In the latest Justified recap, Raylan tries to find the dirt on Markham’s goons while Boyd starts to discover enemies both at home and at work…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
It’s hard to imagine when the final season of ‘Justified’ began and we met a rather large fella driving in a very small car named Choo-Choo that he would later become the centerpiece of the most emotionally charged episode so far this year.
Played with brilliant subtlety and quiet rage by newcomer Duke Davis Roberts, Choo-Choo went from sidekick comic relief to a real flesh and blood person who probably embodies a growing number of veterans returning home from war who are left to fend for themselves after the bullets stop flying.
In Choo-Choo’s case he teamed with the same guys who watched his Hum-V get taken out by an IED in the Middle East. The same soldiers who thought Choo-Choo had to be dead when the remains of the driver looked like road kill on the windshield, but somehow he survived the explosion and made it back to the world even if he was a shell of the man who went into the war in the first place.
He was a soldier to the very end. It was the one thing in Choo-Choo’s life that still made sense after a bomb nearly ripped his face off. It was the only thing he had left and when Choo-Choo drew his last breath, he did so as a casualty of war.
With that said, let’s recap tonight’s episode of ‘Justified’ titled ‘Alive Day’.
What’s Mine Is Mine
When ‘Justified’ started six seasons ago, the show was based primarily around U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, who was sent home to Kentucky on reassignment after a shooting ended badly for him during his time spent in Florida. But when his encounter with an old coal mining buddy named Boyd Crowder became the most compelling interaction in the entire pilot episode, the producers and writers behind the show quickly realized that this series was about the parallel lives of two men and not just one.
It was the man standing on one side of the law and the other who opposed him. It was the black and the white. The good and the evil. The purest form of storytelling the world has ever known or understood.
Yet despite this incredible dynamic that’s been running on ‘Justified’ since the first season, the actual interactions between Raylan and Boyd are really few and far between during many of the episodes. Each season the two old friends find one reason or another to butt heads or collide in some form or fashion, but with the final season based solely on the premise that Raylan’s last mission in Kentucky is to put Boyd behind bars, the number of times they clash is going to increase exponentially because this, after all, is the end game.
In ‘Alive Day’ the scene shared by Raylan and Boyd picks up just minutes after last week’s episode ended with Ava planting a kiss on the U.S. Marshal and him insisting on sticking around while she made dinner of her fiancé.
When Boyd returns home and finds Raylan’s car in the driveway, his suspicions are immediately raised. While he doesn’t address it very often, Boyd knows that he’s with Ava now but that was only after she invested everything in a relationship with Raylan that failed. So when he walks indoors, Boyd isn’t quite sure what to expect and Raylan’s response that he’s looking for Dewey Crowe just doesn’t jive with anybody in the room.
Boyd decides to up the ante by rubbing Ava’s legs right in front of Raylan as a sign that he’s with the object of desire that the U.S. Marshal once coveted above everything else. The back and forth was nothing short of spectacular and the room was just wrought with tension and it proved once again that Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder might just be the most powerful one-two punch on television today. Both men are pushing the others buttons just seeing who will break a sweat first. Raylan recalls the first time the three of them were in Ava’s house while there was a pile of fried chicken on the stove and without saying a word, he’s intimating that the night ended with a bullet in Boyd’s chest. Boyd counters by reminding Raylan that the same thing could happen tonight with a much different result. Raylan agrees.
The dance of dialogue was just mesmerizing.
In the end, Raylan and Boyd retire to their separate corners but this was just round two and there’s plenty more fight left to go before ‘Justified’ is over.
The Clean Up
Following last week’s mishap where Choo-Choo killed real estate dealer Calhoun with a single punch that was supposed to be a small tap, Ty Walker is called in to clean up the mess. Walker’s frustration is starting to boil over dealing with Choo-Choo and Seabass, who are creating more problems than they’re solving.
