I absolutely adore the music of the Outlander theme song, and, after a little research, discovered that it’s an old Scottish tune — sometimes a “rowing song,” sometimes a lullaby — with original lyrics by Sir Harold Boulton (first published in 1884) about Bonnie Prince Charlie after the failure to restore him to the Scottish throne.
The Skye Boat Song
(traditional Scottish melody,
lyrics by Sir Boulton, 1884 )
[Chorus] Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing, Onward! the sailors cry; Carry the lad that’s born to be King Over the sea to Skye.
Loud the winds howl, loud the waves roar, Thunderclouds rend the air; Baffled, our foes stand by the shore, Follow they will not dare.
[Chorus] Though the waves leap, soft shall ye sleep, Ocean’s a royal bed. Rocked in the deep, Flora will keep Watch by your weary head.
[Chorus] Many’s the lad fought on that day, Well the Claymore could wield, When the night came, silently lay Dead on Culloden’s field.
[Chorus] Burned are their homes, exile and death Scatter the loyal men; Yet ere the sword cool in the sheath Charlie will come again.
Flora, in verse 3, is Flora MacDonald, who supposedly rescued Prince Charles Edward Stuart from the British troops, and helped him escape, disguised as a woman (though I don’t see that detail in the song), via Skye — also known as the Isle of Skye — the largest and most northerly island of the Scottish Inner Hebrides. The Claymore in verse 4 — for all you non-military experts, like me — is an Anglicization of the Scottish Gaelic claidheamh-mòr, the two-handed “great sword.”
In 1892, the original lyrics of The Skye Boat Song were adapted into a poem “Sing Me a Song of a Lad Who is Gone” by author Robert Louis Stevenson, with the “lad” being Bonnie Prince Charlie. I’m not sure why Stevenson felt he had to adapt the original lyrics, which I prefer to Stevenson’s poem, but for whatever reason, he rewrote them.
Robert Louis Stevenson’s (1892) Poem
“Sing Me a Song of a Lad that is Gone” (adaptation of “The Skye Boat Song”)
[Chorus] Sing me a song of a lad that is gone, Say, could that lad be I? Merry of soul he sailed on a day Over the sea to Skye.
Mull was astern, Rum on the port, Eigg on the starboard bow; Glory of youth glowed in his soul; Where is that glory now?
[Chorus] Give me again all that was there, Give me the sun that shone! Give me the eyes, give me the soul, Give me the lad that’s gone!
[Chorus] Billow and breeze, islands and seas, Mountains of rain and sun, All that was good, all that was fair, All that was me is gone.
Stevenson’s poetic adaptation was further adapted by Bear McCreary to serve as the theme for the Starz show (only the lyrics were slightly changed from Stevenson’s poem, not the melody itself).
As the original lyrics of The Skye Boat Song were written for a traditional Scottish melody to tell the story of how Bonnie Prince Charlie escaped in a small boat after the defeat of the Jacobite uprising of 1745, and as this is one of the major themes of Outlander, the original lyrics fit the show just as well as any of the adaptations.
The song — a traditional expression of the 1745 Jacobite uprising/rebellion — and its story has entered Scotland’s history as a national legend. The song itself is sometimes heard as a traditional waltz, a rowing song, or a lullaby. This version of The Skye Boat Song is done by The Corries.
Although, as the Theme Song for the show Outlander, Stevenson’s lyrics are hardly changed, the music, of course, is still lovely.
The only music in Outlander that I like better than “The Skye Song” is McCreary’s music for the Dance of the Druids, as it’s called, which is hauntingly beautiful. I haven’t been able to determine if that’s original or based on a traditional tune, but either way, I love it.
Give me again all that was there, Give me the sun that shone! Give me the eyes, give me the soul, Give me the lad that’s gone!
