Justified’s 6th and final season takes aim at its ninth 2015 installment in “Burned,” as Boyd is forced to step up his plan to rob Markham, while Raylan works every possible angle to counter his moves, and the future of Harlan’s weed industry crystallizes.

Last week’s Justified installment, “Dark as a Dungeon,” saw Raylan making deals with both Avery Markham and Boyd in pursuit of Ty Walker, while Art got a mysterious invitation from Katherine Hale (Mary Steenburgen), so what does the ninth episode of Justified season 6 bring?

Read on for your in-depth review of everything you need to know about Justified Season 6, episode 9, “Burned!”

Strong as Justified has been in its final season, placing a great very many ducks in rows and building up emotional stakes for its lawmen and outlaws alike, the main thrust has felt a bit scattered between Markham’s legal marijuana enterprise, Boyd’s heist, and the leftover criminal business like Markham’s security force, or the mystery of Grady Hale’s snitch. Only four episodes remain in the series, making tonight’s scant runtime something of a surprise, but leave it to Justified to deftly herd all of its straggling plots under one roof in a spectacularly tense hour that kicks off our final push.

In particular, the weed scheme has been given the shortest shrift this season, so it made sense to have Loretta’s return bring that thread to the forefront. Kaitlyn Dever makes Loretta’s maneuvering this hour equally captivating and terrifying, between recruiting Boyd as her muscle, or channeling Mags Bennett in galvanizing the town against Markham’s weed enterprise, an awestruck spectacle on all sides. It felt a bit late in the game to throw in yet another colorful henchman with the quick-drawing, snake-beheading Boone, though the electricity of his standoffs with Raylan lent well to translating the unease with which Raylan watches Loretta, knowing how beyond his influence or help she’s grown.

Tying Boyd’s heist into Markham’s rally proved a little more of a reach, though given how obsessed the Harlan bandit has become with laying hands on his $10 million prize, Boyd barely realizes the suspicious nature of Wynn Duffy’s interference, bats an eye at Raylan’s presence, or sees Zachariah’s deception until the last moment. It’s a spectacular showcase for Walton Goggins, one we’d expect even surpassed before season’s end, but the switch from defiant jubilation to every color of anger and fear imaginable proves every bit as tense as it does a stark reminder of Boyd Crowder as one of TV’s best characters.

I genuinely had to wonder if Justified might throw a curveball in killing off Boyd a few hours before the end, a testament to some fantastically tense filmmaking from director Don Kurt (note the myriad of closeups on Raylan’s drink, or other static shots shifting our anticipation in every direction), though especially poignant was to see Boyd nearly giving into his family reputation in anger against Ava afterward.

Boyd isn’t the only character reaching the end of their rope either, as Markham grows visibly agitated having to set a killer against a young girl outmaneuvering him with the townspeople, and even Raylan gets an earful from Rachel at the open and close of the hour of the Crowder case not yet paying dividends. Jere Berns’ Wynn Duffy too gets some fantastic desperation to play, as his apparent role of Grady’s snitch sees the Marshals pressing him into micromanaging Boyd, albeit in a much more lighthearted manner that cemented “Burned” every bit as briskly enjoyable as nail-biting in its final minutes.

An incredible, thread-tightening push toward Justified’s inevitable end, and with four hours still to go, there’s no telling how much greater one of FX’s strongest dramas will get.

AND ANOTHER THING...

  • Seriously, everything Jere Burns from this hour, whether the tanning bed confrontation, the fake phone call, or his descent into the mine. The revelation of Grady’s true snitch felt a little anti-climactic at this point, though likely served the best way to keep Wynn tied into the action.
  • The disposal of Scott Grimes’ Seabass felt similarly rushed, though still a great moment for Mary Steenburgen’s Katherine Hale (in black leather, homina). One wonders how many bodies have had to be scrubbed out of that hotel by now.
  • I’ll assume that Zachariah’s dynamite failed because his only real intent was to kill Boyd with it.
  • Ava still remains something of a wild card, playing level with Raylan or facing Boyd’s wrath once again. Can’t help noting that she started a fire after all, and the ominous title of the finale, either…
  • Not poor Loretta, guys!

Well, did Justified hit the mark with its sixth and final season’s latest? Join us again next week for an all-new Justified review of season 6's tenth installment, “Trust” on FX!