Justified Season 4 Finale Review: One Coin, Two Sides

Justified S04E13: "Ghosts" 

Having previously wrapped up the mystery of Drew Thompson, the hunt for Ellen May, and the dangerous situation with Limehouse in an outstanding five-episode arc to conclude the major events of Season 4, there was little for Justified to do in its season finale other than get poetic and set up Season 5. While last week's episode, "Peace of Mind," was a thorough showcase for the series' secondary characters, the finale shifted focus to Justified's two leading men, Boyd Crowder and Raylan Givens, and how they're two sides of the same rusty old nickel. 

More so than previous seasons, Season 4 really played up Boyd and Raylan's history with each other and Harlan, and how early choices in their lives steered them to where they are today. Give or take a few cosmic nudges somewhere along the line, and it's easy to see how Raylan could have been Harlan's public enemy number one, and Boyd its shining star. Those two are more alike than they'd care to admit, thanks to being the two smartest crackers in the county. One just happens to work for the law, and the other just happens to work against it (though Raylan isn't afraid to re-draw the line when it suits him).

The final beautiful minutes of "Ghosts" illustrated the parallels between Boyd and Raylan, and they were plain as a lazy summer's day in the backwoods of Kentucky. Both men lost the loves of their lives because of the law. Boyd kissed Ava before she was hauled off in a police cruiser after getting busted for tampering with the body of Delroy the pimp, the man she murdered. Raylan and Winona locked lips before she was whisked away into police protection following the attempt on her life (and the life of her and Raylan's unborn baby). 

It doesn't matter that Raylan's in line for a massive promotion or that Boyd is the new heroin king of Harlan, because right now they're both alone. The contrasting shots of the aftermath are telling with regard to how intertwined Boyd and Raylan's lives really are: Boyd broke into the house he'd hoped to raise his family in, while Raylan repaired that hole in the wall of his own family house. But both men are alone, their women torn away from them, their families dwindling, because that's the life they're destined to live. Their only constant is each other. 

Aside from those strong themes, "Ghosts" was light on plot, especially compared to the hectic hours that preceded it. The cliffhanger of last week's mystery delivery of a rocking chair was settled in spectacular fashion as Raylan and Winona unleashed lead fury on the inept Detroit mobsters (seriously, what kind of lame hitmen were they?) like a southern Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Nicky Augustine, who made a late push to become the season's big bad and ended up being one of Justified's better villains, was put away by Sammy Tonin—the very man he was going to kill thanks to a tip from Raylan, who decided to look the other way because he was suspended. 

That leaves us with only the future of Ava in doubt for Season 5, and the question of how Boyd is going to exact revenge on Lee Paxton for double-crossing him. Raylan also has his unborn baby girl and Winona to deal with, but given Natalie Zea's continued role on the renewed The Following, we should only expect occasional visits from the beauty instead of a regular role.

While "Peace of Mind" tricked us into thinking things weren't over, Season 4 really ended last week. "Ghosts" was more of an epilogue and a keen examination of two men walking the same path in different directions. But what stands out now that all is said and done is the way Justified was able to reinvent itself in Season 4 by not focusing on a central villain while still putting together what was arguably its finest season to date. 

    


POSTCARDS FROM HARLAN COUNTY

– Raylan's final words of "I will sleep well tonight..." as he looked over the graves of his family after putting Winona and his unborn daughter into police protection was SO Raylan Givens. Get in touch with your emotions, dude!

– What about (Constable) Bob? I would have loved to see him one more time.

– Boyd to Raylan: "What do you tell yourself at night when you lay your head down that allows you to wake up in the morning pretending you aren't the bad guy?" The whole scene with Boyd driving Raylan to see Nicky was fantastic. 





