Every season of Justified has a cycle. It begins with a few episodes where shit happens, which runs until about halfway when there is always one special episode where All The Shit Happens. That is invariably followed by a couple of weeks of wondering why nothing is happening until the last part of the season when shit gets real again, leading to a finale which usually leaves viewers exclaiming, “Holy shit!” Well, my friends, we have survived the weeks wishing something (anything!) would happen, so buckle up. It’s gonna get bumpy.
If you’re thinking this somehow involves the heroin empire Boyd is still trying to build, you’re right. On a dusty road in Texas, Carl, Danny and Dewey wait for a truck hauling freezers full of ice, fish, and their drugs. The transfer is made and the heroin is stored in the bumpers of two old junkers which the Crowes and Carl plan on towing back to Kentucky. Sounds simple, right? Well, it is — for Carl, anyway, since he’s not an idiot. The same cannot be said for Danny and Dewey, though, and before you can cut to a commercial break, they’re lost on the road to Bumfuck Nowhere. Danny blames Dewey for the faulty GPS, calls him everything but a child of God and threatens to start shooting off body parts if Dewey doesn’t fix it. The insults don’t sit well with Dewey and the look on his face doesn’t bode well for Danny. Hold that thought, we’ll come back to it.
Sitting in a bar in Lexington, Raylan is having a drink and thinking about getting dumped when a pretty girl pulls up the stool beside him. He buys her a drink, too, and they’re having a friendly chat about Florida when she leans over and offers to take the trip with him, and give him a 50% discount on her services to boot. (I’d go with him for free….just saying.) Raylan is able to resist her cash-only charms and ends up back in his car, looking at pictures of dead guys in Mexico, and buying a plane ticket to Memphis.
After a trip to Graceland and Rendezvous (just because we didn’t see it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen!), Raylan stops by the local DEA office looking for information about Hot Rod and runs into an older version of himself, in the form of Alex Miller (guest star Eric Roberts). When Miller tries to shoo him away like a pesky fly, Raylan casually mentions asking every other law enforcement agency in Memphis for help and voilà! Miller changes his mind.
They first drop in at Hot Rod’s warehouse but find only
Avon Barksdale Jay and Roscoe (Wood and Steve Harris) who don’t know nuthin’ about nuthin’ and insist they’d like to find Hot Rod, too. Neither Miller nor Raylan believe what they’re hearing and leave another DEA agent (let’s call him Opie) to guard Jay and Roscoe. The brothers soon have Opie discombobulated enough that he’s blurting out that Hot Rod’s men in Mexico were found dead. Jay and Roscoe immediately (i) see a business opportunity and (ii) know they have to go through Boyd Crowder first. After taking Opie down with a well-placed head-butt, they call the co-thug who’s guarding Hot Rod and order him to find out where they can find Boyd.
But old drug dealers don’t get old by being stupid, and although Hot Rod is beaten and bloody, he’s not down yet. He tells his guard that Boyd has a bar in Harlan and then, because it’s so easy to get lost in them there Kentucky hollers, asks for a pencil so he can helpfully draw the boys a map. Raylan and Miller show up just in time to hear a gunshot. When they rush inside, Hot Rod is gut-shot and his guard has a pencil stuck in his jugular.
Raylan calls 911 but Hot Rod is not long for the world. He has time to drink some cheap whiskey from Miller’s always-present flask, reminisce about being a confidential informant for 15 years and reveal that he spilled the beans about Boyd’s bar, and then he dies.
And you know what that means… we’re headed back to Harlan.
Boyd and Daryl are already there, having a heart-to-heart chat that reveals both that Daryl planned in advance to kill Hot Rod’s men and that Boyd already figured that out and wants to know why. The why is that Daryl wants to be part of the action and to encourage Boyd to invite the Crowes into his family, Daryl threatens to have Danny and Dewey “lose” the heroin they’re transporting. Boyd is forced to call Wynn Duffy and Picker to inform them of this new development and they’re so unhappy about it, they’re forced to travel to Kentucky themselves to deal with it.
