Skip to Content

Justified, Ep. 6.11: “Fugitive Number One” paints the county red

Justified, Ep. 6.11: “Fugitive Number One” paints the county red

Justified 611

Justified, Season 6, Episode 11: “Fugitive Number One”
Written by Taylor Elmore and Keith Schreier
Directed by Jon Avnet
Airs Tuesdays at 10pm ET on FX

On occasion, predictability can be a blessing. Watching last week’s “Trust,” it was clear that Justified was heading for a bloody, exciting episode this week, or at least a lame attempt at one. “Fugitive Number One” does the trick just fine, as it turns out, boasting one of the series’ gnarliest showdowns, an unusually ghoulish reveal, and, most encouragingly, a couple of moments imbued with real pathos that actually feel earned.

Before we get to the body count, a word on the Marshals. Season six has been littered with callbacks to the entire series’ history, but it’s still a little surprising to see Art Mullen properly re-enter the fray, complete with a freshly shaven head. (RIP to Art’s beard, just one of the season’s many idiosyncratic facial-hair choices.) Having Raylan go more or less “off the grid” in his hunt for Ava, incurring Art’s quiet wrath for perhaps the final time, is a neat, if tidy, way to bring the series full circle. Given ASA Vasquez’s raging accusations this week, it’s plausible that the season, and series, ends with Raylan out of the Marshals service entirely, having torpedoed his law-enforcement career while doing his bit to restore the place he left behind. It would have been nice for the season to find a way to better incorporate Tim (whose retorts remain first-rate) and do more with Rachel beyond making her a scolding boss, but you can’t have it all. Justified began life as The Raylan Show and it’ll end that way.

See also  Doctor Who, 2012 Christmas Special, “The Snowmen”: Personality, energy outweigh third act blunders

About that unexpected strain of pathos mentioned earlier: it’s hard not to feel for Markham just a little. The last scene he shares with Katherine is one of tender acceptance, as they learn that their mutual distrust needn’t be a barrier to wedded bliss and a new life as would-be Harlan County royalty. (That a portion of it features Markham’s hand at her throat is, admittedly, not a pleasant bit of blocking.) Twice in “Fugitive Number One,” Raylan finds himself delivering bad news to someone he doesn’t much care for. When he enters the Pizza Portal, it’s to insist with his typical candor that Markham shy away from getting involved with tracking Ava and the money down; when he finds Markham unaware of Katherine’s death, the tone changes, and Raylan’s humanity overtakes his need to be a swaggering lawman, even if it doesn’t stop him from reminding Markham that the whole damned affair lies at Markham’s feet. In the moment that Markham registers the news, Sam Elliott earns his keep in earnest, that angled Cheshire-cat grin flattening out into nothing, Markham’s dreams of empire and romance shuttered in an instant. He may be a bastard and a murderer, but as a human moment, it’s still allowed to be quietly devastating.

Of course, there’s nothing quiet or somber about Katherine’s actual death at the hands of henchman Mikey, a hyper-violent setpiece set to – of all things – “Pachelbel’s Canon.” To the best of my recollection, this is not only the only time the series has deployed classical music during a scene of violence, it’s the only instance of classical music ever appearing in any form, period. Intentionally or otherwise, the tune feels utterly alien to the Justified universe, adding an extra level of unease to a sequence we already have a reasonable expectation won’t end well. Mikey stepping between Duffy and Katherine’s pistol when he realizes that he’s broken his own purported values is a bit of a stretch, but there’s no arguing with the ensuing brawl, which milks the tight confines of the motorhome for all it’s worth. And, again, strange sources of pathos: Mikey’s request that Duffy hold him as he shuffles off into the light is funny, but it’s a little sad, too, if only because Mikey’s journey of self-assertion was so pathetically short-lived.

See also  The Leftovers, Ep. 2.05, "No Room at the Inn"

We don’t see much of Ava this week, but Joelle Carter makes the most of her minute or so of screentime, letting out an ungodly shriek as she comes upon the (gross, not cool, completely creepy) hollowed-out corpse of Grubes, the man who was meant to be her savior. There’s an ingenious touch here that must have been intentional: Earl mentions overhearing the name Grubes and “something about pigshit,” which creates an assumption that when Zachariah’s nose recoils at the stench in Grubes’ hideout, it’s the aforementioned substance. It’s a typically sneaky bit of misdirection worth admiring, to go with our collective, dashed hopes of one last bit of Deadwood stunt casting.

At this point, the rhythms of a season of Justified should be etched in stone: after a fateful episode like this one, it’s expected that next week’s “Collateral” will iron out whatever kinks remain in the season plot and set the stage for a grand showdown. I’m hoping that, in the interest of shaking things up one last time, Yost and co. opt to keep the energy high next week and keep the momentum going. Justified deserves as fiery a sendoff as possible; why restrict it to the finale?

Other thoughts:

The best Tim-ism this week, by some distance: “I’ve been to Mordor, but not through the mines.”

Nice to get one more bit of old-school Wynn Duffy fire in his (ultimately ineffectual) rant at Mikey.

The sequence in which Raylan lectures a dirty cop in Markham’s employ gives Olyphant his best opportunity in a while to tap into one of his greatest resources: smug, yet totally (sorry) justified moral superiority and long-brewing disgust. “I was just thinking how you’d look without any of your goddamn teeth.”

See also  The Good Wife, Ep. 6.18: "Loser Edit" dutifully ticks off its season-arc beats

The other death this week was poor, dumb Carl, though frankly the sight of Boyd in a cop’s outfit was my major takeaway from that sequence.

Not too much Boon this week, but his standoff with Raylan does make for about six seconds of stunning, stone-cold silence. Also, nice hat!

RIP Carl, Mikey and Katherine, and welcome to the Justified parlour for the dead, where the whiskey flows freely. Hey, have any of you seen a husky-lookin’ fellow?

Two episodes remain.