• In the tradition of bootleg real-life Duff Beer, craft It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia booze, and Game of Thrones themed brews, Breaking Bad, at the threshold of its final season, has gotten its own ale! No. It is not meth flavored. (via UPROXX)
    • Oprah brings back soap operas, returning to her roots of championing for housewives and househusbands and jobless day-time TV watchers everywhere. One Life to Live and All My Children are coming to OWN. (via The AV Club)
    • Remember that MTV show Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous? Well it’s been cancelled. Oh, no? Never mind then. (via The Hollywood Reporter)
    • USA Network is either rewarding Psych fans creatively or really just doesn’t care anymore what they air, because they’re goin’ all choose your own adventure on our asses for a season 8 episode. (via TV by the Numbers)
    • FX is adapting Last of the Mohicans, the 1992 film based on a 1826 novel about a story taking place in 1757, for television to give us all what we’ve been clamoring for—Native Americans have been under-exploited and appropriately represented in the media for far too long and Johnny “Tonto” Depp can’t fix that all by himself. (via Vulture)
    • Lastly, I would watch Tika Sumpter (pictured beautifully above) do anything. Anything in the world. If her, Oprah, and Tyler Perry need me to continue watching Haves and Have Nots to show my dedication to Miss Sumpter, I will, but I don’t have to like it. (via The Hollywood Reporter)

Raylan Givens will kill all your henchmen. This is a fact that viewers fully understand but everyone in the fictional universe of Justified consistently seem to forget. Being from out-of-town, Detroit namely, is not an excuse to be ignorant of the fact that your mid-level goons are not going to be enough to carry out the foolishly ambitious task of holding Raylan’s family hostage in an attempt to extort the man. The very premise is ridiculous. Nonetheless, it seemed provocative enough to warrant opening the final episode of one of Justified‘s most satisfying seasons to date. Not as daringly exciting as a bomb strapped to an expecting mother’s rocking chair (you know you thought it), but putting the future of the Givens bloodline in danger towards the end of an arc that explored so much of the Givens history and mythos, brought a lot about who Raylan Givens truly is into perspective.

He is one bad-ass motherfucker. With all the talk about Raylan’s propensity to put bullets in people, sometimes we forget how very effective he is at doing so. When Raylan first makes eye contact with the firearm at the waist of Lex, the dimwitted Augustine thug who basically begged to be shot first, the writing appeared on the wall. In fact, one could argue that as soon as we first see tears on Winona’s face for reasons other than Raylan being a complicated lover, someone was going to die.

So as this season has painstakingly reminded us of Raylan’s relation to Arlo, Arlo’s relation to the long history of criminal activity in Harlan, and Harlan county’s relation to the very ideals people hold dear from loyalty to honor to wealth to love, the finale chooses to refocus its storytelling lens on relationships in general. More specifically we find Raylan, if not reconfiguring, recommitting to having relationships and working to protect. Likewise, we find Boyd and Ava fighting for their relationship’s survival in the wake of Ellen May squealing about their past indiscretions. There’s something truly sentimental about this being what constitutes a final battle — fighting purely for the opportunity to love and be loved. It would apparently require more than a firefight.

In the car en route to Nicky Augustine’s final stand, Boyd and Raylan have the sort of heart to heart that viewers come to expect from the two when their paths are inevitably entwined. They talk a little about what it means to be in love and what it means to wake up in morning and seeing yourself as “not the bad guy.” Raylan challenges Boyd’s affections for Ava primarily as an asshole and a frienemy, but, at least to a small extent, he seems generally interested in the question of love, like a drunken fiancé at an engagement party, unsure and needing both an out and a justification, all at once. Boyd has the certainty that Raylan undoubtedly envies. But for Raylan, in a world where he’s the hero and Boyd the villain, another relationship tirelessly fought for by both men, certainty comes in the form good guy posturing.

So the showdown between Augustine and Givens, leaves a lot to be desired. Raylan’s already resolved somewhere in the car with Boyd that he’ll sit tight on his side of the divide, on his murky moral (not-so) high ground, and let the bad guys be bad guys. Ava on the other side of town finds herself in trouble meant for Boyd, seemingly preventing the two of them from living out their happily ever after.

