Justified Finale: And the Emmy Nods Go To...?

I expected many things from the Season 2 finale of FX’s outstanding Justified, but tears welling up in my eyes weren’t on the short list. Yet once the dust settled on a rather inevitable chain of events, there I was, overcome with empathy for several characters at crossroads as well as by the emotion of watching top-shelf acting take place before me.

That Dickie got spring from the clink last week, after all that Raylan (played by Timothy Olyphant) endured to jam him there, was almost a non-plot point as the finale got underway. Instead, we got a helluva frisson of a face-to-face with Boyd (Walton Goggins) and Mags (Margo Martindale), who needed to rework the terms of the deal they arrived at weeks ago. Almost Godfather-style, as they traded firm words, units from the Bennett army descended upon Boyd’s cousin Johnny and Ava’s house. Mags’ soldiers would lose the first war wholesale, while Dickie got off a shot at Ava, though we have been left to wonder if it ultimately was fatal. (Cast member Joelle Carter‘s Twitter feed seems to hint at one outcome, be advised.)

But even the tension of the Boyd/Mags meeting was overshadowed by the pint-sized domino that truly set the finale’s final moments in motion: Young Loretta, packing a pistol, hitched a ride to the Bennett farm, where she was resolved — as much as a teen girl could be — to exact her pound of flesh for her Daddy’s most unceremonious offing.

Raylan met his share of obstacles on the way to interrupting Loretta’s campaign, at one point being subject to a bat-swinging Dickie as he hung upside-down from a tree. Boyd saved his frenemy’s bacon there, while Raylan’s marshal buddies would shoo away the reaper a second time by popping Doyle in the noggin.

In the end, though, it wasn’t Raylan’s well-used firearm in play but Loretta’s pistol, trained on her onetime guardian, Mags. This is where actresses Martindale and Kaitlyn Dever slayed me, as Mags acknowledged the lass’ grievance but urged her to not step down a dark, doomed path by tugging at the trigger. When Raylan echoed Mags’ argument, Loretta’s innocent inner self prevailed. (Now I know precisely what moment Martindale was describing to me last month, when she revealed she had to keep from crying during a scene with Dever, who she lauds as an “incredible” ingenue.)

That in turn set up a gripping finale scene between Olyphant and Martindale, as Mags — sucker-punched by the loss of two sons, her near-ruination of Loretta, and her own bleak future — availed herself of a most bitter bite of “apple pie.” As Justified viewers, it’s hard to see Martindale’s powerful Season 2 arc come to an end, but oh, what an arc it was.

Who blew you away in the Justified finale?

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54 Comments
  1. Mark says:

    The show, Timothy Olyphant, Walter Goggins and Margo Martindale all deserve Emmy nods here.

    I’ll be pretty angry if they get snubbed, but not surprised.

    • darclyte says:

      I agree with all that you wrote. Sadly, USA/FX/SyFy don’t exist to the Emmys.

    • Mike says:

      IMO, Margo Martindale *owned* this season. I loved her on Dexter, but man did Justified’s writers give her a lot of steak to chew! No one has done the job she has on any other series this year. Bet Supporting Actress for sure.

      As for Winona, the writers/producers must see something there I don’t. Maybe she’s just Raylan’s ‘fatal flaw,’

      And Dickie — hope we haven’t seen the last of him; someone has to inherit the Black Pike/Bennett estate. All this season Davies has reminded me of Ike Clanton in Tombstone: Wonderfully evil, dangerous and stupid all at the same time.

      As someone here pointed out, who DOESN’T deserve a nomination this season??? Raylan and Boyd, of course, Dickie, Art, Arlo, Carol, Loretta … all were Justified.

      • April Ballance says:

        Mike I totally agree! I cried and yelled at the TV like they could hear me. When Maggs told Loretta the truth… oh my! When she asked Raylan if he wanted a drink, I did not see her taking the drink of death. As you said… everyone was Justified!

