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Before | After

How will I wait another year?

The season finale of Justified last night managed to maintain the whole explosiveness that they've kept up through all the episodes previously. I didn't know if they could, but damn, if they didn't bring their game again.



This whole season, I've wanted to write big meta posts about the show, but I find that when I sit down to do it, everything gets so jumbled up in my mind. I'm incoherent with squee and about all I can do is flail. Even the less stellar episodes (and I can really only point to two) are still head and shoulders above anything else on TV right now. Usually series have a sophomore slump in that second year, but this show hasn't had that at all.

Last night, the stuff with Winona was probably the only example of when the show has felt weak for me. I never have the knee-jerk hatred of female characters that seems to be rampant in my corner of fandom, and I didn't have any real big issues with Winona until we started to get more in depth with her character this year -- and that's largely because I thought some of her actions seemed predicated on "if we do this, then this can happen" rather than on anything organic to the character. Her stealing of the money, for instance, was the biggest WTF the show has had for me, and I never truly understood what they wanted to accomplish with that except to make us not like her much.

But my biggest problem with her is something [personal profile] dorinda mentioned in her post, as well, and that's the whole female character rejects the male for doing a job that he could be killed by. I'm really tired of this cliche (I'm not even going to dignify that with the word trope), in the first place, and I grind my teeth over it all the time, but the way it was presented last night just really, really angered me. That Winona would force the issue to come down to "if you save this girl you obviously care a great deal about and identify incredibly strongly with, don't expect me to be here when you get back" just... augh. This is what I mean about flaily -- I can flail for both good and bad.

Especially with that being piled on top of the pregnancy revelation and Raylan's willingness to let go of everything he is and believes in just for the sake of making her feel comfy with his job/lifestyle, that was not only an annoying deus ex machina, but a nail in the coffin of our ability to care of her as a character. That just makes her the un-understanding shrew wife. I think the show is better than that, but it's still run by guys, and even with female scriptwriters on the team, the guys still put these things into play. Grrr.

That said, everything else we got was wonderful. I know they can deal with complexities with female characters and not resort to tired cliches, because look what we got with Mags, Loretta, and Ava. It made total sense to me that Mags would choose to go out that way, knowing that Loretta saw the real her, and her hopes for the future in Doyle's family was gone. All she was left with was Dickie, and probably arrest for her part in Loretta's father's death, so she took was she felt was the logical conclusion to the path she chose. I did enjoy that they kept up a certain tension with "where is the poison" in the glasses; I didn't expect her to poison Raylan, but they gave us just enough of a scare that she could do it.

I love how careful and calculating Loretta was; in her own way, she seems like the next generation Mags, and about the only thing that may keep her from that path is Raylan's involvement in her life. I admit, I'm one of those people who desperately wants Raylan to adopt her or become her foster parent, which of course would possibly be disastrous, but still... I just love the sympathetic bond between them, his knowledge of her, and her growing understanding of just what that means to her.

I was disappointed when Boyd went back to being just a bad guy again. I really liked him trying to walk that tightrope earlier in the season, how drawn he was to the bad life, and it made him more interesting. When he's bad, he feels less interesting to me because we've already kind of seen that. But the way they handled his badness last night was pretty cool; especially seeing what his actrions are doing to everyone around him -- Helen, Ava, and even Raylan despite their quasi-antagonist, quasi-boyfriends relationship. It makes sense that Boyd would be prepared for everything ahead of time except for Ava's unwillingness to play the sit and wait girlfriend, and what that costs her and him.

So they've set it up for Boyd to be the next big Harlan crime lord, and now everything's knotted up with Raylan and his family and his relationships (there's no way Ava's relationship with Raylan isn't going to come into play in that scenario), so even that rescue from Dickie will have its own repercussions. And what's to become of Dickie, you have to wonder? No one's going to bail him out this time.

Even with only a few scenes, Art still manages to pwn everyone else in sight. I loved his gentle refusal to Winona of help (I don't think he thinks much of her anymore now that he's aware of what happened), knowing all along that of course, he was going to help Raylan yet again. No matter how disgusted he is with Raylan, no matter how far apart their relationship grows, he's still going to help someone he once saw as a friend -- and Raylan is still, of course, his deputy marshal.

Even with only one small moment, too, Tim is the man -- just that quick shot of him with his rifle after Doyle's brains are splattered all over the property made me cheer, because I do love me some Tim (I take as implied that he was the sniper). It was a nice connection back to TIm having to chase Raylan to Mags's before.

Raylan's kind of quiet sadness at Art's reaction to his Glynco request was so sad... he's finally realizing that there is an irrevocable mistrust and disappointment from his friend and father substitute, and that's clearly hurting him more than any punishment Art could inflict on him, like withholding a recommendation for Glynco. Though Raylan says he'd just quit, we know, and he knows deep down, that he wouldn't, it's too important for him to try to repair what happened, but he probably also believes that might never happen.

I have a feeling that, being on FX, Justified will never see the Emmy or Golden Globes love that a series like this deserves. I'd especially love to see the writing team acknowledged, but maybe the SAGs might someday acknowledge the supreme acting on this show. (It's no surprise to anyone who watched The Shield how amazing Walton Goggins always is.) Margo Martindale especially should be acknowledged for Mags -- she was terrifying, sympathetic, tragic, ruthless, cruel, and sweet and you never knew which side was going to come out. She was utterly fearless in her performance, never stinting on the patheticness of her character at times, and never once actressy about it. And I've seen the girl who plays Loretta in a couple things this year (she's having a banner one!), and that girl clearly has a great future -- she's got way more talent than most actors twice her age and far more successful.

See? I haven't even said half the things I wanted to, and I've been going on for forever. I'm really glad I have all the season 2 episodes still on the tifaux, because I already want to commence a rewatch and see everything all flow together. I remember last season, a lot of people thought things got all scattershot and too episodic after the pilot, but when I rewatched it all in a row for vidding, I was amazed at how everything was set up and how well it all flowed together, with tiny little bits being dropped in along the way that led to the denouement.

I wonder if they'll end season three with another line of the same song?

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Comments

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crickwooder
May. 6th, 2011 01:10 am (UTC)
Justified traditions I like:

1. Ending the finale with Brad Paisley.
2. Art pwning someone before the credits, most episodes.

and word to just about every single thing you've written up there. Margo Martindale now owns my entire soul.
mackiemesser
May. 6th, 2011 05:22 am (UTC)
I'm with you on Winona. I keep trying to figure out what Raylan, and by extension the audience, is supposed to see in her that makes him want to give up everything to be with her. I just don't see it. I also think that it's pretty clear that Art doesn't care for Winona at all, and possibly never did (when my sister was here we watched Season 1 since she'd never seen it and I realized Art was always very reserved with her).

Even if he's gone back to being a villain, I find the precision of Boyd's badness to be fascinating. The things he will do, what he won't, what behavior he will accept--it's so sharply defined.

Margo Martindale definitely needs some recognition for Mags. I was watching one of the CBS crime shows tonight, and they were trying to make some character seem like a real rough guy and all I could think was "Mags Bennett would kick your ass all around the room without breaking a sweat..."

This, and the episode before it = some of the best drama I've ever seen.
sdwolfpup
May. 7th, 2011 08:24 pm (UTC)
That just makes her the un-understanding shrew wife.

Yes yes yes. Once she made him effectively choose between her and Loretta, I gave her up for good. She was already fairly unsufferable this season; that just made it worse.

And I would LOVE for Raylan to foster Loretta but. Yeah. That could only end badly, I fear. Heh.

I'm glad you took time to post your thoughts, I loved reading them!
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