×
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

  • Netflix's Clarence Avant Doc 'Black Godfather'

    Barack Obama, P. Diddy, David Geffen Hail 'Black Godfather' Clarence Avant in Netflix Doc (Watch)

    The first trailer for “The Black Godfather,” Reginald Hudlin’s documentary about black entertainment trailblazer Clarence Avant, has been released. The film features interviews with Snoop Dogg, P. Diddy, David Geffen, Clive Davis, Diane Warren, Lionel Richie and Irving Azoff, among other industry titans. Former president Barack Obama also makes an appearance. Hudlin spent three years [...]

  • BBC Studios Names Anna Cronin Digital

    BBC Studios Names Anna Cronin Digital Content Director (EXCLUSIVE)

    Anna Cronin has been upped to director of digital content at BBC Studios, a new role at the production and distribution arm of the U.K. pubcaster. The position is within BBC Studios’ content partnerships division, which oversees the company’s programming and IP partnerships. Cronin will work with U.K. and international partners, and notably those in [...]

  • HBO Europe,The Mediapro Studio Lacoproductora Team

    HBO Europe, The Mediapro Studio, Lacoproductora Team On Comedy Series 'Whatever'

    MADRID — HBO Europe is adding to its growing Spanish slate with “Por H o por B,” a comedy series original produced by Globomedia, part of TV giant The Mediapro Studio and new Madrid-based company Lacoproductora. Written and directed by Manuela Burló Moreno, the 10-episode half-hour takes the characters from her Goya-nominated short film “Pipas,” [...]

  • Zombie Comedy ‘Zomboat!’ Sets Sail for

    Zombie Comedy ‘Zomboat!’ Sets Sail for ITV and Hulu

    The zombie apocalypse is coming to the U.K. and will be seen on British and U.S. TV after ITV and Hulu greenlit “Zomboat!” The upcoming comedy will star Leah Brotherhead (“White Gold”), Hamza Jeetooa (“Doctor Who”), Ryan McKen (“White Dragon”), and Cara Theobold (“Downton Abbey”). It will bow on the ITV2 channel this fall and [...]

  • Busy Philipps

    ACLU, Busy Philipps Take on Abortion Bans With #YouKnowMe Ad Campaign

    In the wake of revealing to “Busy Tonight” viewers that she had had an abortion — and creating the #YouKnowMe hashtag on social media — Busy Philipps is teaming up with the ACLU on a “You Know Me” ad campaign meant to rebut recent legislation in several states that restrict access to abortion. “You know [...]

  • LIVE IN FRONT OF A STUDIO

    TV Review: ABC's Live 'All in the Family' and 'The Jeffersons'

    In retrospect, it was only a matter of time before reboot and revival fever manifested as verbatim repeats — but if TV’s gonna go there, bringing back eerily timely shows like “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons” is the way to do it. That Norman Lear’s comedies are timely, or at least prescient, is [...]

  • WGA Agents Packaging Fight Placeholder

    Judge in Writers Guild Suit Against Agencies Replaced Again

    Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elaine W. Mandel has replaced Craig D. Karlan to handle the Writers Guild of America’s lawsuit against Hollywood’s four major talent agencies. Mandel was appointed Wednesday. She is the third judge assigned to the case, which was filed April 17 by the WGA against CAA, WME, UTA and ICM Partners [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content