More than a few “Justified” fans were expecting the series to end with a showdown — very possibly a literal one, given the show’s evident love of westerns — between Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder. Until two weeks ago, that is, when the fantastic “Trust” episode scrambled that narrative but good.
In Tuesday’s (April 7) episode, “Collateral” — the next-to-last of the series — viewers finally did get to see that face-off. But it happened in the woods in the dark, with neither man really able to see the other and no one getting a definitive upper hand.
Eight or so minutes of running time later, both Boyd (Walton Goggins) and Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) are in a bad way, along with just about everyone else. The series finale could go in a any number of directions, and that’s a wonderful thing to contemplate. Until then, let’s consider the levels of jeopardy the characters find themselves in at the end of “Collateral.”
The audience knows he’s not in on Ava’s (Joelle Carter) $10 million heist, but since he’s been largely off the grid, AUSA Vasquez (Rick Gomez) doesn’t. His arrest in the final moments is likely more annoying than life-threatening, but that’s not the real problem for him.
Even as he’s hunting Boyd in the hills, Raylan pays lip service about getting down to Florida once he’s done — but that’s all it seems to be, even if he does sign over his property to Cope, the hill dweller who held him and Boyd captive for a brief time in Season 4. Otherwise he probably would have, you know, continued working with the marshals in their manhunt rather than going rogue and becoming a fugitive himself.
Jeopardy level: Physically, probably not especially high. But it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him lose out on what he keeps saying he wants.
He executes his impromptu driver (“Agent Carter’s” Shea Whigham), whose tone changes from worshipful to spiteful in the course of their travels together, then badly wounds Constable Bob (Patton Oswalt), partly as a way to escape his confrontation with Raylan unscathed.
Ava’s uncle Zachariah (Jeff Fahey), however, finally makes good (apparently) on his promise to hurt Boyd when he comes looking for her at Grubes’ cabin. He’s going into the finale a wounded and weakened man.
Jeopardy level: Medium. Boyd’s instinct for survival is unmatched, but no way did he escape that dynamite blast unhurt.
Thanks to Boyd, she’s able to escape Bob bringing her to the marshals. If she could take a mulligan, though, she most definitely would, because she’s quickly tracked down by the two corrupt state cops on Markham’s payroll. The big question: Was she calling Boyd, Raylan or someone else (Wynn, perhaps?) when she left that frantic voicemail?
Jeopardy level: Pretty much off the charts.
The other marshals
Vasquez is seeing accessories to Raylan’s supposed crime everywhere in the office. The phone conversation between Tim (Jacob Pitts) and Art (Nick Searcy) is a thing of deadpan comic beauty, but Vasquez fails to see it. Fallout is a-comin’ for the Lexington office.
Jeopardy level: Pretty high, professionally speaking.
Wynn (Jere Burns) is above all a survivor, but being turned loose probably isn’t the best situation when you’ve got a revenge-minded gangster looking for you.
Jeopardy level: Depends on whether that woman he met on the bus bench can find a used dog-grooming van.
The teenage outlaw (Kaitlyn Dever) is as shrewd as they come, and Markham (Sam Elliott) acknowledges she could be useful to his plans in Harlan. But between Markham and his creeper gunman Boon (Jonathan Tucker), it’s got to be hard to feel all that safe.
Jeopardy level: The farther she gets away from Boon, the lower it will be.
Assorted bad guys
Past seasons of “Justified” suggest that the likes of Markham and Boon should watch their backs. Just ask Bo Crowder, Mags Bennett, Robert Quarles, Theo Tonin, the Crowe family …
Jeopardy level: It’s still Raylan’s story, after all.
He’s still (mostly) conscious and grunting when Raylan drops him at the hospital. Bob has already proven himself just about indestructible, but he’s got two big holes in him now.
Jeopardy level: Even for a show with as high a body count as “Justified,” letting Bob die seems like a bridge too far.
Jeopardy level: Not great, Bob.
The series finale of “Justified” airs at 10 p.m. ET/PT Tuesday, April 14 on FX.