[Review] - Justified, Season 5 Episode 6, "Kill the Messenger"

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television.
After last week's bloodbath, this episode was pretty reserved. There was still a lot going on, and a lot of ground was covered before the hour was over, but it felt smaller. Tighter, and focused. Everybody had a goal to work towards over the course of the episode, clear and simple (or, as simple as these character's lives ever get). It reminded us of character dynamics as we move into the back half of the season, and established new relationships that will inevitably lead to confrontation. It was a welcome breather after all that death, that never felt like filler.

And really went out it's way to prove that Danny Crowe is a crazy sonofabitch.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that have enjoy a consexual relationship.


There were four plot lines this week, and credit to the writers, all of them seemed like the A-plot. This was mostly because of the way they were intertwined with each other. Raylan attempted to work off some pent up anger by testing the Crowe's tolerances again. Boyd spends the episode trying to keep the various edges of his life from spilling over. The Crowes continue to dig themselves into the Harlan soil. And Ava gets her Orange is the New Black on.

But first, after Raylan's not-quite-confession last week, the cold open was a short, moody, atmosphere thick bit of silent emotional expressionism. Art has, for four season now, had an apprehensive enthusiasm for Raylan, which regularly gets overridden by Raylan's successes and general entertainment value. Even if he doesn't do things by the book, there can be no question that Raylan does produce results (or, at least, bodies). But will be be able to come back from this? Will he be able to trust Raylan again. Raylan can't explain himself without admitting his role in a gangland shooting. But without explaining himself, Art's only naturally drawn conclusion is that Raylan is dirty in some way. It's lose/lose. So he punches him, because they are men and this is Kentucky, and dammit it's about time someone laid Raylan out for his shit.

Alison is making a nice counterpoint to Winona, in that she is able to recognise Raylan for what he truly is, but seems to accept that of him. She makes no effort to change him, and seems (at least, for now) willing to stay with him despite his flaws. Winona ran when she realised that Raylan would never change, and that his life would eventually catch up with him and her. Alison seems more at peace with his nature. Maybe it's because she's a little broken herself. Or maybe, like she did here, she knows that she can use his nature to help rather than hinder. But like Winona's pilot declaration that Raylan is the angriest man she's ever known, here Alison quite rightly deduces that Raylan wouldn't hesitate to run into a burning building, after he'd set the fire. And we as viewers know he spends all his time putting out his own fires.

Case in point, after ruffling the Crowe's feathers the past couple weeks, Raylan goes back to shake the cage again, this time with Danny in his sights. This allowed us to spend more quality alone time with the Crowes than we've gotten thus far, and get some real insight into how their operation works. Essentially, they are a virus. They invade, consume, expend, and move on. And all the while they do it, they make the invaded party make it think that it's their idea. Like the hardware store guy, who let them move into his house and cabin willingly right up until he didn't have a choice. So it doesn't bode well that Boyd welcomes them into the Crowder crime family fold. Both parties have obvious interest in the arrangement: Boyd sees the Crowes as expendable fodder to fill his ranks. And it would be foolish to think that the Crowes wouldn't see a position of influence within the Crowder gang as an opportunity to advance in that organisation. 

Raylan, while just wanting to lean on Danny and maybe punch him in the face, ends up getting involved in a madcap kidnapping plot devised by the Harlan Country Brain trust of Dewey and Danny. Only those two idiots would think that Boyd would ransom the cost of a whorehouse for the return of a flunky. But it allowed for a hilarious scene where implied S&M homoeroticism means no one got shot (and kudos to the writers for not filleting the scene with any gay panic on Danny's part). My favourite moment of the episode of Raylan's delivery of the line "Boyd," as he realises who Carl works for. It also doubles as an opportunity for Raylan to do kind of the wrong thing (releasing everyone, so they can kill each other later), and to reiterate his statement from seasons past, "I got no interest in shitkicker-on-shitkicker crime."

All the while this is going down, Ava is having a hard time in prison. Boyd is having a harder time without her, finally beyond his reach. And trying to strike a deal with neoNazis didn't go their way either (who'd have thought). It was a nice development for Boyd though. The Nazi stuff from the pilot has mostly been avoided, though it's had several mentions this season. This was a cleansing moment for Boyd, shrugging off the last remaining vestiges of his former, unfortunate life. It's just too bad that Ava had to be traumatised for Boyd to receive such growth. She's truly relying on the kindness of strangers now, and hoping that for once doing the legal thing will be her salvation. There is irony there, considering that she started the series as innocent as anyone, and has been lead (willingly) deeper into the world of crime as her affection for Boyd has deepened. But it's his influence that has landed her in her most dire straits, and she must turn towards the just and legal apparatus - the same that she abandoned when she left Raylan - to make her whole again.

On top of all that, there was a lot of foundation work going on. With Tonin caught, Picker apparently was let go, because he managed to set up a meet with Boyd, Duffy and the Mexican Heroine dealers that represent the new Crowder business model. Hot Rod, still under duress from last week, managed to warn Boyd of Johnny's betrayal. Rachel revealed her respect for Raylan, letting him know that he's still got one ally in Lexington. And Alison, having made it through five episodes still alive or not implemented in a crime, takes the lead in the seasonal-Raylan-love-interest Olympics. Good for him.

I get the feeling that the dog is going to outlive the Crowes. Just a feeling.
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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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