April 8, 2014

Episode Recap: JUSTIFIED, "Restitution"

While most of Justified's fifth season was somewhat hit-or-miss, the show really got its act together towards the end of the run, and while "Restitution" tied up some loose ends it was an excellent place-setter for what should be an electric final showdown between Raylan and Boyd.

Raylan's "try Kendall as an adult" gambit ended up working as Wendy was convinced that her son was taking the fall for her brother, which led her to take matters into her own hands and killing Daryl when it was all said and done. Elsewhere, Boyd had to slither his way out of the grasps of the Mexican hit squad, and he actually had the U.S. Marshals do his dirty work for him under the guise of helping them save Daryl's life so he could confess to shooting Art. The silver-tongued devil lived to see another day, and it looked like he was turning his back on a life of crime until Wynn Duffy and Katherine Hale made him an offer. Oh, and Ava tried to survive prison until she was released... so she could help Raylan take down Boyd once and for all.

For the most part I thought "Restitution" was a solid episode. Watching Raylan convince Kendall and Wendy to wake up and realize that Daryl's been manipulating them this entire time was captivating, and seeing a defeated Boyd regain a glimmer in his eye was reinvigorating. Since this entire season was a drawn-out plot to put Givens and Crowder back into each other's sites, I can forgive the show for its early wheel-spinning because it's always entertaining to see them go head-to-head. All that said, it was not a perfect episode.

I found myself somewhat torn when Wendy killed Daryl. Sure, I got that it was somewhat poetic since her brother was responsible for all of the bad things that had happened to her and her son, but it also felt kind of anticlimactic because most of the season was leading up to a faceoff between him and Raylan. Also, Ava's time in prison made sense in hindsight but it still wasn't interesting enough to keep my attention. Add to that the fact that the runtime was too long and the last fifteen minutes felt like a Season 6 prologue, and we ended up with an episode that was good but a tad too bloated.

All-in-all I cannot really complain about what we got during Season 5 of Justified. Sure it had a rough start and it was a too busy at times, but Daryl earned his stripes towards the finish line, and we got some great scenes involving Raylan, Boyd, and Wynn. When those three are on their game, Justified is still one of the better shows on TV, and I'm confident in saying that it's still in the top echelon.
April 2, 2014

Episode Review: JUSTIFIED, "Starvation"

You got to give it to Justified because it can really make things interesting during the final stretch. While I didn't love everything about "Starvation," I have to admit that it successfully built off of the tension that was created last week and got me excited for next week's finale.

Everyone was gunning for Daryl Crowe, Jr. Raylan wanted to put him away for shooting Art and letting Kendall take the fall, the Mexicans wanted him for what he pulled south of the border, Boyd wanted him to save his own ass (so much so that he was willing to work with the feds for a blank slate), but he was able to slither his way out of danger once again by throwing his kin under the bus. Unfortunately for the Crowes, Raylan had a card up his sleeve that could change everything: Kendall being tried as an adult.

Oh, and we got some nonsense about Dewey trying to get out of Kentucky and Ava's time as a drug kingpin hitting a major speed bump thanks to the white supremacist's sister.

I know that I've said it before, but I don't mind repeating myself: Justified's exponentially better when Raylan and Boyd are in the same room, and the latter's best material comes from him antagonizing the former. I could watch Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins trade words all day long because they're that good when they're together. And on top of that, we got a pretty badass Wynn Duffy scene to kick the episode off. Superb acting all around.

Heck, I even have to give Michael Rappaport some credit for finally turning Daryl Crowe into a somewhat worthy adversary for the boys from Harlan. I don't think he'll ever be at the Mags Bennett level of Justified Big Bads, but he took a fairly weak character and was able to make him vile enough that I cannot wait to see him get what's coming to him.

It's just a shame that we had to waste time on Dewey and Ava.

So, with one episode left Justified's been able to turn a somewhat lackluster season into something worth watching. Let's just hope the show can stick the landing next week.
March 25, 2014

Episode Review: JUSTIFIED, "The Toll"

It may have taken a while, but Justified finally got interesting in "The Toll," and that's probably because there were actual stakes that made all of the twists feel... well, justified.

After tangling with the Crowes all season, Raylan asked Art to protect Alison, and the grizzled chief was doing just that when an unseen assailant opened fire on them and hitting him. While he was critical condition, the rest of the department made it their mission to find the perpetrator but were led on a wild goose chase when Theo Tonin fingered Picker for the shooting. The interim chief from Detroit took the bait and brought in Picker (along with Wynn, Katherine Hale, and Boyd). As it turned out, Picker snitched on Daryl Crowe who turned himself in but Kendall ended up confessing to everything.

