With just five days remaining until the Justified series finale, it struck me that it seems like the past television season has seen more shows that I love take their final bow than any year that I can remember.
Boardwalk Empire, a show to which Nighthawk and I committed a lot of time and words, ended in the fall. Parks & Recreation, the network sitcom that I suspect a large number of the readers here most looked forward to for the bulk of the past handful of years, had its curtain call a month ago. And the late night landscape has changed drastically over the past few months with the three hosts of the shows that I had recorded for years--Ferguson, Colbert, and now Stewart--all having stepped down from their posts, or in the case of Stewart, having just announced the move. Sure, Colbert will take over for Letterman--the institution who I watched in my youth, who will also be leaving the television landscape--but the character "Stephen Colbert" is dead and buried.
With Justified's finale, the show that I've long put atop the unofficial list of what I personally consider to be my favorite programs on television will ride off into the bloody sunset. It's a colorful world overflowing with a dizzying array of characters who in any given week can be thrown together at the whims of its creative team with fantastic results. Justified may never have reached the rarefied critical air that some of its contemporaries, but for the duration of its run, there may not have been a show that was as much fun from week to week. Perhaps more importantly, the universe that Graham Yost and his writing staff built had so many instantly memorable characters that they could effortlessly pull one from the bench, dust them off, and somehow integrate them into the current season's arc, kindling a nostalgia-fueled excitement at seeing an old friend thrown into the mix.
At the heart of the series, the dynamic relationship between US Deputy Marshal Raylan Givens (a lawman cut from the cloth of the Old West tradition, complete with Stetson cowboy hat and boots, with the intrinsic issues of being from another time pushing back against him) and Boyd Crowder (the magnetic career criminal with an innate ability to get those around him to do his bidding and whose antiquated but eloquent manner of speaking makes one wonder what might have been had the works of Shakespeare been written by a genteel Southerner in the 1920s) is one of the most entertaining relationships in recent memory, with their barbed repartee some of the liveliest, hard-laugh-inducing television you are likely to see anywhere. As their worlds have collided and then orbited separately from one another before colliding once again for this final outstanding season, each character's energy has seeped into the rest of what has already been a rich, energetic the show.
I'm not ready to say goodbye to this world and this cast of characters, but I can't wait to see where it ends up. If the finale is anything like the rest of the show and particularly this season, no character is safe from harm.