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Friday, April 13, 2012

Season finale is 'Justified'

FX's Justified brings its third season to a close with "Slaughterhouse." With a state trooper dead, Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) seeks justice. The trail leads him to have showdowns with all of this season's villains: Boyd (Walton Goggins), Limehouse (Mykelti Williams), and Quarles (Neal McDonough). But in the end, the only one Raylan is able to arrest is his own father, Arlo (Raymond J. Barry), who may have tried to kill him.

What a slap in the face! Off his medication or not, it is pretty clear that Arlo thinks that he shoots Raylan to protect Boyd. While Boyd and Arlo have been enjoying a closer relationship than Raylan is ever shown to have with his father, it's the ultimate betrayal for the lawman. He has never seen eye to eye with his criminal parent; Raylan even shoots Arlo in season one, but only in the leg. For Arlo to fire a kill shot at who he thinks is Raylan, and then to exhibit no guilt or remorse for it, is a twist, indeed.

Not only that, but back in his right mind, Arlo takes the fall in "Slaughterhouse" for killing Devil (Kevin Rankin), too. Arlo is already going to jail, and as old and senile as he is, tacking a second murder charge on won't hurt him much further. Besides being a favor to his adopted son, and an apology for threatening Ava (Joelle Carter), though, it's a second insult to Raylan, as Arlo knows full well that Raylan is convinced Boyd killed Devil, and will be upset that Boyd can't be charged for it. This confession is almost a taunt, in that respect.

All of the performers in this piece are fantastic. There has always been good chemistry between Boyd and Raylan, and Raylan and Arlo. But the work being done in "Slaughterhouse" is above and beyond the call. These three male actors really define why Justified is such an amazing show. And when the plot boils down to personal drama between them, it's where these stars shine the brightest.

How much will Arlo's betrayal screw up Raylan? He is already suffering from Winona (Natalie Zea) leaving him with their unborn child. Now he knows that the only other person who should love him, no matter what differences they have, doesn't care one lick. This sets Raylan up to be in a very dark place come season four.

Also going dark is Ava. One can see how she falls in with Boyd, and begins to support his criminal activities. After all, it's what she's been around, and what she knows. Plus, it's not like Raylan is trying to save her anymore, so why not put her loyalties in the man that stands by her? But watching Ava slap a prostitute, establishing her authority as the one in charge, is something new indeed. It's in stark contrast to the Ava introduced at the beginning of Justified, and giving the dynamic growth we've seen in her already, it will be exciting to see where the characters goes next.

The only bad guy that gets what they deserve in "Slaughterhouse" is Quarles, when Limehouse chops off his arm and Quarles bleeds out. The cool thing about Justified is that recurring characters come back over and over again. Quarles has a full arc this season, and doesn't have any other place to really go on the series, anyway. By contrast, Boyd has no shortage of avenues he can take next, and Limehouse, introduced this year, will also likely remain a big player in future stories. Plus, viewers now know that Johnny (David Meunier) is betraying Boyd to Limehouse, so there's another war building. Justified finds just the right balance between stopping the criminals, and leaving some out to cause further mischief.

Awesome finale! Justified airs on FX.

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