“Justified” finished its penultimate season in a strange place, trying to set up the endgame for next season while also making everything that has happened this season stand on its own merits. Always intended to run six seasons, the show used to be a near perfect mix of serialized and episodic television. However, nearly all of season five has swung wildly between big picture stories and standalone episodes, to increasingly detrimental effect.
“Justified” ostensibly follows Deputy US Marshall Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) as he tries navigating Kentucky culture and crime, and deals with his nemesis Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins). Season five takes its cue from the two previous seasons and introduces an outside threat for both Raylan and Boyd to deal with. In this particular case it is the Florida-raised Crowe family, who’s cousin Dewey was already a supporting character.
“The blood bond, stronger than a crocodile’s hide.”
The whole Crowe family is an unfortunate letdown, both within “Justified’s” fiction and as villains. They are hicks from the South, and fit right in with the rest of Kentucky’s citizens. Since each season has a new villain they need to have some sort of quirk, but the Crowe’s having nothing, besides being the most shortsighted villains “Justified” has ever had. Michael Rappaport, as head Crowe Darryl Jr., gives a good performance, but he is never menacing. In the end, he’s just a big thug with a tiny brain, and a pale imitation of the Bennett family from season two.
Though I have some serious reservations about this season of “Justified,” I can never give it a bad grade because there has never been an outright bad episode. At its worst “Justified” is still an incredibly witty and has an impeccable ear for dialogue. Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins ground the show with amazing performances, and everyone else is immediately comfortable in their role. Watching the characters interact and bounce off each other is half the fun of “Justified,” with the other half being that there has never been a boring episode.
“I’ve accused of being a lot of things…inarticulate ain’t one of them.”
However, striving to never have a boring episode is what has kept this season from being the best that “Justified” can be. There are far too many balls in the air this season, with the Crowe family causing a ruckus, Boyd travelling to Mexico to sell heroin, and Neo-Nazi gangs in a female prison. Everything from past seasons are integrated as well, so now there are also two mafia families to deal with as well. “Justified” has become rather unwieldy of late, with many plots resolving too quickly because there are other matters to attend to.
So many characters have been short-shrifted throughout the last few “Justified” seasons that I nearly forgot about many of them, even though they are listed as main characters in the opening credits. The show focuses so much on Raylan and his (usually lethal) antics while never giving him much of an arc. Raylan hasn’t changed much in five years, and keeps getting drawn into the same predicament every season. While I do love “Justified,” I am glad that next season will be its last.
“The idea behind organized crime is that it’s supposed to be organized.”
Season finale “Restitution” emphasizes just how little of a threat the Crowe’s have been this season. In the end they take themselves out, and even though Darryl is shot, he still goes out with a whimper instead of a bang. The last episode effectively sets up the end game for next season though, indicating that there is some sort of plan to end “Justified” on the right note.
Even though this has been “Justified’s” worst season, I still can’t hate it. The narrative has been all over the place but the dialogue is still amazing, and viewers are guaranteed several amazing bon mots delivered in a swell Southern accent. Five seasons worth of stories are taking its toll however, and it’s finally time for “Justified” to hang up its hat.