The antagonists once again take central stage as Justified begins putting the pieces together.Let’s bitch it out…Last week’s episode introduced the partner of Katherine’s (Mary Steenburgen) ex-husband, Avery Markham (Sam Elliott) in a few brief, mildly menacing scenes. It should be no surprise that ‘Noblesse Oblige’ reveals that he’s far more of an active player in this final season than we were led to believe; in fact he’s the new Big Bad. And despite their cozy-looking relationship last week, Katherine very knowingly pitted Boyd (Walton Goggins) against Avery, even though she knows how mean and powerful a man he is. As Alan Sepinwall notes this complicates things significantly. The minute that Avery sends his goons Seabass (Scott Grimes) and Choo-Choo (Duke Davis Roberts) to kidnap Boyd and threaten to disfigure Ava (Joelle Carter) it’s clear that he is a bad guy. The real fireworks, however, occur when Avery and his heavy, Ty Walker (Garret Dillahunt) show up at Ava’s home to quietly threaten the lovers. Justified has (almost) always found ways to use its villains that transcends mere use of violence: the best of them are eloquent, quiet and deeply unsettling. Thus far Elliott’s performance fits in with this model perfectly. His Avery is everything that Justified needs to make its final season memorable. Avery is one intimidating man, and with Walker backing him up, Boyd will have his work cut out for him if he really does decide to pursue the bank/pizza joint robbery. Caught in the middle is Ava, who remains a wild card. I know we’re only three episodes in, but at this point I can honestly say that I have no idea what is going on with her. She’s less distressed here than she was last week, but perhaps that’s just because she’s hungover from a night of binge drinking with Boyd. She seemingly decides to side with her fiancé, if the sexy invitation that closes the episode suggests anything, but with nine episodes left, anything is possible. I would just as soon believe that Ava is planning her own long con as I can imagine her running off with Boyd or ending up dead in a ditch.
One thing is for certain: she better start delivering results to the Marshals if she wants to stay out of jail because Vasquez (Rick Gomez) and Rachel (Erica Tazel) are unimpressed. It’s interesting to see Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) frustrated by Rachel’s actions considering how aggressively he leaned on Ava last week. It seems to me that Raylan agrees with Rachel, but he bristles at the idea of someone else questioning or interfering with his plans. Perhaps it is because this RICO case is his Kentucky endgame and he wants to make sure it goes down in a way that guarantees Boyd is put out of commission forever.
Step one in that process is preventing Boyd’s ability to rob another bank, which means cutting off his supply of Emulex explosives. I’ll confess that while most of the comedy came from Raylan’s encounters with Boyd’s man, Earl (Ryan Dorsey) and Tyler (Patrick Carlyle), the son of mine owner Luther (Brent Briscoe), I was a little underwhelmed by this plotline. Earl is another one of Justified‘s smart mouthed, dumb criminals and his stupidity made it pretty easy for Raylan and Rachel to get the drop on him. Still, Raylan’s lack of compassion for Luther when the man takes the fall for his son is disheartening – our favourite Marshal’s cynicism about familial love suggests that the job has taken more than just years of his life away from Raylan. If he’s not careful he won’t be much of a father to his daughter when he gets back to Winona.
- I always want more Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns), but seeing him in his tanning G-string might have been just a little too much.
- It’s a bit strange that Katherine is so willing to cross Avery considering how easy it will be to trace Boyd back to her. And yet she doesn’t seem concerned about her safety. There’s more to her relationship with Avery than we know, mark my words.
- Did Ava really believe that her “lost on the way to the bathroom” routine would work when she’s snapping pictures of the bank vault? Even Choo-Choo didn’t fall for it!
- Boyd (when Ava makes a groaning sound after drinking all night): “You gonna pop on me, darlin’?”
- Ava (to Raylan, drunkenly trying to storm out): “You’re not getting your way fast enough so you bring these two assholes up here to impress your point upon me. Well consider your point impressed.”
- Carl (dismissing Ty Walker): “You best get to walking, Mr. Walker. You and your beard.”
- Wynn (refusing a post-tan drink in favour of water): “I’m rehydrating.”
- Boyd (when Ava asks why they can’t just run): “Since you got out, I feel like I don’t know who you are anymore.” No wonder she had to convince him otherwise!
Your turn: has Raylan become too cynical? Is there more to Katherine than she’s letting on? Were you intimidated by Avery? Is Boyd foolish for going up against him? Does Ava have a plan or is she making this all up as she goes? And how much Wynn Duffy is too much? Sound off below.
Justified airs Tuesdays at 10pm EST on FX