This is it kids. This is the final stretch; the season finale of Justified. Our dear friend Raylan has been through a lot these past few weeks.
We pick up minutes after Quarles car exploded. We find out that poor trooper Tom Bergen didn’t make it. This saddens me a bit as I always liked Tom. Every side character Raylan interacted with seemed to have an ulterior motive. It was clear that Raylan didn’t really like dealing with unknown quantities, but it always seemed like Tom and Raylan were friends.
One bit of dialogue kinda hit me strange. Johnny was screaming to high heaven that Quarles was the one that put Tom down. Then we are told that Tom was conscious on the way to the hospital but didn’t confirm that Quarles was the triggerman. Here’s the sticky wicket; if Quarles was the shooter, this piece of dialogue is out of place and unnecessary, however if Quarles isn’t the shooter, then we got a bonafide who done-it on our hands. Since we never actually saw the shot, and judging by last week’s end with Tom in the full Weaver and Quarles with his pistol deployed, but not in hand, I’m inclined to believe the latter.
Raylan heads inside to find Boyd explaining what he remembers before he was knocked out. Boyd drops Duffy’s name to Raylan and Tim before Arlo stumbles in. Arlo shows up to give Raylan some guff before Boyd pulls him in the back room to discuss how crazy Arlo’s been recently.
Raylan arrives at Duffy’s trailer to find him all but gift wrapped. After a brief exchange Duffy denies any knowledge of the night’s events. Raylan is in no mood for bullshit. He reminds Duffy of Fogul’s favorite game, Russian roulette, puts a single round in a revolver, spins the barrel, and pulls the trigger. This is my very favorite scene with Jere Burns (Duffy). The switch from calm and collected to incredulous and panicked is great. Duffy goes from a man who knows that cops have rules, to one rabid dog staring at another, bigger dog wondering if it’s going to leave the exchange alive. Once again, in Duffy fashion, he spills his guts to save his own hide.
Boyd has a bit of a bone to pick with Limehouse. I guess one of Boyd’s buttons happens to be when people try to set him up to be killed or sent to prison. The two have a brief exchange on the bridge to Noble’s Holler before they decide that their business arrangement, for now, is at an end. Before the two part company Limehouse subtle tells Boyd he knows about Devil and his coup attempt. It will be interesting to find out how he knows such an exclusive tid-bit like that.
When Limehouse returns to his restaurant he’s greeted by an angrier than normal Raylan. Raylan wants answers for how the situation went down. Limehouse’s gang, still armed to the teeth, has Raylan at a disadvantage. Limehouse tells Raylan that he can’t promise him Quarles, but he may be able to deliver Boyd. Oh the tangled web he weaves.
The search for Quarles is on. They are checking every farmhouse, outhouse, dog house and any other structure Tommy Lee Jones suggests. Quarles shows up at a camp site and quickly takes a family of three hostage.
Sheriff Shelby, ensconced in the uniform of his new position, makes a call to Boyd to tell him that a warrant has been put out for his arrest for Devil’s murder. Shelby’s office was cut directly out of the loop because of the two’s previous relationship. He goes on to say that the two are now even for the debt Shelby owes Boyd. It will be interesting to see how the two characters move forward as Shelby is a good man and will try to do his job honestly. I believe that Boyd does indeed have a soft spot for the old man, but will that stop Boyd from building up his criminal enterprise? The seeds of season 4+ have begun to sow.
Quarles spends time getting to know his captives. There’s the single mom, the older son who had to grow up to fast, and the young boy that Quarles probably wants to do weird things to. Quarles breaks up the nostalgia session when he calls Theo Tonin. Quarles wants to come home so he asks Theo to name his price. The bill works out to $500,000. That’s $250,000 for the money Quarles owes for screwing up the business plan, and another $250,000 for shoving a gun in Sammy’s face. Looks like Quarles has some work to do.
Boyd starts to put the pieces together. He figures Limehouse is the one that tipped off the police about Devil’s untimely demise. Now all he has to do is find out who tipped off Limehouse. Lets take a look at the suspects. There’s Boyd, I’m sure he can eliminate himself. There’s Ava, she’s pretty much been following Boyd’s lead for a season and a half and genuinely cares about him, so I’m sure she’s out. That leaves cripple Johnny, who may or may not blame Boyd for being in a wheel chair; and batshit insane Arlo who would have a long argument with a tree about what pants to wear. Johnny reminds Boyd that he’s the one that tipped him off about Devil in the first place and Arlo blames his dead wife for squealing. I wonder which one is less trustworthy of telling a secret. Boyd makes the decision to go quietly.
Quarles ditches the mother of his two other hostages in the woods. Perhaps it would be easier to control the situation with one less person to watch; perhaps he has a weird soft spot for women. It could be that he wanted to touch the boys in their “special places” and he knows that a mother would die to stop it. I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough.
