Choo-Choo and Rayland - Everyman
ANOTHER FX SUCCESS - JUSTIFIED IS US
FEBRUARY 26, 2015
Justified is winding obviously winding down to its final episode as more of the "bad" guys start to get knocked off. Ty Walker (Garett Dillahunt) and his crew were involved in a shootout, and Choo-Choo (Duke David Roberts - my favorite character) and the other mercenaries that Avery Markham (Sam Elliot) are scattering, killed, or on the run.
Political point. Markham is running his scam appealing to his henchmen in purely military jargon. He is able to manipulate Ty and his men by using war scenarios. This society within a society show the loyalty that men have to each other after serving in the military. The political structure is much like that of a fiefdom where Markham (Elliot) is in charge and his men must do his bidding. By using mercenary soldiers to assist Markham and his soldiers, Graham Yost demonstrates this politics of hierarchy which Markham's men know all to well - having been trained to be loyal. However, this may be Markham's undoing, as Raylan points out to Markham about his henchmen - "They know killing. But they don't know crime?" Which is true. The Markham killers aren't very subtle with their kills, as Boyd and the Crows are. A dead body from Boyd never shows up. A dead body from Walker's men is found almost too quickly.
The actions of Choo-Choo, by the way, also prove my point of the good and evil that I have been trying to progress in this blog. Choo-choo is a former Iraqi war vet turned mercenary hired by Markham to provide muscle to Harlan County Kentucky who is busy purchasing land to grow marijuana anticipating that Kentucky is going to pass a law much like Colorado's law.
Consider this: Choo-Choo is doing exactly what he is supposed to do - what he learned as a solder "has" to do. Obey his superiors, regardless of the consequences.
After killing realtor Calhoun Schreier (Brad Leland) with what Seabass (Scott Grimes) says is supposed to be a "warning tap" to get Schreier to talk, (Choo-Choo shows his strength by killing Schreier with one punch to the head), Choo choo takes the blame, and after a brief argument between Seabass and Ty, Choo-Choo quietly says "it's my mess. I'll clean it up." Demonstrating this loyalty to his superiors, Choo-Choo shows, again, a side of humanity that knows right from wrong, even when there really is no "right" attached to the wrong. We find later that Choo choo, commissioned to kill Schreier's prostitute, can't bring himself to kill the girl. He calls Ty and explains that "she won't roll on us." Ty: "How do you know that?" Choo-Choo: "Because she told me she wouldn't." Ty, Seabass, and other henchmen drive to the mountains to try to get Choo-Choo to do his "job," which he refuses to do. We find out earlier through a discussion between Markham and Walker that Choo-Choo miraculously survived an IED attack in Iraq, and that Choo-Choo is loyal and will do what he is told. Markham doesn't believe Walker ordering him to not only make sure Choo-Choo kills the prostitute, but to kill Choo-Choo. When Walker protests, Makham explains the "rules of war - how wounded men hold the entire platoon back. Walker responds with "one man dies so the others can live." Markham: "Anybody can run a peacetime command. Real leadership's about making the hard choices." Walker shows a moment of weakness and recognizes that Choo-Choo shouldn't be killed. He relates a story about
Yost and director Michael Dinner paint Choo-Choo as a victim of circumstances, the after effects of war. Walker reveals to Markham that We got that door open You wouldn't think anybody could be alive in there.
I do believe that Choo choo comes across in Justified as the one person besides Givens who has some sort of conscience and compassion toward other human beings. Through the mercenaries working for Markham, particularly through Ty and Choo-Choo is driving the prostitute to the site in the woods where he is to kill her, he asks the prostitute if she is bothered, just like everyone else, that he looks and talks as if he is extremely disabled (Personally, I feel Roberts delivers a shining acting moment with this portrayal of Choo-Choo), and she responds that she likes his slow pace - it is refreshing to her.
Seabass (Scott Grimes)
Choo-Choo asks her "You ever wish things wouldn't have to be the way they are? You know, like, if you close your eyes and open them, things would be different?" The prostitute shows compassion for Choo choo by stating that she "never trusts men who are fast talkers" and that Choo Choo is different because he takes his time to say what is on his mind. Choo choo's self-effacement is shown when he wonders why the prostitute "if I'd met a guy that looks and talks the way I do now, I'd have thought the same thing."
Choo-Choo understands. He knows he is different, reluctantly accepting it, and giving us a hint of what is to come. Choo-Choo has a revelation about right and wrong, and his self-realization puts him in a spot that he is going to have to go "go down with the ship" for causing more problems for Walker and Markham. When Walker, Seabass, and other henchmen come to kill the prostitute and Choo-Choo and are ambushed by Givens and Tim Gutterson (Jacob Pitts). When Walker and his crew arrive at the scene in the forest to kill the prostitute, Choo-Choo stands in there way. Givens' and Gutterson's ambush and shoot out takes out half of Markham's crew.