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Great slow episode ending an amazing season, I reckon the best one yet!
Raylan showed a different side of himself this episode. While we saw the pitiful Boyd never really seen before. Anyway, it was good how that similar relation of characteristics between Boyd and Raylan was shown this episode.
Overall, Amazing Show with brilliant actors! Each one of them
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Can someone tell me how Nicky didn't see all the men spilling out of the plane 20 feet away from the limo and Raylan and Sammy talking?
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I miss Dewey Crowe.
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Great episode with all the lead flying around and the dialogue.
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Great show. season 4 was a great season but i'd say my favourite season would be 3 then followed by 1,2 then 4.
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such a awesome show.
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The song at the ending of the show is really good ! Anyone knows what is the title ?
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"You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive" by Darrell Scott I'm not sure who was singing this version. They already used it at the end of the first season, that was a Brad Paisley cover. Watch Scott play it live on youtube, unbelievable.
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Just because the second season is so often the best, I'm going for season 4 on this one.
And again I don't have any idea what they throw at us next season. I love this show.
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- this episode wasn't THAT bad Tim.
- I can't help it - I love every season.
- I do miss Mags. God help me I do !
Going to be a long wait 'til next season.
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doesnt anyone else suspect that Raylan and boyd might be brothers?
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Perfection.
Still think season 2 was the best, but its a close one between 2 and 4. Quality television.
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Very rich tv show. I particularly like the way bad situations are handled: all consistent with the way they talk, same rythm
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We need more tim and raylan!!!!
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Tim was very good this season, I wasn't sure about him before
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Whoever comes up with the dialogue for Boyd needs a medal. I love listening to the way he talks, and the quips he comes up with. Great season, awesome script-writing. Can't wait for season 5...
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I don't know if I'd be able to say this is my favorite season. I enjoyed every episode, I loved a lot of the guest stars and recurring characters, and some of the season's threads were entertaining (like the clear parallel being drawn between Raylan and Boyd), but the Drew Thompson storyline wasn't all that great overall, and I started to grow a little tired of the Boyd and Ava show at some point this season. But I also think it's a testament to the show's overall high-quality and consistency that I can't really pinpoint a favorite season overall. Could be any one of the four seasons, depending on my mood, really.
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Happy to see Win Duffy returns at the end... and his thug. The boy said his first lines two episodes ago and I think he´s , at least, a skilled actor. Until that moment he only acted with body and face expressions, an I remember pefectly his when Duffy suggested Raylan to make fun with Hunter...
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As for which season is best, I'm still going to give it to season 1. Season 4 was very uneven, a good finale does not a season make. Season 1 was more "on the job" and less over-the-top silliness with Boyd becoming the best criminal ever.
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I'm a little surprised this didn't get a more glowing review Tim. Your namesake gets a cute moment in the office, Boyd gets out-maneuvered by the Harlan elder who owns the mortuary, Raylan faces his anger and lets it wash over Harlan, yet still remain a man who won't draw on the unarmed, and even a moment reminiscent of Robocop shooting a man in the groin through a woman's legs. There's a lot going for this episode, and yet from this review it sounds like a sleepy 44 minutes sitting in rocking chairs and waxing about olden days.

This episode was an Elmore Leonard-style production, starting with an over-the-top shooting fest giving Raylan and Winona a "stand over the guy and deliver rounds into his falling corpse from both shooters" image, then rolling into "the angriest man in the world" where Raylan changes the fate of Ava, Boyd, Nicky's lieutenant, and of course Mr. Augustine himself - selling a little piece of Raylan's soul to get his goals, but giving the man a choice and telling him that lame offer was the best he could do, then inviting a pipsqueak mob boss execute Augustine right over his shoulder. This was a really strong episode, it wasn't a whirlwind of bullets and high-speed violence, it was just Raylan throwing personality around and not taking no for an answer.

The only sticking point is the convoluted nature of Ava kicking Boyd's lackey out of the van to more permanently dispose of Delroy's body, this really made no sense and I felt like the writers might have had a reason but it didn't get vocalized.

