TV Review: Justified 1.13 Season Finale – Bulletville (POTENTIAL SPOILERS)

The first season of the best new show on TV, the FX Channel’s “Justified” wraps up with episode 13, “Bulletville”, secured in the knowledge that U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens and his myriad of gun thug problems, not to mention muddled love life, will keep on keeping on with a Season 2 already guaranteed by the network.

And the episode title is very much appropriate, because lead does indeed fly early and often in the season finale. Everything has been leading up to this moment: the interconnecting love life of Raylan, Ava, and Winona; Ava’s harassment by the Crowder clan; the Miami mafia’s need for revenge against Raylan for various offenses; Boyd Crowder’s crusade to rid Harlan of the evils of meth; Bo Crowder’s attempts to reconstitute his evil empire; and of course, Raylan’s father, Arlo’s many schemes finally come to fruition.

“Bulletville” holds promises of love and death for Raylan: Bo Crowder has just lost a major shipment thanks to son Boyd’s interference, and he needs to make up for it, and cash alone just won’t do. Raylan’s scalp will do just fine, though, and Bo plans to ask someone close to Raylan to deliver. Will they? Meanwhile, last week’s one-night stand with ex-wife Winona may not have been a one-nighter after all; that is, if we’re reading Winona’s signals correctly. So where does that leave Ava? Or Gary? Gary’s M.I.A., but Ava’s got her own issues, specifically of the Crowder variety, as Bo finally makes his move to, as Michael Corleone once said, settle all family business.

Having seen the previous 12 episodes of “Justified” is a must in order to get the full impact of the bodies that fall in the season finale. There is the courtesy of the “previously” montage, of course, but unless you’ve been following Raylan ever since he took down the gun thug in Miami during a lunch crowd showdown, then much of the show’s storylines will not have their full impact.

Fellow U.S. Marshals Tim Gutterson and Rachel Brooks are entirely absent from the finale, as they have been in recent episodes. You gotta wonder if the writers have given up finding something for the duo to do, and if they’ll even be around for Season 2. Of course, the show’s lack of standalone filler episodes (especially later in the season) makes keeping around characters without any real investment in the season-long plot a bit difficult. So what’s the fix? More filler episodes? That might not be such a bad idea. It would offer up more interesting opportunities to see Raylan interact with the world beyond Kentucky.

On the plus side, the always awesome Nick Searcy has had plenty to do in the last couple of episodes, and the lack of Gutterson and Brooks, along with some expendable side character, does allow for more of the equally awesome Walton Goggins to do this born-again avenger thing. Also great news for Goggins fans: the actor will continue his stint as a regular in Season 2.

And finally, if you thought the show’s previous episodes have been lacking in the Raylan Action Factor, then “Bulletville” is your wake-up call.

The season 1 finale of “Justified” airs tomorrow on the FX Channel June 8, 2010. Check your local listings.