Justified, Season 4

It’s Impossible Not To Root for Boyd Crowder on Justified
Talking television.
April 5 2013 2:11 PM

Justified, Season 4

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The evolution of Boyd Crowder.

Joelle Carter as Ava Crowder and Walton Goggins as Boyd Crowder.
Will Boyd and Ava ever get to be happy?

Photo by Prashant Gupta/FX

I admit it. I’m a sucker. If a show or movie is told from the bad guy’s point of view, I’m rooting for the bad guy. When I watch a heist movie, I’m rooting for the thieves. When I watch Dexter, I want Dexter to keep his dark passenger close by and busy. But when it comes to Justified and Boyd Crowder, well, it’s complicated. You can’t root for Raylan and Boyd, can you?

Rachael Larimore Rachael Larimore

Rachael Larimore is Slate's managing editor.

This season, both were hot after Drew Thompson, a fugitive with mysterious connections to Arlo Givens and Bo Crowder. Raylan, of course, wanted to send Thompson to prison. Boyd wanted to hand him over to Theo Tonin to curry favor with the Detroit mafia. I knew both couldn’t win, and it was pretty entertaining watching Raylan solve a mystery by threatening low-lifes, scaring prisoners on their way to Supermax, and smacking himself on the head when he realizes that he’s been riding around with Drew Thompson for two days while … looking for Drew Thompson. But Raylan winning means Boyd losing, and so I could only hope that that Justified’s best bad guy didn’t end up dead at the hands of Tonin.

And even outside of his direct confrontations with Raylan, Boyd inspires complex feelings. He’s not without his charms. His intellect, his cunning, and his genuine affection for Ava draw me in. When I found out he’d been hiding money so that he could propose to Ava and buy a house, I totally forgave him for the fact that, to get some of that money, he wired Hiram with explosives (and then showed zero remorse when Colt mistakenly killed him).

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When the Clover Hill Gang tried to make Boyd do their bidding, I cheered when Boyd played them for fools, used Tonin’s assassin to do his dirty work, and then extorted them for $100,000 each. Who could blame him? He just wanted to go legit and give future generations of Crowders a respectable name. He just wanted to buy a Dairy Queen.

But, but, but … There’s always been something or another that’s made me withhold unconditional affection for Boyd. There’s his skinhead past (and the tattoos that won’t let him or us forget it). There’s the callousness that shows through at times, like when he tried to have Ellen May killed even though it would have been enough to send her away.

Until, that is, the Season 4 finale, when Ava ended up caught red-handed with Delroy’s body.

It was heartbreaking when Boyd saw Ava in the back of the police cruiser, and when he made his futile plea to have her out within 24 hours. It was inspiring when he wrestled Deputy Mooney to the ground, and infuriating when Paxton waved off the other deputies beating Boyd up. “He’s not going to be any more trouble,” Paxton said, all smug and obnoxious. “Let this white trash piece of shit go.”

Boyd looked so broken, so defeated right at that moment, that I went right back with him to his childhood, where the constant abuse heaped on him for being a Crowder helped mold his ambitions. And so next year, when Boyd goes after Paxton—and let’s face it, it’s gotta happen—I’ll be rooting for Boyd. Unabashedly. I’m on Team Boyd now—at least until the next time he goes eye-to-eye with Raylan.