    • April says:

      There is no way this show can get snubbed, and I must agree. I will be very angry if Justified does not get recognized. This is one of my favorite shows of all time. I am sad the season is over. I look forward to seeing it every week. I love Boyd and Raylan’s relationship. Hell, I love Boyd. I do love my Raylan, but Boyd make the show what it is.

    • MCM says:

      Justified is the Best of what television has to offer. This has some of the best writing I’ve witnessed since HBOs Six Feet… An Emmy for writing is certainly in order, along with Olyphant, Goggins and Martindale in acting categories.

      I disagree with the Winona haters. I’m intrigues by the story line and I want to see it fleshed out in S3, along with more backstory.

  2. Maureen says:

    What an amazing show!!! If Timothy Olyphant, Margo Martindale and Walton Goggins don’t get nominated, it will be a crime. Of course, we’re used to Walton Goggins getting robbed (we miss you Shane!!). Doyle (not Dewey) getting shot was the OMG moment for me. As soon as Mags asked Raylan if he wanted a drink, I knew what she was going to do. Again, what an amazing show!!

  3. susanmarie says:

    I do not believe any TV program can top this one. This show, with the wonderful plots and storyline turned into top notch scripts and the absolutely phenomenal acting–well, it can’t be beat! There is no way I can say one actor blew me away or stood out from the others–yet, without each actor played their individual role in making this series one of the best ever. LOVE IT! LOVE IT!

  4. Valerie says:

    I liked a ton about this season finale, mostly the confrontations between Mags and Boyd, and later between Mags and Loretta. It would be a real shame if Margo Martindale doesn’t get nominated for an Emmy (and win!), but it wouldn’t surprise me if they pass her over much as they passed over the show last season.

    And I really hope Ava is coming back next season. I think she’s great, and I find myself very invested in the Boyd/Ava relationship.

    But, as with much of the season, this show is suffering from a really weak link in the chain named Winona. This character is paperthin on a show where almost all other characters show multiple dimensions. Its hard to understand Raylan’s desire to be with Winona when we aren’t given any explanation as to what he likes about her (besides she’s hot?). Also, its not hard to notice the juxtaposition between the relationships between Boyd and Ava and Raylan and Winona this season. Ava started out this season hoping to change Boyd, but eventually accepting him for who and what he is. While Ava wants to change Raylan, and doesn’t seem to accept who and what he is at all. And Raylan seems to indulge her in this, making their scenes tedious to me.

    • Nikki says:

      I really agree with you here. I find all the characters interesting and compeling in different ways; however, Winona is still superficial. It appears Raylan sees something the audience doesn’t at this point.

      • M says:

        It would be nice to see a flashback of Winona and Raylan’s relationship, perhaps it would explain more why they are the way they are. Love is obviously not a problem, and perhaps it never was, judging by their conversations and the things that they said to each other. But Raylan seem to accept that some of their problems were his fault and Winona said that Raylan was closed off and angry all the time. Funny enough, I am a fan of the couple, mostly because they seem so different and have so many odds stacked against them that it would be interesting to see them fighting to be together. And I was proud of her when she went to Art to get his help, if she had done nothing, then I would have been done. But I see a future for them. The trick is trying to get her to get over her fear of losing him.

        • Michele says:

          I agree. I see Winona as totally ruled by her fear of losing Raylan. I think it’s probably why she left him in the first place. If she leaves, and builds a life w/o him, then it won’t hurt when he’s gone. But she can’t stay away. And he can’t stay away from her either. With a child on the way, well, I think these two are going to be dancing around each other for the rest of their lives.

          And yes, kudos to her for going to Art. How did she change his mind…he initially was going to leave Raylan on his own, right? I bet Winona told him about the baby.