1884 lyrics to
“The Skye Boat Song”
If you’ve been watching Starz’s adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s best-selling Outlander series of books, you know that some of the first season was divided into two parts over two years (2014-2015), with S1 P2 just recently beginning after a long, almost unbearable hiatus for those of us who have never read the books. If you’ve read any of my related blogs on the show, you know that I’m not comparing the books to the show, but am judging the show by its own merit. All adaptations should be judged that way — despite readers’ complaints about how films or series differ from the books on which they’re based — because the two are completely different art forms.
S1 P1 of Outlander was a bit slow-moving — spending far too much time on extended visual displays of historical information, like women’s clothes, hair, jewelry; men’s clan rituals; etc. that the viewers would have gotten instantly despite the fact that book readers may have needed extended descriptions — then speeding up during the last few episodes. S1 P2, however, has been more plot-driven. Ep 11, “The Devil’s Mark,” was the most powerful show the season has produced thus far: harrowing, moving, and poignant.
If you’ve been reading my blogs on S1 P1, you know that I found Geillis (Lotte Verbeek, above L) to be one of the most interesting and intriguing characters of the series. Not only did she become friends with the time-transported Claire (Caitriona Balfe, above R), but Geillis was a healer herself.
She constantly urged Claire to be happy in her life in 1740s Scotland, as Geillis herself was, but she seemed to have secrets of her own that indicated she might have come through the stones from the future herself. In “The Devil’s Mark,” my predictions about Geillis proved true, as she and Claire were arrested and put on trial for witchcraft, and Geillis, indeed, revealed that she had come from the future.
Of course, neither were “witches” — for spiritual, religious, or any other purposes, though Geillis was shown in S1 P2 Ep 10 performing a ceremony in the woods that she hoped would lead to the death of her lover Dougal’s (Gavin McTavish) wife so that she and their unborn child could be with him; and then Geillis poisoned her own husband so the lovers could be together.
Unfortunately, Claire became involved in the witchcraft trial for numerous reasons:
because of her own stubborn personality: she ignored Jamie’s warning to stay away from Geillis after her lover Dougal was exiled to his home by his brother Colum (Gary Lewis),
her own temper: she slapped Laoghaire MacKenzie (Nell Hudson) over their mutual jealousy concerning Jamie (Sam Heughan),
and her own fruitless attempts to save a dying baby left in the woods by parents hoping it would become a “changeling” and have a better, healthy life with the fairies: the infant’s mother saw Claire and accused her, during the witch-trial, of killing the baby instead of permitting the fairies to “change” it.
Laoghaire was one of the principal witnesses against Claire. The love-lorn Laoghaire not only set up the meeting with Geillis and Claire by forging a note, but she may have been responsible for calling the wardens on Geillis for murdering her husband Arthur.
Clan laird Colum certainly suspected foul-play himself during the public banquet for the Duke of Sandringham (Simon Callow, above), so Colum, as Laird, may have alerted the wardens. In any event, though Geillis may have been the original intended accused, for the murder of her husband, Laoghaire ensured that Claire was included in any witchcraft accusations with her bitter testimony about the love-potions which Laoghaire had requested to make Jamie fall in love with her, and which she claimed Claire had drunk herself to “steal” Jamie away.
Despite his best attempts to save the two women, lawyer Ned Gowan (Bill Patterson, above) could not combat religious and sexist prejudices against women during that time period, and both were found guilty of witchcraft and sentenced to death by burning. As Claire was being flogged, husband Jamie appeared and attempted to save her from the mob. However, only Geillis’ brave and melodramatic self-sacrifice managed to save Claire from the mob’s fury.
After realizing that her attempts to help return Scotland to independence through the Jacobite cause of returning a Scottish monarch to the throne had been in vain, Geillis whispered “1968” to Claire (which is apparently the year Geillis came through the stones at Craigh na doon).
