“I gotta admit: there’s a small part of me that’s gonna miss this when it’s all over.”
“Hey now, don’t eulogize the past ’till the future gets its turn.”
“Dark As a Dungeon” is my favorite episode thus far of an already fantastic final season. It features crackling dialogue, intriguing character moments, and a really well done exploration of the past vs. the present, and it sets into motion the final arc of the series: not just Raylan vs. Boyd, but also Raylan and Boyd vs. Harlan. After all, the setting is paramount in a series like this, a series with characters who are frequently haunted by the ghosts of the past and are constantly drawn to Harlan County. As we move into the final five episodes of the series, the major question becomes whether or not they’ll get out of Harlan alive.
For Boyd, if there’s one thing that is going to bring about his downfall, it’s his greed. $100,000 isn’t enough for him, and he’s the kind of guy who won’t sleep well knowing that there’s $10 million to take from that vault. Ava asks him whether he would ever be able to walk away, and he responds with “Do I have a choice?” It’s clear by now that Boyd’s always going to be drawn to Harlan, and as much as he might’ve talked up leaving and building a new life with Ava, it’s very uncertain at the moment whether settling down ever will been an option. He wants more and more and more, and it could wind up coming back to bite him.
As for Raylan, this is a key episode for his character as well. We still don’t know how his conflict with Boyd is going to turn out, but it’s safe to say that the time he spent with Winona in the last episode had an effect on him. He’s starting to put into place his going away party by burning Arlo’s old stuff and by working with Markham for the land, and we can see that there are still quite a few things–aside from Boyd–that he needs to put away before he can leave. “I’m sick of the past,” he says. “In Harlan, it’s vertical. You dig down another layer, turn up some horror.” And, with Ava later on in the episode, he tells her that “the past is a statement and the future is a question.” “The past and future are a fight to the death,” she responds.
The ending of the episode, however, signals a significant shift in Raylan’s approach toward the past. At first, he thinks he’s going to find something in Arlo’s shed, something that he can wrap his mind around in order to explain why Arlo was the way he was, but he ends up finding just dirt. It’s disappointing for him, but as we see in the episode’s closing scenes, it’s also an indication that maybe Raylan can move on from the past, from Harlan. “I won’t meddle with what’s been done,” he remarks, and we can see clearly what he’s realized: he can’t change the past, but he can move on from it. And so, he decides to dig up his own grave rather than his parents’ graves, and it’s exactly what he tells Markham he’s doing: digging up his own roots. Raylan Givens is beginning to sever his ties to Harlan County, and all that’s standing in his way is one man. Boyd Crowder, here we come.
– “And our father’s final resting place?” “Eh, it’s up to you.”
– “You could’ve just as easily been an outlaw as a lawman.” A defining statement for the character of Raylan Givens.
-Nice to see Raymond J. Barry get one more scene as Arlo before the series ends. The conversation there at the end seems kind of out of place in the show’s world, but it’s handled well here.
-I’m surprised it took this long to get Garrett Dillahunt on the show. He fit in perfectly, and I’ll miss his character.
-I want a spinoff about Wynn Duffy’s love for guacamole. By the way, I wonder how much we’ll be seeing of Duffy as the series comes to a close. We only have 5 episodes left–*SOB*–and we still need to fit in that multi-episode Tim storyline about his boner.
-Put any two characters in this show together, and it’ll be a crackling scene. Exhibit A: Katherine Hale and Art Mullen in this episode.
– “You see this star? Kiss my ass, Markham.”
– “You wanted to get hit in the front, you should’ve run toward me.” Such an asshole. I love Raylan.
– “You wanna lean in for a kiss?”
– “Damn, Raylan, you’re in love with my balls!”
Photo credit: FX, Justified