TV Editor’s Note: This blog entry contains analysis and a recap of “Justified‘s” season premiere, titled “Fate’s Right Hand.” If you have an aversion to spoilers, please stop reading now.
More intoxicating than high-class bourbon, more thrilling than a silent stand-off between gunfighters, Raylan Givens’s unshakable self-confidence (honed to perfection by Timothy Olyphant‘s performance) is the special ingredient that makes “Justified” worth watching, even following a deeply flawed fifth season. It pains me to write that, but it’s true — season five was not just a disappointment, but almost entirely skippable*. I only say this because if you’re coming in to the series completely fresh, with the intent of binging previous seasons to catch up with the rest of us, save yourself the time. The “Previously On…” pre-season six recap does a fine job of skimming the details; besides, that season only postpones the inevitable showdown between Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) and Raylan, which season six is building toward.
(Editor’s note: I changed my verdict to “skippable” after using a term that, upon second thought, was probably too harsh. We are hardest on the ones we love, after all. )
“Justified’s” sixth season premiere, “Fate’s Right Hand,” is a riveting prologue to the face-off Raylan knows is coming — and, based on what we see during this hour, Boyd clearly suspects is on the horizon. Before getting into IMDb user DeanSpeir‘s excellent recap, a few additional thoughts…
- We’ll say it many more times before the final season ends, but one thing I’ll certainly miss about “Justified” is the excellent writing. Although the late, great Elmore Leonard, who created the character of Raylan Givens for his short story “Fire in the Hole,” is no longer with us, series executive producer Graham Yost and his writing team still make sure the soul of Leonard’s prose embroiders every scene. It’s clearly there in the portentous exchange between Raylan and Ava (Joelle Carter) on the bridge, and it’s there as he visits a recovering Art (Nick Searcy) to share some bourbon and news. Art and Raylan’s exchange was a simple one, but infused with such quiet emotion, as Art asks Raylan to consider the possibility of one Boyd’s bullets finding him instead of the other way around. If there were ever a time for Raylan’s luck to run out, it’s during the last season of this show.
- Speaking of the tendency to clean house during a drama’s final season, while we enjoyed watching the idiotic exploits of the character who departs in this episode, it was time for that person to go.
- Huge credit goes to Goggins for making Boyd such a multifaceted, sympathetic murderous thug. He’s the reason we really hope that Boyd, in spite of everything, somehow avoids the fate he so obviously deserves. But his love for Ava is true, and the ways he shows it in this episode are touching. Yet the final frame of “Fate’s Right Hand” makes me wonder how deeply Boyd’s descent will go as the season rolls along.
Keep reading for DeanSpeir‘s full blow-by-blow recap of the season premiere.
Wynona (Natalie Zea) talks to her and Raylan’s baby daughter Willa, wondering when he’s going to make his long-overdue appearance with them in Florida.
Rylan is down in Nuevo Laredo in a bar looking for a Federale named Aguilar (Rolando Molina) who comes on real hard-arse when the visiting U.S. Deputy Marshal, assuring the man that he’s not looking to cause anyone any trouble, wants some information about men who might have walked away from a truck smuggling heroin in the Mexican desert. When the man is especially insulting to Raylan and his Marshal’s badge, Raylan takes a hint and, conversationally telling Aguilar that he’ll see him later, saunters out of the bar.
That “later” is at closing time when an inebriated Aguilar staggers to his official car, and as he is leaving the parking lot, is slammed into by Raylan’s vehicle. He comes to later that day in Raylan’s trunk at a deserted desert location on American soil. It’s rarely to anyone’s benefit to play hard-arse with Raylan Givens!
Boyd Crowder wakes up in the middle of the night, cleans himself up and heads out. Picking up confederate Earl (Ryan Dorsey) later, he heads into town and visits a bank where he rents a safety deposit box from Bank Manager Joyce Kipling (Pamela Bowen). After she escorts Boyd into the safety deposit box vault and helps him access his new rental, she is distracted by Earl as Boyd takes a spray can and “paints” a section of boxes with some sort of clear substance.
Ava awakens to find Boyd performing maintenance on their front porch. He talks to her in general terms about their future, while she tells him she’s returned to her old job at the local beauty parlor. After chiding Boyd for drinking so early in day, she surreptitiously takes a long pull of vodka straight from the bottle while retrieving Boyd’s requested beer.
At the U.S. Marshal’s headquarters, acting Chief Deputy Rachel Brooks (Erica Tazel) and Assistant U.S. Attorney David Vasquez (Rick Gomez) explain that Dewey Crowe is about to be set free and that Raylan’s not allowed to harrass him or come within 1,000 feet of him, the result of Dewey’s successful civil case (“Justified: A Murder of Crowes (#5.1)“).
Dewey leaves prison and is met by Raylan who runs a bluff on Dewey about him being extradited to Mexico for killing Johnny Crowder (“Justified: Raw Deal (#5.7)“). Dewey hangs tough and sets off on the prison bus to start the rest of his life.
Returning to his favorite bar/brothel, he finds it shut down, seized by the U.S. Government. Out back, he is overjoyed to spot one of his “prized possessions,” his ceramic turtle dog, in a refuse pile. Reclaiming it, he heads to a local diner where he is waited on by “Mina,” a former employee of Audry’s who’s resumed her given name, Abigail (Aubrey Wood).
Raylan visits Ava at work and takes her outside to remind her that her freedom is dependent of the information she provides about Boyd’s activities. The chain-smoking Ava is worried, and talkssome, but doesn’t come clean about Boyd’s grand escape plan for leaving Harlan and making a new life for them in some place like Mexico or Costa Rica.