(The writers of this episode stated in interviews that they did not have Geillis tell Claire that Geillis, too, had come through the stones during the time the two women were imprisoned in the Thieves’ Hole before the trial because they feared such a admission would have taken away from Claire’s later revelation to Jamie. Despite Claire’s reciting, “I only regret that I have but one life to give to my country” — the purported last words of American revolutionary Nathan Hale before being hanged in 1776, with which Geillis would have been familiar only if she had come from the future — and Geillis’ response of “Nice line,” I still wasn’t sure, at that point in the show, whether or not Geillis had, indeed, come through the stones from the future. Even though I’d seen some remarks on forums on Geillis’ smallpox vaccine scar, I’d tried to skip any Spoilers since I haven’t read the books and want to remain excited about the show itself.)
As the mob was flogging Claire as a prelude to burning her for being a witch, Geillis unselfishly helped save Claire. Revealing her small-pox vaccination as “the Devil’s mark” on her body, Geillis screamed to the crowd that she was, indeed, a witch and was, furthermore, carrying the devil’s child after having sexual relations with the Devil himself, ripping open her dress and revealing her rounded abdomen. Hissing at Claire to “run,” Geillis continued her over-the-top performance and melodramatic confession until she was carried out to be burnt.
My congratulations and admiration to Lotte Verbeek for her brilliantly dramatic performance as Geillis trying to save the only friend she had — the friend who did not betray her by saying that Geillis had tricked and misled her, a statement that the lawyer said might have given Claire the chance to save her own life. Realizing that the only way to take the mob’s attention off Claire was to concentrate it totally on herself, Geillis threw herself into her confession with admirable fanaticism. Lotte could have convinced me that she was a witch.
I can only thank Starz for not allowing us to see Geillis’ being burnt at the stake, as it would have been even more gruesome than Jamie’s extended flogging scene from S1 P1 by Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies, in a dual role as BJR and as Claire’s 1945 husband Frank). The trial was harrowing enough as it was, and ended with the (implied) burning of Geillis, and the escape of Claire and Jamie.
After Jamie rescued Claire and they’d gotten a sufficient distance from the mob, he asked Claire to tell him the truth about something, promising to be completely honest with her in return. In an unintentionally humorous (from our perspective) scene for such a profoundly disturbing moment, Jamie asked Claire if she was a witch herself. His question was based on her own smallpox vaccination scar, which he claimed to have seen and wondered about many times without asking her what it was.
This brought about Claire’s complete confession about who she was and why/how she came to be in Scotland in that time period. Jamie patiently listened to it all. The audience actually heard some of it, but the rest was muted: we saw only glimpses of Jamie’s quite calm reaction to the story.
After Claire’s “confession,” Jamie surprised me by not only believing her story of having coming through the stones — without questions, mockery, or grimaces — but by re-evaluating his own behavior in light of her tale. Asking whether she had gone to the stones earlier — endangering the others in the clan, after he’d requested she stay hidden from the British soldiers — for the express purpose of returning to her “husband” in 1945, Claire admitted that she had. Jamie then murmured, “And I beat you for it.”
What a surprise.
Jamie has not only promised, in an earlier episode, never to lay hands on Claire in violence again — though that may have been because she wouldn’t have sex with him after he beat her — but, after hearing Claire’s story, he came very quickly to what must have been a very painful and emotional conclusion for him. That Claire had been going to the stones to return to her husband, and she didn’t mean Jamie by that word.
Because S1 P2 began from Jamie’s perspective, with his Voice-over, we know that he is falling in love with Claire, despite their marriage being one of convenience, so I found it very moving that Jamie did not judge Claire and her story, he believed her “unbelievable” story without question, and he matured emotionally and morally from learning the truth about Claire.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not big on Romances. Don’t read ’em; rarely watch ’em. But the premise of Outlander was so intriguing that I wanted to see what had made the books bestsellers. I don’t know about events in any of the books, and I’ve already said that I found S1 P1 a bit slow until the final episodes, but S1 P2 shocked me last night with the poignancy of Jamie’s love for Claire.
