Critical Condition: Justified

Justified ends its six-season run on SoHo (8.30 Tuesday) with a showdown that does its legacy proud, key US critics said.

Justified ends its six-season run on SoHo (8.30 Tuesday) with a showdown that does Elmore Leonard’s legacy proud, top US critics said.

“Expectations were high for the series finale, which stayed true to the programme’s modern-cowboy ethos as well as the heady mixture of drama, comedy and tension that has always defined the dynamics among its key players … Even the abundance of praise heaped on the show in the run-up to the finale likely won’t be enough to jump-start its awards prospects at this stage, so an ‘atta boy’ and slug of Kentucky bourbon will probably have to suffice. Then again … Justified should derive considerable satisfaction from having splendidly answered that question and gone out not only on its own terms, but with its boots on.”

“That finale should be considered a high point of the series (along with the masterful second season). All series finales are difficult, and more so when you’ve got a protagonist/antagonist situation where both characters are, in some ways, equally beloved by the audience. Add in Ava, plus the various characters orbiting their lives, and sticking the landing was no easy feat. With The Promise, [creator Graham] Yost and company managed to give a satisfying end to viewers without pandering — or, if you want to be more critical, without pandering more than usual.”

The Promise is something of a muted finale for a show like Justified, but it’s the right finish, not quite excellent but certainly memorable. It hummed along, leaving me not entirely certain when it was going to end. At a screening of the finale, Justified’s executive producer Graham Yost quoted one of Elmore Leonard’s rules of writing — ‘cut out the parts people tend to skip over’ — and The Promise accomplishes that neatly. There are no goodbyes for characters you don’t care about, no sendoffs for characters about whom there’s nothing more to say. No customary wave to the cast.”

“What’s particularly wonderful about the series finale of Justified, and easily one of the best series finales in television history, is that it doesn’t end on a note that this relationship, the one between the one Givens and the two Crowders, has been for the worse. The finale manages to subvert everything we know about how noir-tinged, contemporary Westerns should end (with a violent shootout, right?) while also never straying into easy sentimentality or a tidy finish.”

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