          • M says:

            Yes, I’d like to think that she told him about the baby. Art was being really hard on him. The minute that Raylan broke into Winona’s house in season 1 and she acted all nonchalant about it, I thought to myself, yes, these two are meant for each other. And I like the fact that Raylan becomes a different person around her. Every hardened hero needs someone to soften them up once in a while. I also liked that she doesn’t mince words or say things just to please him. Funniest scene was when he made this speech about him being in love with her and she just said of course Raylan and I love you back. They know each other so well. Now all she has to do, is work on getting over her fear.

          • R.S. says:

            I was wondering if Art changed his mind because Winona came clean to him about her stealing the money from the evidence locker and that Rylan just helped her put it back. I’d actually prefer if it was that over telling Art about the baby.

            And just to add, I’m glad the season is over because I have developed a gigantic crush on Walton Goggins and it’s beginning to interfere with my marriage ;-)

  5. Bella says:

    This was just a fantastic season finale. I wasn’t expecting Roy and the marshals to show up like the calvary, but am so glad they did. That scene between Loretta and Mags was something else. I had to remind myself to breathe. I had no idea which way Loretta would go until she actually put down the gun. Wow. I hate to see Mags go because she was quite the adversary for both Raylan and Boyd. Whew.

  6. Erin says:

    I was not ready for the episode to end. So many questions left…Did Ava die? Why didn’t Dickie die? Will Boyd get to Dickie? Winona’s pregnant, did she leave? What about Glencoe, now? I am waiting in suspense until next season. They all deserve to be nominated. I have been on the edge of my seat all season. Love this show.

  7. jen says:

    that was a fantastic finale. i was kinda sad to see mags get killed off. i love watching her on screen with rylan and boyd. Loretta was great in her scenes, like the person said above, i had no idea what she was going to do next till she actually put the gun down.

  8. AJ says:

    Love this show, but sorry to Timothy Oliphant, my best male lead Emmy nod still has to go to John Noble on Fringe. I hope Martindale gets the nod for best guest actor/actress and Walton Goggins for Supporting Actor. Jeremy Davies was just awesome too.

  9. Jason says:

    I think Ava’s jeans should get an Emmy.

  10. richie says:

    Well I love this show and as has already been said… wow what a finale.
    Raylan and winona off to glencoe? I Can’t see that,he gotta be in the field or where’s the storylines? Maybe art will retire? Lol
    I think the only certain thing out of this is dickies out of business,or is he about to inherit the black pike deal?

    Hurry back justified ill be waiting,impatiently.

  11. luke says:

    so Ava’s dead? that’s not cool man

  12. bhm1304 says:

    For as awesome a season this was. Joelle Carter (Ava) had no other reason for being in this season except to serve as Boyd Crowder’s potential other, then girlfriend. She didn’t have a single meaningful scene with Olyphant the entire season after the “sleeping with Winona” fall out from last season.

    Martindale, Dever, and Olyphant all deserve Emmy consideration (Best Supp Actress and Best Lead Actor) as does Rebecca Creskoff for her 3 epi. guest run as “Carol”. She played the most interesting female character that ever flirted with Raylan and it kind of sucked that her other job cut her run short (although that is great news for “Hung”). Goggins deserved it more last season and got screwed so I believe he will get shafted this year as well.

  13. MGL says:

    It was a very good finale'; and the season ended almost as it began, with the apple cider moonshine and a bad glass. I hated Dickie when he was beating Raylan. Loved it when Boyd saved his friend/nemesis. I don’t mind Winona. She’s pregnant and she didn’t want to lose the man she loves, who we hope is the baby daddy. Loretta was also very good. The whole show deserves an Emmy nod, but especially Timothy Olyphant.