After hearing her story, he took her several days’ journey away from where the trial had been held. Claire thought they were going “home.” Actually, after camping one night, Jamie took Claire over some hills to show her that they were at Craigh na doon. Yes, he’d taken her to the area of the stones after hearing her story. Without even asking her, Jamie took her to Craigh na doon in case she needed to go back to them. So that she could go home. And he meant the home that was away from him and his time.
Jamie has said, in Voice-over, that he is falling in love with Claire. Jamie has changed his behavior from that of the other men in his clan because of his feelings for Claire. Jamie has promised repeatedly to trust her and to believe what she tells him even if he doesn’t understand why (e.g., about the Duke of Sandringham). Yet he took her to the stones — after hearing her story — for the express purpose of helping her leave him in order to return to her husband Frank.
Yes, there was a last-second moment of hesitation: Jamie grabbed Claire’s hands just as she was about to touch the stones, saying he wasn’t ready to say good-bye yet. But then he left her alone there, telling her that he would stand guard at the campsite until she’d safely made it away, i.e., back through the stones to her own time.
Now that’s love — unselfishly caring for another person’s happiness and well-being despite any pain it may cause you — and for the first time in the series, I found myself thinking Jamie a wonderful character with great emotional and moral depth.
Of course, the decision to go back through the stones wasn’t easy for Claire either. She spent the day at Craigh na doon, looking at and fingering her two wedding rings: the gold one from Frank on her left hand, and the silver-key one from Jamie on her right. It was a poignant scene, uncluttered by any unnecessary Voice-over from Claire. In short, it was film adaptation of a book at its finest.
Cut away to a scene at night, with Jamie sleeping beside his campfire. (I did wonder why he was sleeping when he was supposed to be keeping guard, and why he didn’t wake immediately when someone approached the “camp,” but perhaps grief made him sleep more deeply rather than restlessly.) Then we hear Claire’s voice saying, “On your feet, Soldier.”
Yes, she came back.
To the man who was willing to give her up — for love — so she could return to her own time as well as to the husband there whom she loves.
Was Jamie happy?
Did Starz ruin it with a sex scene?
They did not.
(And for that, I applaud the writers, the director, the producers, and Starz itself. Love is not always expressed sexually, and, in that instance, I would have found it inappropriate and vulgar. Of course, their tears were touchingly appropriate, as was their affectionate embrace.)
For the first time in any episode, I found myself moved by Claire’s and Jamie’s growing love for each other. Of course, I believe that Jamie loves Claire far more than she presently loves him: he was willing to give her up so she would be happy.
Claire may love Jamie enough to stay with him for the moment, but I know there will be repercussions to her decision to stay in the past, which may affect her feelings for him. (And to those of you who’ve read the books, please don’t send me any more comments telling me what’s going to happen: that’s why I’m not reading the books: I’m watching the show.)
The episode “The Devil’s Mark” was harrowing, moving, and poignant. It was the best of the series to date. I only hope that the writers doing the adaptation of Outlander from the books will continue the fine writing and storytelling — and that the actors will attain the high quality performances — of this episode.
Now Outlander has become a show that’s really worth watching.
This is the ultimate season of FX’s hit series Justified — based on the short story “Fire in the Hole” and several novels by the late Elmore Leonard — and it looks like the lyrics to Soul Asylum’s “Runaway Train” fit this final season perfectly. Everyone in the show is on a Runaway Train, going the “wrong way on a one-way track.” Every character has gotten himself “in too deep,” “has secrets” he “can’t keep,” and “feels like [he] should be getting somewhere,” but, instead, “is neither here nor there.” It’s Justified’s last season, and it looks like the end of the road is coming for many of its characters.
As in the first season, the major conflict is between US Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant, above, and below, in hat) and his one-time buddy and mining compatriot, Harlan County criminal Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins, above). This last season, however, instead of vying with Boyd for the affections of Ava Crowder (Joelle Carter, below), Raylan is using Ava to get enough information on Boyd to put him back in prison, this time forever. How did Raylan convince Ava to agree to “betray” her fiancé Boyd? By getting her out of prison — conditional on her betrayal of Boyd — for a murder she committed. Not only is Ava’s secret “burning up her veins,” but “it seems no one can help [her] now” since too many other characters want to know how, exactly, she got out of prison and are determined to find out.
