TV Recap: Justified, ‘The Promise’

Written by Ryan DeMarco

JUSTIFIED -- Key Art

Justified Series Finale Plot Summary:

In the series finale, “The Promise”, Raylan (Timothy Elephant  is out to finally put an end to Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) and get out of Kentucky alive, while the threat of Markham (Sam Elliot) and Boone (Bill Tangradi) still linger in the balance.

Photo Credit: Prashant Gupta/FX
Photo Credit: Prashant Gupta/FX

Well, here we are at last. After six joyous seasons we have arrived to the final hour of the FX hit. Going in, I honestly had no idea what would happen. Raylan had just been arrested. Ava (Joelle Carter) had just been caught by Markham’s men and Boyd is out for blood. But how would it go down? Will Markham somehow manage to complete what he originally came there to do in the first place? Will Ava meet her end by the hand of Boyd after betraying him? Most of all, would Raylan finally put Boyd in the ground, a task he was trying to accomplish since the very first episode. Giving the demand of the fans it’s almost certain that most of if not all the characters will be dead by the end of the hour, right?

Well,  I have good news and bad news for y’all. The bad news is that there is no more Justified for the time being, folks. The good news is the finale was masterfully done. “The Promise” sends the show with not so much a bang but with grace and ranks as one of the best finales ever.

Overall the theme of the season leading into the final hour was change. Raylan was questioned as to becoming a bit soft since becoming a father. Forming a theory that he has lost the power of his quick draw and concerning viewers such as myself wondering if Raylan would be at the wrong end of a bullet.

Photo Credit: Prashant Gupta/FX
Photo Credit: Prashant Gupta/FX

The big question of the night was Raylan and Boyd’s overall fate. Who would kill who? All other matters were, although important in their way to the story, were secondary really to the audience. So it was relieving to see the writers (There were four for this episode, including show runner Graham Yost) not spend too much time with other matters like Markham and finding the missing money Ava stole. Instead, by the halfway point of the episode Art (Nick Searcy) releases Raylan from custody while Boyd has killed Markham and his men in typical badass fashion.

When the dust has settled we come to the point when Raylan and Boyd are at a stare down. Raylan wants to shoot Boyd, however Boyd is out of bullets. Raylan kicks a gun over to him. Boyd refuses to comply and Raylan in the end can’t do it. He just can’t kill Boyd. Instead he arrests him. A surprising choice to say the least, but this shows how far Raylan has come since arriving in Harlan. He has lost the anger and became a satisfied man by putting Boyd away by the books instead of in the ground. A nice finishing touch.

Photo Credit: Prashant Gupta/FX
Photo Credit: Prashant Gupta/FX

To me the best moment of the night goes to the Raylan/Boone moment. It has been building since Boone showed up about four or five episodes ago that he and Raylan would somehow face off before the end, and boy did it end excellently. If I’m sitting at the edge of my seat during the scene, that’s a moment not easily earned. That frame with Raylan and Boone standing 50 feet apart with the lake and mountain in the back ground. Astounding. Of course it came down to who was the faster draw and it’s too close to call. But in the end both men on the ground, Boone shot dead and Raylan’s head turned away from the camera with a bullet hole in his hat right behind him. I’ll admit for that moment, I thought Raylan had paid the ultimate price. His head grazed and blood running down his head. He had lived but he let Ava get away. This was a moment on the show that I’ll always remember. Beautifully done.

With the final 20 or so minutes remaining we get a four year time jump. Which is nothing uncommon in a series finale but it’s always a risky move to do and thankfully it was done right here. Raylan is in Florida with his daughter, Willa. He and Winona did not stay together in the end and he is back at the Marshal’s service for Miami. One thing leads to another he finally comes across Ava who has been hiding in California. We get some background info on how she managed to escape past the Marshals in Kentucky and she has a baby boy now. Who turns out to be baby Boyd. Hope he ain’t racist too. It was nice to see Ava get what she finally wanted in the end, a character who I surely didn’t imagine would survive.

Photo Credit: Prashant Gupta/FX
Photo Credit: Prashant Gupta/FX

The final moments of the show were well spent with Raylan visiting Boyd in prison. Boyd, who had gained his faith back, is currently preaching his beliefs to others (something we’ve seen before). Raylan delivers the news to Boyd that Ava was dead and buried for years. A move that will forever keep Ava safe and Boyd without the knowledge of his son. Tragic but necessary. In the end, after all the violence and brutality Raylan and Boyd finally have made a peace. They grew up together, dug coal together and will always be ‘frenemies.’ A nice twist in our expectations.

“The Promise” went opposite of what everyone expected to happen. It was a bold move to keep all of the leads alive in the end, but it was a wise choice I believe. If Raylan had shot Boyd he wouldn’t have grown as much as he would. I wouldn’t call this a cop out either. It was simply a surprise and I’m completely happy with that.

Justified ends on a solid note with no loose ends. An ending not many other series can happily say.

Rating: 10/10

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