Back to Boyd. He was summoned to a sit-down with his associates (hence why he was there when Picker was arrested), but he knew that the likelihood of him walking out was slim so he made arrangements for his half of the dope to be hidden as an insurance policy. While being evaluated by Duffy and Hale, Boyd insisted on having a smoke but it was Chekov's cigarette pack because he turned it into a bomb that blew up the Detroit gangster and allowed him to walk free.

Oh, and Ava became the new drug kingpin in the prison after killing the old lady.

Justified's bread is buttered by its twist and turns, and the show suffers when they don't quite work, and even though you could what was coming from a mile away, everything landed and made for a solid episode. It was nice to see the tension between Art and Raylan have some kind of payoff (despite the "cop gets shot right before retirement" trope), and it didn't hurt that Daryl finally became worthy antagonist that this show needs. The final showdown between Raylan, Daryl, and Boyd should be electric.

Even Boyd's B-plot had the right amount of tension in spite of the fact that the exploding cigarette pack was sloppily handled, and it was a reminder of what he does best and how he's been able to survive for as long as he has. It's just a shame that he still has Ava around his neck.

I don't know if "The Toll" made up for a lot of the wheel-spinning that took place earlier, but it was effective enough to get me excited for the last two episodes so at least there's that.
March 18, 2014

Episode Review: JUSTIFIED, "Weight"

While watching "Weight," you could see all of the pieces being moved for the endgame, but so far this season's wasted so much time getting to this point that it kind of fell on deaf ears which is kind of a shame.

Dewey took off with half of Boyd's dope at the end of the last episode so Crowder, the Crowes, and Raylan were all on his trail. Meanwhile, Kendal tried to escape from his kin after Danny's dog died, Ava made another power play move while in prison after breaking if off with Boyd, and Wynn had to decide who he needs to hitch his wagon to now that things have gone sideways.

While Raylan chasing after bad guys will always be somewhat entertaining, I think Justified has miscalculated how much we're supposed to care about Dewey Crowe. His particular brand of bumbling idiot has become very stale that I don't find him funny or sympathetic, and I cannot wait until he's either behind bars or dead. The same can be said about the rest of the Crowe clan, although the way Danny went out was anti-climatic and kind of insulting but it's not like we were ever supposed to take him seriously. Oh, and here's the part of the review where I talk about how I still don't care about Ava or her Caged Heat/Orange is the New Black nonsense.

Unsurprisingly, the only parts of the episode that entertained me had to do with Wynn Duffy and his crisis of conscience. I'll admit that the idea of him turning on Boyd never really crossed my mind, but it made perfect sense after Picker laid out his options, and bringing in Mary Steenburgen as an adviser felt like inspired casting. I just hope he's standing when it's all said and done.

So, we're getting one step closer towards the showdown between all of the small time crooks of Harlan County and our favorite U.S. Marshal. I wish I could say that I'm on pins and needles and cannot wait to see where we're going from here, but I'm just biding my time until this season's over and we're onto the final one of the series. I never thought I'd say that...
March 12, 2014

Episode Review: JUSTIFIED, "Wrong Roads"

While there were some things I liked about "Wrong Roads," it ultimately felt busy and continued to keep the season from making any real progress.

Boyd was back in Kentucky and his boys had to get the heroin back to Harlan while he had to put up with Daryl's power play. On top of that, he was summoned to kill a man in order to sure up Ava's protection/drug business. Oh, and Raylan was on Boyd's trail after files containing Hot Rod's dead men came into his possession. But that wasn't it because the brothers who turned on Hot Rod were also gunning for what was rightfully theirs, so we ended up with a massive cluster at Audrey's. When it was all said and done at least six people were killed or injured and that was about it.

Wynn Duffy summed things up nicely when he told Picker to rest up because Harlan County's exhausting; that's exactly how I felt after watching this episode. Boyd's attempt to become a drug kingpin seems to be going around in circles and getting more and more complicated as players are constantly being added but things really don't go anywhere. Thankfully, we got Raylan's brief team-up with Agent Alex Miller but even that felt like a small detour on the road to nowhere. And yes, I still don't give a crap about Ava.

The whole Raylan Givens: The Brave and the Bold subplot had its moments, and I'm always in favor of getting more Wynn, but everything surrounding them came off as muddled and wasteful. All-in-all, "Wrong Roads" was another weak offering in a somewhat disappointing season of Justified.
March 4, 2014

Episode Review: JUSTIFIED, "Whistle Past the Graveyard"

Apologies for another abbreviated recap for "Whistle Past the Graveyard."

