Fate is mentioned, repeatedly, in this opener for the final season of Justified. With the remnants of the subpar Season 5’s villains out of town or in the grave, the show putting the chess pieces in their place for what already feels like a lively and sharp final season. We’ve hit the end, Harlan’s dying, fate is showing its hand, but whether or not that will have any effect on the battle between US Marshall Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant, still hot) and brilliant criminal Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins, still charismatic) remains to be seen.
Technically, Raylan should be in Florida right now, keeping watch over his baby girl and his girl, Winona (Natalie Zea), but the U.S. Marshall’s office of Kentucky needs him for one last score, and that’s to build a case against the true love of his life, fellow Harlan native, miner, and a man who probably constantly pops up, symbolically, in any of Raylan’s tarot card readings, Boyd. So Raylan’s driving around down Mexico way where he’s stuck with tequila, not bourbon, in order to get the scoop on just what sort of criminal activity happened in Mexico.
Boyd is sleeping on the couch in his bar’s back room. He gets dressed with his usual precision, buttoning his shirt up to the tippy-top, in order to hide his Nazi tattoos (from another era), his hair remaining a hilarious spiky corona around his head. He goes to the bank to do some research on a robbery.
Later, Ava, who’s been released from prison in order to work as a criminal informant regarding Boyd, wakes up to the sound of Boyd sanding the door outside. They’re spiky with each other. Boyd says he understands, it’s hard to get out of prison, but the truth is that Ava’s wary of what her fate could be if she snitches on Boyd. It’s either death or prison in her eyes. But she tries to get him to talk — she spikes his morning beer with some vodka.
Dewey Crowe, sent to prison for a murder from last season, has gotten his freedom. Raylan goes after him, even though Raylan’s unorthodox (you could say… unjustified) techniques with the dumb-as-rock Dewey has had its consequences. Technically Raylan can’t go within 1000 feet of him. But he tells Dewey that he’s a pawn in fate’s right hand, and Dewey goes back to Harland to do some damage. But there’s no damage to be done — Audrey’s, the whorehouse is closed, seized, the local whores are working at the local diner. Purple panties dry forever on a wire. Dewey finds a meaningful trinket, his turtledog, the only bit of “family” he has left, but it doesn’t mean that much.
Because Harlan’s dying, as Boyd tells Ava. He tries to get her to say she’ll run away with him to Costa Rica, someplace with sand and beach, if he makes one big score. She’s wary. She has to go to work. At work, Raylan comes by to tell her that she’s been crap as a C.I. so far, and she needs to step it up. She’s also a pawn.
Dewey makes it back to Boyd’s bar, wanting to get back in the gang. Boyd is reluctant. Dewey thinks it’s fate.
At Raylan’s family house, a charming stranger, played by Garrett Dillahunt, big of beard and bigger of personality, comes by. Whatever Dillahunt’s selling, he’s the exact opposite of the laconic southernness practiced on this show. He’s like an alien. He’s gotta be dangerous.
Thanks to the U.S. Marshalls, Raylan’s gang is down a man. So he’s able to pull Dewey into his scheme. Dewey’s straight decoy for Tim and Raylan, driving a tow-truck with a ratty car down the road, singing along to AC/DC’s “Back in Black” (a shoutout, likely, to the fact that actor Damon Herriman is — surprise! — Australian), blasting through a cop barricade with ease until he loses control and crashes. Tim and Raylan are quick on his tail, Dewey says, “you can’t touch me, I’m teflon,” and the bag in the back of his truck, the bag Boyd put in there showily, well, it’s just some underwear.
Because while this inept justice was going on, Boyd was robbing the hell out of the bank he checked out earlier, guns blazing, masks on. Tim and Raylan only see the aftermath. Foiled again! Spy vs. Spy continues.
Pissed off, Raylan finds Ava on the bridge where all the symbolic talking and deals go on. He says he needs information. She says she doesn’t have any. He threatens her with jail, and twice the charges that even Boyd would get. She’s nearly shaking with nerves.
At Boyd’s bar, the gang sees the spoils. It’s mostly paperwork.
Raylan then goes to see his mentor, his father figure, the fallen head of the department, Art. (Last season left him wounded.) Art is bored, and Art is feeling like making some predictions about the future. “You could kill Boyd,” he prophesies, “or there’s another way, where you try and you fail and the bullet finds you.” Raylan drinks his bourbon.
Dewey, pissed off, confronts Boyd in the bar’s office. He just wants to matter. He reminisces about the good old days, circa the first season, where Boyd and his crew were all neo-Nazis hiding out in a church and preparing for the revolution with bombs. But Boyd knows they can’t go back. He makes Dewey look at the photo of Boyd’s ancestors, his grandpappy and others, union men living hard lives in the mine so that they could have good lives, but that’s not around anymore. He puts Dewey down with one bullet. After all, the possibility that Dewey, fresh from prison for some reason, may be a C.I., is just too real. Here ends The Ballad of Dewey Crowe: a fine man, beautiful comic relief, and the dumbest, luckiest criminal in Harlan County.
The final scene has Boyd watching Ava sleep. He’s killed one possible C.I. Ava may be the love of his life, she’s got to be on his side, but she was also released from prison just recently. Boyd’s full of doubts. Who can be trusted?