And of course there's Tim and Rachel moments, Art moments, Winona moments, gunplay, arrests, comeuppances to villains, successes, failures, and a man sitting in his family home staring at his own grave next to his freshly-buried father.
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I'm pretty sure that Winona shot her assailant in the groin when he gestured with his weapon, then rolled and she and Raylan filled him full of lead. I have to admit, I wasn't much of a Winona fan in previous seasons, but that scene put her squarely on my top-notch female characters list with style. She handled herself like a pro and I retract every complaint I made of her in the past.
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Winona was facing forward when he caught it in the groin behind her, and they showed Raylan's eyes in what seemed to me to be checking the angle.
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I saw the reason she kicked him out being she didn't need another loose end, anyone else knowing where she dumped a body that could come back on her. also this was confirmed by one of the people behind the scenes.
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What loose end could there be though? He's already invested in the situation as much as they are, he dug up the other body, he knows the exact plan, he's in on the whole thing. AND he's not too bright, without a leader who knows what he might say if caught? Didn't make any sense to me.
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we don't know how big that slurry pond is ...him knowing it's in the slurry pond isn't as great a risk as him knowing exactly where she dumped the body in it.
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He was to busy gushing over GOT. Both excellent shows but this review, while good, wasn't as glowing as it should be
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AWESOME season with an excellent finale (or finales). TWD writers please take a class from the Justified writers.
Justified--overall show is in my top 10 favorite shows (all times not just currently on tv). Fabulous season for two many reasons to list (acting, plots, dialogue, etc...).
A+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Raylan can be in touch with his emotions without saying them or obviously showing them to you. Also, don't you remember the glimpse of the subtle sadness Raylan had near the elevator after hearing about Arlo dying?

Tim, you sometimes come off as sexist but now you are doing the opposite and want to turn Raylan into some gibbering drama queen--wtf? Maybe I misread your sentence or misinterpreted the intention/meaning? I love Raylan's character and don't want him to become externally emotional (I think he is dealing with it well internally--he's in touch with his emotions internally imo).
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I would've loved to see constable Bob one more time also, but I think too much comedy would've spoiled the tone of the episode. I feel for Boyd and Raylan big time. They should join forces and be bounty hunters or something. I'd watch that as a spin off for sure!
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I couldn't vote in the poll. Season 2 was so much better than Season 1. The Bennetts really made that some of the best TV I've ever watched. Sadly, Season 3 never quite recaptured that magic, but they sure came back like gangbusters in Season 4. I'm not sure that I can make a choice between 2 and 4. It's a good -- and atypical -- sign when a show is so excellent that you can't decide which season had the most greatness.
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S3 is still the best. Followed by S4, S2, then S1.
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For me, it's easily season four as the best so far. Season Two was amazing, but having watched the whole show for a second time recently, I realized I was remembering the biggest moments, and that made it grow fonder in my mind. The season-long narrative didn't really kick in until about halfway through, while this season started with a bang and never let up. As well, I appreciate the way the creative team changed up the formula, straying from a "big bad" and managing to sustain crazy amounts of tension through multiple episodes, any of which could have made for a pretty great finale.
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Paxton wanted Boyd. My guess Cassie was there to see Boyd get arrested, but she seemed content to watch Boyd lose the love of his life. Remember Cassie told Tim last week she dreamed of Boyd dying
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season 2 vs season 4...wow tough, but this has been an awesome season. the drive in the van with Boyd and Raylan? top class. Tim and Colt exchanges were also great, Ellen May was great, Jim Beaver awesome as ever, Art on fire. high quality TV
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Anybody have an explanation for Cassie's presence at the graveyard during Ava's arrest? I really don't know what to make of that.
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I don't really have an explanation as to why she was in THAT scene in particular, as no one outside Mooney and Paxton had to be involved in crossing and arresting Ava. But I do think that Cassie's the one who originally tipped off the police about the body in the mineshaft, based on Ellen May's confession to her.
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Hmm, I had forgotten about that, it stuck in my craw while watching as well. Perhaps the deputies had called her to see her enemy get destroyed. It was a disconnect asking the audience to fill in the blanks though. There wasn't enough orchestration shown by Cassie to justify her presence in that scene.
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This was bothering me as well. I think there is a tie-in between her conversation with Tim in last week's episode, the set up this episode, and next season's events. So I guess my prediction is, Cassie the preacher's sister will be around next season as an acquaintance(?) to Tim and an enemy to Boyd.
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The Boyd/Raylan interactions were the best part of the episode. I think the tension between the two has a root and that root is Ava. Boyd hit the nail on the head when he brought that up and kept digging the knife in. Raylan threatening Ava to get Boyd to give up Augustine's location had so much more going on behind the threat. She is the only woman either man has ever really genuinely wanted since the first season. She was the high school cheerleader all the boys wanted and Boyd knows that and enjoys the fact that he got her. I think the difference between Winona and Ava is that Ava owns who she is whereas Winona wants to believe she is a better person than she really is. Watching Ava's journey throughout this season has been one of its many highlights and her in a squad car to end it seemed very appropriate.

