martindale’s slightly miscategorized supporting-actress Emmy represented one happy exception.)

Still, this was a series that exhibited with humor, not condescension, a rare feel for low-life society, churning out hilariously eccentric figures like Dewey Crowe (Damon Herriman) and his misbegotten family, or Patton Oswalt’s Constable Bob. The writers also managed to serve up these Southern-fried characters without resorting to reality-TV-style caricature.

Even the abundance of praise heaped on the show in the run-up to the finale likely won’t be enough to jump-start its awards prospects at this stage, so an “atta boy” and slug of Kentucky bourbon will probably have to suffice. Then again, given the code by which the series lived — as showrunner Graham Yost has put it, “What would Elmore do?” — “Justified” should derive considerable satisfaction from having splendidly answered that question and gone out not only on its own terms, but with its boots on.

More TV

  • Jussie Smollett court

    Charges Against Jussie Smollett Dropped, Lawyers Say

    Charges against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett have been dropped, his lawyers confirmed to Variety. The actor had been indicted on 16 counts of filing a false police report, stemming from his alleged staging of a Jan. 29 hate attack. “Today, all criminal charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped and his record has been wiped clean [...]

  • How Will Apple TV+ Impact Netflix?

    How Will Apple TV+ Shake Up Netflix? Analysts Are Split

    Is Apple’s star-fueled streaming service a “Netflix killer” — or just another incremental challenger chasing the market leader? Wall Street isn’t sure if Apple TV+ will put a big dent in Netflix’s subscriber momentum with the debut of its premium subscription VOD service later this year. At its splashy unveiling Monday, Apple trotted out a [...]

  • Federation Entertainment Acquires Israeli Series 'In

    Federation Entertainment Acquires Popular Israeli Series 'In The Spectrum' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Federation Entertainment has acquired distribution rights to Dana Idisis and Yuval Shafferman’s critically acclaimed original Israeli series “On The Spectrum” which took home the top Grand Jury Prize at Series Mania last year after premiering at Tribeca. Produced by Sumayoko Productions and YesStudios, “On The Spectrum” was commissioned and broadcast on Israel’s premium platform YesTV [...]

  • European Union Placeholder

    European Parliament Gives Final Approval to Controversial Article 13 Copyright Directive

    The European Parliament on Tuesday gave final approval to Article 13, a controversial part of a wider directive that shakes up the rules around copyright in the European Union. The new rules will have ramifications for online platforms, content owners and creators, and the general public. The proposed new framework, now approved, has sparked widespread [...]

  • Fox Disney Layoffs

    Fox Studio Quickly Fades Away as Disney Starts Work on Integration

    In the waning days of 21st Century Fox, there was a run on the searchlight. As Disney neared the completion of its $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox, employees on the Fox lot rushed into the studio’s gift shop to pick up mugs, shot glasses, sweatshirts, hats and T-shirts emblazoned with 20th Century Fox’s [...]

  • Purple

    French Women’s Drama ‘Purple’ Wins Series Mania Co-Pro Pitching Sessions

    LILLE, France — At an awards ceremony on Monday night, French drama series “Purple” was announced as the winner of the Series Mania Co-Pro Pitching Sessions, scoring a cash prize of €50,000 ($56,500), the TV festival’s main industry award. The ceremony was hosted by Series Mania founder and general director Laurence Herszberg and jury president [...]

  • Osmosis

    Netflix Unveils Four More French Originals, 'Gims,' 'Anelka,' 'Move,' 'Of Earth And Blood'

    As it prepares to open a fully-staffed office in France and ramp up its investment in local originals, Netflix has unveiled three new documentaries, “Move” (working title), “Gims” (working title), and “Anelka” (working title), and the feature film “Of Earth And Blood” while at Series Mania in Lille. Announced during a panel with Netflix’s commissioning [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content