Episode Review: Justified Season 4 Finale

  • Publish Date: April 3, 2013
  • Comments: ↓ 6 user comments

Justified, Episode 413: "Ghosts"
Original airdate: April 2, 2013 on FX

Justified's fourth-season finale may have lacked the action of recent episodes (except in short doses), but it made up for it with strong character moments, while also leaving a few loose ends for season five (which will debut in January 2014). As a whole, critics are calling the fourth season as good as—if not better than—Justified's previous high-water mark, the Margo Martindale-starring season two. Below, we sample their reviews of last night's finale.

Great Extremely positive reviews

100 "I honestly don't know whether Justified fans are going to find this season finale as fully satisfying as I did, given some of the incredible hours that have led up to it. There are a lot of loose threads still dangling at the end, while some of the season's major conflicts come to a head too quickly, thanks to a few convenient-to-the-plot choices. ... But I'm going to give the few contrivances and gaps of 'Ghosts' a pass, because they struck me as fairly minor imperfections in what is primarily another masterfully written and executed Justified, entertainingly and emotionally bringing the show's best season to a close. ... To me, this episode does exactly what it's supposed to do, which is to summarize who Raylan and Boyd are right now, after a season that's been all about the secret origins that even they weren't aware of."

— Noel Murray / A.V. Club

"'Ghosts' is a surprisingly muted finale, but it's the right choice for this season, which built up a good head of steam, let most of it blow off in episode 11, then spent the last two episodes picking up the pieces. If 'Decoy' was a new high-water mark for the show, that's because it's so immediately visceral and fun to watch. 'Peace of Mind' and 'Ghosts,' on the other hand, take the other tack, trading in the action-movie plotting and balls-out excitement of 'Decoy' for thematic contemplation and brooding emotionalism. I'd stick these three episodes of TV up against any episodes produced by any show in the medium's history — they're that good."

— Todd VanDerWerff / Grantland

"Raylan's a fast gun, super-cool and great with a quip, but ultimately, he's a tragic character. And I appreciate that after all the capers and double crosses of the last two seasons, 'Justified' pauses at the end to remind us of that. Strong season. Terrific finish."

— Alan Sepinwall / HitFix

100 "While Season 4 was a little sloppy from start to finish, this was maybe the series' finest episode ever. It was smart, cruel, efficient, and well-told. It kept the series' soul intact. It twisted, turned and transformed. It reminded us just how great this show can be."

— Seth Amitin / IGN

"This was an outstanding finish to another strong season of Justified."

— Kevin Yeoman / Screen Rant

100 "That's what makes Justified one of the best shows on television. Not only do exec producer Graham Yost and company make the audience ponder how bad Raylan is willing to go and still call himself a good guy, but the characters within the show are also speaking up on the subject."

— Dan Forcella / TV Fanatic

Positive Positive reviews

"There may have been some bumps along the way -- I found the middle of the fourth season convoluted at times -- but the season certainly ended in a very satisfying fashion."

— Maureen Ryan / Huffington Post

"An action-packed yet melancholy episode, a feeling coda to an at times cheeky season. ... The thing that's so great about 'Justified' is how it has rejected some of the pressures to be just like every other 'serious' anti-hero drama on TV. It's always been a little shaggier, funnier, more procedural."

— Willa Paskin / Salon

"'Ghosts' in particular feels as nuanced and well-defined as ever, needing precious few action beats to illustrate the tension of the hour, and rich character definition from Walton Goggins and Timothy Olyphant."

— Kevin Fitzpatrick / Screen Crush

"'Ghosts' was light on plot, especially compared to the hectic hours that preceded it. ... 'Ghosts' was more of an epilogue and a keen examination of two men walking the same path in different directions. But what stands out now that all is said and done is the way Justified was able to reinvent itself in Season 4 by not focusing on a central villain while still putting together what was arguably its finest season to date. "

— Tim Surette / TV.com

"An action-packed yet melancholy episode, a feeling coda to an at times cheeky season. ... The thing that's so great about 'Justified' is how it has rejected some of the pressures to be just like every other 'serious' anti-hero drama on TV. It's always been a little shaggier, funnier, more procedural."

— Willa Paskin / Salon

"There are series, these days, that go deeper and have more ambitions than Justified, but none that are more skillfully constructed."

— Mitch Salem / ShowBuzzDaily

"There was no big bad in season four, and as a result Justified was freer to explore the bigness of the badness within the characters we already knew. That exploration was captured in a remarkable set of exchanges between Raylan and Boyd, whom 'Ghosts' showed to be as opposed and yet deeply connected as ever."

— James Poniewozik / Time

Mixed Mixed/neutral reviews


Poor Negative reviews


What do you think?

What did you think of last night's episode, and of the entire fourth season? Which season is your favorite so far? Let us know in the comments section below.

Comments (6)

  • katysharon  

    I have enjoyed every moment of the story. The telling of the story of a Kentucky Federal Marshall born into a criminal family but upholding the law even when difficult because the problem involves ken. Kentucky Hillbilly problems are microcosms for modern problem .Cliffhangers, surprises, and humor are abundant. I find I have to re watch the series sometimes just understand the stream of events completely.Even the opening music is entertaining and I continue to listen to it
    Wonderful acting and script as well as authentic staging make Justified one of my favorite programs.

  • BobbyPeru  

    It's refreshing for a show to be done with the cliffhanger from the previous episode within 10 minutes and spin a whole new story off of that. Some day people will learn not to mess with Raylan, but until then I'll enjoy watching him get the better of them. Great season. Great finale. Where's the recognition for this show? It has been consistently good for four seasons. I want to see it get some awards or at the very least some nominations.

  • jamess  

    What makes Justified stand out among excellent series like Breaking Bad (my personal favorite alongside Justified), The Walking Dead, Mad Men and Homeland, just to name a few? Because thanks to the writing casting and acting, the scenes between characters don't just have tension and drama (and most importantly humor), they absolutely crackle. Take for instance the opening scenes with Raylan, Winona and Augustine's henchmen. It was like the Justified version of a Bond pre-title sequence. There was the '70s movie reference, the chatty villian, Raylan cool-as-can-be sizing up the situation, and the take down. Much like the "circle the wagons" scene from Decoy, the shoot out was edited cleanly and clearly, an example of filmic economy that Justified excels at. There was some concern that this season weaved around a bit because of the lack of a big bad. What it did reinforce, is the relationships that are already in place, and expand upon them. And please mint the Emmy for Mike O'Malley's supporting performance right now. His scenes with Ava, Boyd and finally Raylan, distilled what is best in Justified. The mixture of humor, menace, and the unexpected mixes like Kentucky bourbon and spring water.

  • MarcDoyle  

    Season 2 is still the crowning achievement of the series, but I really enjoyed Season 4. Last night's episode ties most storylines up a little too neatly, but the interplay between Boyd & Raylan is terrific. Congrats to Carl Beverly (a classmate of ours) for developing such an amazing show.

  • imthenoob  

    Honestly, I did not care for Season 4 at all. It was so slow paced and unsatisfying, Especially the season finale.

  • JRath  

    Man I really need to get back into this show. For some reason I stopped watching in the middle of Season 3 and have only heard that it has gotten better.

    Damn you Golden Age of TV!!! Too many good shows to watch!!

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