Justified Recap: Plan B

How many men does it take to read a map? Photo: Prashant Gupta/FX
Episode Title
Editor’s Rating

“Trust,” directed by Adam Arkin from a script by Benjamin Cavell, is a nearly perfect engine of plot and characterization — like every episode of Justified this season, really, but more mercilessly tense.

Wynn Duffy, who last week was revealed as the snitch indirectly responsible for Katherine Hale’s husband’s death and turned criminal informant again, tried to help the Marshals ensnare Boyd; but his chief henchman Mike turned on him, knocked him out, handcuffed him in Wynn’s Wynn-ebago, and called Katherine to say, “I have something that might interest you.” (I was disappointed and a little incredulous that Wynn could’ve been neutralized so easily by a yutz like Mike, but whatever.) Boyd, thwarted in his attempt to steal $10 million from Avery Markham’s vault, went with plan B and kidnapped Katherine Hale to make Avery hand over the money personally, only to see it lifted by his beloved Ava, who shot him in plain view of her handler, Raylan, and ran off. This is a double bummer for Boyd considering that he gave all $100,000 of the reward money he got in “Potter’s Field” to Ellstin Limehouse, in exchange for a “clean out” that included convincing fake passports for him and his lady. (Limehouse put the documents in the name of Mr. and Mrs. Ofay.)

For a while it seemed like Ava might have another way out of this mess: nailing Boyd for murder via a bloodied alligator-tooth necklace that belonged to sad-sack Dewey Crowe, whom Boyd offed in the season opener. Raylan acted skeptical that Ava could make Boyd confess to the killing even as they were driving out to meet him, and as it turns out, he had good reason to doubt her. The efficient way that she took Boyd’s gun and shot him suggested premeditation, although I guess it’s possible she made the decision at the spur of the moment and was badass enough to pull it off. In any case, desperate times, etc. “I can’t go back to prison,” she told Raylan right before she fled. “Last time you ran, remember how that went?” Raylan warned her, referring to how she snuck away and sought sanctuary from Limehouse in the holler. “Last time I ran, I didn’t have $10 million to help me disappear,” she replied. She was right to make a break for it. As Avery told Loretta’s aunt in an earlier scene, “People who associate with Boyd Crowder have a habit of coming to a violent end.”

Ava’s plight has consistently been the most heartbreaking subplot throughout Justified’s final season. In “Trust,” it plugged directly into the show’s ever-more-intense fascination with the past, the future, and what might’ve been. “You ever wonder how things could’ve been different if you hadn’t left this place when I was 16? ... If you’d taken me with you?” she asked. This paralleled nicely with the ongoing hoo-hah over Katherine’s husband, Avery’s role in that mess, and the desire of all involved to either uncover and rectify past offenses (which seems to be what Katherine wants most of all) and effectively erase them and start over again in a happy place (which is what Avery wants, I’m now convinced; I think his desire to marry Katherine is motivated as much by real love as by the need to prevent her from ever being compelled to testify against him in court).

As we near the end of the sixth and final season, I’m less impressed by Avery than I was at the start. Although Sam Elliott’s drawling Lucifer performance could scarcely be improved, he doesn’t seem all that smart when it comes to executing his land-grab plan. He always goes for blunt instruments. And he doesn’t seem to have much in the way of a grand plan besides, “Scare everyone into selling, under threat of death.” That might be a workable tactic in some places, but not in Harlan, a county filled with pugnacious types, many of whose ancestors have been actively or passively nursing the same grudges for generations.

Avery’s meeting with Loretta’s aunt was funny and tense, but it once again proved that Avery’s tool belt only contains hammers. “It seems to me you’re here to get me to talk Loretta into selling out to you, or to talk me into selling out to you once you put her in the ground,” she said, correctly seeing through his elegant façade. Cut to Avery walking out of the house and giving his new enforcer Boon the nod to go inside and shoot her. (I realize Harlan is in a violent place and the show’s not too big on law-enforcement logic, but wouldn’t anyone who’d heard about Loretta telling off Avery at the party put 2 and 2 together?) Avery’s taste in henchmen isn’t so great, either. The mercenaries were too, well, mercenary — as Raylan observed, they knew killing, but they didn’t know crime — and Boon (effectively portrayed by Jonathan Tucker as a baby De Niro loose-screws type) seems like a straight-up psycho, too volatile to trust in a high-stakes operation. I also kind of wish they hadn’t given Boon a whole scene of his own in the diner, though I have to assume it’ll pay off down the road; Justified never gives a bad guy a scary-stupid aria disconnected from the main action without circling back around later to connect it.

This was still a great episode, not as masterfully constructed as last week’s or as unusual as “The Hunt,” but still completely engrossing. I didn’t realize until the cut to black that I’d given it 40-some minutes of my life; that’s how smartly paced it was. And there were iconically powerful moments every few minutes; my favorite is probably Katherine warning Boyd that if he went through with his plan, he’d have to look over his shoulder for the rest of his life, and Boyd responding, “Ain’t nothing in my life ever come for free.” Justified is damn close to having a perfect track record during this final stretch. The prospect of them keeping the streak going all the way to the closing shot creates a secondary layer of excitement.