This post contains spoilers through the May 27 episode of Justified.
I was joking on Twitter last night that sometimes, the best endgame I can possibly see for Justified would be that Wynn Duffy and Raylan Givens lay down their arms and their Bluetooth headsets, forgive their old enmities, and open up a bar in a convenient holler somewhere. Perhaps with barbeque catered Ellstin Limehouse, if he lives through this season, though given that the title of the finale is “Slaughterhouse,” and an awful lot of people want his money, is not something I would particularly count on. But I think there’s something to that: Raylan and Wynn are both cantankerous, both wily, and in their own way, both quite competent. You’ve got to wonder if at some point they might recognize that they have more in common than not and make common cause.
This, however, seems unlikely to be that day, mostly because right now, Wynn and Raylan share a similar objective but very different plans for what they’d do if they achieved it. At the moment, Wynn seems closer to having a handle on Quarles than Raylan does. No matter how slippery a man is, shackles and the determination of a riled-up Boyd Crowder can be an excellent deterrent. One would guess that would be a fragile alliance. Wynn may have a deal with Sammy Tonen to turn him over—though that’s a risky proposition when, as Tonen puts it, “To kill Bobby Quarles? Yeah, I plan on sending more.”—but Boyd’s sense of self, which has taken repeated knocks this season as he attempts to set himself up as Harlan’s most impressive kingpin, has been injured.
Our other dirtbag alliance du jour is between Dickie Bennett and Limehouse’s henchman, tied together by an aggrieved sense that they could run things a lot better themselves. “Man won’t let us change with the times. I think you might have had experience dealing with someone like that yourself,” the man from Noble’s Holler tells Dickie, after warning him that Mr. Limehouse doesn’t take kindly to disparagement. I suspect this union is little more than plot mechanics, but it would be interesting to see the Bennetts and Limehouse’s operation in fuller juxtaposition. Harlan’s history is so rich.
Beyond the criminals, our lawmen aren’t in the best of shape. Raylan’s a mess, whether from offending bartender Lindsay or throwing down with Quarles, prompting a fatherly lecture from Art on what may be the real problem at hand. “The prospect of first-time fatherhood can make a man feel unmoored,” Art advises, trying to calm his best man, and his twitchiest. “To be clear, I just don’t need you to be any more reckless than normal. Whatever your failings are likely to be as a father, I’m pretty sure your child will be better off if you stay above ground long enough to make his acquaintance.” Rachel, on the other hand, is doing better, though she has to make a knee-punctuated point with a handsy criminal, and even that little bit of work made me immensely glad that she’s back.
There are a lot of television shows where I find myself wishing they were more clearly focused on one of the multitudes they contain because the main storyline is unsatisfying. It speaks well of Justified that I love the core of it, but could easily watch any one of a number of shows set in its universe in addition to it. Whether it’s Rachel or Noble’s Holler, I’d love to watch a show about Harlan through an African-American perspective, to see it in conversation with the white men in white hats.