Gardockustified 6×07, “The Hunt”
Babies. Who are they? What are they? What they doing here? Are they a threat? For over a season of Justified, baby has been a spectre not unlike that of communism (as written by Karl Marx in his book Real Men Don’t Apologize). Raylan has progeny that apparently did not come out the womb wearing a yarn stetson babyhat. We’ve seen the baby on video, but there’s been no indication of the baby crossing over from that format to the real world. Justified hasn’t become Videodrome yet. (Not even The Ring.) “The Hunt” forces an infant onto Raylan, tasking him to keep her from crying and convince her he’s her daddy. It may not be prudent to spend one episode of the final season on, basically, “Raylan must deal with baby”, but fuck it, I loved it. Of course this also means an appearance by the dreaded Winona. Justified fandom has a problem with the character. Certainly it is a rarity for a male protagonist’s significant other to be criticized as an obstacle to the protagonist being awesome. Am I ever glad Justified doesn’t have the kind of Internet popularity Breaking Bad did, or else the misogynistic shitheads would be compelling Natalie Zea to write an editorial about her treatment. As fan of Winona, baby, Winona with baby, Winona with Raylan, I very much appreciated this episode. Fatherhood is a signpost for adulthood and maturity for good reason, and “The Hunt” gives us a glimpse of Raylan Givens, holder of infant. While little Willa does not have a babyhat, she has a baby hood, which is almost as good (as long as it’s not, like, a Klan baby hood…).
“The Hunt” as a title carries a double meaning; it refers both to the manhunt for Walker (who, in spite of Garret Dillahunt’s best efforts, is still not the most despicable Walker in my life) and Boyd and Ava’s trip to the famed Bulletville cabin. I’ll address Walker first, because his scenes are limited to him and some guests. With each episode, Walker’s presence decayed, as the show had to build up Markham as a threat. Loretta just not giving him the time of day was a fun scene, but it does diminish Walker’s stature as a threat. “The Hunt” course corrects in that regard, reminding that he’s still a vicious psycho no matter how flowery his language is. The episode more than adequately cultivates Walker’s menace insofar as in the scene with the frat boys I legitimately did not know what was to happen next. Maybe he read that issue of Rolling Stone and was overcome with disgust. Walker is a desperate man aware his employer no longer values him, whose goals are getting free and clear, and like most fugitives on the series his civilized facade falls away in favor of craven brutality when forced into a corner. Yet he still can’t stay more than a couple steps ahead of the Marshals. Maybe he ought to think about shaving that beard. Anyone could pick that shit out of a lineup. It could’ve been a contractual thing with Dillahunt; “either the beard stays or we GO!”. Or it could be sown on or attached via crazy glue. Anything’s possible.
Never, ever, EVER ask if you can feel Ty Walker’s beard.
I’ve never been as enamored with Boyd Crowder as other Fiedheads, and “The Hunt” brings to the fore some of his worst tendencies. Loquaciousness and pretense of nobility aside, there’s only been one person important to Boyd Crowder and that’s Boyd Crowder. Like Vic Mackey, he talks a lot about loyalty to his people, but he’s rarely if ever put in a position where protecting someone else leaves him vulnerable. Push comes to shove, Boyd will always look out for Boyd. At least Raylan gradually is leaving things behind, like Arlo’s house. Ava calls him out on his controlling behavior, issuing commands to go to the cabin, to take a shot of the special liquor. Good on the makeup department to continue to show the marks Boyd made on her neck for every following scene. I’m not one to believe in genetic determinism, but Bo, Bowman and Boyd all being abusive assholes indicates Crowder blood is poison. Finale idea: Raylan has to get a blood transfusion from Boyd and becomes a WereGoggins.
This baby: judging YOU.
Boyd treats Ava’s betrayal as a relationship issue more than a threat to his criminal empire, which speaks to how he views their courtship as an end as much as the 10 million. (I say empire like it’s not three damn people and a Jeff Fahey wild card.) It’s telling that the possibility she started sleeping with Raylan again compelled him to play the classic gun trust exercise with her. Rat on him to the feds, okay, but sleeping with Timothy Olyphant, that’s going too far. I like the continued ambiguity of their relationship. Already a couple that can go from a chokehold to making out in a span of 20 seconds, on the surface their rift appears resolved. But Boyd emptied the gun before giving it to Ava and flipping isn’t the best way for a confidential informant to escape prison. I know this from experience, having informed on John Gotti so I could join WitSec and get busted for ecstasy trafficking.