I hope those “Population ___” signs are digital now because errr’body in Harlan! Jay and Roscoe get there first (apparently they didn’t need that map Hot Rod never got around to drawing). Boyd isn’t at his bar but new employee Caleb is and it doesn’t take long before that poor guy is wishing he’d stayed in the mines. After getting a gun rammed down his throat, he volunteers the information that Boyd is at Audry’s. Jay and Roscoe leave him trussed up with duct tape behind the bar and that’s where Raylan and Miller find him when they arrive, and where they, too, leave him, after Caleb confirms Jay and Roscoe were there and after Miller refills his flask with some free Johnny Walker.
At Audry’s, Daryl is presenting his business proposal to Boyd, Wynn Duffy and Picker and they are unimpressed (I think he should have used PowerPoint slides). His demand of 20% for smuggling strikes them as too much and they counter with 10% before their negotiations are rudely interrupted by the appearance of Jay and Roscoe.
It’s all too much for Boyd, who has reached the end of his rope. He tells Jay and Roscoe to kill Daryl and take over the smuggling part of operations themselves and when they don’t jump on that offer, he stands up and suggests a good old-fashioned shoot-out, with the winner being the last man standing.
Thankfully, before anyone can take him up on that offer (don’t hurt Boyd!), Raylan and Miller join the party, too. They just want to take Jay and Roscoe in but the brothers aren’t interested in going quietly and after delivering a lecture on King Lear (Justified is educational and shit), Roscoe ignores Miller’s three-second warning to put his gun down and is shot. After a tense moment of wavering, Jay sees the light and puts his weapon aside, too.
Raylan gives Miller the collar and heads back to the marshal’s office in Lexington, a fact which does not thrill Art when he sees Raylan come in. Art is pissy because Raylan does what Raylan does and somehow still comes out smelling like a rose, or at least manages to escape getting in real trouble for it. Art is a grown-up, though, so he’s going to solve his problem by pretending Raylan doesn’t exist.
For his part, Miller is driving back to Memphis when he passes a tow truck he recognizes as belonging to the late, great Hot Rod. He U-turns and races ahead of it to pull it over, an act which does not thrill the truck’s driver and passenger, Danny and Dewey Crowe. Miller shows his badge and demands both men get out. Only Danny complies, but only because he wants to try his 21-foot game with the armed DEA agent. Dewey, still smarting over Danny’s insults earlier, LOSES HIS FUCKING MIND, slides over behind the wheel, hits the gas, runs over both Danny and Miller and takes off like a bat out of hell, screaming like a banshee. Dewey Crowe with a truck full of heroin… yeah, that will end well.
In other news, Ava and Boyd finally see each other again, for the first time since Ava was transferred out of Harlan lockup. She tells Boyd that her friend will be in touch and that Boyd is to offer whatever help is required. Boyd immediately agrees but he doesn’t get far into his “I love you and I’m gonna get you out of here” speech before Ava turns her back and walks away.
Rowena, the infirmary nurse Ava is working with, pays a visit to Boyd to tell him what’s what, which turns out to be a demand for heroin, which she will take a cut of before passing to Ava, and, oh yeah, she wants Boyd to kill someone for her. The someone is the man who killed her former partner, who turns out to be a sick old man living out his last days in a nursing home. He admits to killing the partner but says he did it out of revenge because Rowena and her partner provided the drugs that his wife overdosed on in prison. Boyd shows his compassionate side by offering to send the old man away to some place warm and sunny instead of killing him — which I totally believed he was really going to do right up to the point when Jimmy Tessio’d the old man from the back seat of the truck. Fool me once, Boyd…
Ava thinks she has lived up to her end of the deal with Rowena but it’s not enough. Rowena comes back with one more little job for Ava: kill Julia, Mother Superior.
Last but not least, Kendall Crowe is progressively unhappy being in Kentucky and anywhere near the rest of the Crowes. Wendy promises him that as soon as she gets her cut of the deal Daryl, et. al. are working, she will take Kendall away and he’ll never have to see them again. If that sounds too good to be true, then you’re obviously familiar with Justified. Daryl finds the money Raylan gave Kendall and pockets it after Kendall claims to have stolen it from Audry’s customers. Then Daryl tells Wendy that he plans on killing Boyd, Wynn Duffy and Picker and taking over the heroin business himself.
Who wants three guesses as to how that will end?