Has there ever been a more appropriate title for an episode of Justified than "Shot All to Hell," tonight's excellent trigger-happy and body-dropping hour? I think my television is still stinking of sulfur and/or freedom from all the rounds fired and blood spilled. Justified is no stranger to excessive violence; "Shot All to Hell" reminded me of the ultra-violent "Outlaw" from last season, one of my favorites. But "Shot All to Hell" was also ultra-twisty, like a Twizzler on a rolly-coaster corkscrew, reaching inside my gullet and pulling out repeated gasps as betrayals and power shifts repeatedly terraformed the landscape of Harlan County.
Heck, two characters we were just getting comfy with died in the FIRST TWO SCENES of the episode. Paxton was on the wrong end of assisted/forced suicide thanks to Boyd, and Elias Marcos (guest star Alan Tudyk, and I might've gotten his character's name wrong) put holes through that Canadian drug dealer (guest star Will Sasso) right after that. And that would just begin the carnage. Later, Officer Mooney took a bullet before he even had a chance to order lunch at his favorite restaurant, Elias and his huge fucking gun were downed by Raylan, and Danny Crowe blew the Haitian all the way back to Haiti with a cowardly shotgun blast. Hello? That's five characters—not just redshirts—all taken out in one episode, and each one elicited a "WHOA I was not expecting that" that amplified with every murder. Leave it to Justified to kill almost a half-dozen characters thanks to its intricate and populous cast, and still have plenty left to finish off later this season.
Naturally with all that murderin' going on, some people had better days than others. High on the list of good-day-havers was Art, who, along with Raylan, captured the notorious Theo Tonin after taking out his muscle Elias. And it was suspiciously easy and almost accidental. Would Tonin be that careless to waltz back into Harlan just to have a chance to personally torture a man who ratted on him? Well, he's also the guy who screams into severed ears when he's angry, so yeah, I guess so. We're not dealing with a man who thinks rationally here. Still, pretty anticlimactic for the Kentucky Marshals to nab their most-wanted man because some grunt noticed that blood was leaking out of a crate. But also, it's about time they caught Theo. I'm conflicted here, guys! Maybe there's something bigger coming soon on the Theo front? Or is anyone crazy enough to suggest Theo got himself caught on purpose? Not me. Now Art, with eight months left 'til he's an ex-Marshal, can go out with the biggest bust of his career.
But Raylan's work isn't done, and his past transgression as a witness to the murder of Nicky Augustine came back to bite him in the ass, making his day a mixed bag. Rats in custody have been singing about a member of Kentucky law enforcement helping Sammy eliminate Nicky, and Art has raised more than a few eyebrows in Raylan's direction over the last few episodes. Knowing that his untruths were about to get truthed, Raylan made the decision to come clean, or as clean as he could ("It wasn't Barkley and I can tell you that for a fact," he semi-confessed at the end of the episode), putting Art on the clock. Does he bust Raylan for disgracing the shield and being an accessory to murder, or does he admit that Raylan's actions—while technically against the law and every oath he swore to in order to get a star—got another dirtbag off the street so no harm no foul? Art's the kind of guy who can see things both ways, and revealing that one of his own men was lawless—especially after busting Theo—would tarnish his reputation as he rides off into the sunset to chug Diet 7-Up. Isn't that so Raylan of Raylan? To shit all over Art's sundae? Good luck with your decision, Art.
But the worst day of all once again belonged to Boyd, who continues to get bent over in Season 5. Justified's writers are straight-up torturing this poor fella. And the way things went down for him in "Shot All to Hell" was particularly cruel. Boyd was on a hot streak after killing Lee Paxton, putting Darryl Crowe Jr. in his place, turning Hot Rod against Cousin Johnny, and setting up the elimination of Officer Mooney. The dominoes came crashing down all over the case against Ava, and Boyd was ready to welcome his sweetheart home after miraculously pulling all the right levers and pulleys to get the case dismissed. Nice work, Boyd!
