Nothing dulls the shine on our hopes for the future quite so much as looking at them through the ghosts of the past, a point proven with great effect by the finale of Season 4 of Justified.
With Drew Thompson and Ellen May finally settled, Art gets his chance to suspend Raylan, who is happy to start his 30 days off by going to see Winona about a rocking chair. If you remember, the rocking chair in question was delivered and assembled by Nicky Augustine’s man Picker, so it’s no surprise when Raylan arrives at Winona’s house to find three more Detroit thugs holding her hostage. What they hope to accomplish by this less-than-gentle encouragement is Raylan’s cooperation in providing them with Drew Thompson’s current whereabouts. What they should have done was take Winona’s advice when she warned them that their only way of living out the day was to be gone before Raylan got there. None of the three apparently came from the deep end of the gene pool so they ignore her and, sure enough, within minutes, are all dead. Bearded Bad Guy does manage to pass along one bit of important information: Raylan and Winona (and baby) are on Nicky Augustine’s hit list, which means he will keep trying to kill them until he succeeds. Art and ASA Vasquez do their best to assuage Raylan’s worries by telling him that Theo Tonin has left the country and little Sammy is now in charge and since Sammy hates Nicky, he’ll make sure the hit is called off. Raylan isn’t buying any of it, having met the little gangsta wannabe (during last season), and is determined to take care of the problem himself despite being told by Art that he’ll be out of a job if he does.
To get to Nicky, Raylan needs Boyd, who is busy dealing with problems of his own caused by his determination to remove Ava from danger. Plan A (get Delroy’s body out of the mine shaft and dump it in the slurry pond) is derailed when he, Ava and Jimmy arrive just in time to see the police already there and pulling up the body. Plan B involves Paxton, one of the Clover Hill bunch he shook down for $100,000, who owns the funeral home where Delroy’s body is being stored pending the arrival of the medical examiner. Boyd and Jimmy dig up the corpse of a man who died from drugs and hard living and intend to switch that body for Delroy’s but before they can get the body to the funeral home, Raylan shows up.
Things get a bit tense, since Raylan is under the impression that Boyd had something to do with Nicky Augustine’s men taking Winona hostage. Boyd is just irritated and amused while Raylan is threatening to have him arrested if he doesn’t help Raylan get to Nicky but the atmosphere turns downright menacing when Raylan turns on Ava, too, and mentions Ellen May and her chatty ways. For what it’s worth, Raylan seems to acknowledge that he crossed a line and sorta/kinda/butnotreally apologizes before demanding, again, that Boyd take him to Nicky Augustine. Boyd abruptly gives in, leaving Ava to take care of the body-switch with Jimmy.
While she and Jimmy replace one badly decomposed body with another set of equally disgusting remains, Boyd and Raylan are having what passes for a heart-to-heart conversation between the two of them that (for me, at least) proved two things: one, they really know how to get under each other’s skin and two, they are the same person, living different lives. Boyd calls Raylan out on his plan to chastise Nicky for going after a man’s family by referring to Raylan’s threat against Ava. Raylan scoffs at Boyd’s ability to love by reminding him of his failed commitments to first the “white power” gang and then his short-lived religious conversion, and throws in Boyd’s relationship with Arlo for good measure. Boyd hits back by pointing out that he, at least, has a woman and then they have this exchange, around a discussion of Raylan’s habit of getting the other guy to draw his gun first:
Raylan: “I think you love anything that will let you put your head on a pillow at night believing you ain’t the bad guy.”
Boyd: “You know what I’m wondering, what do you tell yourself at night, when you lay your head down, allows you to wake up in the morning pretending that you’re not the bad guy?”
If someone asked me to describe the essence of Justified, I’d give them those two sentences.
As promised, Boyd delivers Raylan to Nicky Augustine, who is waiting for him in a limo parked on the tarmac at the airport. Nicky is smug and overconfident, he brazenly acknowledges that not only did he put the hit on Raylan and his family but he’ll keep going until they’re all dead. Raylan offers him the Raylan Special (turn yourself in and live, don’t and you die) and Nicky laughs it off, sure that because he’s unarmed, Raylan won’t kill him. As it turns out, he was right; rebuffed, Raylan gets out of the limo and meets Sammy Tonin, who was waiting in the nearby plane, and tells him Nicky plans to kill him. Sammy takes care of Nicky the old-fashioned mob way”¦ he fills the limo full of bullets as Raylan walks away and allows the hit to happen unimpeded by the law because, he says, “I’m suspended.” He returns to Winona to let her know the threat is over and puts her on a plane to her mother.
Boyd’s night does not have the same happy ending. After switching corpses at the funeral home, Ava forces Jimmy out of the van and goes by herself to get rid of Delroy’s body once and for all by dumping it in the slurry pond. She’s caught in the act by Mooney, the sheriff’s deputy who has been helping them all night long but who is really in the pay of Paxton, the owner of the funeral home. Paxton has arranged the double-cross, hoping to get rid of Boyd, who arrives at the slurry pond in time to see Ava in handcuffs in the back of the patrol car. He promises to get her out of jail within 24 hours but a defeated Ava knows the odds of that happening aren’t good. Wynn Duffy’s return and his offer to make Boyd a wealthy man by giving him the heroin business in Kentucky add salt to the wounds and Boyd is left to break into the house he’d once hoped to buy for Ava.
Raylan is putting the final touches on the repair of the hole in the wall of Arlo’s house that started this season when Art calls to tell him about Nicky Augustine, either because he doesn’t know Raylan had anything to do with Nicky Augustine’s death or because he’s pretending not to so he doesn’t have to fire Raylan. Raylan stares at the graves of his mother, aunt and father and in a line that answers Boyd’s earlier question says, “I will sleep well tonight.”
Who’s ready for Season 5 already???