[Review] - Justified, Season 5 Episode 11, "The Toll"

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television
It took me until the second return to the scene above, Boyd and Picker's meeting with the increasingly alluring and interesting Catherine Hale, to realize that this was a bottle episode. A bottle episode, in the business, is an episode that uses few guest stars and limited sets, that is quick and cheap to film, in order to save on production costs. The mark of a bottle episode is whether or not the entire thing takes place in a single room, and is light on action and heavy on talking.

Considering that this is the third to last episode of the penultimate season, it is not the most natural place to expect a bottle episode to land. And yet, the producers of Justified managed to turn this necessity into one of the strongest episodes of the year. It certainly covered more ground, and set up more intrigue between parties than a lot of this season's maneuverings. And it finally gave reasonable backing for Raylan's hate for the Crowes, though at a steep price.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that are involved in what you might call a "time will tell" situation.


One thing I haven't touched on this season, what with Art and Raylan's massive falling out, is how their relationship mirrors that between Raylan and Arlo. Art has always been the father figure on the show, and to Raylan who has went his life without one. Arlo and Raylan were alienated because Raylan went straight and couldn't see beyond Arlo's shit. Raylan and Art's relationship has deteriorated because Raylan is too bent to be straight, and that is a danger to Art. Arlo ended up in the hospital, and Raylan couldn't bother to shed a tear in his passing. Now that Art is in dire straights, all the emotion that Raylan might have mustered for his real father has an opportunity to do some good. As he tells Daryl, Art is the one person he cares about, which also serves to double over on him, and the conversation he was having with Art's wife at the start of the episode, about not being with his family. Raylan puts his priorities in the wrong place, but always follows through with them with justifiable passion.

They covered a lot of ground for a bottle episode, and managed to work in considerable backstory for Ms. Hale, who is shaping up to be a wonderful antagonist for next season. It also managed to fill in some more of Vasquez's history, and can I say how much I enjoy that character. Like many Elmore characters, he began as more of a pest, a thorn in Raylan's side, but has revealed himself to be someone you like having around. Hale was the wife of a mobster back in the day, and as bad as he was, Catherine is apparently worse. How much, we're yet to see, though Duffy defers to her and he eventually stood up to even Quarles, so that gives an idea of the level on which she operates. Right now, I'm seeing her as an older, wiser, female Boyd. They both ooze charm and calm, and both have the look of a calculator behind the eyes.

Boyd, however, is looking for a place to work out his aggression, and when he gets backed into a corner, he tends to fall back on what he knows, and what he knows is how to blow shit up. So, while he lays on the charms and tries to talk his way out of what he correctly deduces is a do-or-die situation, he done do. In the form of a focused explosive. The show has shown a new level of comfort this season with the gruesome, and while Danny's self-impalement last week was played completely for laughs, Picker's Pythonesque chest eruption was decidedly not. Don't get me wrong, it was still chuckle-worthy, especially the various reactions afterwards, and few other shows could make a man exploding good for a laugh, but this was serious business. Boyd has literally severed the last connection he had. The Crowder crime empire has all but fallen. Without Duffy's aid, without the backing of Detroit, without access to the merchandise he needs, there is little hope for Boyd's criminal network to flourish. The only thing he still has on his side is himself, which is probably more than he needs to find his way to success. But without Ava's humanizing and calming influence, I suspect the lonely road for Boyd moving forward will only end in blood and tears.

Ava, meanwhile, is apparently queen of the prison now, having inherited Judith's "loyal" army in a you-keep-what-you-kill situation. Her stuff was, happily, kept to a minimum this episode, probably because the extras cost too much for a bottle episode, but it got what point it needed to across. Things might be on a turn up for Ava, as much as they could be. While her incarceration will inevitably come to an end once prosecution begins, and her case is thrown out for substantial lack of evidence (seriously, her lawyer sucks if he hasn't been able to get her out legally by now), it seems as though she'll end this season still in prison. Long ago, I predicted that Ava was the heir to the thrown of Mags Bennett, and more and more I think that prediction will come true Hardened by her time in prison, and released to a world of a wounded Boyd, Harlan seems ripe for her taking.

The Crowes continue to self destruct. Wendy has no loyalty left to Daryl save blood and the force of his fists. she hates him, that clear, but she's low on brothers at this point, though Raylan should have taken the time to explain to her that Daryl is to blame for that. And now she's down the son she's only ever failed, because Daryl was able to manipulate the boy into taking the rap for his actions. Daryl, as Raylan points out, is too chicken shit to do his own dirty work, which has been true this season. Sad fact of it now is, he's out of army. He's down to himself, and his cowering sister who is already flinching for the next hit. Still and all, he shows that unwarranted overconfidence in essentially calling Raylan out, because he's only as smart as he is dumb. And Raylan, to his credit, went against his usual pattern and promised that instead of challenging him to a duel to the death, he's promised to deal with him "to the pain." And since it seems, in deference to Art, that Raylan is willing to reel himself in on this one, I'm wondering if Daryl's end might not come at the hands of Wendy, pushed too far by her kin. It would certainly be in keeping with Crowe family tradition.
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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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