A review of the penultimate "Justified" of season one coming up just as soon as I tell you I prostituted myself to old ladies...

"My son's been fighting wars since the day he was born." -Arlo

So let's see if we can make sense of all the wars being fought as we prepare for next week's season finale, and apologies for not being able to put this into a Venn diagram:

The Miami kingpin: Wants Raylan dead for Tommy Bucks, the LA hitmen and Sheriff Hunter. Will now want Boyd dead for blowing up the shipment, and will probably also be displeased with Bo for allowing it to happen (and not having the money to pay for it).

Bo Crowder: Wants to hurt Ava if she won't leave the state, now has to fear Miami and will no doubt need to have some words with Boyd.

Boyd Crowder: Seems to have made his peace with Raylan and Ava and is now taking his anti-meth church to a much taller pulpit.

Arlo Givens: Pretending to be a double-agent for Raylan and the Marshals, but working as a triple-agent to score more cash from Bo and screw over his good-for-nothing son.

Ava Crowder: Won't leave Kentucky, wants Bo's goons out of her house and not very happy with Raylan after catching him sleeping with Winona.

Winona Hawkins:
Despite all her protestations of love for Gary, had sex with Raylan, then seemed to regret it.

Raylan Givens: In an earlier time would have gladly killed most of the people listed above, but he's trying to be a better man and recognize that shooting not only doesn't solve every problem, but sometimes makes them worse.

Did I miss anything or anyone? We're getting awfully busy as we head into next week's finale - which has the apt-sounding title of "Bulletville" - and it's impressive how all the different storylines are converging into one big mess of trouble for our man with the big hat.

I didn't love Winona's about-face with regards to Raylan, if only because it seems like she'd have been more apt to do it while Gary was in trouble than now. But everything else in "Fathers and Sons" worked, particularly any and every scene with Raymond Barry as Arlo. The man's unswerving belief in the rightness of his actions is both disturbing and hilarious - see, for instance, the unapologetic glee with which he asks, "What's it pay?" when Raylan invites him to snitch on Bo - and so of course he would throw a big monkey wrench into the Marshals' plan(*) to take out the Crowders. And the great thing about the way he plays the character, and the way the mutual loathing between father and son has been written, you can read his speech to the grenade-holding Lucky either way. Maybe he was just spinning a story, and maybe it's true and he doesn't want Raylan to know anything intimiate about him. The thing is, though, whether the story was true or not, there was some level of altruism behind the telling of it, since Arlo could have walked out if he wanted. So while Raylan's father cares mostly about staying free and getting paid, there are some other things he believes in, and places where he and his kid could find a small patch of common ground if they weren't so busy trying to destroy each other.

(*) I know Art explained to Raylan in the pilot that Marshals in the Lexington field office do "a little bit of everything," but from my limited understanding of what the Marshals do (much of it gleaned from other Elmore Leonard adaptations), none of what they've done involving the Crowders this season seems to apply. Is it just that they're really helpful to the state cops, or is the service involved in more than just chasing fugitives, prisoner transport and courthouse security, and witness protection?

There appears to be less ambiguity with Boyd, meanwhile (though we can debate about the aesthetics of Walton Goggins' funky-legged dance down the church aisle). He's not acting in his father's interests, and there wouldn't seem to be a motive for blowing up the Miami shipment other than his desire to rid Harlan of the scourge of meth(**).

(**) Between "Breaking Bad" and this show, I feel like I'm learning an awful lot about the production and distribution of crystal meth in recent weeks.

But whether we take Boyd at face value or assume he's still working an angle, he's an incredible wild card as we go into the finale. A man like he is - or like he's been acting since Raylan shot him - can't be predicted and can't be reasoned with, and he could turn out to be an unlikely ally for Raylan just as easily as he could be a tremendous obstacle.

Been saving that finale screener until after I wrote this review. Can't wait to watch it, and to talk about it with you next week.

A few other thoughts:

  • Still no Rachel, and I'm wondering if she'll turn up in the finale, either. It's no sin if the writers decided they only had enough material for one junior sidekick and that Tim's background and personality seemed more useful and interesting. But it does feel weird that she's just vanished.
  • No "Deadwood" alums this week, but Graham Yost brings in another actor from "The Pacific" in Joshua Biton (who was Basilone's pal J.P.) to play Lucky.
  • Very nice scene in Art's office, between Art rightfully chewing out Raylan for letting his daddy issues get in the way of the job, and then Raylan figuring out a way to enjoy two glasses of Art's private stock instead of the one that Art was going to let him have.

What did everybody else think?