Thursday, 29 July 2010

Justified 1.13 'Bulletville'

As one door opened last night, another one closed. Californication might have returned but last night was also tinged with a little sadness as the best new show this year Justified came to the end of its first season. But what a finale it was for this freshman show.

Things have been building to a head for a couple of weeks now and somehow the writers managed to converge all the still dangling threads involving Raylan, Boyd, Bo, Ava and Arlo together to create one hell of a bullet-filled knot.

The episode’s title referred to an actual place in Harlan but it obviously had a double meaning because this finale essentially turned Harlan into a war zone and there were bullets flying left, right and centre.

The show has made no bones about shooting people at the drop of a hat but ‘Bulletville’ was exceptionally bloody and the kills were somewhat more gruesome than we have seen thus far.

Many a Crowder took a bullet, essentially meaning that season 2 will move away from the Crowder family’s stranglehold on Harlan, although Boyd did survive but he now seems to be a changed man…

Things kicked off in somewhat of a grisly way as Bo and his henchmen swarmed on Boyd’s ‘church’, as Bo forced Johnny to give Boyd a beating (seemingly unaware the cousins had actually been in league together) one of Boyd’s flock gave up the location of the somewhat unorthodox church’s weapons.

When Bo forced Boyd to leave I immediately thought they were then going to kill his flock but that didn’t seem like it fit with the how the show had been progressing so I genuinely thought Bo may let them go. As Boyd walked away though and we heard the gunshots he, and the audience, knew exactly what was happening and any lingering doubts about how bad of a man Bo Crowder was were gone.

The visual of Boyd’s men all strung up and shot to death obviously evoked religious imagery which fit well with the born again Boyd’s beliefs but it was still quite a shocking scene for a show that had been rather low on graphic violence until that point.

This murderous act by Bo drove a distraught Boyd to the “only friend he had left” Raylan.

Before that though we got to see Arlo try and outsmart his son, only to be thwarted yet again and take a bullet for his troubles. With Arlo living through the finale I’ve no doubts he’ll be back next season to make life difficult for Marshal Givens once more.

With the same Miami cartel that want Raylan dead for killing Tommy Bucks and the other would be assassins they’ve sent to kill him now on his back over the truck load of meth ingredients that Boyd exploded with his trusty rocket launcher, Bo concocted the genius plan to hand over Raylan to them to save his own skin.

When Arlo predictably failed, Bo kidnapped Ava as a backup, but not before shooting the duplicitous Johnny in the gut with a sawn off shotgun.

So that left Boyd and Raylan to join forces to thwart Boyd’s evil Daddy. As the two headed out towards Bulletville it was a remarkable full circle their relationship had completed since the premiere – friends to enemies to begrudging allies to friends again maybe?

It’s plainly obvious that Raylan doesn’t trust Boyd and I can’t imagine him sitting back and allowing Boyd to go vigilante “…maybe he’s Batman” but it certainly does seem that they have common enemies now and my enemy’s enemy is my friend.

One thing Justified has done well is to make death seem quick and sudden – no one goes out in a blaze of glory, in fact if Raylan Givens is pulling the trigger it’s usually one shot to put you down, for good.

I expected the final showdown to be a tense affair but the Crowder portion of it was over in almost no time, as Boyd and Raylan took out the henchmen and then the Miami bad guys took out Bo.

I really enjoyed seeing Raylan and Boyd teaming up and I’m so glad to hear Walton Goggins is back full time for season 2. Where they go with the Boyd character now remains to be seen but I’d love it if they did go down the vigilante route with him; but as half of Harlan’s criminals were wiped out in the finale there might not be too much crime for him to thwart.

The Winona-Raylan-Ava love-triangle appeared unresolved as the credits rolled last night so that will no doubt be season 2 fodder – but am I the only one who can’t stand Ava? I’d far rather see Raylan get back together with Winona.

It was with an almost deftness that the writers tied together most of the season’s ongoing arcs last night and it really did make for a strong finish to what has been a great debut season for Justified.

The show has some great dialogue and one-liners and two possibly career best performances from Goggins and Timothy Olyphant (perhaps a bold statement considering their back catalogues…?).

Goggins’ praises have been well sung already for his role as Boyd but Olyphant is ice cool as Raylan and his sarcastic one-liners and unflappable swagger make him one of the coolest characters on TV.

Justified is without a doubt the best freshman show of the year and I am confident that they can continue to improve next season, I already can’t wait for it to return.


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