Buuuut fate had different ideas, and Ava's cellmate set Ava up by stashing a shiv in her bunk, while the shrimpy guard from last week grabbed the sharpened contraband and stuck himself twice to frame Ava. Now Ava's got a whole new rap against her and a new cell in a mean-girls prison. We never saw who set up the set-up, but I'm guessing it was Mara, Paxton's mistress, who Boyd screwed out of the money he promised her. She wanted to get him back, and she knew that the best way to hurt him was to keep his precious Ava behind bars. Note to self: Russian mail-order brides can be ruthless. (Edit: It has come to my attention that it's also possible that shorty guard guy did this on his own because he was upset about being rejected by Ava and beaten up by that female guard. But did he seem like the guy who would do something stupid like that when he just got beat up by that lady guard? I dunno.)
And that wasn't all! Cousin Johnny cut off Boyd's plan at the pass by buying out Hot Rod's men, and they turned their guns on him. So that whole plan to re-corner the heroin market and get payback on his cousin? Pphhhhhhhhthhhh. And all that shit-talking and gun-pointing at Darryl Jr. probably only made him more upset. Boyd was so close to coming out way, way, way ahead on this one, and in a matter of minutes, he saw everything get way, way, way worse than before. If this doesn't turn Boyd into the raging maniac he's been suppressing for all these seasons, I don't know what will. (So excited!)
– Darryl was hanging up a "Hang in there!" poster with a kitten on it. Darryl just became awesome.
– Pretty cool to see Alan Tudyk on this show in a role I never thought he could pull off, and he was great. What was up with his eyes? It looked like he was jacked up on something.
– I suppose there are two other possibilities for setting up Ava. It could have been Johnny, but I don't think he would want to do anything to harm Ava. And it could have been Darryl Jr., but does he even know that Ava exists? Maybe Dewey told him? I'm sticking with Mara, because she looked awfully pissed when Boyd told her to get the F out of town without any of the $300,000 he promised her. But where would she get the money and means to set that up?
– "Shot All to Hell" was written by Chris Provenzano, who also penned last season's excellent "Decoy." Every writer on Justified's staff has crazy skills with dialogue, but Provenzano has something a little extra, and he's become my favorite scribe on the staff. He doesn't just go for knockout zingers in character exchanges, he keeps pounding away with back-and-forth body blows as conversations progress. Really, really great stuff that has its own voice while still being so very Justified.
– There were a lot of outstanding scenes in the episode, but the standoff in the diner between Art and Elias was my favorite. Tense, unpredictable, and badass. A close second? Boyd and Darryl squaring off in Boyd's bar. Fantastic chatter.
Boyd: "A small town don't run on a 24-hour news cycle. A small town never forgets."
"Does your campaign of harassment against my family know no limits?"
Raylan: "Well I gave the boy 10 cents."
Elias: "I'm in town for the convention."
Wynn: "Does anybody mind if I order?"
"I'm going to give you ten seconds to leave, and then, I'm going to shoot
Wynn: "FYI, that's kind of a thing with these Marshals."
"All I'm saying is, you do a thing that you never done one day, shit
changes. And you change. And things change. And everything's changing."
Whore: "Is this because I stuck my finger up your butt last night?"
"Goddamn man that was cool as ice!"
Boyd: "I ain't gonna take your compliment after taking your insult."
"And if I say no?"
Darryl: "Funny, I never even considered you'd say no."
Boyd: "Well, you dumbass, you might want to consider it."
Darryl: "So we're clear, you are saying no?"
Boyd: "I've been accused of being a lot of things, inarticulate ain't one of them."
Hot Rod: "You want me to move from the low-risk, high-reward weed business, into the high-risk, high-mortality trade of black tar?"
"I'm gonna have a Diet 7-Up."
Picker: "I'll have one too, princess."
Art: "You can suck the can when I'm done."
Hot Rod: "Well shit."
"Not literally, like osmosis."
FBI guy: "Oh boy, start throwing around the big words, that's my cue to go."
Raylan: "Go look it up, you mean?"
FBI: "Raylan, you're a dick."