In the midst of making sure this murder can’t be traced back to them, Walker needs to know if there’s anything that could point to Seabass and Choo-Choo being in the office that night. Just before they walked in, Calhoun’s personal escort was leaving so there’s one loose end that has to be tied before this situation can be handled without Avery Markham finding out just how badly his paid crew of mercenaries fucked up.
Walker orders Seabass to find and dispose of the prostitute while Choo-Choo helps him get rid of Calhoun’s body. Seabass bucks the order and reminds Walker that they are no longer in the military together and this isn’t a chain of command that must be followed. He also takes a pot shot at Choo-Choo saying that he’s been saddled with his stupidity ever since they came to Harlan together. Right away the episode takes a slightly sad turn because Choo-Choo isn’t dumb, he’s just dealing with the after effects of brain damage thanks to the injury he sustained on his alive day.
Choo-Choo doesn’t overreact and promises to help get rid of Calhoun and then deal with the hooker himself.
The plan seems to come together until the next day when local cops find Calhoun’s body in a shallow grave thanks to dogs who are roaming the woods during hunting season and in his pocket is a business card for U.S. deputy Marshal Raylan Givens. They also divulge that Calhoun was killed by a single blow to the head, but it looked like he was hit by a train. Or a Choo-Choo as the case may be.
Right away, Raylan and Tim know that Markham’s crew had to be behind this murder so they head down to the Pizza Portal to rattle a few cages to see what falls out. When Raylan informs Markham about the dead realtor, he’s taken back by the news and immediately he knows there’s dissention in the ranks. When the boss doesn’t know his underlings murdered somebody and tried to cover it up behind his back, there’s a loose thread somewhere in the operation and it only requires a little tugging before the whole thing starts to come apart at the seems.
“You know where I think you went wrong? You hired a bunch of mercs cause they look the shit in jungle fatigues. It turns out they know killing, but they don’t know crime.”
~ Raylan to Avery Markham
Raylan tells them to let him know if Choo-Choo comes back around and the moment he exits, Markam’s gaze turns directly to Walker looking for answers about what happened to good old Calhoun. While Raylan and Tim sit outside on a stakeout just waiting to see how Markham and his crew react to this news, inside the Pizza Portal things are getting a little tense.
Markham clearly didn’t know what happened and if he hired a crew of ex-soldiers, they certainly aren’t following his orders right now at all. When he finds out the full depth of the story, Markham already knows what has to be done. The loose end and loose cannon is Choo-Choo. He killed Calhoun. He tried to cover it up. And now he’s tasked with killing the prostitute who saw them walk into Calhoun’s office just minutes before he died.
Walker counters his boss by telling him that he served with Choo-Choo and watched his truck get blown up by an IED and saw his friend battle back from a severe brain injury. It just wouldn’t be fair to shoot him down like a dog in the street after the service he put forth both in the field and back at home. Markham tells a different story, however, about his time in Vietnam and the sacrifice a soldier has to make the good of his platoon when it’s clear he’s acting more as an anchor than an engine.
In Vietnam, the Vietcong used to build pits filled with sharp bamboo sticks covered in feces and when somebody would fall down into them, they wouldn’t die but instead suffer horrific injuries and thanks to the diseased muck, the wounds got infected. A dead soldier can be left behind. A wounded soldier just slows down his unit. So in this particular pit where Markham crossed during his time in Southeast Asia, the soldier fell and got impaled by the bamboo shoots but instead of making his friends carry him back, he put a bullet in his own head to ensure they would move forward and not miss a step thanks to his injury.
Markham is intimating, more or less, that killing Choo-Choo is for the good of the group. His reasoning is only strengthened when Choo-Choo calls Walker with a problem.
After picking up Calhoun’s escort and driving her to where she would be executed, Choo-Choo gets locked into a conversation with the young woman and she’s the first person since he came to Kentucky who talked to him and not at him. Her sweet words are the exact medicine Choo-Choo needs right now and even in his most self-deprecating moment, she’s still understanding and promises that dumb isn’t the word that best describes the gentle giant.
