Justified 4.13: Ghosts

SPOILER WARNING: This post will appear following a new episode of Justified. It is intended to be read after seeing the show’s latest installment as a source of recap and analysis. As such, all aspects of the series up to and including the episode discussed are fair game.


The final scene of last week’s episode left the viewers with absolutely none of that eponymous “Peace of Mind,” but that was probably the point. You’ll recall Augustine’s henchman Picker was at work installing a rocking chair for Winona that she didn’t order. I spent the week wondering what the game was. Is a bomb or some other devious device planted in the chair? And the title of this week’s episode, “Ghosts,” didn’t offer any consolation. I mean, “Ghosts” doesn’t exactly scream “don’t worry, she’ll be fine.”

I’m still not quite sure how those four goons got into Winona’s house, or what the chair had to do with it, but the play fails pretty spectacularly. In fact, the finale turned out sunny for Raylan without him having to put much effort in (you know, relative to his other doings). Raylan quickly dispatches three of the thugs after one gets too close while punching him in the stomach, and he’s able to kill the last when he lifts his gun from Winona’s belly to Raylan. Classic introduced-just-to-die Justified villain move. As Raylan says later in the episode, “they always pull,” and you don’t pull on Raylan Goddamn Givens!

Once the authorities arrive at the scene, Raylan talks with Art and Assistant U.S. Attorney David Vasquez about the motivations for the attack. Raylan quickly discovers what we already knew, Nick Augustine was behind the whole thing, and the scheme’s purpose was a final, flailing attempt to get at Drew Thompson. What else? But that’s not the most interesting part of the conversation. Raylan brings up Augustine, calling him “this Nicky fella,” and Vazquez quickly responds with the man’s full name. Raylan then jokes, “oh good, you’re familiar,” to which Vasquez responds, “more than I’d like to be.” We’ve known for quite a while that the Tonins have a mole in either the Marshals’ or U.S. Attorney’s office. It’s how Augustine found out Shelby wouldn’t talk until he knew Ellen May was safe almost as fast as the Marshals who heard him say the words. Now I may be reading too much into this, folks, but I don’t think so: David Vasquez is the mole, hence his being more familiar than he’d like to be. Plus, Vasquez relays almost as much information about the Tonins to the Marshals as vice-versa. Sure, a good prosecutor might know plenty about the latest “Shakespearean” power struggle in the Tonin family. But I think he’s also got inside information. That wasn’t just a throwaway line.

After Raylan puts it together that Augustine is responsible for the attack on his wife, he immediately elects to go after him, despite the fact that he’s suspended (for real this time). In his defense, Raylan doesn’t know for sure what we do, that his delaying the suspension to close the Drew Thompson case is what put him (and his family) on Augustine’s radar to begin with. But that doesn’t make his decision to  ignore Art’s orders and seek revenge any smarter. His family is attacked, so he does the exact same thing that got his family attacked in the first place? As soon as he told Winona, “I’m gonna find the guy responsible for this, and I’m gonna take care of him,” I thought, aww here it goes.

Stupid decision or not, however, things work out for Raylan in the end. He and Boyd have a fantastic conversation as they drive to meet Augustine at the airport in which Raylan says Boyd “loves anything lets you put your head on the pillow at night thinking you a’int the bad guy.”  It’s an interesting accusation, given how things shake up for Boyd and the general Anti-Hero/Anti-Villain dynamic the show works with. What’s more interesting, however, is the accusation Boyd fires back, “What do you tell yourself at night when you lay your head down, allows you to wake up in the morning pretending you’re not the bad guy?” It’s a valid question, given what Raylan does in the episode. Unbeknownst to Boyd he’s already got things figured out. He’s called Sammy Tonin, Theo’s son and the heir apparent, as well as Nick Augustine’s biggest enemy and competitor for power. Sammy arrives at the airstrip and asks Raylan, “If you saw a crime committed against [Augustine], you wouldn’t as a lawman feel the obligation to intervene?” Raylan simply responds, “I’m suspended,” and walks away to the sound of machine gun fire as Sammy’s henchmen blow Augustine away as he sits in his limo.

While things turn out fantastic for Raylan in the finale, the same can not be said for Boyd, although the opposite could be. In a desperate move to rescue Ava, Boyd decides to go down a mine shaft that hasn’t been used since the days of his great-grandaddy to grab Delroy’s corpse, even though he himself has told Ava repeatedly that “moving a body is the best way of getting caught.” But the cops are already on the scene, and it appears someone’s told them where the body was hidden.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, so Boyd plays the very last card in his deck. He calls on a man from Clover Hill who owns an undertaking business and a member of the Harlan County Sheriff’s department—neither of whom work for him anymore and both of whom he’s screwed over in the past—and concocts a plan to steal Delroy’s body and replace it with another. Things appear to go swimmingly, so Ava and Jimmy take the stolen corpse to another location. Except Ava tells Jimmy to go home, perhaps out of some odd notion that there are some things you have to do yourself or because she’s heard Boyd say “moving a body is the best way of getting caught” so many times that she doesn’t want to drag another “innocent” into the mess.

To Ava’s dismay, the very cop who was present as she lifted the body from the undertaker’s shows up with his partner to arrest her. I talked last week about the speed at which inter-gang alliances are formed, fall apart, and reassemble again. Because in the crime business it’s less about what you’ve done for me lately and more about what you can do for me now. Unfortunately for Boyd, the deputy owes him no allegiance and the undertaker owes him less. The last time Boyd and the latter got together it was so he could rip him off for a whole bunch of money and a Dairy Queen franchise. Desperate times. So both men doublecross Boyd, a likely result given his history of doublecrossing them, and Ava ends up in the back of a cop car. Boyd shows up and assaults the officer, and while lying on the ground he sees Cassie St. Cyr in the distance watching, then getting in her truck and driving away. Cassie still held a grudge against Boyd for indirectly killing her brother Billy, and it’s the preacher’s ghost that comes back to haunt Boyd. As I’ve talked about at length, that’s the way things are in Harlan, history, your actions as well as those of your father and grandfather and every other clan are leashed to the arguments and alliances of those who came before—the eponymous ghosts. Cassie St. Cyr is new to Harlan, but she was around long enough to have a beef with Boyd that came back to bite him in the ass. Although it’s no consolation for Ava being on her way to prison, Boyd’s luck changes slightly at episode’s end. Wynn Duffy returns to announce that Sammy Tonin has placed him in charge of all the family’s business east of the Mississippi, and he wants Boyd to run his Kentucky heroin trade. I can already imagine season five.

That’s it for this season of Justified, but be sure to check out my Game of Thrones blog and follow the writer on Twitter @NateKreichman.