Synopsis of Justified 6.08 “Dark as a Dungeon” from the FX network’s Website: Raylan extends an unexpected offer to Markham. Boyd and Ava find themselves in Walker’s dangerous company. I haven’t been enjoying the final season of Justified as much as I enjoyed the previous five seasons. It’s not to the point where I have ever thought about giving up on the series; I still enjoy it—just not as much as I used to. At one time, I literally could not wait to watch the next episode—as I would either watch it “live” or I would start watching the recording while it was being recorded. However, on my digital recorder, I currently have a backlog of 32 episodes of various TV series that I’ve not been able to watch for the past two months due to three “commitments” that have been consuming my time each week. One of those three commitments is the four weekly pieces I’ve been writing for Psycho Drive-In: My weekly Spontaneous Quixote column and three weekly reviews (one of which is my weekly review of Justified, of course). If it wasn’t for my weekly review of the series, I would probably have saved the last four episodes of Justified as part of my backlog of shows. Instead, I would have watched the four episodes of Supernatural that I currently have saved—though the final episode of American Horror Story: Freakshow has been hanging around in storage since January 21, so I may have taken it off the recorder by now just to get it out of the way. Anyway, I’ve thought about why this season of Justified hasn’t been drawing my immediate attention. I don’t think it’s due to a change in me, as I’m still reacting the same as I always have to my other three must-see-immediately shows—The Americans, The Musketeers, and The Walking Dead—and I anticipate having the same must-see-immediately reaction I’ve always had for Game of Thrones when that series returns on April 12. I finally decided that I don’t feel an urgency to watch each episode immediately because this season does not have as much tension as past seasons have had. There is conflict, of course, but there isn’t the same level of tension within this season’s conflict—and since this is the final season, I went into it thinking there would be more tension in these episodes, not less. However, I’ve also come up with a theory on why the creators of the show may have chosen to intentionally decrease the tension; it might be so that the final scenes in the final episode will seem even more powerful. The majority of the season is a lull before the season-ending storm. For instance, the threat of Boyd Crowder has been at a consistently low level since the beginning of season two. Along with his father, Boyd was the major threat in season one, but he’s taken the role of secondary villain in each season since then. However, I expected him to loom larger as a threat this season since this final season has been set up a couple of times as a High Noon-styled showdown between Raylan and Boyd. However, thus far, Boyd’s plan to steal Markham’s millions of dollars in cash from a basement vault has mostly been a subplot to the Avery Markham story line. There is also the co-plot of the potential RICO indictment of Boyd, but the main story line has been Markham’s plan to buy all of the best farmland in Harlan County so he can grow premium pot once Kentucky gets around to legalizing marijuana. However, despite the marijuana element, there just isn’t a lot of tension involved in these real estate deals—and the tension that was introduced (people refusing to sell) was quickly played out after a couple of episodes. Even the potential for tension in the fates of two of Markham’s ex-Special Forces hired thugs—Choo Choo in “Alive Day” (6.06) and Ty Walker in this episode—was not fully realized. Their deaths were more of a whimper than a bang. While Raylan did end up killing Walker with two well-placed shots in his torso, those shots were placed in Walker’s back—causing Walker to complain as he was on the ground and gasping for air, “Bullshit. You shot me in the back.” While I was surprised Raylan didn’t shoot Walker’s legs so he could take him in alive, his response to Walker’s claim that it was “bullshit” was a classic Raylan quip: “You wanted to get hit in the front, you shoulda run toward me.” Then Raylan asks Walker about his reason for running (and subsequently dying), “All for what? Money?” Walker struggles to answer the question as he gasps for breath with two bullet wounds in his lungs, “No . . . no . . . no, not for the money. No. . . .” However, he dies before he can say what it was all for—and I hope Walker’s explanation is not given in the final episodes. It would create a greater sense of verisimilitude to leave some things unexplained—just as they often are in real life. For instance, I recently learned that a member of my family is getting a divorce. I will probably never know the reasons for her decision because I will never ask—but even if I were to ask and she were to answer, I still would probably not know the full (or real) reasons for her decision. Never getting a revelatory answer to Raylan’s question would give viewers something to ponder—especially since Walker’s statement about it not being about the money contradicts Markham’s claim to Katherine that the way to ensure loyalty is to pay workers a lot for their loyalty. Regarding the moral ambiguity of his own work, Nathaniel Hawthorne understood the power of not revealing everything by the last page of a story—as he wrote in his Preface to The House of the Seven Gables: A high truth, indeed, fairly, finely, and skilfully wrought out, brightening at every step, and crowning the final development of a work of fiction, may add an artistic glory, but is never any truer, and seldom any more evident, at the last page than at the first. (sic) The ambiguity of Walker’s final words would create a type of tension separate from the conflicts in the plot—a tension within