…an episode reminding us all the importance of “not getting between family.”
Now that the curtains gave gone up on this fifth season of Justified, we can just dispense with the euphemisms and speak the truth, right? You know it; I know it: season five will not go down as the strongest in the show’s cannon, and the finale–despite its promise–did little to, well, uh…justify some of the bumpier plot machinations. Look, I still enjoyed the show and eagerly look forward to what the next and final string of episodes will bring, but it’s clear from the resolution of this year’s story, Graham Yost and company want it over with as much as we do.
Because season five was really little more than a set-up? Really? While I Iook forward to seeing how things will play out next year, I take issue when an entire season’s purpose ultimately reduces to filler of no real consequence. We watched thirteen stepping-stones that carried us to the end game; sure, they were mostly fun and of a great quality, but it’s as if Justified forgot this season should also stand on its own. Because I’m not sure that happened this year.
But before we get to the real purpose of this inconsistent season, we did receive quite a bit of closure on the majority of the season’s narratives. Darryl Crowe is dead** but not before Wendy catches him on tape confessing to Art’s shooting! Kendall and Wendy–ever the dysfunctional mother-son team–retreat to the warmer climes of Florida once charges against the youngest Crowe are dropped! Art makes a (seemingly) full recovery! Rachel’s promotion to Interim Chief a few weeks ago now wins the title of Most Useless Plot Development because it didn’t change one iota of her criminally-underdeveloped character! Ava gets the prison release she needs, and viewers everywhere shrug with apathy!
**Dammit! Note to self: do not schedule family vacations anywhere within one hundred miles of Harlan County first of all because duh it’s the armpit of the universe. But also tons of Crowes died! Dilly! Danny! Darryl! An unfortunate turn of events for the alliterative trio.
We knew that we would get to watch Boyd outsmart Mr. Yoon’s goons (#HilariousBandName), and boy did we ever! I mean, yeah, Alberto executed Jimmy, which seemed to steam Boyd’s beans, but our favorite thesaurus-loving hoodlum channeled that anger into a veritable “gotcha” moment. First, though, he tried to convince Alberto’s henchmen to defect against their boss and go party in Vegas Crowder-style. They were all like, “Yup. Bring on the $5 all you can eat lobster.” Psych! They totally tricked Boyd into thinking they would sell out Alberto but were totes joshing all along. Haha! Classic cartel/frat boy behavior! Those guys!
Alberto then dons his professor’s tweed jacket, grabs his murderizing kit, and thoughtfully gives Boyd a very detailed lecture on the fine art of animal skinning. Now, I don’t want to read too much into things, but I think Alberto might have been intimating that he would do the same to Boyd? I’m telling you, Alberto has this skin fetish weirdness that also–hear me out–leads me to believe he might not be the congenial cartel hit man he seems to be. Dude’s an enigma wrapped in a mystery is my point. Layers.
Fortunately, Boyd does not receive the business end of Alberto’s human skin peeler because his phone rings just in time. Somebody call Professor Belding because homeboy is saved by the bell, er…vibrating cell phone. Really, filleting Boyd was just a benefit, the cherry on top. Alberto’s real business is with Darryl Crowe for his tomfoolery in the Mexican desert. Turns out he agrees to meet at Ava’s country house, so Boyd and his three disturbingly violent captors head out. Except it’s not Darryl Crowe who pulls up; it’s Rachel and Tim,*** who expertly kill Alberto and one of his goons before Boyd kills the other. Well played Boyd! And so very thoughtful of you to keep Darryl out of it so that Raylan has enough time to clear Kendall’s name. What a prince!
***Kudos to these two for giving Ava’s house a much-needed upgrade vis a vis riddling its facade with bullet holes and shattering its crappy windows. Girl, you ever heard of curb appeal? I know you’ve been languishing in prison, but that ain’t no excuse for letting your family home go to pot. Send those marshals a gourmet cheese basket for jumpstarting the demolition process. Get it together, girl!
Speaking of Raylan, I’m glad Wendy could salvage his plan to ensure Kendall’s release because waxing poetic on the nostalgic memories of one’s first animal murder was not cutting it. Man, this guy is going to come up with just the BEST bedtime stories for his daughter. (That is, if he ever gets his responsibility-dodging keister down to Florida!) In the end, Wendy–spying through the mirror during this unsuccessful interview–realizes Kendall is innocent, gets Darryl to confess on tape to shooting Art, then shoots the self-appointed Crowe patriarch in the neck! But even better, Raylan watches him squirm and slowly die, basically blowing raspberries at him and saying “Nanny, nanny poo poo” as Darryl slips into the cold embrace of sweet oblivion. (#GivensJustice)
With the Crowe kerfuffle wrapped up, Art rejoining the land of the conscious, and a transfer to Florida in the works, it seems like Raylan finally runs out of excuses. Time to man up and be a papa! He even Skypes with Winona, who basically devolves into a hysterical mess at the thought of a nap. But wait! Rachel and Vasquez ask Raylan to stay on a little longer to help them with their real target, the man at the epicenter of most of the cases that have crossed Raylan’s desk over the years: Boyd Crowder. Oh snap! Looks like pesky distractions such as being an emotional support to the frazzled mother of your child as well as an actual present father will have to wait! Justice calls! Excellent set-up, and a great plot for the final season. But also: any excuse, ain’t that right, Raylan?
Then Ava gets released from prison when witnesses start recanting their testimonies. Um, sure. Given how sloppily handled this strand of the narrative has been, I briefly considered the possibility of Justified just flipping us off and caving to some deus ex machina. But then it hit me because duh: she’s working with the Marshal’s office. And of course she is. She even meets Raylan in the middle of Sketchy Meetings Bridge! Ava’s a turncoat! (#BringingItBack) Looks like what Boyd perceived as a heartwarming homecoming and possibility of rekindling a broken relationship is actually a duplicitous attempt to provide intel on a pending RICO investigation. Relationships, am I right?
It might not have been my favorite season of Justified, but I’ve got to admit I’m stoked for next year. Let’s face it: even a mediocre string of episodes of this show dwarfs the quality of most others on the air; Justified has set the bar very high for itself, and it couldn’t clear it consistently this year. But that’s okay because the collision of Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder has, of course, resided at the heart of this mostly-excellent series, so bringing that back around as the final narrative makes sense and will provide the perfect closure. Also it will provide lots of bullet casings and quips because, um, is this Justified or is this Justified?
Until next year, friends! Yon git outta here now, ya hear?
– Tim [to Darryl]: “While I appreciate your concern, this here, this might as well be a slow night in the champagne room for how comfortably erect I’m gonna be watching your bitch ass squirm about.”
– Alberto: “Wyn Duffy told me he executed you.”
Boyd: “Well, maybe I took a page from the Book of Mark and have risen.”
– Raylan [seeing Wendy holding a gun to Darryl’s genitals]: “Uh, what did I miss?”
– Raylan [to a dying Darryl]: “Didn’t I tell you you’d wish I’d kill you? Well, don’t you?”
– Raylan: “And you want me to help you?”
Rachel: “Before you go, yeah.”
Raylan: “Why didn’t you just say so?”