It’s been strangely uncharacteristic, though, that Boyd — who by nature and profession would have to be highly attuned to his surroundings and to the behavior of all the people around him — has not seemed to notice that Ava’s behavior is not that of his formerly devoted and loving fiancée. She’s jumpy, secretive, sad, nervous, and always going off places by herself (she’s either meeting Raylan or, as in last week’s episode, attempting — unsuccessfully — to escape Harlan).
A couple of episodes ago, Boyd did express his concerns that he didn’t feel he knew who Ava was any longer, and she invited him back into her bed (supposedly for the first time since she’d gotten out of prison) to re-gain his trust. Is Boyd’s implicit “trust” or love for Ava putting him on the Runaway Train, leading him back to prison, to death, to a showdown with Raylan, or, at the very least, to a deadly confrontation with Ava, who is the love of his life?
Boyd may be pretending not to notice Ava’s extremely unhappy and frazzled behavior, especially since, in last night’s episode, he came home to find Ava and Raylan together in the house — an allusion to season 1 where both men were competing for her affections and had a shoot-out. Now Boyd has one of his men stationed at the house with Ava, ostensibly to protect her, though Boyd’s crew this season seems a bit incompetent and mentally slow, to say the least. So Boyd may very well know that something is going on with Ava, though he may not realize that she is actively cooperating with the Marshals, especially with Raylan, and betraying Boyd in order to stay out of prison. It’s her Get Out of Jail card, but it’s not “free.” Ava’s “train” is running on a track back to prison if she doesn’t betray Boyd, or to death if Boyd discovers her treachery.
At the end of last night’s episode, the criminal Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson) betrayed Ava by calling Boyd and telling him that things were going on with Ava that Boyd “didn’t even know that he didn’t know.” That call surprised me as much as it did Boyd. Historically, Limehouse has been sympathetic and protective of Ava while being suspicious and hostile to his competitor Boyd. But Limehouse lost one of his men (who got tazed & supposedly arrested) while he was accompanying Ava to the location of the money Boyd’s planning to steal this season, money which Ava was to give to Limehouse in return for a car so she could run away — from the Marshals as well as from Boyd. Limehouse betrayed Ava because he didn’t get his money and because, like all the other characters, she’s “in too deep.”
Despite the fact that Ava is a murderer, criminal, and “snitch,” however, she has become one of the most sympathetic characters in the show this season, if only because all the US Marshals have become vicious, unfeeling, and completely unsympathetic to the danger they’ve placed her in. The characters of Raylan and Rachel (Erica Tazel, below) have metamorphosed from humorous but extremely competent law enforcement officers to relentless bullies, constantly threatening to return Ava to prison while, at the same time, putting her in an untenable position by having Raylan in almost constant contact with her, making the discovery of her treachery to Boyd more imminent.
In fact, Raylan’s contact with Ava is so constant that his superior, Rachel, has now begun to suspect that Raylan is once again having a sexual affair with Ava (he’s not, though Ava did kiss him and he didn’t resist). Is Raylan also on the Runaway Train, going the “wrong way on a one-way track,” by allowing his former feelings for Ava to conflict with his intense desire to put Boyd away forever, as well as to interfere with his wish to escape Harlan County by going to Florida to be with his ex-wife and baby daughter?
As has been Justified‘s pattern since season 2, there are “outside” criminals to complicate matters between Boyd and Raylan, and to give the Marshals something else to do besides trying to catch Boyd. This season’s criminals are comprised of “Dixie Mafia” Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns, in a recurring role, which has been expanded) and Katherine (Mary Steenburgen), who are plotting to steal from Avery Markham (Sam Elliott, right, below, opposite Timothy Olyphant) who is buying up property to grow marijuana in anticipation of its being legalized. At least, that’s why the other characters think Markham is buying up all those adjacent properties.