“It’s alright. Before my alive day if I had met a guy that looks and talks the way I do now, I’d have thought the same thing.”
Getting to know the girl makes Choo-Choo sympathetic and while he does tie her up and gag her, he calls Walker to ask for her reprieve. He’s convinced she won’t talk and they should let her go. Unfortunately the phone call also signs Choo-Choo’s death warrant because as much as Walker was ready to go to battle to save his friend with Markham, this latest request is just further proof that he’s the loose thread just waiting to unravel them all.
Down In a Hole
Before Boyd crawls back into the abandoned mine that he hopes will lead him to Markham’s hidden treasure chest, his new partner Zachariah Randolph shares a little bit of time with his favorite niece Ava. The two share some words about her father, who apparently died in a mine many years ago after a cave in either crushed him or suffocated him to death. It’s clear the Randolph clan is splintered and not all that close, but it’s sweet to see Ava finally have someone solely on her side for a change.
As it turns out, Zachariah’s grudge against the Crowder family didn’t disappear just because Boyd paid him $10,000 to help him access the mine that leads to the Pizza Portal.
Following a day of digging in the mine, Zachariah asks Boyd to retrieve an oil can, but one misstep and the wooden boards beneath him snap and he nearly falls to his death. Zachariah and Boyd’s other paid helper are able to pull him up from the abyss, but he was certainly just one wrong move from plummeting down the mine and it was a long drop to the bottom.
It appears Boyd didn’t hire morons either this time around because the guy in the mine left with Zachariah after the boss goes home thanks to his near death experience notices that the boards that snapped weren’t broken because they rotted. The boards were cut on purpose and broke the first chance when someone put weight on them. Zachariah applauds his deduction before tossing the boy down the open shaft.
Clearly, Zachariah Randolph has a score to settle with Boyd Crowder and despite this trick not working, his secrecy and deception remain in tact and there’s little doubt he will strike again.
Who’s the Rat?
Katherine’s need for revenge against Markham doesn’t stop her from jumping into bed with him every chance she gets, but when she wakes up from this latest orgasm induced haze, she finds a gigantic diamond ring awaiting her. Avery is proposing marriage and despite both of them failing in past relationships, he’s never come up short when it comes to Katherine and he wants to seal the deal with a ring.
Katherine is clearly blown away by the gesture but also still burning inside with the thought that Markham was the rat who put her first husband in prison before he ultimately died inside. The roles are reversed, however, when Markham asks Katherine to come clean before any potential nuptials are exchanges. It seems Markham is convinced that Katherine was the one who dropped dime on her husband, which is why he left town when he did all those years ago. Katherine promises she wasn’t the one and as the two of them hug, the look in her eye is mixed between anger and confusion while he simply looks like a man fueled by distrust.
Wynn Duffy believes he sees through this ruse as just another way Markham is trying to pull the wool over Katherine’s eyes and divert the fact that he was the one who put her husband in jail before splitting for Colorado.
Wynn: “You want me to look into it, see if I can dig something up, proof that it was him or something that proves that it wasn’t, I’m just not sure it matters. Either way, we’re going to have to kill him.”
Katherine: “Oh it matters. If he’s playing me, we’re going to have to kill him slow.”
Back at the Marshal’s office, Art is (sort of) back on the job after being cleared to drive for the first time since he was shot. When Rachel arrives the student and the teacher share a few notes about Grady Hale as well as rogue officer Raylan Givens.
When it comes to the Grady Hale case it seems Rachel worked on it during the earliest part of her career with the office just after she graduated from the academy. Art is curious to know if there was a rat involved in Hale’s downfall, but Rachel says she never heard of one. They both theorize that if there was a rat, it had to be Markham because he managed to escape arrest while later flourishing with his own business in Colorado. They also know it wasn’t Katherine because through hours upon hours of wire taps, the authorities could never get her to say anything on tape that would work against her husband.
