Justified Season 6, Episode 4 recap

In its final season, Justified is firing on all cylinders. This episode has everything—Raylan in tense stand-offs, apple pie moonshine, dumb*ss criminals getting themselves killed, Wynn Duffy and Boyd Crowder bantering, Gutterson. It’s just about a perfect episode. And this is the one in which everything becomes clear and everyone reveals their motives. In season four, it was also the fourth episode when the Drew Thompson story was laid out and everyone chose sides. So far, this season is following the pacing and basic narrative structure of season four, and it’s yielding excellent results—just like season four.

Everything revolves around weed. It makes sense, in the end, that what everyone is after is farm land to grow hypothetically legal crops of marijuana. In the real world, more and more states are legalizing pot, and in the world of Justified, weed is the thing that sent Harlan County into a downward spiral ever since season two. Mags Bennett was a pot queen-pin, and her death created the power vacuum successive failed criminals have tried to exploit. So of course it comes down to pot and everyone racing to secure land for the day Kentucky makes marijuana legal.

The ledger Boyd accidentally stole turns out to be the record of Avery Markham’s attempts to purchase farm land—those who don’t deal with Markham’s agents, including Ty Walker, are dying in mysterious household accidents. Raylan, of course, can’t let this go. It’s no longer enough to get Boyd, he now has to take down Avery, too. Art thinks he’s going to get himself killed. Art is probably right. So Raylan and Gutterson spend the day putting together the outline of Avery’s land-grab, and it’s magical. They’ve developed an unorthodox-cop/even-more-unorthodox cop routine that Avery does not appreciate at all, but which is very entertaining to watch.

Likewise, Boyd and Wynn Duffy go to meet an explosives expert hoping to find a way to break into Avery’s bank vault and it’s equally delightful. This is what happens when you populate a show with talented actors who genuinely love working together—there isn’t a bad pairing or boring scene in sight. Jake Busey enlivens the episode as the expert Boyd and Wynn visit—he has a Hall of Fame classic Justified stupid-criminal death that made me laugh so hard I couldn’t breathe.

But despite all the delightful dialogue exchanges, this episode is quite weighty. Loretta McCready returns as a landowner holding out against Markham—because Dickie Bennett is a dumb*ss, he unknowingly sold her Bennett land and she’s setting up her own pot operation. Loretta endures a tremendously tense stand-off with Ty Walker, only to then end up caught between Raylan and Avery. Everyone lays their cards on the table—Raylan is onto Avery’s land-grabbing ways, Avery acknowledges Raylan’s reputation as a loose cannon cop, but one who brought down Mags Bennett. And Boyd informs Ava he intends to not only rob Avery, but take over and implement his pot farm plan.

Ava spends the episode with Katherine Hale, who finally reveals her motivation: Avery turned on her husband and had him killed, so she’s going to kill Avery. Ava is still struggling to keep it together—Katherine making her do coke and rob jewelry stores isn’t helping—and Katherine is, at the very least, suspicious of the circumstances around Ava’s release from prison. You can feel the nets tightening around everyone. Except, perhaps, Loretta McCready. I’ve wondered off and on if Justified isn’t secretly the prequel to Loretta McCready: Harlan County Crime Boss. Avery warned Ava that she would have to be tougher than any man to survive in the Kentucky underworld, and she’s probably not quite up to the task. But Loretta McCready is.

Raylan’s body count so far: 0/19