There’s something dissatisfying about what the finale presented viewers with this week. There’s some underlying cynicism masked in the old adage about good always trumping evil, because it doesn’t actually feel good. It forces us to think back to Shelby/Drew, Hunter Mosley, Randall, Colt, et al. Murky characters, played magnificently by some talented folk, who imbued the stories of this season with well-balanced malign. But it satisfied, at least momentarily, whether our bloodlust or soft-side. Even when Jody, the murderous, abusive crook, came back for his ex-wife (and/or her money) and went on a bit of a rampage, two dead bailbondspeople at least, there was a feeling that good or bad wasn’t as much at stake as the feeling of getting what you want from life — vengeance, loyalty, money, satisfaction. The lesson here, it seems, of the season 4 finale of Justified is either that you can never really be satisfied or it’s foolish to even want to be.

Olivia Pope

  • Everyone. Is. Going. Nuts. Over. Game of Thrones.
  • Potential Once Upon a Time spinoff, Once: Wonderland, has cast its Alice, English-born Aussie Sophie Lowe. Lewis Carroll is unamused. (via Hollywood Reporter)
  • The Killing is apparently still happening. AMC has promised a two-hour premiere on June 2nd for all those who haven’t yet figured out that Maggie Simpson shot Rosie Larsen. Duh. (via Vulture)
  • Justified received its well-deserved fifth season renewal along with the news of FX’s new sister network, FXX, a comedy-centered outfit launching in September, buoyed by new seasons of It’s Always Sunny and The League. Reportedly, FXXX is still in the works, featuring a 24-hour stream of Keri Russell sex scenes in a variety of hairstyles. (via Warming Glow)
  • Doctor Who summed up pretty well in visualizations and spreadsheets and visualizations from The Guardian. Plus news of returning favorites David Tennant and Bill Piper for the 50th Anniversary special. But, really? Spreadsheets? (via TVbytheNumbers)
  • And who is the greatest TV couple of all time? Aside from me and Claire Huxtable Olivia Pope. (via Entertainment Weekly)

Oh, Ava

It was a sad day for righteous gun slingers with daddy issues in Harlan County. “Slaughterhouse,” the season 3 finale of Justified, begins with the case of a murdered state trooper, Tom Bergen, a father and husband as Deputy U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens later emphasizes. Raylan searches high and low for the culprit and finds that it was in fact his own father, longtime crook Arlo Givens, who pulled the trigger. Early in the episode Arlo walks onto the tumultuous scene with a curt “Heard that a cop in a hat got shot. Guess it wasn’t you,” aimed directly at Raylan’s well masked heart of pudding. Come to find out, daddy dearest had steadied his aim at the state trooper genuinely believing him to be Raylan—because he’s an old coot and old people are generally off kilter.

But in the mean time, there’s fun to be had in Harland. Quarles got his arm chopped off by Limehouse. That’s one of the most fulfilling sentences ever written. Prior to that, viewers were treated to the beautiful and loyal Ava treating a prostitute like, well, a pimp would treat a prostitute—rough but with purpose and subtle restraint. She acted in accordance to her primary impetus, to help Boyd, and although usually some feminist critique might be applicable, Ava’s agency and liberation is almost undeniable at this point. She singlehandedly (because her other hand is busy punching whores) gives love a good name.

But once again, Quarles got his arm chopped off by Limehouse. The scene was interesting in that Justified precedent dictates that in a showdown of this nature—Quarles, with a gun on Raylan and a young boy hostage, attempting to extort or threaten money from Limehouse armed with a butcher knife, as always—that people will get shot, people will die, it most certainly won’t be Rayland and chances are, the young boy is safe too. This is a family show after all, in a strange, very true sense.

The sheepish telephoned request by Quarles earlier that day, “I want to come home,” was perhaps the most straightforward foreshadowing of his death that could still be palpable. Contrast this with the saddest Black man in the world being turned away from his Noble’s Holler home by Limehouse earlier and making sure to look back as he walked away, and you have at least two characters that don’t have a justifiable reason to exist anymore. So….Quarles got his arm chopped off by Limehouse. And Errol, the saddest Black man in the world (really look at his face when he’s excommunicated from the Holler), gets shot.

But back to the family show, and fathers in particular. The reason all of this went down, Raylan’s commitment to finding Quarles, the prime murder suspect at the time, Arlo being the one to actually have killed Tom Bergen, Ava smacking whores, was family. It’s revealed that Arlo killed the cop in the hat, the man he believed to be Raylan, to protect Boyd, his family. This dynamic has been used throughout the series to convey how Boyd and Raylan are sort of like brothers, but never before has it seemed so poignant as to point out that Raylan could not be in the family at all. Arlo apologizes to Raylan at some point in the episode for some things he’s done. It didn’t seem like much. But after the realization that he would kill his actual son to protect his real son, the apology may not mean anything at all.

Note: Limehouse is ostensibly a butcher and as the de facto banker of the criminal community keeps money inside of pigs.
…At least Quarles laughed.