“You can be with me and still be you.”
In a show that hinges upon relationships and in an episode that brings those dynamics to the forefront, it makes perfect sense that loyalty would be a major factor of “The Hunt”. As things in Harlan County come to a close, people need to choose where they will land in the future, and oftentimes, that final landing spot relates to the relationships they’ve forged over the years. As much as you may want to distance yourself from the past, it’ll always come back to affect the future in some way, and that’s exactly what these characters are facing as the series comes to a close.
“The Hunt” is structured around a contrast between two relationships that we saw earlier on in the show: Ava-Boyd and Raylan-Winona. Over the first six episodes of the season, the former was going strong–or seemed to be, considering Ava was a CI–whereas the latter was shaky, seeing as Raylan pretty much distanced himself from his daughter by throwing himself into the Boyd takedown. At the end of this episode, the roles are essentially switched, and the Ava-Boyd dynamic is imbued with a sense of unease and uncertainty whereas the Raylan-Winona dynamic seems to be stronger than ever; after all, Winona tells Raylan that she’s willing to allow him to “be [him]”.
So, Winona’s putting her foot down and accommodating and stating where her loyalties lie, and it’s now up to Raylan to decide where his own loyalties lie. Is he going to remain hiding behind his badge, or is he going to settle down with a family? This is the big question that’s going to remain on his mind for the rest of the series, and it’ll become paramount for him to answer it when the situation with Boyd begins to get more and more dangerous.
And well, that already looks to be happening. Every one of his scenes with Ava in this episode is filled to the brim with tension, and it all culminates in one of the best acted scenes I’ve seen from this show (and that’s saying something, because this cast is phenomenal). It’s devastating, intense, and important, and Joelle Carter and Walton Goggins both knock it out of the park. Even though it’s revealed that Boyd’s been testing Ava this whole time, it’s also a moment in which both people can really let their true feelings emerge. Will their love last? Is their love real? Will they even remain alive? Right now, those questions aren’t quite answered yet, but in a show filled with double crosses and obfuscations, a moment of cold, hard honesty may be just what it needs.
-Give that baby an Emmy. That’s some excellent crying.
-The scene between Seabass and Avery Markham is key with regards to the loyalty theme of the episode, which is discussed by Markham here. This sets up a contrast between how he goes about business and how Boyd does: the former pitches and sells and has a simple way of getting what he wants, but the latter is much more complex.
-A key moment: Boyd’s more angry about Ava possibly sleeping with Raylan than he is about her being a C.I.
– “The Hunt” refers to the Ty Walker manhunt, Boyd and Ava hunting in the woods, and the hunt for truth.
-Garret Dillahunt does a great job throughout the episode. His scene with the frat boys is both entertaining and incredibly tense, and his murder of the paramedic later on is one of the more brutal things we’ve seen in the show (the bullet removal’s pretty graphic as well). He’s really nailing the desperation and vulnerability of his character.
– “Did you ask Tim if he wanted to hold her?” “No, because he’s not a nurturing, caring human being. He’s kind of an asshole.” Raylan and Tim, you two should hook up before the end of the series.
-Winona with the Wallace Shawn jab.
-Jeff Fahey gets one scene in this episode, but it’s a great one. As he’s talking to Carl, we can really feel the weight of the past on his words.
-The scene between Art and Avery Markham is, once again, a showcase for that good ‘ol Justified dialogue. Here we have two experienced men who are both smart enough to know what the other is trying to accomplish, and as a result, the scene is crackling and fun to watch. Plus, we haven’t had much Art this season.
-No Duffy, no Hale. Probably tanning or something.
-The song playing during Ty Walker’s bullet wound scene: “The Preacher” by Jamie N Commons.
– “I’m running shit; I get to use the expression.”
-We’re over halfway through the final season, guys. This is so sad.
Photo credit: FX, Justified