When fans and critics look back on the season of "Justified" the talk will be about one key performance, Margo Martindale as Mags Bennett. She's such a force of nature as the matriarch of the Bennett clan.
In last night's season finale things came to a head in the feud between the Bennetts and the Crowders/Givens. Helen's death, Coover's killing and Dickie's arrest had raised the stakes and it was clear we were headed for a war. The aptly titled episode "Bloody Harlan" opened with Raylan telling Art he wanted to transfer out of the field and teach weapons training to new recruits. Art said he would think about it, but we all knew this wasn't happening since Raylan belongs in the field, and more specifically in Kentucky.
Boyd and Mags had a come to jesus meeting in the church, but Mags had other plans, as she had sent assassins to Johnny and Ava's houses. Johnny blew up his attackers, but Ava wasn't so lucky, because Dickie shot her.
Boyd and Ava have quickly become one of my favorite TV couples, so her shooting broke my heart. Fortunately, Dickie is a bad shot and she should survive, but how will this change their relationship?
Meanwhile, Raylan finds out that young Loretta McCready has runaway from her foster parents with a gun and $300 ready to kill Mags for murdering her father. Raylan doesn't hesitate to go after her, which causes Winona to tell him that she might not be waiting when he gets back. This still doesn't stop him and heads straight for "Bloody Harlan."
Unfortunately, he runs into Dickie and ends up tied from tree while Dickie uses him for batting practice. However, Boyd shows up and saves his life again. I'm convinced that the real love story of this show is between Boyd and Raylan. They can't seem to stay out of each other's lives and as much as they want to kill one another, they know that they're the only ones who truly understand each other.
So, Loretta finally makes it to Harlan and confronts Mags about her father's death and this scene is the definition of Emmy worthy. Kaitlyn Dever as Loretta displayed remarkable depth and control for someone so young. At first Mags lies and says it was Coover, but then when Raylan shows up she tells the truth about poisoning Loretta's father, finally easing the girl's burden.
It was the final haunting scene that really put this show in a class all its own. Raylan tells Mags that Doyle is dead and Dickie is arrested, basically the feud is over. She offers Raylan some of her apple pie moonshine and then goes to shake his hand. While it was obvious that something was up because she got the glasses from two places, I thought she was going to poison Raylan and herself. I never expected her to let Raylan live. When the haunting strains of Bead Paisley's "You'll Never Leave Harlan" began it became such a sad and telling moment.
It is in that moment that Raylan knows he belongs in Kentucky and can't leave. It will be interesting to see how things shake out next season with Winona's pregnancy and Boyd's takeover of crime in Harlan.
If the Emmy voters cared about actually honoring the best shows on TV, Martindale, Walton Goggins and Olyphant would all be nominated along with the show. However, they'll probably just nominate "Grey's Anatomy" instead.