Boyd goes to the late Johnny Crowder’s bar and asks Carl (Justin Welborn) where Earl and “The Pig” are. He tells Boyd that Dewey is in the back. Boyd has Carl frisk Dewey then interrogates him about how he isn’t in prison, Dewey explains the circumstances, and tells Boyd that he “just wants back in,” and desperately wants Boyd to trust him again. Boyd has Carl throw him out the back door.
Raylan checks in with Deputy U.S. Marshal Tim Gutterson (Jacob Pitts) at Arlo’s house where the marshals have set up a command post while tracking Boyd’s activities. Tim has recent photos of Boyd and a known drug dealer. Just then they notice an unknown civilain in a pricy foreign sedan in the driveway. Raylan, flanked by Tim, goes out and gives the visitor (Garret Dillahunt) a hard time for trespassing, but the man has a plausible story about seeing the “For Sale” sign and wanting to purchase the property, for cash, on the spot. Raylan is not only unimpressed at the man’s briefcase full of cash “Forgive me if I ain’t the run-of-the-mill tater tot whose eyes go all pinwheel at a stack of stolen money” but makes it clear that he wouldn’t sell to him in any case. The man leaves, telling Raylan that if he changes his mind, he won’t be hard to get in touch with. Raylan tells him, “You have no idea!”
Tim and Raylan go off “to pay a call on Cyrus,” and use Crackpot (Cascy Beddow), a local addict, to gain access to the heroin dealer’s (Bill Tangradi) premises where, after an aborted escape attempt they press him for information.
Back at the bar, Carl reports to Boyd that while Earl has returned, Cyrus has gone missing. A frustrated Boyd hears Dewey out in the bar shooting pool. He strides purposefully into the bar and tells Dewey, “You want back in? I got a job that needs doing.” “Anything you say, Boyd,” the mildly surprised Dewey says, “Anything. Hell, yeah!”
Raylan and Tim surveil Boyd, Carl, Dewey and the rest of Boyd’s crew, and watch as Dewey drives away in Boyd’s yellow wrecker with a banged up car on its hook. Tossing a mental coin, Tim elects to follow Dewey who, after a time, comes upon a Kentucky State Police roadblock which he decides to bluff his way through. Refusing KSP Officer LaPlante’s (Chet Grissom) direction to get out of the truck, Dewey announces himself and his belief that he’s an untouchable due to his successful civil suit. He runs the roadblock, has a tire shot out, and with the Deputy Marshals in pursuit, leads them on a brief chase until he loses control and crashes. While Raylan roughly gets Dewey under control, Tim finds a large duffle bag in the trunk of the car on tow. They force Dewey to open it just as the KSP vehicles arrive.
Much to everyone’s surprise, including Dewey’s, it’s full of nothing but clothing. The Deputy Marshals realize that following Boyd and his crew would have been much more productive for at that same moment, they are taking down the bank Boyd had visited earlier.
With hooded ski masks and shotguns, Boyd and his crew barge into the bank, fire some buckshot into the ceiling, put everyone on the floor and use their winch-equipped pick-up truck to rip out the bank of safety deposit boxes which Boyd identifies with an ultraviolet light from the substance he had sprayed on previously.
After the robbery crew makes a successful escape, Raylan and Tim join the responding police to inspect the scene, and ruefully second guess Tim’s decision to trail Dewey rather than Boyd and his crew.
That evening Raylan reaches out to Ava and they meet on the bridge. He leans on her for not holding up her end and not providing information about Boyd’s banking activities. She’s having a crisis of confidence, so Raylan gives her a pep talk about her already proven abilities, citing the “acting job” she’d done just before killing her first husband Bowman. She leaves the bridge with renewed confidence.
In the rear of the Crowder bar, Boyd, The Pig (Shawn Parsons), Earl and Carl inspect their take from the broken open safety deposit boxes. There doesn’t seem to be any money. Boyd, however, thinks the ledger they have retrieved was worth the effort but doesn’t explain.
Raylan pays a call on Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Art Mullen (Nick Searcy), recuperating at home from his near fatal gunshot wound (“Justified: The Toll (#5.11)“). The problem child has brought Art a fine bottle of aged bourbon, but the man cannot partake. The wise old Chief knows this isn’t really a social call about Raylan’s daughter being baptized a Catholic, and with no prodding, in general terms Raylan explains his dilemma. Art reaches for the bottle, pours a short glass and refines the problem, pointing out that if Raylan kills Boyd in a confrontation, while that would take care of the Boyd problem, Raylan would lose both his badge and his liberty, and would only see Willa through the glass of a prison visiting room window. He also notes that the “other thing” could happen in a showdown, that the bullet could find him.
A distressed Dewey barges into Boyd’s back room and complains that Boyd set him up. Crowder responds forcefully that Dewey was hired only to do a job, and that he did it. Dewey is despondent, and complains, “I’m tired! I want to go back.” He lets loose with a plaintive reminiscence about how he way things used to be, a happier, simpler time when they were a bunch of white supremacists living together is Boyd’s church, drinking ‘shine, listening to rock ‘n’ roll and raising hell, having fun.
Boyd sends Carl for a couple drinks for him and Dewey, then confides in the man that he’s tired as well. He points to an ancient photograph on the wall of a bunch of grimy-faced miners from the early days of a prosperous Harlan County, and the promise of the future in their eyes. He encourages Dewey to take a closer look. The dit-witted Crowe, never suspecting he’s moments away from the eternal slurry nap, leans in and is shot in the head by Boyd.
An alarmed Carl rushes in and aghast, asks Boyd the WTF? question. Boyd simply says, “I could no longer trust him,” then directs Carl to wait 20 minutes, then wrap Dewey’s body in a carpet and dispose of it where it will never be found.
Later, Ava lies sleeping while a troubled Boyd sits beside their bed, pondering their situation.