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The Best Episodes of Justified, Ranked

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Justified - Timothy Olyphant

Justified was a TV show that ran on FX for six seasons. It was based on one of the best of Elmore Leonard’s characters: Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant). Givens is someone who lives in the grey; he might be a lawman, but he doesn’t mind doing unlawful things if it helps him save someone innocent. As in all of Leonard’s stories, he was surrounded by all kinds of colorful characters, good and bad, which made this show one of the most entertaining shows of the 2010s. Here are its best episodes:

Leonard always loved unique, stupid, fumbling criminals; and Dewey Crowe (Damon Herriman) was the greatest homage Justified could have given him. Dewey is the stupidest, to the point that his incompetence is almost endearing. This episode is his, and only his. Dewey gets broken out of prison by a prison nurse, and wakes up in a bathtub with two incisions where his kidneys should be. If he wants them back, he’ll need $20,000.

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Dewey never thinks that it could be a ruse (even though he can still go to the bathroom, and even comments on it, thinking he might have four kidneys), so he embarks on a frustrating crime spree as he discovers that most people now buy things with card, and there’s not much cash to steal. Justified could be tense, scary, trepidatious, and sometimes hilarious. This episode is in the latter category, led by one of the worst criminals ever, someone who always gave the show its funniest lines.

With only four episodes left in the show, things got tenser and tenser with every second. In this episode, the cards start to fall into place for the big finale. This episode has tense sequences, a beautiful conversation between Raylan and Ava; surprising killings, a messy plan to blow up a vault that fails, and the return of fan-favorite, Loretta (Kaitlin Dever), who seems to be the smarter, wiser, future of Harlan’s legal weed business queen.

It also has the surprising treason (or is it?) of Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns), becoming a snitch just to survive. The Justified writers said in a television academy panel that they had decided to kill Wynn Duffy three times, but that he was too fun to have around.

Related: Justified Revival adds Boyd Holbrook, Marin Ireland, Aunjanue Ellis, and More

The show’s final episode gave us an almost too-western-for-itself duel, between Raylan and the new, cocky, evil, and quickest shooter. What resonates most are scenes between Raylan and some of the characters we’ve been watching through six seasons. Especially the talk between him and Boyd Crowder; they’re two sides of the same coin, who choose opposites sides of the law; but they still have a connection as “they used to dig coal together.”

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