The Season 2 finale of ‘Justified’ was a very difficult episode to yank a quote from for the title of this recap. There are just too many great lines in the episode! I could have used any of the following: “It’s better that we talk things out now than shoot ’em out later”; “You got my gun? Where I’m going, I’m gonna need it”; “This bullet’s been on its way for 20 years”; or “Do any of you peckerwoods understand English? On the ground, hillbillies – Now!”
In ‘Bloody Harlan’, Raylan takes another week’s leave from the Marshal service for personal time, but he’s not fooling anyone. Both Winona and Art are onto the fact that Raylan’s so-called “personal time” is really “personal vendetta” time. The moment Raylan gets word that Loretta has gone missing, he knows that she’s off to fulfill a personal vendetta of her own. His is with Dickie Bennett, hers with Mags Bennett.
Driven by his bottled-up anger towards Dickie, Raylan is blinded by the new developments in his own life. Winona is pregnant! All she wants to do is run away with Raylan and start a safe normal life, but he has placed her and their unborn child on the back burner. Terrified that one of the many people who want to kill him in Harlan might actually do it, Winona tells Raylan that she might not be around when he gets back. Fueled by his rage, he goes to Harlan anyway. More worried than ever, Winona tells Art about the situation and pleads with him to help.
The Bennetts have problems of their own. All of Harlan County hates them for selling out to Black Pike. Also, Boyd and Arlo are after Dickie. Claiming to be back in the crime business, they need to make their presence known again. So what do the Bennetts do? They meet with Boyd and Arlo to make a supposed truce, which is really more like a threat. At the same time, Bennett henchmen attack Ava’s house and Johnny’s shack to send a message. But they didn’t plan on Boyd having his heavily-armed out-of-state hired gunmen ready to flank them. Harlan, bloody Harlan!
As if Boyd and Arlo didn’t have enough reason to want to take down the Bennetts, Dickie busts into Ava’s place and shoots her in the chest. Now Boyd’s blood is boiling. Good thing he has paid off Doyle Bennett’s partner to leak Dickie’s hideout.
I was wondering how Loretta would fit into the season finale, and it turns out that she’s the catalyst. Loretta’s presence in Harlan brings all parties together. Not only does Raylan have the good intention of rescuing her, but saving her comes with the added bonus of leading him to Dickie. However, Raylan finds Dickie where he least expects it and is caught off guard.
Dickie gets the drop on Raylan and takes advantage of the opportunity by stringing him up like piñata. Dickie vengefully swings a bat to bust him wide open. Once again, Raylan is saved by his arch nemesis, Boyd. Although he would like to leave Dickie to suffer the wrath of Boyd, Raylan is forced to take Dickie to the Bennett ranch for leverage.
Meanwhile, Loretta goes ‘Winter’s Bone’ all over Harlan County. Determined to find out exactly who killed her father, she arrives at the ranch just moments before Raylan, giving her more than enough time to get Mags into a one-on-one indoor conversation. As Raylan and Dickie pull up to the gate, the Bennett clan’s firepower is drawn away from the cabin and placed in Raylan’s direction. The stand-off is quite calm, until Loretta blows a hole in Mags’ leg. Hearing the gunshot, the Bennett clan opens fire on Raylan and Dickie. Unhit, Dickie seeks shelter from the barrage of automatic gunfire in Raylan’s front seat.
Raylan gets hit! Blood sprays the camera lense! Shot in the left love handle, Raylan drops to the ground. As Doyle walks over to blow Raylan’s head off, a distant shot is heard and we get an R-rated headshot in a basic cable program. A sniper round passes straight through Doyle’s forehead. Art to the rescue! The tables have been turned; Winona’s actions have saved Raylan’s life.
Realizing that Loretta has just shot Mags, Raylan knows that he’s the only person who can talk her out of killing the woman. Of course, Raylan is the best U.S. Marshal to ever appear on screen, so he successfully talks Loretta down. Before booking Mags, Raylan takes a minute to respectfully tell her that her oldest just had the back of his head blown out, and that her last living son – the family fuck-up – has been placed under arrest. She and Raylan sit down for a special last drink of her “Apple Pie” moonshine before getting hauled off. She pulls out glasses from two different locations, meaning that one is poisoned, the same way she killed Loretta’s father. “It was already in the glass, not in the jar.” After a moment’s fake-out where we think that Raylan got poisoned, we discover that Mags has instead killed herself like an honorable samurai warrior.
‘Justified’ sure knows how to finish a season strong. ‘Justified’ fans may gripe about the finale the way ‘Lost’ fans did. However, ‘Justified’ doesn’t bank on a suspenseful ending, but a badass one. When you think about it, ‘Bloody Harlan’ leaves us with a bunch of character-driven cliffhangers.
Is Ava okay? Did Winona really split? Will Raylan get to be the father that Arlo never was? Is Boyd going to be the Season 3 central villain like he was in Season 1? Season 2 has been amazing and I cannot wait for the next one.
Tell us, what did you think of Season 2?
[Banner image screen cap from Timothy Olyphant Online.]