Justified circles back to old friends and enemies to close out its fifth season [TV Recap: season 5, episode 13]

It was never really about the Crowes, or Ava going to prison, or the trip south of the border, or the gangsters in Detroit. This season of Justified, and by extension the entire series, has all been one long road to a final showdown between Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder.

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On Justified, Raylan’s getting a little old for this... [Recap, season 5, episode 10]

 

I never thought I’d say this, but Justified could really use Arlo Givens back. Without his father, Raylan Givens has meandered throughout the season, unmoored from his family connection to Harlan County, and detached from his ex-wife and infant daughter now residing down in Florida. He’s truly the lone wolf now, with barely any professional connection to the other Marshals in his office, a Cold War standoff with Art, and a clean break from Alison. There was a time when a lonely Raylan made for some fireworks—as recently as last season, with him living above the bar, getting into trouble with the owner downstairs. But now, as he ticks closer to his breaking point of frustration with the area, with the office, and with the long lonely existence ahead of him, Raylan has become a lethargic quip-machine. It’s still a joy to watch Olyphant in the part, and his drawl is intoxicating, but he’s now been around the track one too many times, rounding up criminals who are just a spectral repetition of more interesting characters from previous seasons.

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Justified’s fifth season reaches the midpoint by firing a round of narrative buckshot [Recap: season 5, episode 7]

As Boyd and Johnny Crowder sit outside of a Mexican cartel house south of the border, hands zip-tied behind their backs, Boyd’s “silver tongue” doesn’t talk his way out of the predicament he set up, but he does offer some sage advice about the criminal life he and his cousin have chosen. He says he made peace with the idea that his lifestyle wouldn’t allow for him to have a peaceful death at the end of a long natural life. That’s the risk entailed in attempting to make a better life through ill-gotten gains instead of working in the coalmines.

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Justified cools off with an episode that moves in circles [Recap: season 5, episode 6]

Delaying the resolution of a cliffhanger can be tricky business. It risks rendering the previous chapter less enthralling, taking credit for a sometimes unexpected leap in the plot, and disappointing viewers by feinting one way then pulling back on boldness.

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A brilliant Justified strings together seemingly infinite conflicts in a pressure cooker [Episode 5 recap]

There are few shows that know how to tell an audience right off the bat they will not be messing around on a given night better than Justified. In the first four episodes of this season, Lee Paxton would have wondered about Boyd’s death, stewed about it for 10 minutes of screen time while other schemes commenced, leading up to a final turn that reveals Boyd is still alive—before kicking the narrative can down the road to another episode for the fireworks. But not this week; Boyd has decided to embrace the ego that says he’s still Boyd Crowder, the rightful criminal ruler of Harlan County, hangers-on and high-class pushers be damned. He’s ready for action, so when Lee Paxton pulls that lamp chain, there’s Boyd, sitting in a bedroom chair, a deadly snake with a venomous snake ready to deliver unto Paxton an impassioned final monologue:

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What do we always say is the most important thing on Justified? Family. [Recap, s5 ep4]

And so, without any immediate family left in town, Raylan Givens gets drawn back to Harlan because of poor, stupid Wade Messer. He’s one of the dumber men who tried to kill Raylan, but also one of the few who nearly succeeded, conspiring with Dickie Bennett to string Raylan up in a tree for torturing. So it’s not surprising that Raylan greets news that the U.S. Attorney’s office used Messer as a Confidential Informant with contempt, both at the choice and that he wasn’t told.

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On Justified, Raylan keeps causing more trouble than he fixes [Recap]

Raylan Givens has trust issues. I don’t mean that in the conventional sense, although he does seem to exist as an island too remote for any permanent bridge to reach. Raylan’s problem is that he’s tempted to trust too much, and the implications of his trust suggest that he’s waiting for people to disappoint him so that he can intervene in the most macho way possible that allows him to channel his innate anger and violence into his work.

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On Justified, Raylan helps protect an old friend [Recap, season 5 episode 2]

The last time Raylan Givens saw Loretta McCready, she had become the surprising but not unexpected beneficiary of pot empress Mags Bennett’s money, and Raylan instructed her not to spend all of it on a Lexus or having Van Halen perform at her birthday party, lest he’d come around to haul her off for spending ill-gotten gains. Over a season later, Loretta lives at a nicer house (it certainly looks better given where Raylan drops her off toward the end of the episode). But everyone knows better: you can take the girl out of Harlan, but you can’t take the Harlan out of the girl.

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