Markham is accompanied by his minions, who are led by Ty Walker (Garret Dillahunt, center above, standing), a veteran who has brought along his own crew, including the brain-damaged but endearing former Army Ranger Choo-Choo. Last week, Choo-Choo unintentionally killed a man with one punch, and then, this week, tried to protect the hooker who’d seen the group enter the murdered man’s office.
Choo-Choo’s chivalry got him killed: Markham insisted that Walker “do his duty.” After a shoot-out between the Marshals and Walker’s crew — who’d come to kill Choo-Choo for not killing the girl as he’d been ordered — a wounded Choo-Choo drove away, ultimately parking his car on the tracks of an oncoming train. Ironically, the train managed to stop just before hitting the car. The engineers/conductors went up to the car to ask the driver what he was doing, but Choo-Choo was already dead. Perhaps he thought his Runaway Train should go out in a blaze of fire, if not glory, but he only died, anonymous and alone, “neither here nor there.” Choo-Choo (Duke Davis Roberts, below, in a show-stopping role) did, however, manage to keep his secrets and his honor: the girl he chose not to kill did, in fact, survive.
Last night it became clear that Ava’s uncle Zachariah (Jeff Fahey, below, with gun), who is helping Boyd reach Markham’s safe through an abandoned mine-shaft, has his own secrets. Apparently, he’d sawed through floorboards in the mine in an attempt to kill Boyd but make it look like an accident. Boyd did fall through, but Zachariah ostentatiously saved him. He then sent Boyd out, and when Boyd’s man discovered the cut — not rotted — boards, Zachariah threw him down the hole to his death. Will Zachariah also succeed in killing Boyd? If so, will he do it before or after Ava’s own treachery is discovered?
Is Markham “playing” Katherine, as her crime-partner Wynn Duffy suggested, by asking her to marry him? Does Markham know that Katherine is “playing” him by continuing to be his lover while hiring Boyd to steal his fortune? Will Wynn and Katherine get Markham’s money or will Markham discover their plan?
Will Ava tell Boyd the truth before Limehouse does? If she does reveal her betrayal, will Boyd’s outrage and anger be greater than his love for her? If she does get killed for being a “snitch,” will Rachel and Raylan feel morally responsible?
Will any of these deceitful and secretive characters — criminal or lawman — get out of Harlan alive, as each wishes? Or will more of them join the murdered Dewey Crowe (shot by Boyd after he felt he couldn’t trust Dewey any longer) and the dead Choo-Choo?
Viewers cannot know until the end, of course, but things are not looking good. It seems “there’s no way out” for any of the characters. They’re all “in too deep.” They’re all on the Runaway Train, going the “wrong way on a one-way track.”
“Runaway Train” lyrics
Call you up in the middle of the night Like a firefly without a light You were there like a slow torch burning I was a key that could use a little turning
So tired that I couldn’t even sleep So many secrets I couldn’t keep Promised myself I wouldn’t weep One more promise I couldn’t keep
It seems no one can help me now I’m in too deep There’s no way out This time I have really led myself astray
Runaway train never going back Wrong way on a one way track Seems like I should be getting somewhere Somehow I’m neither here nor there
Can you help me remember how to smile Make it somehow all seem worthwhile How on earth did I get so jaded Life’s mystery seems so faded
I can go where no one else can go I know what no one else knows Here I am just drowning in the rain With a ticket for a runaway train
Everything is cut and dry Day and night, earth and sky Somehow I just don’t believe it
Runaway train never going back Wrong way on a one way track Seems like I should be getting somewhere Somehow I’m neither here nor there
Bought a ticket for a runaway train Like a madman laughing at the rain Little out of touch, little insane Just easier than dealing with the pain
Runaway train never coming back Wrong way on a one way track Seems like I should be getting somewhere Somehow I’m neither here nor there
Runaway train never coming back Runaway train tearing up the track Runaway train burning in my veins Runaway but it always seems the same
Born Lesley Sue Goldstein in 1946, Lesley Gore burst onto the music scene in the 1960s — before the Women’s Liberation Movement — when she was a junior in high school, with songs that were considered “feminist” before any of us knew what that word actually meant. Her songs especially affected me since, by age 5, I’d sworn never to marry, and, by age 6, decided that I was going to be a writer. My family mostly mocked me, but they also punished me. They continually claimed that women had only one option in life: to marry, have children, keep house, cook, do laundry, have more children.
