Two weeks ago Justified‘s tenth episode of the fourth season was entitled ‘Get Drew.’ That episode featured the manhunt to find and capture Drew Thompson (Jim Beaver). This week’s episode is not called ‘Get Ellen May’ (Abby Miller), but it might as well have been, considering the search to find and recover Harlan County’s most popular former prostitute is at the center of the plot.
Let’s bitch it out…‘Piece Of Mind’ may center around Ellen May, but in truth, it’s really all about Ava (Joelle Carter). Much like ‘Get Drew’, Ava fate’s is intricately tied to Ellen May and Ava’s fiance, Boyd (Walton Goggins) will do anything to protect her…which basically means Ellen May needs to be silenced.
This episode isn’t as strong as the last batch of episodes have been, principally because it lacks the inherent drama and/or action. It’s a little less funny, a little less engrossing, but no less valuable for providing insight into who our main characters are (or have become) as we head into the fourth season finale.
It’s no understatement to say that Ava has become a changed character. But it’s always meaningful when someone on the show mentions this. As everyone converges on Nobel’s Holla to negotiate with Limehouse (the fantastic Mykelti Williamson) for Ellen May, everything hinges on his conversation with Ava. There’s an interesting dynamic between them (he’s always had a good relationship with battered women), but even he recognizes that this is a different Ava than the one he’s met before. This is a woman who has climbed the social ladder (Mike O’Malley’s Nicky Augustine made that astute, if vulgar, observation last week) and she can’t go back. Her future is intertwined with Boyd’s now, and that means being okay with terrible actions and horrible people.
But Justified is a show that doesn’t radically alter its characters for no good reason. Ava may be a changed person, but she’s not someone who can shoot a defenseless woman, either (much less two). I think we all knew that she wouldn’t pull the trigger when she stepped into Cassie’s (Lindsay Pulsifer) tent, but she still needed to go through the motions to prove it to herself. It’s another strong episode for Joelle Carter, who has really grown as an actress over the last four seasons.
With both Ellen May and Drew Thompson now in protective custody, there’s an interesting narrative void heading into the finale. We’ve spent so much time this season building to the last few episodes, the cliffhanger ending with Winona (Natalie Zea) being unknowingly visited by Dixie agent, Picker (John Kapelos) feels a little underwhelming. Still, a confrontation between Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) and Theo Tonin’s goons should be exciting.
- This has easily been the best season for both Tim (Jacob Pitts) and Rachel (Erica Tazel). Take this episode as an example: Raylan elects to bring them along to satiate Art (Nick Searcy), they each got a bunch of memorable lines and then Raylan abandons each of them at different points along the road like a child discards toys. It’s simple, but well executed
- The fact that Tim is the one to put down Colt (Ron Eldard) makes narrative sense, even though it is a little obvious. The resolution was much more engaging: Tim and Raylan effectively swap roles, with Tim having to answer for the shooting.
- RIP Colt. I know not everyone was a fan and sometimes Eldard played the character a little too understated, but I thought the character added something new (even unexpected) to the show. I would have liked to see him stick around longer
- Just in case you didn’t figure it out, Johnny’s (David Meunier) deal doesn’t pay off for him as he ends up tied to a chair and used as leverage by Nicky to woo Boyd to secure Ellen May. The resolution of this drama is one of my most anticipated storylines for next week’s finale
- Nicky (to Johnny): “Why are we trafficking in ‘might have beens’?”
- Nicky (referring to Boyd’s unique eloquence): “I’m going to need Google translate on my phone if you’re going to keep talking to me.”
- Raylan (to Tim): “I told the guy I was going to toss the joint. It can’t just be an idle threat or I’ll look like a pussy…Plus he was rude to Rachel”
What are your expectations for next week’s finale? Do you think Johnny will survive? What about Nicky? How bloody do you think the rampage will be once Raylan determines that Winona (and his unborn daughter) have been brought into this conflict? Comment away below
Justified airs Tuesdays at 10pm EST on FX