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Justified Postmortem: Joelle Carter Breaks Down Ava's Unthinkable Choice

Has she kissed her happy ending goodbye?

Adam Bryant

[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers from Tuesday's episode of Justified. Read at your own risk.]
For most of Justified's final season, Ava Crowder has been forced to choose between the wishes of Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens and her criminal fiance Boyd Crowder. But on Tuesday's episode, Ava finally made a choice for herself.

While Boyd (Walton Goggins) put a plan into action to acquire the $10 million he failed to rob from Avery Markham (guest star Sam Elliott) in the previous episode, Ava (Joelle Carter) learned from Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) that the U.S. Attorney had pulled the plug on Ava's time as a criminal informant and that she would most likely be headed back to prison. And apparently, catching Boyd with the stolen money wasn't good enough.

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Desperate, Ava -- who found the gator-tooth necklace that belonged to the dearly departed Dewey Crowe (Damon Herriman) at Boyd's hangout -- convinced Raylan that Boyd must have murdered Dewey. Although Raylan doubted that Boyd would ever confess to such a crime, Ava insisted she would use her "feminine wiles" to get the damning evidence she needed to betray Boyd and keep herself out of prison. However, when she later met up with Boyd to celebrate his successful fleecing of Markham, Ava did the unthinkable: She shot Boyd in the shoulder (!), took the $10 million and left both Boyd and a confused Raylan behind.

So, can Ava actually get away? And with this final betrayal of Boyd, has Ava kissed any chance of happy ending goodbye? TVGuide.com chatted with Carter about the consequences of Ava's heartbreaking choice.

We've seen Ava be torn between Boyd and Raylan all season long. Do you think she always knew she would ultimately have to make this kind of choice for herself instead of choosing between either man?
Joelle Carter:
I think Ava's been waiting for a moment like this that she could take advantage in a subconscious way, and it's taken the journey to here to get her to the point where she can actually do it. If this had happened at the beginning of the season, I'm not sure she would have taken the risk, but because of everything that's happened, she's just desperate. In the moment, this is the only way out. It was sad. I thought there should be more of a moment for Boyd and Ava right here, but now I understand that it never could be because everything just had to happen. It wasn't thought out in any capacity.

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How hard was it for Ava to actually shoot Boyd?
She's torn apart. As far as I'm concerned, pulling that trigger and walking away was excruciatingly hard, but there was no other choice. It wasn't like shooting Bowman, her ex-husband. I imagine at some point something had to feel righteous and good, for lack of better words. But shooting Boyd, I think it broke her heart to have to do it. But I don't think there was a doubt that it was what she needed to do. I don't feel like she wanted or intended to kill him in any way. She just wanted to slow him down and get away. It was the action that needed to happen, and she's going with it. It's like breaking up with someone. It's what you have to do, but it doesn't feel really great sometimes.

Ava is obviously betraying Boyd, but is she also doing this to stick it to Raylan a little bit?
Carter: She knows she's going to give him [Boyd], and he's not going to be able to leave in order to pursue her right away. She's just doing what's best for her own survival. They're both so obsessed with one-upping each other and getting what they need. Raylan needs to get his man so that he potentially can go on with his life. Boyd wants this love story, and he wants to get away with the money and get away with shoving it in Rylan's face. Ava wants to start over, wants all the madness to stop, and just wants to carry on.

Justified: Can Ava make it out of the final season alive?

How significant a part of Ava's decision had to do with her finding Dewey's necklace? Did that crystallize how dangerous Boyd can be for her?
From day one since she's been out of prison, she had always kind of daydreamed about the worst case scenario. But then the heartstrings pull, and she's convinced that maybe it can work, maybe he can make it all happen for them. But as the season goes along... he's becoming more and more violent, and just kind spiraling out of control, and she can't trust it. When she gets the necklace, it's very significant that it's not going to end well.

And it still might not. Does Ava think she can really get away with this?
Carter: She's running forward, and she's not looking back. She's in fear of every situation. She's in fear of Raylan catching her. She's in fear, of somehow miraculously, Boyd standing up through yet another bullet and finding her. I don't think that's ever going to leave, her existence of paranoia. She's seen [Boyd] do some pretty miraculous things and get people who have betrayed him. So, yeah, she's very fearful.

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We already saw Ava fail when she tried to run away once this season. Does she have a better plan this time?
I think she's probably thought this over a little bit more clearly than the first time she ran. I fully believe Ava is an opportunist, and she has an agenda to get away with it all. Who she potentially uses along the way, or reaches out to, is pretty ingenious.

So, has Ava pretty much kissed her happy ending goodbye?
I think, yeah. Right now her happy ending is getting away with the money and getting far away. Staying in Harlan is just the end for her. Not only is it going to be Boyd and Raylan, it's going to be Markham coming after her because she's going to have his money. So, there's no turning back. You shot the bank teller, you've got to keep going.

What did you think of the episode? Justified airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on FX.

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