None of the women in my family ever had jobs, and few even graduated from high school. (My own mother didn’t finish 7th grade, giving birth to me at age 12). So when I was 7 and heard Lesley Gore singing “It’s My Party,” claiming that she could cry if she wanted to, I thought she was the coolest thing on the planet. When that song was followed by “It’s Judy’s Turn to Cry” — Judy having been the vixen who’d stolen the singer’s boyfriend in the previous song — I saw it as an affirmation that things would work out the way you wanted them to — even if you were only 7 years old — but only if you listened to yourself and not to other people.
But the “anthem” that changed my young life and made Lesley my hero was “You Don’t Own Me.” I played the 45 record on my small phonograph so often, my mother threatened to throw them both out the bedroom window. I went around humming that song constantly. When my parents did bad things to me, I told them, “You don’t own me.” Sure, I got punished for it, but I kept on saying it anyway.
I planned to grow up and be just like Lesley Gore, which, at the time I was 7, meant I was going to have my own career and never be married, both of which I associated with independence and freedom. Of course, I had no idea that Lesley herself would never marry — instead being in a monogamous relationship with her partner Lois Sasson for decades. I just associated my refusal to ever marry with maintaining control over my own life — and my body — and to making my own career decisions.
Lesley Gore 1946-2015
I was strengthened in my own resolve to live my life as I wanted, and not as others claimed I must, because Lesley gave me permission not to do what others kept telling me I had to do when she sang “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.” I believed things would turn out the way they were supposed to because the girl who’d originally caused Lesley to cry by stealing her boyfriend got “payback” when it was “Judy’s turn to cry,” so I believed in receiving justice — eventually. And “You Don’t Own Me” became my personal anthem because Lesley Gore let the rest of us women — and little girls — know that we could stand up to men — and parents — and say “No.”
Thank you, Lesley Gore, for turning this little girl into a “feminist” at the age of 7, and for letting me know that, even if I had no power then, one day, I would.
And that’s how one of the finest crime dramas in cable television history began.
After his ill-fated encounter with the Miami gangster, Raylan Givens was transferred back to his home state of Kentucky, specifically to Harlan County, where he donned his iconic cowboy hat and boots with an panache rarely seen even on working cowboys in the American West.
Based on characters from the short story “Fire in the Hole” and from two novels by the iconic master of crime fiction, Elmore Leonard — who died last year at age 87 and who was a producer and writer of the show, and who will receive posthumous producer credit for the final season — the pilot episode had the major criminal, Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins, below) die, as he does in the story on which the pilot was based.
That is, Boyd died until the initial screening audiences let their outrage be known, apparently insisting that it was a humongous mistake to kill one of the most interesting characters in the show. The pilot was rewritten; Boyd lived — after shouting “Fire in the hole” just before he blew up a black church with a missile launcher — and Justified became an instant classic. Favored by critics and viewers alike, Justified has consistently been nominated for, and won, major industry awards.
From the season’s premiere, in 2010, Marshal Raylan Givens has had a bad habit of shooting first and being unable to ask questions later. His world-weary boss, Chief US Marshal Art Mullen (Nick Searcy, below) has just wanted to make it to retirement without getting shot himself (as he did last season) and without excessive paperwork caused by Raylan’s trigger finger.
