Seven is one good number, wouldn’t you say? It’s the number of seasons of the all-time great Homicide: Life on the Street, the episode total of the chilling British science fiction series Black Mirror, and the number of Jeff Probst voodoo dolls in Chris Harrison’s collection. The number seven means a lot in the world of television is my point, and it’s the same right here in my fourteenth entry of #top20in20.
We saw many beloved series depart from our television screens for good in 2015, but none of them managed to compose a final run of episodes to match the outstanding final season of FX’s Justified. We always knew that the story would, ultimately, come down to a stand-off between Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder. However, what we didn’t anticipate — couldn’t have anticipated — was the way in which this arc played out over these last thirteen episodes.
Over the course of the show’s run, the characterizations of Raylan and Boyd ran parallel. Take away Raylan’s Marshall’s badge and plop him amidst the Harlan Country criminal underground, and you wouldn’t be able to differentiate him from the likes of Boyd Crowder. Sure, Justified isn’t the first show to suggest the good guy and his villainous counterpart are two sides of the same coin, but I’ve never seen it handled exactly like this. Consistently excellent writing — smart and witty and filled with pathos — did more than tease us with these similarities; instead, it used this idea to construct its final season, and long-time viewers were rewarded with one of the greatest, and most surprising, series finales in the history of the medium. I guarantee you didn’t — or couldn’t — guess how this thing would end, and that’s just as it should be.
When Justified was at its best, the witty barbs flew as fast and furiously as the bullets, and that certainly describes the seventh season. From outlandish violence (that tussle in Micky’s trailer goes down as one of the most brutal action sequences the show ever staged) to lightning fast repartee (I could listen to Raylan insult Dewey Crow and Boone all day, not to mention Boyd’s overly verbose meanderings), Justified leaves a legacy as a thinking person’s western: that classic story of lawman versus outlaw elevated to the status of a great work of literature.
We’re closing in on the end now, wouldn’t you say? I see you shiver with anticip…