Justified Review: "The Hammer"
Redemption was the main theme of “The Hammer”. Everyone wants it, but how do you get it?
For Boyd, he’s attempting to remake his image as a criminal into a man who follows the word of the Lord and does well by his God. The problem is, Boyd’s reputation precedes him and anyone who hears him attempting to spread the word of the Lord has a hard time believing the former criminal that he’s reformed.
Boyd’s plan to clean up his name? Rid Harlan, KY of its crippling methamphetamine problem. He starts by threatening a camper located in the woods, but his plan goes awry when he decides to follow up on his earlier threats.
Promising the blow up the camper if the meth dealers do not stop production of the narcotic, Boyd and his band of followers drag the two dealers out of the camper before Boyd sets it on fire. What Boyd did not realize was that there was another man in the camper who has died from Boyd’s idea of vigilante justice.
Any perceived good that Boyd has accomplished by elimination one more meth production lab will be more than off-set by Boyd inadvertently killing a man. Certainly Boyd’s nemesis, Raylan Givens, will not cut Boyd an ounce of slack when he finds out.
The interesting thing for us, the viewers, is that we got to see Boyd’s face when the realization of what he did washed over his face. Certainly the angle that Boyd’s anguish was reflective of his acknowledgement that he’ll likely be sent back to jail for his role in the man’s death is a legitimate one.
That is not the way I interpreted the reaction on Boyd’s face. To me, the anguish on Boyd’s face was that of someone who’s made a tremendous mistake and feels guilty for his actions. I’d imagine that part of Boyd’s anguish was that he violated everything he supposedly believes in and any hint of redemption would be destroyed.
At the same time, Raylan is seeking redemption for the impetuousness of his actions which led to Boyd’s release. While Boyd controlled his own fate, Raylan was even more nervous about something that Boyd could do will weigh heavily on his conscience.
This leads us to the only real purpose of the crime that Raylan has to investigate this week. The plot of the former convict seeking revenge on the judge who put him away for eight years and ruined his marriage was not a very good one and something reminiscent of the second and third episode.
However, it did weave its way into the episode when Judge Reardon and Raylan talk about a man that Reardon let off the hook lightly back when he first started who went on to kill a six year old girl and the trooper who went to arrest him.
It was a decision that shaped Reardon’s career as he became famous for handing out strict punishments. The judge continued to have a hard time dealing with the death of a young girl on his conscience and it affected the way he ruled his court.
At the very end of the episode, Ava and Raylan get in a discussion about redemption with respect to his treatment of her vs. Boyd. She’s frustrated that Raylan is so fixated on Boyd and using his release as an excuse to stay away from her. What we can draw from it is that Raylan has found himself in the same situation that precipitated his divorce with his ex-wife, Winona.
Despite Raylan’s best efforts (it’s been a while since he’s even drawn his gun, something Reardon points out) thing continue to get worse for our hero. So, where does Raylan go from here? How does he patch things up with Ava while maintaining his distance to help put Boyd back in jail? And, what does Boyd do now? Will he head back to jail for the murder of a drug dealer or once again skate?