But the most engaging conflict of the first year, which has periodically returned despite the series’ “Villain of the Season” approach, has been the conflict between Harlan County-born & bred, coal-mining childhood pals Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) and Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins). While Raylan became a crime-fighter, Boyd became a criminal extraordinaire.
In the initial season, in addition to fighting each other, Raylan and Boyd were also competing for the affections of Boyd’s former sister-in-law, Ava (Joelle Carter, below), who’d shot her abusive husband — Boyd’s brother — dead, after he beat up on her one too many times.
Ava eventually chose Boyd over Raylan, became involved in criminal activities herself, including murder, and spent all of season 5 in prison. After she believed that Boyd had abandoned her by not cooperating with Raylan in order to secure her release from prison, Ava secured her own “release.”
In the season 5 final scene (below), it was revealed that Ava got out of jail by agreeing to help Raylan find the evidence he needs to put Boyd away forever.
That situation seemed to be setting up the final season (6) as a return to the major — and most intriguing — conflict of Justified: that between Raylan and Boyd.
The teaser-trailers that FX has been releasing also intimate that Justified‘s final season will concentrate on the ongoing conflict between Raylan and Boyd.
In the Hat Trick trailer, the conflict seems clearly focused on Raylan and Boyd, emphasizing their ambiguous relationship due to their having grown up together and having once been friends. Also, though they are on opposite sides of the law, the two men have many personality traits in common, further explaining their former friendship, their grudging respect, and the determination of each to eliminate the other in this Raylan-Boyd, Marshal-criminal duo.
In the Three on a Match teaser-trailer, however, it looks like Ava herself may have a reason to mistrust and even hate Raylan and Boyd, both of whom have betrayed her in the past — at least in her opinion — and it looks like it’s going to be a Burning Bed scenario among these three in the final season.
There will still be some “Guest Villains” in the final season of Justified, including Mary Steenburgen, who appeared briefly in season 5, Sam Elliott as her lover, and Deadwood‘s fantastic chameleon actor Garrett Dillahunt (who first played Jack McCall, Wild Bill Hickock’s murderer, in Deadwood, and, in the subsequent season, played Francis Wolcott, a serial killer preying on prostitutes who was also a surveying geologist for George Hearst).
But more exciting for the final season of Justified is the recurrence of Dixie Mafioso Wynn Duffy (Jere Burn, below), who’s been connected to, or hunted by, many of the previous seasons’ Guest Villains.
Apparently, during this ultimate season, Boyd is going to get into robbing banks — with the encouragement of the Dixie Mafioso — in his attempt to get out of Harlan “alive” and to take Ava with him.
Boyd’s cousin Dewey Crowe (Damon Herriman, below, as Dewey) who is, without a doubt, one of the most hysterically incompetent and endearing criminals ever created, will be out of jail, attempting to reunite with Boyd while avoiding their nemesis, Raylan.
Of course, we don’t know how it will all play out, but the most faithful viewers of the show are hoping that the final season will concentrate on the relationship between Boyd and Raylan, as the initial season did. Though the Guest Villain seasons have been wonderful, none has ever reached the brilliance of that first season, where Walton Goggins, as Boyd, and Timothy Olyphant, as Raylan — who improvise many of their scenes together — shone brighter and fiercer than any other characters.
Furthermore, since the finale of each season of Justified has ended with a different artist singing “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive,” and both Raylan and Boyd are determined to finally make it out of Harlan for good — Raylan to join his ex-wife and baby daughter in Florida, and Boyd to take Ava and move to a more prestigious, upper-middle-class neighborhood in Kentucky — the rumor mills are swirling with fan fears that Raylan or Boyd or both will be killed in the Justified‘s series finale.
The final season of FX’s award-winning crime drama Justified airs on FX on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET, and premieres Tuesday 20 January 2015. Additional info and videos — both trailers for season 6 and flashbacks from previous seasons — are on the official site.
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