And another season of Justified has come and gone. The show has always been adept at juggling multiple storylines, but this was the first season where the plots felt a bit disjointed. While the season started uncharacteristically gloomy and many of the stories dragged (how long did it take Boyd to move his drugs outta Mexico?), the past three weeks have been fantastic as they drove home the season’s recurring theme of family ruination. Now we close with “Restitution,” a finale that puts a cap on many of these story lines and sets us up for one barnburner of a final season. More on this week’s Justified after the break.
Season 5 moved Justified into some of its darkest territory yet (and I’m not just talking about the Florida Everglades). Family has always been a central theme of the show, and in this season many familial ties were shattered, stomped on, and fed to the gators. We witnessed the complete destruction of the Crowes, which ironically happened entirely by their own greasy hands. Danny killed Dilly, Danny basically killed himself, and Wendy killed Daryl. Then there’s poor Dewey, who’s in prison for trying to rob Daryl and for essentially being in the wrong place at the wrong time. This was after he hit Danny with a truck, of course.
While he never really achieved full on badass villain status, Daryl did a great job of being the constant throbbing thorn in Raylan’s side. He was an interesting character too – one that believed in the bond of family to an almost deranged degree. Throughout the season Daryl has been obsessed with keeping the family together. As (violently) dysfunctional as the Crowes were, Daryl wanted them to remain a chorus of criminality even if it meant sacrificing their well being (especially Dewey’s). In the end it was his own sister who bucked him down. He may have believed strongly in the Crowe family bond, but he could’ve never understood how far a mother will go to protect her son.
The Crowders also continued to dissolve in a variety of ways. It was inevitable that Boyd would kill cousin Johnny, though the manner it went down in was awfully goddamn cold. After their meeting in prison alongside Ava, Boyd began turning his back on her – the woman he once wanted to run away to the suburbs with. The split between Boyd and Ava goes way beyond a passive aggressive breakup. His willingness to cooperate with the marshals in “Starvation” without brokering a deal for Ava’s release was the straw that broke her back.
After an entire season of Ava trying to survive prison, get in with a crew, and smuggle drugs in, she’s given a “get out of jail free” card by Raylan. All those beefs for nothing! In the end, the whole prison story line served one purpose: create a rift between Boyd and Ava so that she’d aid the marshals in building a case against him. I know I’m not the only one who felt like Ava’s story was drab and unconnected from the rest of the season, and now after all that time wasted she simply walks out. Yeesh.
On the flip side, after being brushed aside for most of this season, I’m glad Joelle Carter will be integral to the final one. I’m especially stoked that she’ll be working as Raylan’s snitch. Their shared history really adds a lot of weight to the scenes they have together. Though, much like how Daryl used Dewey for his own benefit, I don’t see Raylan having Ava’s well being in mind. She admitted that she’s scared, and Raylan’s reply was a hollow “Everything’ll be fine.” He didn’t sound so sure of himself.
Boyd’s exploits this season amounted to him being put in the pocket of Katherine Hale. All that time spent trying to establish a drug pipeline outta Mexico and what did he end up with? A bunch of headaches. Now instead of being his own man – the avenging outlaw of Eastern Kentucky – he’s going to be a heist man for Detroit. The Boyd Crowder character arc across five seasons is a meaty one filled with a plethora of highs and lows. While working as a hired crook for a larger criminal organization isn’t where many of us probably saw him spending the final season, his past record of see-sawing through the underworld will most likely ensure he doesn’t remain a patsy for long. I for one am excited about the idea of him ripping off banks. I bet he gets real creative about it – with his love of explosives and all.
Being “raised” by Arlo helped Raylan develop a very loose sense of family, which is brought up during that great scene he shared with Kendal. He talked about joining the marshals to spite Arlo and prove what a badass he was, but not being too proud of those reasons. Later on (after making Winona cry tears of joy for Pete’s sake!), Raylan reneges on his relocation to Florida. Where he was, y’know, going to actually try being a father. But now he’s sticking around to take down Boyd. It’s the confrontation everyone has been waiting for, including Timothy Olyphant himself, who’s expressed as much in interviews.
Another season closes with a cover of “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive” (this time by the Rubie Friedman Orchestra) and Justified‘s unofficial second theme song has never been more potent. Someone’s going to end up in a coffin by the end of the final season. It might be Boyd, sure, but there’s still that pre-made gravestone waiting for Raylan in the Givens’ family cemetery. He’ s essentially a tragic character who’s been snared by the circle of violence that’s haunted the Givens’ bloodline. Winona and his daughter could be his way out of a doomed existence, if he’ll only let them.
I bitched a lot about season 5 during its run, but in the end I walk away satisfied. It would be nice if Graham Yost and co. streamlined the final one though and shaved off any extraneous plots to focus on the real juicy stuff, like Boyd and Raylan talking shit or if Wynn ever gets his Wynn-ebago out of the impound lot. Stuff like that.
See ya then.
• The confrontation between Art and Raylan many were expecting all season seems to have been swept under the rug, for the time being at least. But now Tim and Rachel also caught wind of the Augustine revelation (Thanks to Boyd), so it’ll be interesting to how and if it comes up again in the final season.
• Well, that sucks about Jimmy. He didn’t get to do all that much, but I liked his stalwart attitude to being Boyd’s errand boy. By this point Carl has pretty much taken over as the number one henchman anyway. Speaking of, where the hell was Carl this episode?
• Man, the Lee Paxton debacle feels like it wasn’t even part of this season.
• The scenes between Tim and Daryl were great and reminiscent of the ones he shared with Colt last season. Here’s hoping for more of Jacob Pitts in the final season.
• Daryl’s last words: “Aren’t you going to do something about it?” Ouch.
• In the screener I watched of this episode, Alberto clearly says “fuck.” We’ll see if they go for the dip-in-volume trick Breaking Bad pulled off when it’s broadcast.
• The curtain came back some more on Katherine Hale, who we learn had Vasquez’s boss killed to derail her husband Grady’s trial. I do believe Mary Steenburgen is going to make a fine villain.
Body Count: 5
Total Body Count for the Season: 33 (damn)