‘Justified’ Review: ‘Dark as a Dungeon’
Justified’s 6th and final season takes aim at its eighth 2015 installment in “Dark as a Dungeon,” as Raylan makes deals with both Avery Markham and Boyd in pursuit of Ty Walker, while Art gets a mysterious invitation from Katherine Hale (Mary Steenburgen).
Last week’s Justified installment, “The Hunt,” saw Boyd taking a nervous Ava into isolation to confirm some troubling news, while Raylan balanced work with Winona’s arrival, and Ty Walker attempted to flee both Markham and his own men, so what does the eighth episode of Justified season 6 bring?
Read on for your in-depth review of everything you need to know about Justified Season 6, episode 8, “Dark as a Dungeon!”
I wasn’t entirely enamored of last week’s hour, as—in spite of the magnificent work between Walton Goggins and Joelle Carter, or the neat parallels with Raylan and Winona—much of the runtime seemed to dance around core confrontations until a more timely eruption. And while “Dark as a Dungeon” didn’t offer terribly much more in the way of narrative momentum, tonight’s installment felt infinitely richer, with some really lovely confrontations and foreshadowing all around.
Seemingly spurred on by the promise of a Florida future with Winona, Raylan shifts into overdrive clearing out Arlo’s possessions and selling the Givens’ land, simultaneously burning down any links to the past, and cutting corners to end his pursuit of Boyd. Aligning with Markham to catch Walker certainly called to mind Raylan’s disastrous partnership with Nicky Augustine, only for Raylan to then bring the hornets’ nest directly to the Crowders’ door, hell-bent on furthering the quest for his white whale at any speed.
Problem is, both Raylan and Boyd have wound up equally entranced in their delusions, Raylan as the Gary Cooper white-horse hero destined to put away the bad guy, and Boyd the “magnificent” outlaw who smartly cautions Raylan’s tale more along the lines of Moby Dick. All around, another deliciously loaded confrontation for the pair, one that the dialogue itself espouses how much we’ll miss, and all in service of a surprising turn that sees Boyd giving up Walker outright. A quick end to the Black Ops leader muscling his way into an increasingly opaque legal weed scheme, but a thoroughly Justified resolution.
As self-aware as both Raylan and Boyd can be at opportune moments, neither learns to veer away from the dangers ahead, particularly now that Raylan’s ploy to show Boyd the inside of Markham’s vault has the outlaw hell-bent in his own right to make the final score, Ava’s alternatives be damned. All cheese in a trap Raylan arrogantly believes within his control, even as Ava points out how easily Raylan’s cunning ways might have made him a fellow outlaw, something he doesn’t deny. In a way, Season 6 has seen both men confronted with the idea of what to leave behind, in Boyd’s case an outlaw legacy, in Raylan’s a heroic escape from the Harlan past he spent so much of the hour degrading, redneck and all.
“Dark as a Dungeon” tosses around a great deal of past and future imagery as well, with Ava seeing the two forces as a struggle to the bitter end, Raylan a difference between statements and questions, or needless unearthing of unknown horror, or Markham’s vision of a shadow following all your life. Still, Raylan’s rush to leave Harlan behind unearths an unsettling truth all its own, as the contents of Arlo’s private shed are revealed as nothing more than a place for a troubled man to find solitude of his own, rather than damning evidence of his father’s monstrosity.
The nigh unheard-of incorporation of Arlo’s actual ghost made for an effective surprise as well, a neat wrinkle of the gravedigger’s earlier words about the “idea” of one’s earthly remains. The shed reminds only of Arlo’s humanity, symbolized by a key kept on his dogtags as a symbol of hope in the war, making Raylan’s deliberate attempts to disrespect his father’s grave feel empty. Just as Raylan ends the hour indifferent to moving his mother’s resting place, or pulling up his own future gravestone, the idea of what we leave behind, whether in legacy or remains, proves frustratingly opaque.
“Dark as a Dungeon” brought quite a few other dynamics to enjoy as well, between always-reliable Wynn Duffy and Mike humor, that gorgeous back-and-forth between Katherine Hale and Art over her ex-husband’s killer, or really any of the dozen exchanges and character beats throughout, though truly, this was just a lovely hour of television. The endgame remains a bit clunky, between Raylan and Boyd’s final confrontation, Ava’s allegiance (still), or any of the Markham-Hale business, but good grief if tonight wasn’t some fascinatingly complex work on all fronts.
AND ANOTHER THING…
- All this, mind you, in an hour that also called into question whether or not Raylan was in love with Boyd’s balls.
- Strange that Earl made it through the hour, given the fakeout with Walker’s gun.
- Incidentally, is Zacchariah not trying to kill Boyd anymore? Did we drop that?
- Great closing cap to the Art/Katherine scene, as she unzips he skirt for a subtle power play.
- “You wanted to get shot in the front, you should have run toward me.”
- Something tells me that isn’t the last “fire in the hole” we’ll hear.
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 ninth installment, “Burned” on FX!