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Justified, Ep. 6.04: “The Trash and the Snake” rewards series-long viewers

When it comes to planned-in-advance TV endings, in general, you can do it straight, or you can do it serpentine. Do it straight (Breaking Bad, The Wire) and you guarantee a high degree of fan contentedness, though usually at the cost of spontaneity. Do it serpentine (Lost, Battlestar Galactica, The Sopranos) and you run the risk of pissing off a large percentage of the fanbase, though you’ll have the side-benefit of being debated into eternity. On occasion, a series finds a way to split the difference and reaps incredible rewards. Justified seems destined to opt for the former route. While it’s supplied some artful twists and surprise developments in the past, it’s never been a series built on narrative trickery or hifalutin thematic development. It’s always had (at least) one foot planted firmly in the realm of traditional genre storytelling.

Sons of Anarchy, Ep. 7.10, “Faith and Despondency”: Professions of love (or something close)

Lo, the grandmother’s comeuppance begins not in the form of blackmail from a member of SAMCRO, nor an outside party seeking revenge. No, it comes at last from her own flesh and blood. Abel, who this episode goes a long way towards transitioning from “devil spawn” to “devil spawn with revenge blinders on”, single-handedly starts the avalanche that will doom Gemma in the end. The first half of “Faith and Despondency” lays the seeds well, not playing an obvious hand as to whether the reveal would come in the confines of this episode or if it would be pushed until next week again. By the last third, however, the dread builds slowly but surely until Jax’s bedtime visit could not reasonably culminate in anything besides Abel spilling the beans about who murdered his mother. Even if he is confused as to the motivations behind her killing, his wide-eyed innocence lends an ominous “accidentally on purpose” air to his line of questioning.

Sons of Anarchy, Ep. 7.04, “Poor Little Lambs”: Jax’s master plan goes south

Sons of Anarchy just broke its own record for erasing any and all good will shortly after amassing it. Episodes two and three of this season are examples of how to properly build up excitement and suspense for the story to come, and here the show ruins all of that hard work in a matter of minutes. Once again, after multiple examples across the history of the show, an entertaining episode filled with well-executed character building and excitement is undermined by the unnecessary and senseless killing of female characters.

Quentin Tarantino officially confirms ‘The Hateful Eight’ moving forward

It’s Sunday and the final day of the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con, typically the quietest day of the convention. After a crazy weekend of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Godzilla 2, Skull Island, Mad Max: Fury Road, Crimson Peak, a ton of TV, and comic news, we’ve got one last big film announcement. As reported by Deadline from the Dynamite Comic’s panel, while promoting the Django Unchained/Zorro crossover comic, Quentin Tarantino confirmed that he is officially moving forward with his new western The Hateful Eight.

Justified, Ep. 5.13: “Restitution” can’t save a confused season

That’s what you get for cautious optimism. Justified’s fifth season finale has a lot of heavy lifting to do: it has to convince us that our time spent with the Crowes was meaningful, that Boyd’s Mexican misadventures amount to more than a diversion, that Ava’s prison scenes weren’t just a too-sadistic sojourn into tonally misaligned territory, and that Raylan’s sense of detachment this season has been leading our perpetually behatted hero somewhere new and intriguing.

Justified 5x12 Starvation

Justified, Ep. 5.12: “Starvation” points to a grim conclusion

Watching a season of Justified expand and contract its narrative can be a thing of beauty, even when it feels like the show isn’t necessarily at its best. “Starvation” continues down the sullen path of Season 5, a year that’s seen Raylan grow increasingly distant amidst a particularly nasty and bleak set of circumstances, but does so in a way that honors its main character’s histories and relationships. For longtime viewers, it’s a welcome sign of things likely to come. Probably.

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