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.