Boyd Crowder (Walter Goggins) and Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant)
The shoot out begins when Choo-Choo reaches for his gun and is shot repeatedly by Given's and Gutterson. It appears that by reaching for his gun first, Choo-Choo decides on suicide by police shooting. He draws his gun first, saying responding to Givens' pleas to not start a gunfight. Choo-Choo, again, says basically "I don't have anything left."
We later see that Choo-Choo who escapes the shooting in this car but is mortally wounded. He drives to the train tracks, parks his car on the railroad tracks, and waits for an oncoming train to put an end to his life. Miraculously, the train is able to stop right at Choo-Choo's care. The engineers run out of the train to find Choo-Choo has expired due to the gunshot. One of the engineers asks "why would a damn fool do something like this." Not too subtle play on names and characters. Choo-Choo chooses to end his life by being struck by a train, which doesn't happen. The train stops. But Choo-Choo being killed by a "choo choo" is pretty funny.
Although we really don't get to know Choo-Choo well at all - his characters is not developed fully) his death reminded me very much of Opie's death Sons of Anarchy - loyal men who are eventually destroyed as a result of who they were and who their affiliates were. I was becoming endeared to Choo-Choo, again, because he has a quality about him that he really understands right from wrong and how he probably won't get out of Markham's crew alive.
Yost dedicates a large portion of episode 6 to Choo-Choo. And, we get enough information to make a judgment of his character by his decision making in this episode.
I mourn the loss of Choo-Choo. Yes, he is part of an evil team of killers and thieves; yet, we sense he feels he doesn't belong. We see that Choo-Choo is not "dummy" when he points out that the waitress at The Portal Pizza Shop (Markham's front) is skimming from the register. When asked how he knows this, he says "I just know." Again, I like the use of the name Portal Pizza - Markham owns the pizza shop because that's where he is keeping the money to buy land for his marijuana growing scheme. His men "protect the portal" 24/7. When Walker questions Raylan showing up when Choo-Choo is with the prostitute, he says to Raylan "I didn't hear a car? You must have followed us from the Portal." And, with Boyd and now Uncle Zachariah trying to get to the safe at the pizza shop from the bottom of the world sort of plays on the portal idea.
At this time, I see a man of conscience and feel that he and Raylan are the two honest characters in this drama (I know Raylan has skeletons in his closet, part of which is his childhood friendship with Boyd Crowder (Walter Goggins). I can't say that just because they want to do the right things erases the problems caused by both men. Raylan is a thorn in the US Marshal's side because of his approach to arrest Boyd and Markham, just as Choo-Choo has become a thorn in Markham's side.
My point is that FX has a way of dramatically ending series, ones that are not going to return. The creators of these excellent portrays of "real humans" are not afraid to kill anyone off the show, and because this is Justified's last season, I still wonder if Raylan is going to make it out of Harlan alive. It just doesn't seem that he. He takes quite a few chances acting in his "cowboy" fashion, much to the chagrin of the U.S. Marshal's Office. Raylan is hanging literally be a thread, and simply because he has an obsession to stay in Harlan County when he was officially reassigned to Florida, where his ex-wife Winona Hawkins (Natalie Zea) lives with his daughter. His obsession is a bit skewed. Why would he continue to risk his life chasing Boyd Crowder, Avery Markham, and the Crow family around - really slimy characters. I cannot believe that Raylan is that idealistic.
And, FX has a way of killing off anyone they feel they can in the final episode. No plans are in the making to bring Justified back for more seasons, so what is the point if Raylan lives or dies. I can't see Raylan putting Boyd and Markham in jail and then riding off into the sunset, content that he did his duty. It's not FX's style, and I believe it is a reason for their successes. Good or bad, heroes and antagonists all, do not seem to end unscathed. Now, after viewing episode 6, and the brief kiss Raylan and Eva (Joelle Carter) might make it appear if Raylan is not ONLY staying in Harlan to catch Boyd. Just doesn't "seem" real for any FX program to have a totally happy Ending. Of course, AHS: Freak Show does have Lobster Boy Jimmy (Evan Peters) living with the pregnant siamese twins (Sarah Paulson). Yes, they are living "happily ever after" but, really, it's a family consisting of a man with lobster hands and a women with two heads. This is not your average series ending. They do ride off into the sunset happy, but they still are freaks. (Wonder if their child is going to be a two headed lobster baby).