(SPOILER ALERT: DO NOT READ UNTIL YOU’VE WATCHED EPISODE 8, “DARK AS A DUNGEON.”)
Bourbon is a very versatile spirit, as “Justified” has amply illustrated this season: It is a perfect celebratory sip and a great way to start your day. Drinking it all night with someone can bring you closer together, and admitting you never developed a taste for it can positively ID you as the bad guy.
In Episode 8, “Dark as a Dungeon,” we saw a few more ways that bourbon can come in handy:
- Bourbon can steel you for the unpleasant task of finally going through the detritus of your past, and then serve as a handy accelerant for disposing of it. Ancient Age has never burned so much as when Raylan poured it over the contents of Arlo’s foot locker and set it ablaze. Raylan also had that headstone that’s been bothering a lot of viewers dug up, but doesn’t seem any surer than we are of where he will move it.
- Bourbon can allow you to seize the upper hand in a tense situation. Katherine Hale poured herself a glass of Eagle Rare while talking with Art about who might have killed her husband, but pointedly did not offer him any, and further demonstrated her superiority in the situation by telling him to let himself out. Raylan, meanwhile, did not wait for an offer before helping himself to a glass of bourbon from an unidentifiable bottle (Old Fitzgerald, maybe?) in Avery Markham’s pizza joint.
- Bourbon can defuse a tense situation. Ava ended the delicious cat-and-mouse stand-off between Raylan and Boyd shown above by rebuking Boyd thusly: “Where’s your manners? How long are you going to keep Raylan out there without offering him a drink?” (Oh, how I love the way Boyd says, “RAY-lan Givens!” I might make it my ring tone.)
Raylan once again did not drink at Ava’s, but he did end up flushing out Ty Walker. I almost felt sorry for Ty. He sure went through a lot only to end up shot in the back – although as Raylan helpfully pointed out, “If you wanted to get shot in the front, you shoulda run toward me.” The verbose villain didn’t even get to finish his last sentence: “It wasn’t just the money. It was….” Was what? The great dental plan?
For Boyd, of course, it is all about the money. In a sly turn of events, after trying all season to crack the vault in Markham’s basement, Boyd was practically ushered into it as Markham counted out his $100,000 reward for giving up Ty Walker. That’s twice as much money as Ava was willing to accept for snitching, and she begged Boyd to take it and run. But the temptation of $10 million is too strong, just as I’m sure Raylan knew it would be.
Raylan also knows that Ava has confessed her role as a CI to Boyd, and that Boyd’s crew is blasting their way up to the Pizza Portal.
And so, as our final season flows inevitably to its end on a river of bourbon, the focus is firmly back on our three main characters, still trying to outrun their pasts but with wildly different degrees of optimism.
Boyd: “Don’t eulogize the past until the future gets its turn.”
Raylan: “In Harlan, the past ain’t behind you – it’s vertical. You dig down deep enough, you find another layer of horror.”
Ava: “The past and the future are a fight to the death.”
Who will survive? I tremble with anticipation.