While I thoroughly enjoyed this season I still loved the Mags Bennett season 2 story the best. The guest stars were fantastic from Margo Martindale's Emmy winning turn to Rebecca Creskoff's Carol from the mining company - whose stay that season was far too short (she was still on "Hung"). (If they were going to bring back any woman from Raylan's past I'd pick her.) Her and Olyphant had incredible chemistry and she was the only woman he's been with that's been as smart as him.
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What a season! Certainly of a quality similar to season 2. I can't say whether it tops season 2 yet, it'll need to sink in some more first. But how stunning for a season to effortlessly transition from a whodunnit to an exhilirating, high stakes chess game between all the components of the Harlan ecosystem and then to finish with such a profound examination of the duality of Raylan and Boyd, while maintaining the best dialogue on tv and memorable action sequences. Justified has set a high benchmark for the best show of 2013 thus far and will take some beating.
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one thing I don't like in todays television... the use of CGI blood. It look BAD, they should go back to oldfashioned fake bloodbags. I can see it clearly as Raylend and Winona are killing the baddies in her sisters house. This CGI shit pains my eyes. Nevertheless best show on TV
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I agree, it looks way too fake too often.

I can see its uses... it's easier / cheaper to make it look like someone's face or unexposed flesh just got injured. Instead of relying on a squib pack in their shirt and pants every single time. And re-takes are easier to handle, as you don't have to change everyone's clothes and wipe the set down in case the boom-mic appeared on camera.

But I still feel that classic effects are the best. Whether it's animatronic / makeup or squibs.
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I think HD in particular has made the CGI look bad. I agree with you in that I can't help but notice it whenever it happens and takes me out of the moment a bit. I feel there's something different about the muzzle flashes from gunshots, too.
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oh don't get me started on muzzle flashes, I think Nikita is the only TV show that uses blanks, you can see that the flash always looks different and you get the ejecting cases too. all in all the gun looks and works more relistic.
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Agreed on the CGI blood. The use of it in The Walking Dead is about as cheesy-looking as it gets.
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Is it safe to say that the poisonous snake-handling church was the biggest fail of the season? I was expecting so much out of that storyline, but nothing really came of it, although I will admit it never did anything to drag down the story. If it served any purpose this season it was to serve as a catalyst for a whore's redemption.
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I think the snake handling church story is done, but Cassie is not quite done yet I think. Personally I think it was Cassie who told the cops where Ava and Ellen May hid the body. The fact that she drove off as they arrested Ava points to her involvement in this. Also the talks she had with Tim, I'm sure we are going to see her back next year. I sure hope so.
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Totally agree with you. Se makes a stranger but cute couple with Tim and I wish it serves to give him more space in the next season.
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This was a pretty neat episode. I'm impressed I must say. From the scene where Raylan & Winona kick major ass on the "lame hitmen" to Raylan and Boy's car ride conversation, to Raylan wit-talking his family out of harms way, while lounging in a limo! This show...I swear, it does something to me. Its enjoyable start to finish, inside out. It doesn't even need action, I could LITERALLY watch this great show simply for its witty dialogue dipped in sarcasm and the way the actors express themselves in character. How does a show still keep the fire burning in its 4TH SEASON? Season 5 can't come soon enough.
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This was the best season IMHO. I'm sorry that Natalie Zea is wasting her talent on show like The Following and is missing the chance to shine in a show like Justified
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I agree...I really miss the banter between Raylan and Winona. Some people may think that she makes Raylan weak, but she brings out that vulnerable side to him that balances out his badass side. However I think that they want to stay as close as possible to the books and unfortunately Raylan and Winona don't have a happy ending there. As long as she can come back every now and then I'll be happy.
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didn't even know Justified was based on some books, (my parents watch it more than me,lol) so if him & Winona don't have a happy ending in the books, who does he end up with & why don't they?? does something bad happen to her (ie killed)??
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No not killed just married to some other guy and her and Raylan have 2 kids together. The books Pronto and Riding the Rap plus the short story "Fire in the Hole" which became the basis for the TV series Justified are written by Elmore Leonard. Who has also several novels that were made into films including 3:10 to Yuma, Hombre (Paul Newman), Out of Sight, Get Shorty and Jackie Brown.
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thanks :)
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Disappointed to see so many votes for season 2 but glad to see so many for season 4.