So this now begs the question — who was the rat and is that going to be a big twist this season? And why was Art so curious? Was it because of Raylan’s previous inquiry into the case via his former boss or is there more to this story than meets the eye?
Before Art finishes his coffee and leaves the office, he gives his protégé a little advice regarding her efforts to corral Raylan as he pursues a case against Boyd Crowder. See, Rachel knows that just a day earlier Ava tried to run thanks to phone records that indicate she was definitely trying to get out of Harlan as soon as possible. Rachel also pulled Raylan’s phone records and now she’s not sure if he’s covering for her, sleeping with her, or both.
Art intimates that to allow Raylan to work his magic, which has always seemed to end in either a conviction or a dead perpetrator, he sometimes has to operate outside the law. So when Rachel gets her chance to file a formal complaint against Raylan later in the episode, she bites her tongue and tries to do what’s best for the case and that’s leaving him on the job going after Boyd Crowder.
Blood on the Tracks
Markham’s orders are clear as day now so Walker has to round up two more goons to go meet Choo-Choo where he’s holding the prostitute and finish the job by eliminating the loose end. The only problem is when Walker arrives, so do Raylan and Tim, who were just waiting outside the Pizza Portal to follow whoever left first to go after Choo-Choo.
Choo-Choo is spooked because right away Raylan and Tim suggest that Walker was there to kill him. Walker insists otherwise, while ordering his fellow veteran to take out Raylan and Tim because they win thanks to the number game. As Choo-Choo reaches for his gun, Raylan and Tim are mystified how this man could somehow still trust Walker after it’s clear he was there to put him down like a dog in the street.
Raylan: “You can’t still be taking his orders”
Choo-Choo: “It’s all I got.”
A fire fight ensues with Walker getting tagged but finding a way to escape and Choo-Choo taking several shots before jumping in his tiny hatchback car and getting away from the Marshals hot on his trail.
But Choo-Choo’s time is short and as he comes to a set of train tracks, he parks the car and just waits for the inevitable locomotive to plow him down. But when the train comes barreling down the tracks, the pilots are able to apply the brakes and stop just feet away from Choo-Choo’s car. The two men jump out of the cab and run to check on Choo-Choo, but as they arrive, he’s already gone. Choo-Choo tried to find some kind of poetic end by allowing a train to run him down, thus bringing the genesis of his nickname full circle, but instead he passes away from gun shot wounds that he suffered during the last war of his life. Roll a few tears for Choo-Choo, he will be missed.
Boyd returns home after a long day in the mines and greets his lady love, who has spent the afternoon entertaining her babysitter Earl while learning what thrash metal is all about. Just after arriving, Body gets a call on his phone and the voice on the other end belongs to Ellstin Limehouse. He knows the relationship he’s had with Boyd over the years has been strained, to say the least, but he’s calling with a piece of information he’s willing to give away for free in hopes of rebuilding a new foundation for the two criminal counterparts both residing in Harlan County.
Limehouse calling had Boyd interested, but this promise of such juicy information has him interested. That is until Boyd’s face goes pale white when Limehouse drops this one on him.
“Ava tell you anything about what she got up to yesterday?”
~ Limehouse to Boyd
As the scene fades to black, Limehouse probably doesn’t even need to finish his sentence as the seeds of doubt have already been planted in Boyd’s mind and it appears next week, those flowers are going to bloom and Ava is in serious trouble.
Best Lines of the Week:
Military rivalry perhaps?
“This sniper guy said he got 255 all by his lonesome but take that with a grain of salt since he was a SEAL.”
Lost and found
“Silver lining – you keep that card on you, cops ever find you buried in a shallow grave, they know to give us a call.”
This should be in a book somewhere if it isn’t already.
Raylan: “Wonderful things can happen when you sew seeds of distrust in a garden of assholes”
Tim: “You just come up with that?”
Raylan: “I read it somewhere”
Tim: “Well do me a favor and say it again slow so I can write it down.”
The next episode of ‘Justified’ airs on Tuesday night at 10pm ET on FX.