Justified “The Promise” Series Finale Review

Justified The Promise Season 6 Episode 13 05

It’s with a heavy heart that I write this review of Justified’s series finale. The show has been consistently entertaining for the last six years and has given us some truly memorable characters. It’s got to be hard for writers to create an ending to a story in a way that can satisfy its fans. Many shows fail to create a sense of closure. Justified hit it out of the park. The finale was filled with nostalgia, surprising twists, touching moments, and an ending that brought us back full circle to where we started.

Picking up from last week, Raylan is arrested and Boyd is mad as hell that he can’t find where Ava and Zachariah hid the money. Ava has fallen into Markham’s clutches, and he is not happy that she only has $1 million of his money on her. When Markham pulls Ava’s chair to him, you know he would not hesitate to snap her neck. Markham has Ava call the cabin and Boyd answers the phone. In another expert maneuver, Ava pretends that she’s talking to Zachariah. With Zachariah dead, she’s the only one who knows where the money is.

It feels like poetic justice that Boyd frantically digs around the property trying to find the money and only turns up only a corpse. I kept thinking it was more likely that the money was in the petroleum tank or under the floorboards somewhere, but we’ll never know. He narrowly misses getting caught by the Marshals at the cabin and only escapes by throwing sticks of dynamite.

Meanwhile, Raylan lucks out that Art is waiting for him at the station. In the car ride, there’s a moment of truth between these two. Art has seemed uncertain as to Raylan’s loyalties and Raylan mostly scoffed at him. For the first time, Raylan unequivocally denies having anything to do with Ava taking the money. Art gives him back his badge and the look on Raylan’s face is great. They figure out that Markham is at the Bennett property and Art entrusts Raylan with heading out there alone. He’s telling Raylan that he wants him to do the right thing.

Obviously, the moment that everyone hoped for was a showdown between Boyd and Raylan. It was completely unexpected for it to happen so early in the episode. Any other show would have made this one of the episode’s final moments. I did not anticipate that Boyd would take out Markham so quickly, or that he would actually point the gun at Ava and pull the trigger. Fortunately, Boyd is out of bullets. Raylan comes in and wants Boyd to make a move so he can be justified in shooting him. He kicks a gun over and tells Boyd to raise it up.

This was such a fantastic scene. It’s not surprising that Boyd refuses to pick up the gun. He’s always been a survivor and knows that going against Raylan is suicide. I appreciate that the writers resist the urge to give us what would have otherwise been a traditional ending—good guy shooting at the bad guy. In doing so, they create the most pivotal moment of the entire series for Raylan. He has to decide if he’s going to let his desire to bring down Boyd allow him to cross the line. He can kill Boyd and end it all or he can follow the law and take him in. Raylan proves that he is the hero of this story. He turns Boyd in.

Raylan is tasked with taking Ava to Lexington. On the ride to the station, they are intercepted by Boon. I was so wrapped up in the Boyd drama that I’d completely forgotten about Boon. This is where we get the traditional, Western standoff. It’s what Boon’s been hoping for. They stand on opposite sides, poised to draw. I loved that Ava and Loretta both ducked down at the same time. You see blood spray off both of them and my heart stopped. It would’ve been the worst ending ever if they killed Raylan like that. But he’s only grazed. Boon is not as lucky. As he is bleeding out in the dirt, he reaches for his gun to shoot Raylan again, and Loretta steps on his hand. This is the perfect revenge for Loretta. It would’ve corrupted her young soul to kill him, even though I’d been wishing for that result. This is better. She saves Raylan and has the satisfaction of watching Boon die. Ava takes advantage of the situation and flees.

Even though I’ve wanted Raylan to end up in Florida with Winona and his daughter, it’s still sad to watch him leave Art, Gutterson and Rachel. Raylan’s departure also could’ve been the last moment of the series. It would’ve been tidy, but not entirely satisfactory. As Raylan says, “Something feels somehow incomplete.”

We jump forward 4 years to Raylan playing on the beach with his daughter. It’s mildly disappointing that Raylan and Winona aren’t together. What happened to her big speech about wanting to be with Raylan despite his limitations? But it does ring more true to who they are. The fact that Raylan is an involved father may be the best he’s ever going to be able to do when it comes to having a family.

We see Raylan go into his office, and I love that he’s still wearing the hat. He finds an envelope from Rachel with a newspaper clipping of Ava. He travels to California, where he finds her living a quiet life on a ranch. He grills her on how she got away, and it’s apparent that Wynn Duffy leant her a hand. I kind of like this twist. Wynn Duffy is so slippery, it just fits.It’s unclear whether Raylan would’ve taken Ava in if she hadn’t shown him her son. Seeing the boy changes the game for Raylan. I was not expecting that Ava would end up with Boyd’s child.

Then we go to Boyd in prison. He’s become a preacher again! This is hilarious and so appropriate. He’s called out of chapel because he has a visitor. I honestly wasn’t sure it would be Raylan. He’d been so adamant about never wanting to see Boyd again. But Raylan wants to help Ava, so he goes to tell Boyd that Ava is dead. That’s probably the nicest thing he could’ve done for her.

It was sweet to see Boyd cry. It’s so perfect that Boyd thinks it’s for the best because people like him and Ava don’t get out of Harlan. Ava and his son are living the life that Boyd only ever dreamed of. It’s nice to see Raylan and Boyd bantering and laughing—this has always been the most delightful part of their adversarial relationship. It’s weirdly touching that Boyd wants Raylan to admit that he came all the way to the prison because he wanted to see Boyd. This gives us the best closing lines: Raylan, “Well, I suppose if I allow myself to be sentimental, despite all that has occurred, there is one thing I wander back to.” Boyd, “We dug coal together.” Raylan, “That’s right.”

If you haven’t had a chance to check them out yet, you can watch the interviews I did with the cast at the series finale red carpet. You’ll find them under the TVEquals interview tab. Walter Goggins, Timothy Olyphant, Joelle Carter and several other cast members talked about their feelings on the show’s ending.

It’s a sad day for Justified fans, but I’d like to say thank you to the writers for giving us a final episode that was true to the characters, entertaining, funny, sad, and sentimental.