It was asked if tonight's episode would be able to reach the same level (for lack of a better word) as the episodes that preceded it and in my opinion not only did it do it, it did it by surprise, to the extreme and within the first ten minutes. I did not see them overtaking the baddies like that. my eyes were hardly fixed on the screen because I didn't see it coming. anyway that was just a great start to a great episode.

personally I enjoyed seeing duffy just as much as I would have bob, if not more so. that dude really stepped it up last season when he and quarles were so heavily featured IMO.

also I really liked sammy so not only seeing him but having him exact raylans revenge and all that was just one of the best things this season. such a great show.
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And this show gives the best. Raylan and Boyd driving in a truck. I mean really does it get any better than that. I agree the episode was an epilogue but also maybe prelude for next season. Paxton has set himself up as a player for next season and directly in the sights of Boyd who now is going to have the backing of Duffy and thus Detroit.

Raylan made his career, lost his family. And is now alone. And granted I think that Winona weakens him. He is going to need someone or something. It makes me wonder who they are going to bring in. Personally I would like to see Carla Gugino's character come back for him. But either way, Raylan is going to be alone and pissed And he is always better when he is pissed. I can't wait to see what is in store for them next season.
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I was considering that myself, with Carla's character coming back. In the episode she guest starred in I recall her staring down Raylan and Winona and hawk-watching their interactions as if it were some fascinating thing...either that or she was unapologetically jealous.Either way I feel she'd make a great love interest for Raylan come season 5. Hopefully Carla Gugino is available.
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I tyhink it interesting that Ava with her hair tied tightly back from her face and with more makeup than a lady should wear managed to transform herself from a heroine to a villain in the eyes of so many.
I've always liked the fact that the Ava character prefers to treat her partners with respect, if possible. Sure she shot the wife basher in season 1, but that a fair enough call for any woman to make. When it comes to both Raylan & Boyd Ava encouraged and supported her partners to be who they were, an all too rare quality, one that Raylan's on again off again trouble & strife sure doesn't possess.
Winona's personality is that of a woman who no sane man would consider hanging with. She is forever nagging Raylan (and/or her late hubby) to change his ways and thinks nothing of playing the 'I'll get you to do what I want, I'll by sleep with someone else & make sure you find out' card.
Sad business with the barmaid & Raylan beginning this season, but some of us are doomed to make poor choices, Raylan would do better to come to terms with his poor taste & deal with that, than trying to rekindle an on again off again relationship that makes him almost as miserable when its off as it does when its on.

Next season should be used by the writers to explore both Raylan & Boy's personalities esp their ability to develop new relationships when they are succeeding with their careers, not licking their wounds.

If the smack pours into Kentucky courtesy of the Detroit mob, like Boyd plans it should, Raylan & Sammy's acquaintance will cop a major refurbishing. Particularly if Raylan does jag the bossfella gig.
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I have not been a fan of Winona but I have to say that her issues with Raylan and her reasons for walking away are actually very common problems of law enforcement marriages. The second time around I think she left more because Raylan spent too much time promising her he would change when he couldn't (or wouldn't) than because the job is too dangerous, so I think it would be fair to say they were equally to blame: they both had unrealistic expectations of themselves and each other.

Other commenters have raised the issue of Raylan coming to accept himself and the image of Boyd as Raylan's shadow self, and I think in previous seasons he had an ideal image of himself that he fought to maintain; over time the reality of his actions, then Arlo's death and now his impending fatherhood are forcing him to face himself and reconcile his deviation from that ideal image. On the path to maturity and self-acceptance each person must identify and come to terms with the facets of themselves so often represented as various archetypes in literature and psychology that exist in varying degrees within each of us. Like Winona, Raylan wanted to believe he could give up the excitement, hang up his guns, settle down and live the suburban life, but he is as much Arlo's son as he is Frances's, he craves the rush. The conversation between Raylan and Boyd in the truck was the closest Raylan has yet come to acknowledging the darker elements of himself as well as closed much of the distance Raylan has always worked so hard to keep between them. Wherever they decide to take the story next season, I hope they continue to develop this subtext, as it is fascinating to watch.
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I was always a little confused about the focus spent on Ellen May and what she knew about the dead body, (that she helped cover up). I mean, Ava has killed men, hell BOYD has killed people and yet none of them have ever been at risk of being thrown in jail so seriously over it? I just found it odd that there was so much time and fear spent over it when the hillbilly villains kill folks all the time and not a damn thing gets done about it. Mostly.