    • M says:

      I can understand Winona’s fear of losing Raylan and she did step up and went to Art to get help, she didn’t just turn her back and went to work, her fear was obvious. Her problem now will be trying to accept the fact that Raylan loves his job, it was his salvation from Harlan and it is a huge part of who he is. Part of the reason their marriage didn’t work was as a result of this and also because of the dark pessimistic person that Raylan became. I recall conversations about him being the angriest person she knew and him being closed off, not talking or relating to anyone. She once asked him how his day was and he said that she didn’t want to know and when he finally told her about the pregnant inmate who was going to be killed and her baby sold, she replied that she prefered that to silence. A telling indication of their problems in the marraige. Yes, Winona can be selfish at times, but I don’t fault her for being afraid for him and for being somewhat hardened, especially in her delivery of her opionions. I see it as self preservation.

      • Clare says:

        I like yr take on their relationship and winona. She can be hard to take but they so obviously love each other it would be a shame this time around if they couldn’t work it out tho wish they had left baby out of it – gets so much more complicated to resolve when a baby is on the way. Was it just me or was Art still a little hard on raylan in that opening scene when he asked for his transfer to glencoe?

        • Michele says:

          In the books the show is based on, Raylan and Winona had two sons. Evidently, TO really wants to show Raylan as a father, says it’s an important part of his character; so this may not be the only baby we see.

        • M says:

          I was thinking the same thing about Art. Jeez, give the guy a break, he just buried his surrogate mother and had to watch the man responsible walk away. I know that Art is disappointed, but that was a little tough to watch. Glad Winona got through to him, I’m thinking that yes, like you said, she must have mentioned the baby. I’m really hoping that they get a chance to be together. I cannot picture him with anyone else.

  14. Natalie says:

    Hands down the best show on television. Period. Throw almost any cast member’s name out there and you could give a pretty hefty argument as to why they deserve to be nominated for an Emmy. The show is well written, well directed and well acted…what more is there to say? Timothy Olyphant just IS Raylan, never do I look at the tv and feel like the man is an actor portraying the character. Same goes for the rest of the cast…they just ARE the characters, they feel as real as you and me…something most shows in my opinion just don’t possess. I don’t know what else I can say about the show honestly that could even adequately describe it’s brilliance.

    • David H says:

      Agree with you there Natalie. It all seems so natural. But I think it’s also the writing which does that. The writers have to be sitting round and going through every action and reaction of every character to create the plot lines, like real life. I’ve read Tim Olyphant in interview saying his acting is made “easy” thanks to the brilliant writing.

      • John says:

        Yea I fully agree with this sentiment. This is why I dont think any of the more-than-deserving performances will garner an Emmy nod, though I think that Olyphant and Martindale should get more than a nod. But what really carries this show is the amazing writing, and I think this will be where the show garners a majority of its awards. It already is nominated this year by the Writer’s Guild of America(check IMDB). I put an update on my Facebook page immediately following the episode, praising the writing. Especially Doyle’s line to Raylan after he was shot: “This bullet’s been on its way for 25 years…”. That line gave me literal quivers when he said that. As a hopeful writer, I recognize great work. And this show is exactly that. While I was impressed with the first season of the show, this 2nd is monumental to that. Glad we get to come back to Harlan next year. Spread the word of mouth for Emmy nods!!!!!!

  15. Seth says:

    As native Kentuckian and a resident (although I live in the northern part of the state) this show has been something to be proud of. The people of this state have it hard and live hard lives, but they ask for no charity or pity from the outside. No other person has portrsyed this trait as well as Mags. She reminds me of my grandmother who came out of the coal fields. Life has made her hard, but there is still a tender side to her. I very sorry to see her go, but her exit was worthy of the character. I think I might go hamoe and rewatch the episode tonight. Any word on when the Season 2 DVD will be released?

  16. Play-Doh says:

    Hey! Where’s the Emmy Love for Dickie Bennett?? Jeremy Davies does a fantastic job as the not-so-bright-bully/sniveling weasel; I think he’s so good, people forget he’s acting! Of course we all HATE Dickie – but Davies’ performance throughout the season showed us the “why” behind his actions; I won’t say we could sympathize with him – but maybe just understand him a bit. Anyway, IMHO, there’s no harder acting job than playing a stupid/damaged man who thinks he’s smart.
    Regarding Margo Martindale – I think they should run her as “Best Guest-Starring Actress” rather than “Best Actress.” FX just doesn’t get noticed for nominations as much as it should, and there’s no way MM would win “Best Actress” over the higher profile Network/HBO nominees.

