The final season of Justified starts tonight. Here’s how (and why) to get caught up.

21 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Justified’: Graham Yost Previews Final Season, Talks Pressure of Ending a Serialized Show.

The occasional friends/frequent enemies co-existed for years, but with Raylan pulling strings to get Ava (Joelle Carter) out of jail so she can spy on Boyd’s criminal activity, the stakes are exceptionally high for all three of them. If you absolutely had to, you could get away with watching nothing but the pilot before diving into tonight’s premiere of the show’s sixth and final season. Justified showrunner Graham Yost spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about what’s in store for the FX drama’s final season, the pressures of ending a serialized series and more. (Joking.) It’s the final season?! Most series have to hope for renewal season-to-season; only the select few could run more or less indefinitely but have creators who prefer not to. “Justified” joins the league of self-shelvers, its producers having decided that this season of the wryly funny, character-driven detective dramedy will be its last.

Marshal Raylan Givens and his literal white hat have been reluctantly repatriated to their native Kentucky and set against Givens’s erstwhile coal-mining buddy, aspiring crime boss Boyd Crowder. Set in Kentucky, the series concerns Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant), a US Marshal who is reassigned to a backwater region of the state where he grew up. Crowder, played by FX veteran Walton Goggins, was famously slated to serve as Givens’s final casualty in the pilot, dying in line with the Elmore Leonard story that served as the show’s source material, but received a reprieve from the creative team and instead blossomed into Givens’s primary antagonist. In the intervening years, the pair’s fortunes have intertwined, branched off, and reunited, and the penultimate season’s finale set them against one another again in what promises to be as overt an all-or-nothing showdown setting as we’ve seen in Harlan since that first hour.

True to Leonard’s voice, the show features its fair share of snarky quips and dark humor, but it’s also about the weight of family legacies and the struggle to be a good person in a world that often suggests being the exact opposite. Friends and rivals since boyhood, Givens and Crowder form the central relationship that drives “Justified”: They’re sometimes at odds, sometimes forced into an uneasy alliance to resolve a greater problem. Boyd has made for a marvelously compelling villain, logging hours of screen time in which, by educated guess, we’ve seen him play maybe two or three scenes of unguarded honesty. Why you should watch: When it debuted in 2010, Justified was notable for cutting against much of the conventional wisdom about what “good TV” was supposed to look like.

Season 6 finds Givens leveraging the legal problems of Crowder’s longtime love interest, Ava, to bring Boyd to justice. “Friday Night Tykes” 9 p.m., Esquire The rare reality show that actually feels real, “Friday Night Tykes” follows a team in a Texas football league for elementary-schoolers. He and Raylan have loved the same woman, fought for and against and over their own fathers, and clashed in various capacities with near countless foes, including Kentucky’s own Bennett clan, the Detroit mafia, the Miami mafia, Limehouse, the Drew Thompson steeplechase, the Crowes, and a Mexican drug cartel or two. Without forcing conflict, the series documents the good and bad about youth sports in America. “Ground Floor” 10 p.m., TBS For people who find CBS’s comedies too cutting edge, TBS has worked up a lineup of sitcoms that would feel at home in the 1990s. “Ground Floor” is a workplace comedy that relies on broad comic strokes and stock characters – an unfortunate use of a decent cast. That’s all pretty goofy to look back on and consider as one unit of time in one actual place, but it’s a credit to the show that it can carry off the menacing of sleepy metropolises with rocket launchers on the regular, that episodes can be straight-facedly titled “Bulletville” or “Slaughterhouse,” and that Raylan and Boyd are still alive and kicking each other.

You want to make sure it feels like it’s part of the whole series — to not do anything in the final season that’s not right for what you’ve been doing [all along]. In the tumbling wake of the rift with Raylan’s boss Art — a rift that stemmed from Raylan confessing his involvement with the shot-up limo death of Nicky Augustine — Art granted Raylan permission to return to service in Florida, where Raylan could (like, theoretically; it’s Raylan) function in a relatively human capacity alongside his estranged wife Winona and their infant daughter. Attorney David Vasquez in the Season 5 finale, and for once Vasquez isn’t about to accuse Raylan of something terrible that he probably definitely did. Its even-numbered seasons are terrific. (Well, I have only seen three episodes of season six, but they’re all very good.) But even in the worst hours of the show — like the dregs of season five — there will be a great joke or plot twist that keeps you watching. For a minute, you think Vasquez is about to do just that, and it’s one of the absolute highlights of the season: He ticks off all the odd-lot criminal elements that have passed through Kentucky on this office’s watch, and in a very serious voice asks Raylan if he sees the common thread.