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I liked the way they wrapped up the Ellen May story, she told the feds about the body, so we know that won't be an issue hanging out in the cloud next season. And while I am sure Boyd will find a way to get Ava out, she has shot 3 men since the show started, Boyd included, 2 of whom died. They may have been bad men, but she keeps surrounding herslf with bad men so she is partly to blame. I would have like to see her say that she was done trying to hide from this one. Instead they had her giving herself up like it she was also protecting Boyd somehow.

I half expected Raylan to shoot Nikki in the limo. I know he is the good guy in the white hat and all, but he was looking him in the eye when Nikki told him he was coming back and was going to kill his family. After I saw that he had Sammy on the tarmac I understood why he didn't, but up until that point the writers had me ready for a gunshot. It was a great scene start to finish.

And having him talking to Art on the phone while looking at his parents gravestones was a great way to end the season, the music playing was terrific. And the fact that he never said anything to Art after Art said he would see him in 30 days was the best type of cliff hangar.
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First thing I need to say is that I've hated Ava for most of this show's run, but Joelle Carter has done some really fine work this season, especially the last three episodes. I really thought she was horrible way back in Season 1, but she has forced me to rethink that.

I think your review is pretty spot on, Tim. This was really an epilogue to the season, with the climax really all happening in the previous two episodes. And it was a very well done, if toned down one. And I went in depth in the comments section of "Decoy" about Raylan and Boyd being two sides of the same coin, so I won't reiterate here, but, while I think that's rather obvious, it's never been more pronounced than this episode.

As for Season 5, obviously Boyd will try to get Ava out of jail, and get revenge on Paxton. But I feel as if they didn't really set up anything for Raylan as far as what's coming down the pipeline. Is Wynn Duffy going to be next season's villain? Maybe Sammy Tonin will have a more pronounced presence? Or something completely out of left field, as the whole Drew Thompson thing was? Can't wait to find out. Sucks waiting so long for more Justified....Breaking Bad and The Bridge (which looks fantastic) can't come quick enough to help us pass the time.
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Ha. I seem to have the opposite view of Ava than you. I liked her quite a bit in season one, but that appeal has been dwindling after every passing season. I couldn't care less about her this season, to a point where her getting betrayed and locked up didn't make me feel any sympathy for her.
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David, I was speaking more along the lines of her acting ability. I thought she was a horrible actress, but she has slowly proved me wrong. Storyline was, her character made more sense in Season 1, and I think its a long stretch that she would fall in love with Boyd and become an integral part of his criminal empire. Season 1 Ava would have never done that, and she never had any kind of Walter White-esque slide into a criminal. So from a storyline perspective I agree with you.
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Ah. My apologies for my misunderstanding. Yes, while I think Ava as a pimp is worse than Ava the girl next door, the change has given Joelle Carter an opportunity to show a wider range of acting chops.
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It would seem to me that Paxton and Mooney haven't read the Evil Overlord List.

I knew this season was going to end with Ava behind bars, but it was still difficult to watch. It will, however, be fascinating to see what the show does with her next season and I can't wait for it.

I was somewhat surprised to see Wynn Duffy pop up at the end, having come out ahead, but I am excited about the prospect of him having a larger role to play, which seems to be what they're setting him up for.

If I have one compliant for this season it would be that the number of Raylan/Boyd scenes seemed a bit on the low side. Don't get me wrong, it was a great season, and there was a metric ton of awesome in each episode, but for my money this show never shines brighter then when Boyd and Raylan get to share the screen.

All told, it was another great finale to another great season. I really do think this is one of the few shows that can actually be said to get better and better with each season.
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I'm kinda looking forward to ava in a jump suit and still somehow present myself. as long as she's alive I'm happy. I was fearing for her safety for a minute when the deputies or what have you showed up.
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