Justified 6.12: “The Ballad of Boyd Crowder”
Justified Season 6, Episode 13 recap
Penultimate Justified. How are we already here? How is it already almost over? I’M NOT READY.
This episode is a little bit of a placeholder, because we all know that we’re headed for the OK Corral and that won’t happen until the end. This is not yet the end, so we’re just killing time until that final showdown. But there’s plenty in this episode to chew on. I don’t think Justified has ever been more consistently great than it has been this season, which officially eclipses 2 and 4 to become the best season. It’s so goddamned pitch perfect, every line of dialogue, every beat, every character interaction calculated to maximum effect. And every choice and consequence, as they unfold, leads into the next. There is no fat on season 6.
Raylan is hunting Ava, Boyd is hunting Ava, Avery Markham is hunting Ava and Boyd, and the Marshals are hunting Raylan. The whole thing is a big manhunt, and right in the middle of it all is Constable Bob. Patton Oswalt is just a delight in this role, and this episode is no different, giving what I assume is Bob’s send-off—I can’t imagine the finale will have a lot of time for side characters. He gets the drop on Ava, but Boyd gets the drop on him, and the last we see of Bob is him being rushed into the hospital, grievously wounded but hanging on because Bob is one tough son of a bitch (to quote Raylan).
Justified has always been about legacy, particularly the legacy of fathers and sons, but this episode is more interested in the legacies of Raylan and Boyd. While tracking Ava up the mountain, Raylan encounters the hill folk he met in season 4 and finds out his mother’s cousin is dead and they’ve been driven off the mountain by mining interests. Raylan’s an outsider, reason enough not to like him, and he’s a “Federal”, which is even more reason, but we also learn that Arlo exploited Cousin Mary’s mountain kin to smuggle drugs through Harlan. So Raylan offers the Givens homestead to them as a place to settle, since they literally have nowhere else to go, to make up for the Givens’ family’s many transgressions against them.
Boyd taunts Raylan that he’s a man who tried to walk the line—err, not really—only to throw it away at the end to murder Boyd. But amidst his rampage, Raylan forever changes the lives of the hill people who once threatened his own. And then he bails on his effort to get Boyd in order to save Bob. No matter how this ends for Raylan, there are people who are better for having crossed paths with him. This is Raylan’s legacy, that underneath the cowboy hat and swagger and the trigger finger, he is (was? Oh god, WAS?) a good man—good almost against his will, and certainly against the will of the world that shaped him.
Boyd, on the other hand, has created a legacy of fear and hatred, building on his family’s already crap reputation. He spends much of the episode with an unnamed driver whom he hijacks to drive him around Harlan. At first the man seems awed by Boyd, but we eventually learn that was a blind to hide his real feelings—he hates Boyd. There’s a litany of reasons, outlined by Boyd himself, to hold a grudge but in the end it doesn’t matter. Boyd has a trail of ruined lives in his wake, and for all his wit and charm and intelligence, he’s made nothing of himself. He’s contributed nothing but violence and ill will to the world. As Zachariah says—moments before going out in true Justified badass style—“Boyd, Bo, Bowman Crowder, it’s all just sh*t upon sh*t, the same sh*t.”
Next week is the finale, and it’s all coming to a head around Avery Markham. He has Loretta McCready in his clutches and she’s ready to back-stab Boyd to save herself, and Ava is on her way to him, too, money in tow. Boyd and Raylan won’t be far behind, though Vasquez will do everything he can to get in Raylan’s way (let’s hear it for Deputy Dunlop totally redeeming himself by being an asshole to Vasquez!). And Boone and Raylan have to have their gunfight, too, and I know I have not said enough about Jonathan Tucker’s fantastic turn as Boone, but suffice it to say, HE’S INCREDIBLE. There’s no telling how this all shakes out, but one thing is certain. Not everyone will make it out of Harlan alive.
Classic Justified dialogue:
Boyd: How do you know I’m not some Boy Scout looking for his camp?
Raylan: Your teeth glow in the dark.
Raylan’s body count so far: 2/21