And Raylan, full of the bullishly misplaced righteous indignation that has striped him all season, says, ME? and fellow deputy Rachel is like, No, you sweet idiot, it’s Boyd. (Meanwhile, those of us sitting at home are slamming pause on the DVR and going, HI, EXCUSE ME, MR. The show’s version of Harlan County, Kentucky, is a place where the specters of the past are constantly present, a place built atop the blood and sweat of generations past. The show gradually expands its Harlan throughout the entire series, digging into the complicated webs of power, money, and race that run throughout the community. There’s this Marshal-marshaling in the office, with Rachel and Vasquez detailing to Raylan their plans for building a “coffin-serious” RICO case against Boyd, leading Raylan’s mouth to actually form the words “Why didn’t you say so?” HOOWEE Y’ALL. We are a semi-serialized show — I say semi, only in that we still strive to have each episode be something in itself: That’s the episode about this, or that’s the episode about that — and we haven’t stopped doing that.

For better or worse, Harlan feels like a real place, bound up in recriminations and regrets, and when the characters make choices, they feel weighted not just by the truths of those characters but also the truths of the world they live in. Did Raylan even blink at the thought of tossing all of that out the passenger-side window to go galloping off after Boyd again? “Before you go,” indeed. From roughly its first episode, it’s been clear that the series would conclude with a showdown between Raylan and his occasional ally Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), a criminal who never met a scheme he couldn’t improve tenfold with his raw cunning and intelligence. There was Margo Martindale as Mags Bennett, the marvelously complex matriarch of the second season and the author of what’s unassailably the show’s greatest exit to date.1 There was Neal McDonough as platinum-haired, circus-eyed Detroit thug Robert Quarles, and Mykelti Williamson as literal butcher Ellstin Limehouse, both of whom were appointment television during their time in Harlan.

This has never been a series all that big on surprises; the merit of Justified lies in its mostly meticulous craftsmanship, in its ability to focus and draw out dread, and in finding moments of beauty and poignancy in grim inevitability. Even if you choose to view every moment between the pilot and the ultimate confrontation as a riotous kind of detour between shootouts, remember as you watch Raylan’s and Boyd’s boot heels marking their final steps in this pattern that this all spiraled from one moment of mercy in March 2010, when a dead-shot Deputy U.S. Remember that Raylan let Boyd go again, in pursuit of the Miami shooter who’d felled Boyd’s father, whose location Boyd had given up to Raylan to save his brother’s widow (who was widowed, of course, on account that she’d shot him). Boyd is always someone who it’s fun to put in chains and throw rocks at him — which is a term Tim Olyphant loves — just make thing difficult for these characters.

That’s always fun with Boyd, because he can scramble, he can get in trouble, but he has a certain will and a confidence that allows him to continue to survive, and that’s what we’re dealing with in this final run. Remember how Joelle Carter’s Ava was so luminescent in the show’s early episodes that they could’ve lit interior sets by her skin, and that her time in prison has metamorphosed her into volcanic rock. Remember that even discounting all the no-count members of his own family he’s knocked off, Boyd bears tangential responsibility for Dickie Bennett’s murder of Raylan’s stepmother, Helen, and is at the same time the one who made sure Arlo Givens took his meds. Remember the last thing former Sheriff Hunter Mosley said to Raylan, back near the end of Season 4: “You listen to what your mama taught you, and not that old sumbitch, you may turn out all right. As the Givens-Crowder nuclear clock ticks between 11 and midnight, we know who Hunter meant in the moment, but is it even Arlo’s voice that Raylan hears anymore?

When you get someone like Sam Elliott or Garret Dillahunt or Mary Steenburgen or Jonathan Tucker [Boon] — and they understand Elmore’s world; they get it really quickly. It’s funny, the paradigm has changed, because you don’t have to hit that 42 minute and 30 second mark on the nose anymore, because the second life for the show is Amazon Prime, Netflix or whatever platform.

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