the viewers’ minds as they contemplate the meaning of Walker’s words and look for clues in his previous scenes. Just such a creation of tension within the mind of the viewers was evident a few years ago in the final scene of The Sopranos as Tony sat with his family in a diner before the screen suddenly went black. I am convinced the final and immediate blackness of the series-ending scene (not a “fade to black”) was the result of a bullet entering Tony’s head—especially since there was a discussion a few episodes earlier about being shot in the head. That discussion resulted in one character deciding that the person being shot wouldn’t hear it—everything would just suddenly go black. Despite my firm interpretation of that final scene of The Sopranos, other equally valid interpretations appeared on the Internet for several weeks after the last episode aired. However, unlike The Sopranos, I suspect we will get an explanation of Walker’s final words—but I’m hoping we won’t. Another area where this season has downplayed the tension is in Raylan’s involvement in Markham’s real estate plans. Obviously, unless we’re discussing David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross, real estate deals are not normally the focal point of dramatic tension. However, even the usual melodramatic tension between a law-enforcement officer and a bigshot gangster has been mostly nonexistent in the scenes with Raylan and Markham—save for the dramatic stare down they had in “The Trash and the Snake” (6.04). In fact, the latest episode has them working together—albeit after a few low-key verbal feints by Raylan that Markham takes as gloats about slowing down his farmland purchases. Raylan then explains that the people in Harlan County aren’t going to turn down Markham’s money just because a lawman told them to; it was Boyd who warned people not to sell to Markham because he would kill them if they did. Markham: You tellin’ me after all the sabre rattlin’ we’re on the same side? Raylan: Sayin’ we got a common problem. That “common problem” is Ty Walker (whom Raylan had not yet shot in the back when he had this exchange with Markham). Raylan sees the elimination of Walker as a fugitive as something that will allow him to return his focus to bringing down Boyd, which would also benefit Markham. However, Markham is skeptical about helping Raylan bring in Walker since that would give the government a witness with whom they could make a deal—with Walker then providing evidence against Markham in a criminal case. To ease Markham’s concerns, Raylan suggests that a Special Forces veteran like Walker isn’t likely to go down without a fight. On the surface, Raylan’s attempt at easing Markham’s worries would not seem to make sense. However, I didn’t fully understand the significance of Raylan’s statement the first time I watched the episode—but on my second viewing it was clear what actually transpired in that exchange. Raylan implied that he will kill Walker, so Markham won’t need to worry about anyone providing evidence against him. This deal with Markham isn’t the first time Raylan has crossed the legal and ethical lines in making a deal with a gangster that subsequently involved a death that would benefit both sides. In the fourth season episode “Ghosts,” Raylan calls Detroit mobster Sammy Tonin to let him know that a rival of his, Nick Augustine, can be found in Lexington. After escorting Sammy and his hitmen to Augustine’s limousine on an airfield runway, Raylan walks off as Sammy and his men shoot up the limo in the background—killing Augustine, of course. Thus, it should not come as a shock that Raylan has essentially agreed to kill Walker if Markham will agree to help flush him out by providing $100,000 for information on Walker’s location. The plan worked, as Raylan finds Walker fairly quickly after Markham announces the reward money—and puts the two slugs in Walker’s back. Given the legal and ethical problems of Raylan’s arrangement with Markham, it’s natural for Raylan to think about his father, Arlo, whose own illegal and unethical actions have always grated on Raylan. We then discover the significance of a key Raylan took off Arlo’s army dog tags at the beginning of the episode when he was preparing to burn all of his father’s belongings. I figured Raylan didn’t know what the key was for—that it was a key to a locker or post office box Raylan was going to have to track down. However, Raylan knew exactly where to find the lock that went with that key—the storage barn behind the house. Why Raylan didn’t just take a bolt cutter to the padlock after Arlo died became clear once he used the key and discovered the storage barn was completely empty. At that point, Arlo’s “ghost” shows up to ask Raylan what he expected to find. Raylan: Every evil thing inside you I thought was in here. Arlo: That’s a big, fat nothin’. Raylan has evil things inside himself, too, but he convinces himself he commits his immoral acts for the greater good of bringing down criminals by any means necessary—regardless of laws and ethics that would get in his way. Also, like the foreshadowing images of Raylan’s grave that have shown up a few times this season (and a few times in just this episode), the “evil things inside” Raylan might foreshadow his final conflict with Boyd (with only five episodes remaining). The title of this episode, “Dark as a Dungeon,” is an allusion to a song by Merle Travis. Here is a version sung by David Morris: Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related 2 Responses The Americans 3.07 “Walter Taffet” - Psycho Drive-In March 18, 2015 […] Justified 6.08 “Dark as a Dungeon” […] Log in to Reply Justified 6.09 “Burned” - Psycho Drive-In March 24, 2015 […] my review of “Dark as a Dungeon” (episode 6.08), I said this season of Justified doesn’t have as much tension as past seasons have […] Log in to Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.