Justified Review: “Alive Day” (Season 6, Episode 6)

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JUSTIFIED -- Pictured: Walton Goggins as Boyd Crowder. CR: James Minchin/FX.

The unexpected tragedy of Choo-Choo’s death owes a lot to how Werner’s direction brings out the innocence in Roberts’ performance, but there’s also a welcome conclusiveness to the plot that’s otherwise missing from the rest of “Alive Day.” It’s not just Raylan who’s planting seeds of distrust, but everyone else as well. There’s a lot more sowing than reaping to be found in “Alive Day,” so it’s helpful that there’s such a powerful mini-arc to bolster an hour otherwise occupied with planning for the future.

Avery’s proposal to Katherine isn’t half so surprising as his request she come clean about giving Grady up to the Feds, seeing as we’ve been led, along with her, to believe it was Avery who had snitched. Duffy, ever the pragmatist, tries to work out Avery’s angle for making such an accusation, but the simple possibility of there being an, to quote Limehouse, “unknown unknown” is enough to summon a shroud of doubt over Katherine’s camp. Similarly, Art’s own confusion as to who the rat was only increases Rachel’s suspicion of Ava, and whether Raylan has gotten himself too involved with the Rico case’s key informant.

Rachel’s choice to trust Raylan by maintaining ignorance of his actions is momentous, as indicated by Werner’s zoom, and “Alive Day” provides plenty of evidence of why it’s the right one. Zachariah and Ava reunite early in the day, filling us in on how Ava’s father passed away in the process. Zachariah no doubt believes Ava is as tough as she says, but for her sake, and his own, a fiction about Ava’s father enjoying a quick death in a mining collapse offers more comfort than the more harrowing truth.

Ignorance isn’t just bliss on Justified, it’s sometimes the only thing keeping you alive. Boyd’s henchman (the one who’s not Carl, or Earl, and whose name I honestly can’t recall ever catching) would have been better served not noticing how funny it is that the beams Boyd nearly falls to his death standing on were weakened by hand. Zachariah would have preferred it also, or that Boyd had fallen all the way down that pit as perhaps intended. He doesn’t miss a beat when given the chance to save Boyd, so it’s unclear what his original goal was. Did he want to kill Boyd to protect/avenge Ava, or do the bills he has to pay put him in greater need of the Pizza Portal money than he lets on? Nothing like saving a man’s life to make him more magnanimous with his stolen loot, I suppose.

Regardless, Boyd’s close call puts him on heightened alert, even after finding Raylan at home with Ava the night before. That Boyd jokingly hints at romantic chicanery between Raylan and Ava so soon after they kiss adds some convenient irony to their conversation, though Ava doesn’t exactly help ease those suspicions by flirtatiously pumping Earl for information. Limehouse offering info about Ava’s secret activities gives Boyd one final gut punch on his own Alive Day; had he actually fallen to his death, at least he wouldn’t have had to face the prospect of his ladylove betraying him.

With next week’s episode marking the midway point of Justified’s final season, it’s understandable the show take a breath while it still can. The road ahead will no doubt be busy, bloody, and frantic, just as “Alive Day” was for Choo-Choo and Ty. Once Raylan prunes a few more bits of overgrowth in the garden of assholes that Harlan has fostered, it’ll be time for Justified to harvest the crop it’s been growing for six years. As great as the show still can still be at serving appetizers like Choo-Choo, I think we’re all ready for the main course.

  • Stray Thoughts

-Rachel’s look when Art instinctively sits in the Chief Deputy’s chair: priceless.

-Between his use of the phrase “unkown unkown,” and association with a guy named Errol, I wonder if Limehouse is a big documentary fan.

-And speaking of movies, I wonder what Choo-Choo would have thought about American Sniper’s performance at the Oscars this weekend. “Take that with a grain of salt, because he was a SEAL,” he says of Chris Kyle’s unconfirmed kill count.

-“We wrap him in something, and we drive him up a goat trail into some of these shit-dick woods they got around here.” Seabass disappears early tonight, but his filthy mouth can be heard infecting much of the evening’s dialogue.

-Hi, Comstock and Payton! Bye, Comstock and Payton! Guess these two weren’t the most important part of the unit, but their existence was worth it for Ty’s dry-as-dust explanation of their duties. “They’re the nightshift. It’s the night.”

-“Tim, get your rifle out of your trunk.” I’m betting you can add hearing those words to Tim’s list of arousing discussions.

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