The game’s afoot in more ways than one as Avery Markham’s (Sam Elliott) party encourages a number of plots and plans.
Let’s bitch it out…
In lieu of a traditional review that tries to chart an overview of the episode, let’s break down the various plots and power players individually:
1) Wynn (Jere Burns): The tanning aficionado proves to have a surprising history as a CI for the Dixie Mafia (or is it against?). Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) and Art (Nick Searcy) exploit this once it’s clear that they can no longer rely on Ava (Joelle Carter) to help their RICO case against Boyd (Walton Goggins). I applaud this move if only because it guarantees more screen time for Wynn Duffy as the show heads into its final batch of episodes. On the other hand, this development does exponentially increase the likelihood that Wynn is going to end up worse off than merely burnt in a tanning bed.
- Prognosis: Something tells me that Mikey’s discomfort with their new situation may prompt him to do something that jeopardizes his “boss.” I would really love to see Duffy survive to sleaze another day at the series’ end, if only because deep down I yearn for a Better Off Saul style spin-off with Wynn. Admit it, who wouldn’t watch the crap out of that?!
2) Ava: Another week, another flip-flop. Ava agrees to help Boyd and his crew pull off the heist early during Avery’s pizza party – thanks to Wynn’s faked tip-off that the money is about to be moved – but she also admits the truth to Raylan when he asks her. The girl is clearly into self-preservation, which is why she continues to play both sides, but there’s no way that she can keep up this long con, especially since both sides are in the know.
- Prognosis: Boyd’s near murder at the hands of Zachariah (Jeff Fahey) has put Ava in the line of fire, which doesn’t bode well for her future. The real question is whether she can convince Boyd that her uncle was acting alone or if this is the final nail in the coffin of Ava and Boyd’s relationship.
3) Loretta McCready (Kaitlyn Dever): The very welcome return of Harlan’s most business savvy teen precedes her biggest dramatic move yet. Despite being told by Raylan to leave the weed game, Loretta has plans of her own and they’re much grander than I would have anticipated. After being accosted in her own home by Avery’s new henchman, Boon (Jonathan Tucker), Loretta makes the dangerous decision to publicly align herself both politically and financially with Boyd in front of everyone at Avery’s party. It’s a ballsy move that portends a larger role in the final episodes than I would have expected even one episode earlier.
- Prognosis: Unsurprisingly, Katherine (Mary Steenburgen) does not take a shine to Loretta, suggesting to Avery and Boon that something will need to be done with the girl. Normally Loretta’s status as a child would put her out of harm’s way, but I wonder if all of those comments about Loretta’s looks are an effort to age her up to a place where it’s not so taboo to kill her off.
4) Raylan: ‘Burned’ is definitely more of an ensemble episode and the narrative responds by relegating its protagonist to the background for most of the episode. It’s a move that allows the other characters – mostly the criminals – to act out their various plots and plans. There’s still an impression, however, that Raylan is pulling the strings: using Wynn to prompt Boyd to act on his heist plans early, calmly escorting Avery to his vault to wait for the fall-out and then reassuring Rachel (Erica Tazel) that despite the plan’s failure, Boyd will still be apprehended with his hand in the cookie jar.
- Prognosis: His bosses may not be enthusiastic, but Raylan still has the upper hand in these affairs. The addition of Wynn Duffy as a CI should help, so long as the man isn’t exposed and murdered.
- Seabass (Scott Grimes) make an ill advised move against Avery and loses his head for his efforts, courtesy of Katherine and her tiny clutch revolver. While we never really got to know Avery’s muscle, his death marks the end of an era as the sole remaining member of the original henchmen trio is killed, ushering in the next.
- Loretta’s prime real estate and reputation in the community earns her the attention of Boon, the latest in a long line of Justified shady gunmen. The quick draw maniac gets a Ty Walker-esque introduction with a dangerous soliloquy about snakes and his gun (nothing Freudian in any of that). Tucker’s addition is an exciting development as the series heads into its final set of episodes – he always brings his A game and while I don’t doubt Raylan can put him down, Boon has got a crazy, scary energy that pops whenever he’s on screen.
- As the AV Club suggests, there was never any chance that a C-list character like Zachariah (no offense Jeff Fahey) would kill Boyd. With that said, however, the sequence in which Boyd nearly meets his maker in the mine, shackled below a burning stick of dynamite, is very exciting and tense. When a show can produce tension out of what should be a dramatically inert scenario, kudos are in order for the director, Don Kurt, and actor, Walton Goggins.
- Wynn (when Boyd suggests he’s far away from home): “Home is wherever the RV takes me.”
- Loretta (as Earl attempts to escort her out of Boyd’s): “Ugh, don’t crowd me, boy.”
- Raylan (to Boon, after Boon says he knows him): “I do not know, no.”
Your turn: did you enjoy seeing most of our players in one place for most of the episode? Who do you think is in the most danger? Are you excited by Jonathan Tucker’s addition to the series? Is Raylan foolish for trusting Wynn, Ava and – to a lesser extent – Avery? How long until Katherine discovers Wynn is responsible for her husband’s death? Sound off below.
Justified airs Tuesdays at 10pm EST on FX