Justified Season Premiere Review: “Fate’s Right Hand” (Season 6, Episode 1)

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Damon Herriman in Justified

Raylan, like everyone else, is struggling to reconcile his want of a simpler time with the changing paradigm of the present. Rest assured, Raylan would prefer Boyd be taken out with the hammer of a sidearm instead of a judge’s gavel. But as Art warns him over a bottle of Blanton’s, the simple solution would have three simple results: Raylan stripped of his gun and badge, locked up, or dead. The time of shoot first, litigate second is over: new landowners mean new laws. While some like Rachel are transitioning in style (she looks more comfortable in Art’s office than he ever did), the last of the old generation need to adapt as best they can.

Even Boyd finds himself strangely out his element, despite returning to the pursuits of glory days. With Raylan and Tim busy on a wild Crowe chase, Boyd and company rip off a bank in ramshackle fashion. The thrill of the act is as exciting as ever, but the payoff isn’t what it used to be. Sure, it was never sacks of money with dollar signs on them that Boyd would rob banks for, but whatever outlaw fantasy he took with him to the job has dried up with all the hard cash. No doubt the operation was always in the interest of Katherine Hale’s Dixie Mafia, a more respectable criminal outfit for a more respectable time, but deeds and ledgers are the stuff of Western bureaucracy, not Western legends.

While Boyd and Raylan are competing to see who can rip their roots out of Harlan faster, Ava’s holding onto what’s left of hers for dear life. For as frustrating as Ava’s stint in the joint was last season, it drove a wedge between her and Boyd that’s believably turned lovers into strangers. Ava can’t read Boyd the way she once could, even though she’s the only person Boyd seems willing to fully reveal himself to. Small choices, like sneaking vodka instead of joining Boyd for a cool beer, are their own kind of betrayal in Ava’s eyes, so the prospect of having Boyd sent away for good is about as appealing as being sent back to prison herself.

For Ava, simpler times stretch back to before Boyd, and before she shot Bowman. Maybe simple for her was 7th grade, playing in the school’s production of Brigadoon, a musical about love blooming in a special town that’s out of synch with the rest of the world. But on the bridge into Harlan, the castle walkway and Scottish moor for Justified‘s particular brand of Shakespearean tragedy, Raylan simplifies things for Ava as only he can. Just because he can’t be the same gunslinger who shot Boyd way back in “Fire in the Hole,” it doesn’t mean Ava can’t still be the same woman who traded one Crowder’s life for her own. The difference to Ava is that Bowman got what he deserved, clean and simple. But what does Boyd deserve? What does she, or anyone else?

Which brings us back to Dewey Crowe, his question for Boyd, and his plea for things to return to how they once were. “It’s all coming to an end…whatever it was we was hoping for, those days have long since passed,” Boyd explains to Dewey, the weariness in his voice hanging heavier with each word. Even the case of Lite beer in the background, a product plug from the civilized world, looks like it’s pressing down on Boyd like a weighing stone. He’s seen hard, bitter times, but unlike his grandfather, Boyd’s eyes don’t see a future in Harlan.

Dewey’s do, though. Black and wet as they might be, there’s still a light in Dewey’s eyes when he walks up to that Crowder family portrait. Dinner gives us one final moment with Dewey, his reflection blurred as the camera focuses on history, only to rack focus on Dewey’s reflection to show history staring back. For one shot, Dewey gets what he wants, with past and future converging on a single point. Then, Boyd puts a bullet in the back of Dewey’s head, and in the photo that was Dewey’s vision of those good ol’ days. The message for the room, and the rest of Justified’s final season, is clear: don’t look back, just grab what you can and run. Fate’s right hand guided Dewey to this moment, but the gun that ended his life was in Boyd’s. And in that moment, Dewey Crowe didn’t deserve to die. He wasn’t a threat, a snitch, or a competitor: he was just simple. Too bad there’s no more room left for simple in Harlan County, or Justified.

  • Stray Thoughts

-So long, Dewey Crowe, you magnificent, stupid S.O.B. While I hate to see him, and Damon Herriman’s indelible performance go, Boyd killing the last vestiges of innocence in his operation sets one heck of a tone for what’s to come. One can only hope Dewey and his little turtledog are champagne jamming it up in the afterlife.

-Tracking Cyrus from behind as he flees Tim (“I’m cool!”) makes Raylan’s appearance from around the corner a hoot. It surely says something that, second to a gun, Raylan seems most assured when handling a shovel.

-Boyd’s outfit currently consists of Carl, Earl, and…Jeffy? Can’t say if we’ve even ever seen the latter two before today, but nothing brings together fresh blood like a heist. Still, can’t say I don’t miss having Jimmy around.

-Among the various trinkets Boyd’s crew haul away from the bank is a Canadian passport. It doesn’t, but I’m hoping this nonetheless foreshadows another appearance from Dave Foley and the Canadian connection from last season.

-I’d be tempted, and no doubt repulsed, to discover what Dewey had in mind when Mina/Abigail offered him a “twofer plus two.”

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