“Harlan is dying.”

– Boyd Crowder

It’s become a Justified staple to end each season with a montage featuring the song “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive.” As we head into this final stretch of episodes, tonight we see this theme play out as we are bombarded with constant reminders that this county is dying and so are the people in it.

We see both Boyd and Dewey infatuated by the photo of Boyd’s ancestors who lived in Harlan when it was a boom town. Dewey pines for a return to the glory days while Boyd sees the writing on the wall and knows he has to get out before it’s too late. In a heartbreaking scene with Ava, Boyd calls Harlan a ghost town and says they must get out before they too become ghosts. Little does he know that Ava is working with the marshals in order to keep him from ever escaping.

And Dewey, tragically, doesn’t make it out alive. After being given chance after chance thanks to the legal system, Dewey can’t help but go back to Boyd, who uses him as a diversion before ultimately deciding that he’s outlived his usefulness.

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We also see that Audrey’s is shut down, Art is officially out of the game and Raylan is trying to wrap things up so he can go be with Winona and their daughter. These are “hard, bitter times” and all of our main characters are looking to get off of this sinking ship.

The scene with Raylan and Art was incredibly telling. Art is the one person in Kentucky who sees Raylan for what he really is. Tim and Rachel don’t know the full extent of his transgression. And yet, it’s Art who Raylan goes to for advice on the Boyd Crowder investigation. He knows that Art will scold him for being too close to the case and will warn him against forcing Boyd into a gunfight, which suggests that he sought out Art in order to be put in check.

And while we mostly do see Raylan playing by the book – sitting back while Tim gathers surveillance and checking in with Ava in hopes of getting intel – the episode opens with him going down to Mexico and kidnapping a federale. He plows in Agular’s car and throws him into his trunk in order to secure his testimony against Boyd.

Raylan isn’t the only one struggling to walk a righteous path. Ava is clearly not doing well with her role as a government informant. She’s on the outs with Boyd and therefore has no useful information for the marshals. But even without her actually ratting out her fiancee, she’s still cracking under the pressure as she seems to be drinking around the clock.

While most of this season premiere centers around checking in with old friends, we are introduced to a new character – Garret Dillahunt’s Ty Walker. He shows up to Arlo’s house with a briefcase full of cash, hoping to buy it from Raylan. The scene is another reminder of how Harlan has changed and begun to decay (as Ty accuses Raylan of holding onto the house for sentimental reasons), but it also makes us wonder who Ty is and why he wants the house so badly. (It’s a house that contained a very valuable message bag in the walls – could it be home to other hidden gems?)

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We get another mystery as we are left to wonder why Boyd robbed a bank for one safety deposit box. Who’s box is he robbing and why? Presumably this is someone Katherine Hale has tipped him off to, but to what end?

Overall, it was a solid debut. There was a lot of setting up of things to come, but it still was exciting and entertaining. I’m definitely excited to see where things are headed.

And another thing …

  • Rest in peace, Dewey Crowe. You will be missed, you lovable moron.
  • I’m already way more excited for Ava’s storyline this season than I was last year. I’m glad she’s back in the middle of things, instead of on the sidelines with an uninspired prison plotline.
  • Tim was really enjoyable from start to finish. I particularly enjoyed him saying Dewey peaked too early when he played Goofy at Disneyworld.

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Written by Joel Murphy. If you enjoy his recaps, he also writes a weekly pop culture column called Murphy’s Law, which you can find here. Follow Joel on Twitter @FreeMisterClark or email him at murphyslaw@hobotrashcan.com.

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