‘Justified’ Season Finale Review: “Ghosts”
‘Justified’ season 4 patches things up with its thirteenth and final episode of the year “Ghosts,” as Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) finds his family threatened by a deadly confrontation with Detroit mobster Nicky Augustine ('Glee's Mike O'Malley), while Boyd makes a last-ditch effort to save Ava from Delroy's murder being uncovered.
Last week’s ‘Justified’ episode “Peace of Mind” saw Raylan leading an expedition to retrieve Ellen May (Abby Miller) from Noble’s Holler, while Boyd and the Detroit mafia men raced to beat them to it, so what will the final episode of ‘Justified’ season 4 bring? Will Raylan be able to take down the Detroit mafia once and for all?
Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Justified’ season 4 finale “Ghosts!”
Raylan hands in the last of his Drew Thompson paperwork before his official suspension, while Boyd, Ava and Jimmy quickly gather their tools to retrieve Delroy’s body from the mine. By the time they arrive however, authorities have already fished out the remains, under the supervision of Sheriff Mooney. Unsure of what to do, the three drive off, while elsewhere Raylan arrives at Winona's home to find a number of Nicky Augustine’s thugs already there with her.
With no gun or badge due to his suspension, Raylan listens as the lead thug demands to be led to Shelby Parlow, while Winona remains in the nursery at gunpoint. Thinking quickly, Raylan insults one thug enough to get a punch to the gut, from which he grabs the thug’s gun and opens fire on the other. The lead man holds Winona hostage and threatens that they’ll be on Nicky’s hit list if they kill him, but Winona manages to break free as both parents fire at the thug, killing him.
Boyd and Ava debate the idea of running before Boyd realizes he has one last card to play, while back at the crime scene Art and Raylan debate the failed hit. Theo Tonin has already taken to retirement overseas, leaving Sammy Tonin next in line, who doesn’t particularly care for Nicky Augustine. Art assures Raylan that Sammy will likely take care of Nicky before the man can make good on any threats, and that going after Nicky himself will mean an end to his career. Afterward, Raylan consoles Winona, and assures her he’ll take care of the man threatening them.
Back at the bar, Boyd invites Sheriff Mooney and Lee Paxton for a meeting, forcing Mooney to admit the body hasn’t officially been confirmed as Delroy Baker. Knowing that the police sometimes use Paxton’s funeral home as a morgue, Boyd offers to wipe the man’s debt clean if he lets them swap out the body for another. Paxton reluctantly agrees, on the condition Boyd and Jimmy dig up the replacement body themselves.
After digging up one of Boyd’s old friends, Boyd and Jimmy stash the body at the bar and prepare to head to Paxton’s, when Raylan appears looking for Boyd. Accusing Boyd of giving up Ava to Nicky, Raylan demands to be taken to the gangster, threatening to take in either he or Ava should he refuse. Spurned by Raylan’s threat on Ava, Boyd reluctantly agrees, and apologizes for leaving Ava to her task alone.
Over at the funeral home Mooney points Ava and Jimmy to Delroy’s body, while elsewhere Nicky Augustine and Picker debate Boyd’s imminent approach with Raylan. Picker worries that they should attempt to make peace with Sammy Tonin rather than worry about the Marshal, but Nicky insists on at least meeting the man to hear him out.
Along the way to Nicky, Boyd and Raylan debate the latter’s plan, while Raylan questions if Boyd loves Ava the way he loved his faith, or racial purity previously. Raylan accuses Boyd of loving things that make him feel he isn’t the bad guy, but Boyd retorts that Raylan generally does the same, hiding behind his badge as he goads criminals like Nicky Augustine into pulling their guns, and ending up dead for it. Elsewhere, Ava kicks Jimmy out of her car, and insists on dumping Delroy’s body in the slurry pond alone.
After being dropped off at the airfield, Raylan gets in a nearby limo with Nicky Augustine, getting straight down to business. The men feel one another out as Raylan offers Nicky a chance to turn himself in altogether, but Nicky disappoints him as predicted. Not carrying a weapon and believing Raylan won’t kill him, Nicky insists that he’ll head to Detroit to kill Sammy Tonin, before returning for Raylan and Winona. Resigned, Raylan leaves the car and heads straight for a nearby plane, where Sammy Tonin steps out.
Raylan explains to Sammy that Nicky intends to kill him, but when Sammy asks how Raylan can justify walking away from what’s about to happen, Raylan insists he offered Nicky a chance to turn himself in. Pointing out that his suspension prevents him from enforcing the law regardless, Raylan walks away as Picker and Sammy’s men open fire on Nicky’s limousine, killing him.
Boyd rushes back to the bar to find Ava already gone, as the woman struggles elsewhere with dumping Delroy’s body in the slurry pond. Ava pushes the body toward the pit when Sheriff Mooney and his man pull up, pretending to have no knowledge of her actions. As the men arrest her, Ava realizes they planned to catch Boyd in the act, but Mooney insists she’ll do instead.
Shortly after sunup, Paxton positively identifies Delroy’s body as one stolen from his mortuary, when Boyd pulls up in a panic. Boyd initially lunges at Mooney before the officers pull him away, and Paxton menacingly asserts that Boyd won’t be trouble anymore. Boyd observes Cassie St. Cyr leaving the scene, before rushing back to share one last kiss with Ava before the authorities drive off with her in custody.
Raylan sees Winona off, sharing a kiss, while back at the bar Boyd drinks his sorrows away. Wynn Duffy enters, newly reinstated as part of Sammy Tonin’s outfit, and offers Boyd the earlier-discussed lead in the Kentucky heroin trade. Still despondent, Boyd reluctantly accepts, before driving over to the house he’d toured with Ava previously. Breaking in and shutting off the alarm, Boyd takes a solemn look at the view of the backyard, lamenting Ava won’t be there to share it.
Back at Arlo’s house, Raylan finally patches up the “Hole in the Wall,” before Art calls to inform him of Nicky Augustine’s end, unaware of Raylan’s part in it. Raylan thanks Art, assuring him he’ll sleep well that night, as the suspended Marshal eyes Arlo’s recent grave with the tune “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive” playing in the background. So endeth 'Justified' season 4.
'Justified' has long been a critical favorite, even if the series rarely manages to attract the attention of some of FX's other series, or cable at large. Season 4 certainly swung for the fences with its format-breaking Drew Thompson mystery, culminating in the terrific "Decoy" several weeks back, before settling into its more character-driven rhythm the last two weeks. "Ghosts" in particular feels as nuanced and well-defined as ever, needing precious few action beats to illustrate the tension of the hour, and rich character definition from Walton Goggins and Timothy Olyphant.
At its core, 'Justified' will always return to the dichotomy between Raylan and Boyd, beautifully demonstrated in just a handful of scenes the two characters share. Each struggle to make their own ends meet given the limited means presented to them, Raylan compromising his integrity to keep his family safe from Nicky Augustine, while Boyd falls just short of arranging things to keep Ava out of harm's way.
Relatively few shifts actually occur over the course of tonight's final hour, apart from Ava's incarceration and a changing of the guard for the Detroit mafia, but 'Justified' has long proven itself a series where the slightest movements can create an avalanche of character development. It's difficult to say where the "Ghosts" might take Raylan or Boyd next year, but 'Justified' has certainly proven it doesn't need a flashy villain or a shoot-'em-up closer to bring the season home.
What say you? How did you feel about ‘Justified’ season 4′s finale episode “Ghosts?” Did the season work without a major villain? Join us next season for all-new ‘Justified’ recaps on FX!