When the police come to pick Boyd up, Raylan is of course along for the ride. On the way out there is an almost tender moment between Raylan and Arlo. Before the two can have an extent period of closure on the nature of their complex relationship, Art tells Raylan that they have a line on Quarles.
Mrs. Jenson managed to find help along the road that Quarles dumper her on. She recounts he tale to Raylan and company. They mistakenly believe Quarles is going to be headed north back to Detroit. Raylan thinks however that there is something else afoot. Before Raylan can head back to the office he gets a call from Quarles telling him where to meet. Quarles uses the life of the two kids as insurance that Raylan comes alone. When Raylan arrives he is disarmed and taken captive. The gun that Quarles pulled out of Raylan’s belt looked remarkable like the gun Quarles used to shoot Gary and then planted in Wynona’s house. I wonder if that will bite him in the ass.
Limehouse is concluding his business with the war. Boyd is in custody, Quarles is on the run. His last bit of business is some housel cleaning. He tells Errol that he’s banished from Noble’s Holler. The move makes sense; Errol made a play for money that wasn’t his and undermined Limehouse’s authority. If he’d been allowed to stay it would have been a sign of Limehouse’s weakness, and Errol would have been a person to rally around for anyone that had a problem with Limehouse’s leadership. As the scene is wrapping up, and Limehouse receives a call from Johnny. It seems like it wasn’t Arlo that spilled the beans about Boyd killing Devil. It is also confirmed that Johnny does indeed hold Boyd responsible for his situation and ratted him out to take over control of the gang. Again, more seeds are planted for season 4+.
Ava however is still under the impression that Arlo may have slipped info to Ella May, and then through Dickey told Limehouse about Devil. This scene is definitely Ava’s tipping point. This is where I believe her character full breaks bad (to reference my other favorite currently running show). When she started down the path with Boyd, it was a slow crawl. First it was no crime dealings in the house. Then it was a little crime here and there, but no whores. Then whores were ok so long as she was the one who ran them. When she punches and threatens Ella May, she ceased to be the Ava from season 1 and is now fully dark side.
As Quarles and Raylan drive to Limehouse’s place, the pass Errol on his way out. Quarles wants to barter the life of Raylan and his young captive for the $500,000 he needs to return home. Initially Limehouse refuses. These aren’t his people, so this isn’t his problem. However, he’s smart enough to know that a dead white boy and a US Marshal would make Noble’s Holler a pretty bad place to live for his people. This is most assuredly true if Quarles also kills Limehouse and deprives the people of a proven, capable leader.
Much to Quarles’ delight, Limehouse relents and opens up his piggy bank. Literally, he has money hidden in a pig’s carcass. Limehouse comments to Raylan on the strangeness of threating him one day over the death of Tom Bergen and then letting his murderer (Quarles) get away the next day. Quarles is confused at the notion of him shooting Tom. Before he can answer Raylan question of who shot Tom, Errol crashes the party. He fires off a round at Quarles and is shot down in the process. As Raylan and Quarles wrestle over Quarles’ gun, Limehouse chops down with powerful fury, and a large fucking cleaver he’s been brandishing all season, and severs Quarles’ arm at the elbow. As he slowly bleeds out, Quarles confesses that it was Arlo that shot and killed Tom.
Raylan gets to do what he wanted to do way back in season 1, put Arlo behind bars. It has to be a bittersweet moment for him. Despite their complicated relationship, Arlo is still Raylan’s father. Arlo knows he’s going down for one murder, he figures he might as well save Boyd and takes the wrap for killing Devil as well. There is another one of those wonderful interactions between Boyd and Raylan that make their relationship so great. Boyd explains that Arlo was more of a father to him than his own father. It’s an interesting concept. Boyd was cast off by his father, Arlo was castoff by his son, and the two happened to find each other.
The season closes with what starts as a voice over. Raylan explains that Arlo’s nature was no surprise. We then flash to Winona at her sister’s house. He presumable told Winona the whole tale and obviously wants to reconnect. We’re left to ponder if Arlo shot Tom because he thought it was Raylan. It would reinforce the choices that Arlo has made over the past few years. He sided with the son he chose rather than the son he fathered.
As a whole this season was excellent. This show rides on the strength of its characters. To do that, you have to have actors that can pull it off. While show regulars like Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins are excellent as their respective characters, I would say that this season’s MVP is a tie between Mykelti Williamson. (Limehouse) and Neal McDonough (Quarles). These two actors felt like they belonged in the world, and had to do it within the confines of this single season. They weren’t just cookie cutter villains brought in to give Raylan something to do. They were characters first. There were points in the season where you felt bad for them, sympathized for them, and maybe even rooted for them. I am seriously considering putting these two roles up there with John Lithgow’s Dexter run as some of the best guest runs on an existing TV show. While Williamson will hopefully return in future episodes, it’s with regret that we must bid a farewell to Robert Quarles, and Justified.
Until next season you beautiful sons of bitches!