I don’t know how you get babies to act, and according to Graham Yost’s postmortem interviews they ultimately employed six babies, but man did that baby wail and wail. The fuck they do to that baby to make them cry like that? I guess they could’ve shown the baby Hitman, that shit made me want to cry by the end of it. The baby could’ve just found out Justified is ending with this season. Pointy sticks? Probably illegal. (Thanks a lot, Child Labor Laws. The Fair Labor Standards Act was written by a Klansman, you know.) Whatever it is, baby perfectly portrays a child who won’t shut the fuck up. Zea is convincing as an alternately tired, frazzled and accepting new mother whose man doesn’t even know where to dispose of a diaper (seriously) and still wants him around anyway. The two actors have good chemistry and it’s not hard to imagine a romantic comedy tinged version of Justified with maybe 20% less murders.
Probably wishes she had a hat.
The offer Winona gives at the end, essentially that she’d rather risk him not coming home one day as opposed to knowing he’s not coming home at all, is realistic enough with these characters that it doesn’t feel like obvious foreshadowing for Raylan driving his motorcycle into a truck or whatever ridiculous death he’d receive. Nor does it come off as Winona caving. Their relationship always hit a snag because of Raylan’s inability to let go of the lawman persona he created as a proportionate response to his shitty childhood. Now with him working towards the end of his Crowder vendetta, their chances of forging a long lasting relationship increase, in addition to crying non-Klan hood baby having two parents to be frazzled by her, because Winona’s accepting of Raylan’s job while he lets go of his attachments to Harlan. Domesticity would be good for our protagonist. How does he live on his own? I bet he’s got two things in his fridge: ice cream and whiskey. No dishes, he eats right off the coffee table.
I don’t have a cute caption for this one. Fuck Boyd.
Rachel deserves the coveted Gardockustified Player of the Game award when she explains to Tim why she can refer to the metaphorical Marshals dick: “I’m running shit, I get to use the expression”. It reminds me of Trailer Park Boys, when cops are allowed to use all manner of shit analogies, yet when Lahey and Randy aren’t ‘in power’ they abstain from those expressions. The office bestows the Marshal dick(s) on the bearer. It was stiff competition, though, as the whole scene of Raylan and little Willa visiting the office was as delightful as a glass of $5 Pinot Noir on a summer day. Art babytalkin’ about Avery Markham! Tim’s acerbic concern that the baby on his co-worker’s lap is his baby! Marshal Nelson (the Trevor and Cory of the Marshals, to continue with the Trailer Park Boys comparisons) asking to hold the baby and getting rebuffed! Raylan explaining he didn’t ask Tim to hold Willa because “he is not a nurturing, caring human being, he’s kind of an asshole”! Babies typically kill television shows (at seven months their larval stage is complete and they become Xenomorphs), and good thing it’s the final season if that’s the case.
Someday that baby will be the one trading wise ass remarks with Gutterson.
I’m not exaggerating when I say I’d be fine if the rest of the series dealt with Raylan having to look after baby Willa, it transforming into an absurdist almost Simpsons-like parody series of a procedural, a US marshal having to take care of a baby on the job. He’s enough of a crack shot to kill bad guys with a baby in the other hand, right? He could wear one of those baby backpacks, although he’d have to get baby earplugs because tinnitus is the #3 killer of newborns behind Jenny McCarthy and rickets. To quote Bobby Bittman, in all seriousness, I hope Raylan and Winona go the distance and form a nuclear family. Winona’s non-Raylan choices are fucking Gary and a dude who looks like Wallace Shawn and Raylan’s best bet is someone outside of the Harlan milieu that’s come to define much of his life. Together they can find a proper little babyhat for Willa.
How many people did Raylan shoot/kill?: 0, 2 for the season
How many people did Boyd shoot/kill?: 0, 1 for the season