Raylan spent most of the episode with Wendy as they searched for Kendal who ended up in the wake of the wake of an estranged family member, Boyd and his crew tried to get their way back into the States with a truck full of drugs and dead bodies, and Ava made her moves to get said drugs into the prison.

I've been pretty about my indifference towards the Crowders and Crowes this season, but I have to admit that Daryl and his kin have been exponential more interesting once they aligned themselves with Boyd, and their adventure in Mexico had a good mix of tension and comedy. It's just too bad that I still don't care about what happens to the heroin or how it will affect Ava.

As always, I was more interested in what Raylan got himself into, and his side adventure to find Kendal was a decent enough distraction but that was probably due to the chemistry between Timothy Olyphant and Alicia Whitt, and the appearance of Kyle Bornheimer. I don't know if the plot twist about Kendal's parents will payoff, but it's clear that it'll be a factor in the Raylan/Wendy hook-up that's been coming especially now that Alison's out of the picture.

I cannot say that "Whistle Past the Graveyard" was a solid hour of Justified, but there were enough pieces that entertained me, so there's that. I'm just getting antsy for the inevitable showdown between Raylan, Boyd, and the Crowes, so any wheel-spinning can be hard to sit through and it did feel like there was some stalling this time around.
February 26, 2014

Episode Review: JUSTIFIED, "Raw Deal"

Unfortunately, life got in the way of my TV watching duties so this will be a somewhat condensed recap of this week's Justified. Apologies in advance.

In "Raw Deal," Raylan had to deal was caught up in a standalone case-of-the-week involving a computer hacker while also putting up with Wendy Crowe and Art's passive aggressiveness, Boyd pulled a fast one on Jimmy in Mexico but everything went further south when the Crowes started shooting up the place, and Ava pulled a powerplay to ensure her safety in prison.

For the first time in a while I think I preferred the procedural nature of Raylan's plotline over the more serialized ones of Boyd and Ava. Now, I'll fully admit that's because I still care about our favorite anit-hero/Marshal and am bored by what the Crowders are doing, but sometimes it's nice to watch a good ole cop show from time to time and that's what the cyber crime story reminded me of. Let's not forget that we also got some added goodness involving Art and Raylan's fallout to keep the larger arc moving forward.

With Raylan trying to get Wendy to turn on her brothers, and the other Crowes becoming more entrenched in Boyd's opperation, the showdown between the two seems to be on its way and I cannot wait because Justified is exponentially better when Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins share screentime. Ultimately, "Raw Deal" was a decent enough episode but it got me more excited for what's in store instead of what was on my TV.
February 11, 2014

Episode Review: JUSTIFIED, "Kill the Messenger"

I know that I've been mostly lukewarm towards this season of Justified, and while I didn't love everything about "Kill the Messenger," I have to admit that it was the first episode that made me think that I could get on board with where the story's going.

Not only did Raylan have to deal with the fallout the occurred after he came clean to Art, which included a punch to the face, but he also had to track down Danny Crowe because he ran her off the road after she checked in on Kendall. Of course, that wasn't the only trouble the Crowes were causing because Danny and Dewey somehow thought it'd be a good idea to kidnap one of Boyd's cronies.

Boyd also had plenty on his plate like trying to find Ava some protection now that she's in prison, but one of his old Nazi buddies betrayed him due to the fact that he's a race traitor. Rather than take the racist on alone, Crowder decided to employ the Crowes over getting revenge on them. When it was all said and done, it looked like the Crowders and the Crowes joined up to take out Cousin Johnny once and for all.

While I'm glad that we didn't have to watch Raylan confess to Art, I was a little shocked that the show went there so early on but I have to admit that I'm intrigued to see where they go from here. I guess there's always the chance that Raylan wasn't 100% honest to keep the tension going, but whatever they decide to do I hope they're successful.

I still cannot say that I'm loving Boyd's arc this season, but I do like the idea of him hiring the Crowes and being partners with them rather than having them go at it for now. We all know it's not going to end well for Dewey and his kin, but I think they're more entertaining as lackeys than foils at this point. It's just too bad that I still don't care about what's happening to Ava.

Other Odds and Ends:
  • How good was that opening scene?
  • It's hard to take the Crowes seriously when Danny's barking like a mad dog.
  • I don't think I could ship Raylan and Rachel, but they do have a special kind of bond.
  • While I don't want to see Carl and Danny's sex games, that whole exchange was pretty entertaining.
  • "He's a history buff."
  • "We share some things in common."
So new alliances and new hurdles for Raylan to jump over are encouraging, but I'm not ready to give my stamp of approval just yet because it's all about the execution. Here's to hoping Justified can pull it off.
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