  17. Peggy says:

    I just finished watching the season finale and I am blown away.
    I did not see Doyle getting shot and was cheering when Art and the
    Marshalls showed up.

    Awesome episode!!!

  18. Elizabeth says:

    I think everyone did an amazing job this season. I find it unusual for a sophomore year to be great but the cast & crew at Justified blew me away. It’s hard to imagine how Season 3 could be any better. Margo Martindale should hands down walk away with an Emmy for this.

    Have to say though Art’s lines “Drop your weapons or you will be shot. Assume the position now. Do you dumbass peckerwoods understand English? On the ground, hillbillies. Now,” were absolutely hilarious an offered a bit of a chuckle in the middle of that high drama.

    A stellar finale.

  19. Amber says:

    Who doesn’t deserve an emmy for Justified is the question I ask. But seriously, Jeremy Davies should get an emmy just for being Jeremy Davies. And MM should get one for playing so well against what she’s been typecast to play in the past. I would love to see Goggins win an emmy, but more so for season one than season two, which is when I think he really shined and had incredibly great material to bite into. Raylan’s dad also deserves one. And Timothy Olyphant deserves one just for improving so much since he starred in Deadwood. I completely believe the way he plays Raylan Givens is the way he should have played Sheriff Bullock on Deadwood. It needed more quiet intensity than constantly blowing up anger, and he plays the quiet, seething lawman a lot better. Not that I didn’t love him on Deadwood, because I did. It’s the whole reason I started watching Justified. STELLAR season finale, btw. If only they did twice as many episodes in a season…I would be a much happier person.

  20. StorytellerGal says:

    I fully expected Mags to try to poison Raylan after he told her about her son. It was a well played scene. The way Raylan was totally still when he said “Mags what have you done?” I was so sure that he was the one who had been poisoned. Bravo!

  21. Clare says:

    I reckon the whole crew front and back deserve emmys..i have to say Timothy Olyphant is awesome and i think his acting is so subtle that its something difficult to see that that role could be played so differently and frankly rather heavy handed but he is so right on the tone of it. So def emmys for all but my personal pick is for him. Pity we have no way to influence how the emmy nominations get done. Would be great to sit with a bunch of other Justified fans to watch an episode fresh so we can all ooh and aah as it unfolds:)

  22. Duke says:

    R.S., M, and Michele; incredibly insightful comments. Very much enjoyed reading that.

  23. Tom says:

    As a man in his 40’s with teenage children, it is hard to get any “me” time, as it has been for years! Furthermore, a book-reader, and not a T.V. watcher, I really don’t have any time to watch much. And for that matter – what is there TO watch? American Idol, Dancing with the Start, Survivor, Ice Road Truckers? While I am sure they all have entertainment value, I’m sorry, but I want more! For years, I was a West Wing fan (still my favorite show – so well written, so well acted – everything – perfect), and I have been waiting for some other show to hold my interest the same way. A friend mentioned Justified. I missed only the first two episodes of season 1 (which I have seen on DVD), and this show now OWNS ME! I think there is something to be said about quality actors from the Movie side that take roles on television. Not to slight career T.V. actors, but these veterans (in my opinion) bring a little something more. Timothy Olyphant is perfect. I know the writer of the original series doesn’t like the hat, but don’t you DARE take it off! Justifed is “appointment T.V. for me!” Can’t wait for more!

  24. LT says:

    Justified is one of the best shows on tv period! It is going to be hard to replace Martindale as a formidable foe to Raylan. Maybe they should try to get Ian McShane as next year’s bad guy and let him and Olyphant setlle it once and for all. Now that is how they could take it to another level!

