Throughout this season of Justified, I’ve been saying that Raylan Givens has been annoyed with everyone. And I’m sticking with that, but in tonight’s finale “Slaughterhouse” I realized there was more to it than just being annoyed with the bad guys of Harlan County. He’s tired. So tired. And that led to a captivating, if not a bit quiet, finale.

Everyone was bringing their A-game for this episode. In the immediate fallout of we discover that yes, Trooper Tom has died and he didn’t wake up to tell them who the shooter was before he did. But Johnny Crowder says he saw it – it was Quarles. And I wanted to buy that story. But as a person who watches a lot of television, the fact that the cameras never let us see that was the truth made me question it. And it turned out I had reason to.

The twists and turns throughout the hour had me holding my breath. We learned quite a bit. For instance – Johnny does hold a grudge against Boyd and he has been working for Limehouse this whole time. Limehouse told the Marshals where they could find the body of Devil. While Johnny was the one who told him, he let Arlo take the blame since he’s been going crazy and talking to Dead Helen anyway. And just to be sure, he told Ava that poor Ellen Mae probably told Dickie. Things may not be as different at Audrey’s as the girls would have wanted now that Ava is in charge. Either way – Boyd was arrested for Devil’s murder much to Ava’s dismay. Those two, for bad guys, they sure are adorable.

As for Raylan – he just wanted to know who killed his friend, Tom. A good man with a family who got caught up in the craziness. When it appeared to be Quarles, he was going to do anything to find him. Including play a crazy game of Harlan Roulette with a scared and surprised Wynn Duffy. Let me just say that Jere Burns has never been better than he was in those few minutes on screen in the trailer. His descent from annoyance and indifference to nearly pee in his pants fear at the fact that Raylan has lost it was masterful. I can’t wait to see what Wynn brings us next season.

As for Quarles – well, he was a busy boy. He kidnapped a mother (played by the always perfect Cathy Cahlin Ryan) and her two boys who were camping after going to a Christian Rock Festival. He used her phone to call Theo and say he wants to come home. His downward spiral reached quite the pathetic conclusion this week. Theo said he could come home from $500k. $250 for Theo, and $250 for Sammy as an apology. But either way, he’s out of the family business. After Quarles ditches the mom, he has the younger boy call Raylan. This kid is going to be in therapy pretty much forever after this ordeal, yeah? Raylan meets him, gives up his guns and goes as a trade item for Limehouse.

Limehouse has to pay Quarles the $500K for the two hostages. Limehouse, just wanting Quarles to get the heck outta Kentucky is willing to pay up. And we finally find out where he keeps his money. In the pigs. “It’s a piggy bank!” HAHA! Classic. This transaction wasn’t going to go smoothly, and I was kind of wondering how Raylan was going to get out of it. Turns out Errol – who was leaving the Holler because Limehouse kicked him out – seemed to think it was odd that Raylan was entering the Holler in a van with Jesus stickers and returned and surprised and shot Quarles. And then Raylan cut his arm off. (He “disarmed” him, he later said was what the other Marshals were calling the maneuver.) As he lay dying, Quarles let out a tiny tidbit – he didn’t kill Trooper Tom. Arlo did. Oof.

Raylan arrests Arlo and when he brings him into the Federal Marshal’s office he has a talk with Boyd about how for Boyd, Arlo is family now. In a lot of ways, Boyd is the son Arlo always wishes he had raised. The dynamic of these three was played out beautifully over the season. Arlo’s deterioration. His apologizing to Raylan, not because he felt he was wrong but because Helen did. Boyd finding a replacement father. And in the end, Arlo came through  for Boyd – he admitted to killing Trooper Tom. And Devil. Letting Boyd go free. It was sad. As for Quarles – well golly gee, one of those guns on him was the one that killed Gary. Surprise face, Raylan!

The sadness continues still was when Raylan went to Winona to monologue a wrap-up of the episode for her. Why was it sad? Well, he basically patted her belly as a possible goodbye to his child. Those two are done for good, and I would bet Natalie Zea won’t be a regular next season. Plus we learn why Arlo shot Trooper Tom. It had nothing to do with Tom. Or Quarles, for that matter. It was about Boyd. He saw a man in a hat aiming his gun at Boyd, assumed it was Raylan, and shot to kill. He was protecting the son he chose by killing what he assumed was his son by blood. But Raylan isn’t sad. He’s just tired. I’m sad for him though.

And on that quiet and somewhat depressing note, the season ends. It seems like a wrap up, with a fresh start for season 4. But there is a lot left open…. Have we seen the last of the Tonin’s? When will Boyd find out that Johnny betrayed him? What will become of Limehouse? What’s next for Wynn? And, of course, what fresh horrors await Raylan? Because even with all of that, we know a brand new Big Bad is on the horizon just waiting to cause trouble for our Man in the Hat.

What did you think of the finale? I thought it was just a beautiful hour of television. Well done, Justified crew.

Written by Melissa Miller. Find her on Twitter @serrae

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