Monday, December 28, 2015


The last one, the end, the closing season. Tears and cries all around.



The final season of a series like this one is very complicated. It has to take all, or at least the most dangerous criminals down, in prison, in the earth or whatever other way they can imagine. So you have to understand that there is no spoiling in telling you that all except two end up dead or in prison, only two actually in that last category. And two on the loose, on the run, vanished in thin air. No spoiling in telling you Raylen Givens ends up in Miami, Florida, as had been announced for a while. He is a good daddy to his daughter, a visiting or visited daddy more than a real in-house one. His ex wife and mother of his daughter is of course with a second  second-choice husband, nothing to brag about. Not handsome but probably not crooked either, and yet the muscle man type, rough on the outline and hairy all over, working class and physical. A real man in one word even if he won’t win any Mister Universe competition.

The only thing I will not tell you is about Raylan’s hat, his famous twenty-gallon Stetson hat. Apparently he has to bury it in the last episode or so. Bury it in some deeply spiritual way that sounded like some crucial scene in some A-cowboy-movie like Pale Rider or some other B-cowboy-movie with John Wayne like never mind the title they are all the same.

But it is time to summarize this series. As I said, and they managed to keep that steadily till the end, it was a cross between a Clint Eastwood series and a country-rockabilly musical without singers nor dancers. The charm was in the southern accent which was authentic for some actors and an approaching imitation for others, but believable enough, and beyond these criminals seen as individuals you could see crime as an organized society with its own hierarchy within every gang and a special very confrontational hierarchy among the gangs, knowing that the black gang is completely out though they are the last resort gang that provides the various white gangs with technical and emergency help when needed. They are hated but they are very good at what they are doing like fake IDs and passports, the security blanket of a hideout or some rescue money or even team when things are getting a little bit sour.

Then the hierarchy is very geographical. At the top are the local family gangs and each family fights against all the others and the originality of this series is that a very effective though slightly Dirty Harry in style US Marshall is brought into Kentucky to help the local US Marshalls dismantle the gang system and bring down the die-hard last-longest gang based on the Crowder family and a couple of allies who hate them but have to serve them. So the seasons went on and on bringing down one gang after the other.

The family structure of these gangs is normally centered on a man, but there was one exception, and that really was an exception, of one gang centered on a mother and her sons. It so happens that out of one of these gangs one son changed routes and went up the highway instead of down the low way. He became a US Marshall and he of course was the only one who could be of any help since he had been educated with them all and he knew all their little secrets and their weak points and it never was endurance. Patience was the main asset you had to have if you wanted to bring them down, these gangsters.

The final hierarchy was geographical again since it was the various routes followed by the substances they sold on the black market that had to come from outside. So they tried, and had to try, getting in touch with people from Detroit or people from Mexico and it turned fiery and bitter very fast because in Kentucky they hated the guts of these outsiders and these outsiders looked down upon these red necks. This is shown very well in the various seasons.

The final element that is of interest is the spectacle you get of all the various polices in a state like Kentucky: two federal agencies, FBI and US Marshalls, state troopers and state police, and then the police of every single county whose sheriffs are elected by the people in a brilliant atmosphere of thriving prosperous corruption. When you know that and the fact that the police of Harlan County cannot cross the boundary line of the county, you imagine the mess and ease with which one criminal can cross that line. One crossing point is a bridge with the line right in the middle which became the meeting point of all negotiations, all exchanges, all encounters between bands, gangs and various police teams. That means in the US police work is impossible, coordination is a dream and when it is tempted it turns into a nightmare, and the local cops are very simply trained to profile the appearance of a passer-by by his look, skin color, hat, way of walking and other attitudinal and behavioral elements and when a total stranger is profiled into one dangerous category at first sight using a weapon becomes not an option but a reflex. And the only information they can get is from snitches or confidential (criminal) informers.

That’s the problem with Raylan Givens. He had the bad habit of shooting faster than his shadow took to open one eye and he had to learn some restraint. But he managed and strangely enough he remained fair and faithful to the woman who was not really involved but entangled in the Crowder gang to the last moment and even when after all that noise, but well you will have to find that out by yourself. Somewhere deep under Raylan Givens was a sentimental baboon or maybe puppy. That’s the main interest in the man. He was able to feel some emotions, some passion even though he would never admit it because he is a man and in his gang and anti-gang training sessions a real man does not feel any passion, emotion or sentiment. The surprising element is that he survived but we knew that from the very start. Maybe they could have tried an ending à la Prison Break or Dexter. A little bit lackluster.


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