  25. tori says:

    Iagree that the emmys seem like they do not credit great acting on fx when they did not give a nod to tim the first season and i hope they do for season 2 he and the rest of the actors where great the go who plays boyd should get nominated for an emmy also as should the man who plays raylans dad and the woman who plays mags…………

  26. Kim in California says:

    Great season, exceptional finale. I was incredibly sad to see Mags go. I thought that she made a wonderful nemesis and would loved to have seen more of her in the futue. I’m not as enthused about Wynona as I should be, but I’m sure the writers will throw a road block into that relationship and the baby soon enough. I agree about Dickie. If you have strong feelings about a character one way or the other, then they’re usually doing a good job acting.

    Timothy and Walter have done a great job this season and I think they both should be up for Emmys but if Hugh Laurie can be nominated six times and not get it, then I don’t hold out much hope for Timothy.

    Great job writers, just hate waiting for the new season. We need more episodes.

    • evelyn says:

      I totally agree. However I would settle for the show, actors, & writers just getting acknowledged at the Emmys, even if nobody wins. Television is such a wasteland. When you come across an incredible gem like Justified, it should be acknowledged.

  27. jrs says:

    Just caught up on my DVR over the weekend, and all I can say is BRAVO!!!! Wow, what an episode, what a season, what a show! LOVE this show. I will really miss Mags…I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that actress before, but I could not look away from the screen every time she was on. There’s so much of this show that is so good, I couldn’t name them all. Again, a huge Bravo to the cast and crew of this show!!!!!

  28. tofan1 says:

    Got hooked on this show from the jump. Bought 10 copies of season 1 to give to friends that never would watch the show, as I talked tooooo much about how great it was and they didn’t believe me I guess, after they watched the first season this lead to around 30 more new fans of the show for season 2. Love Elmore Leonard, have ALL his books and the Raylan character has been fun to watch develope on TV, I’m not sure how children will work into the show but if the follow the books it will be interesting. Looking forward to season three and agree they should make more than 13 episodes. I have been a fan of Timothy Olyphant since I saw him for a minute in First Wife’s Club, funny man. This season was totally diferant from the first which was great, nice to see a show not do the same stuff that worked the first year, but to be bold enough to take it further. Raylan hanging from the tree killed me…brave man to do the stunt himself and not use a double. Great acting all the way around hope they all get Emmy’s.

  29. Big Red says:

    The beauty of good acting is when they are able to draw your in as PEOPLE. This show was consistently written with such high calibre material that the actors seemed like poeple. They didn’t have to act, just be there and be human.

    Kudos to the entire cast and crew, this is what good TV is all about.

    I don’t know what I reckon I’m gonna do without Mags though.

  30. bigfan says:

    When Olyphant talks about his performance being easy because the writing is so good, remember that he’s been intensely involved with the writing. He hasn’t been strolling in and reciting lines, by any means.

    And, with all the love, we shouldn’t forget Nick Searcy. These have become real people to me (something I should maybe bring up with a therapist, huh) and I really find Art’s disappointment/fury/frustration with Raylan painful. Art LOVES Raylan and doesn’t know how to keep him on his proper path. And Raylan really wants Art’s respect and approval and is devastated that he has lost it. I haven’t thought before to compare Raylan’s relationship to Art with Raylan’s relationship to Winona. Raylan doesn’t do anything to repair his relationship with Art–he just assumes he’s lost it and he’s trying to move on. Which is breaking Art’s heart. Remember the scene in Season 1 where Raylan tells Winona he guessed it just eats on a guy to lose someone like her and she says he’d never said that before (like if he’d fought for her he would have kept her)?

    Anyhow, I’ve never cared about a tv show as much. I’m like Winona with Raylan–obsessing over it when it’s not on the air and scared to death of losing it.

    Please please please let there be many emmies and even more renewals!

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