[Review] - Justified, Season 5 Episode 4, "Over the Mountain"

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television
Everyone knows that one of the rules of comedy is that lists come in threes. And that a good comedian will attempt to find a way to subvert convention while still getting the desired effect. So, my favourite part of this week's element heavy episode of Justified came at the end, when the Detroit marshal tells Art that America has too many Canadians in it. It wasn't that his list of examples was Justin Bieber and Celine Dion, and it wasn't that Art finished the rule of three with Steve Nash. It was the slightly longer than usual pause between the two men as they tried to think of a third Canadian. Obviously, the lines were written, so all credit goes to the actors for throwing that in there.

This episode had a lot going on, especially in the third act. And while still being a good episode, it was easily the weakest of this season so far. But when Justified does a weak episode, you're still in for better hour of television than most shows can deliver in an entire season. Still and all, it seemed like the writers were desperate to get a lot of ground covered here, and I'm sure some of it could have been pushed into surrounding episodes. Oh well.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that have never spent a dime in Boyd's bar.

So, let's talk about Dewey for a moment, shall we. The man is as close to a butt monkey as this show has ever developed. Boyd's description of Wade could just as easily be shifted to Dewey Crowe, the most bumbling, weak willed, simple neo-Nazi to ever stumble his way through life. The first time we met Dewey, he tried to be all intimidating, and Raylan bashed his head into a steering wheel. When last we saw him, he had been convinced that his kidneys had been removed. But in all the time in between, we've never once seen Dewey do anything bad. He's a Nazi sure, so he's not a good guy. And he's held folk at guy point, and thieved on occasion. And once can only assume that he's spent some pre-series time in prison (neo-Nazism isn't something you happen to stumble upon out in the wider world). But he's not a villain, and he's not a bad guy. He's not Bennett, or Quarles, or Duffy, or even a Crowder (Boyd's series kill count might only graze double digits). He doesn't even seem to be much of a Crowe.

Which made the opening moments of this episode so hard to watch. Because it was the corruption of one of the few "innocent" characters on the show. Which, again, is something Elmore Leonard loved to do to characters. Take a character who has redeemable qualities, and strip them from them in an act of desperation, then watch them bleed their soul. It doesn't bode well for Dewey that characters like that usually found their redemption in sacrifice. What made that early scene between Dewey and Wade all the more difficult to watch is that they made such a great team, each being just as dumb as the other. You can easily imagine them sitting back with beers, watching a football game and ogling the cheerleaders. Then getting into an argument over what flavoured Doritos was best, or something. Instead, we have Dewey clearly distressed over his situation, and getting distracted by a shovel. And in perfect Dewey fashion, he couldn't even manage to kill someone without it turning into a farce. Poor Wade didn't deserve to go out like that. Folk have died in a multitude of ways on this show, but few have been as drawn out and needlessly painful as Wade drifting through the woods, hoping for salvation.

Elsewhere, I was proven pretty wrong. Last week I commented that it had been entirely Boyd who was supporting the arc so far this season, with Raylan's plots fitting more into the "of-the-week" mold. And because of this, I assumed that the (apparently endless number of) Crowes would run afoul of the Crowder crime family before the marshals would show an interest. This week proved me wrong, as Boyd is clearly aware and clearly uninterested in the Crowe's business. Though, considering how thin he's being drawn, maybe this is an oversight on Boyd's part, one that will come back to haunt him by season's end. And Raylan has drawn the direct ire of Darryl and his kin, because in perfect Raylan fashion, there isn't any harmless situation he's can't make volatile.

The way in was Wade, who turns out had been working as a CI for the state. I wished the writers had done a better job setting this one up. Yes, we've had Vasquez and Art having secret meetings, but because we've seen Art showing an interest in the death of Nicky Augustine, I assumed it was Raylan they were whispering about. The reveal that Wade was informing on Boyd came completely out of no where, and while it makes the rest of the episode work, it seems like the sort of thing that was added to make the episode work. If we'd had one mention of Wade from Vasquez in an earlier episode, or a shot of Wade making a phone call, than the pieces would have seemed to fit. As it stands, Wade's reappearance this season just seemed like another in the long line of reoccurring characters who enter and leave this world, before leaving it for good. Yes, it got Raylan (and Tim!) back down into Harlan, and yes it meant we were treated to a rare Raylan and Boyd scene (always the best of the series, and fewer and farther between the last few seasons). But it didn't exactly ring true.

So many of the problems I had with this episode were because they didn't ring true. They didn't seem organic. I know that part of Elmore's style was that his characters have the worst luck in the world, and just when everything would seem to be going right something completely wrong would happen. But so many of the elements that were used here to push the story into it's next phase (we're now through the first third of this penultimate season) seemed forced. Will Sasso's arrest, and his happening to know all those details, which he really shouldn't have known was just a way to get Art onto Raylan's trail. But couldn't there have been a character that might have reasonably been aware of the intel without it seeming strange. Like Picker, who we'll get to eventually. Likewise, Mara and Mooney's rather easy passing off of the hand as proof for Paxton that Boyd is dead (a ruse that wouldn't hold up for long). The strange C-Plot involving Ava and Danny Strong as the world's tiniest prison guard seemed like filler, little more than giving Ava something to do after three episodes of doing very little. Amy Smart put in a single scene that seemed out of place. In fact, the whole last minute "Raylan taking the most junior Crowe away" seemed like it belonged in an entirely different episode.

The episode had it's moments, as every episode of Justified does. But as a whole, it was lesser than those parts. When we look back on this season, I think this will be one of those episodes that blends into the background rather than standing on it's own. And that's fine, a show that has this much going on in it needs a episode like this from time to time. It just won't stand up as anyone's favourite.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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