[Review] - Justified Season 5 Finale, Episode 13, "Restitution"

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television
There was a dichotomy at work in this final episode of Justified's fifth season. In some respects, it was a much more subdued wrap up that we're used to on this show. No one got their arm cleaved off, there was no assassination, and while there was a shoot out, Raylan was far from the front line. They went for a more measured, calm approach. A calculation rather than a confrontation. And despite teh show being famous for it's gun play, it work in the episode's favour.

The other side of the episode felt much more like a season premiere. With the comfort zone of knowing that they are coming back for one final year, the writer were able to set up all the pieces for next season here. They know the direction their are heading in, and are raring to go. As Yost explained in his weekly postmortem, it was setting up the prospect of "one more thing before I go," a line that will surely define both the series and the characters as they both conclude.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that, like everything, is gonna be fine.

It was an episode of wrap ups and set up, in more than one meaning. I've said all season that the Crowe storyline was oddly divorced from the major players of the series, with Raylan's continued involvement with their business seeming far more forced than it did with Quarles or the Bennett's. Even their business with Boyd only came at the half season mark. The vast chunk of the year, the Crowes concerned themselves with themselves, and perhaps more than any season villains before, we got to know the Crowes intimately. So it was only fitting that the conclusion to the Crowe story would only marginally involve Raylan and Boyd, and would be almost entirely self contained without their own, screwed up dynamic.

Last week, I commented that Wendy had been pushed to her breaking point, and would either be too blind to see the reason in what Raylan was telling her, and side entirely with Daryl, or would suddenly have the sense knocked into her, and see him for what he truly is. She went the latter way, hard. It took a lot of convincing to sway her to the notion that Kendal was innocent, more than was probably necessary (Daryl would later call her out for being a bad mother). But once she was convinced, she set her sights on Daryl's downfall. Yost tells it that the writers envisioned her actions one way, but watching the show I interpreted it differently. After revealing to Raylan that a Marshal wire would get her killed, she struck out on her own, having entered live or die territory. As long as Daryl confessed, Kendal would go free, and past that it didn't matter in what combination she and Daryl might die in. Raylan, once he had all the information, put together that she might be gunning for her brother, and happened to get there in time for the show.

The episode, to make up for the lack of usual Justified action, was punctuated by a series of conversions, and they were terrifically written and wonderfully performed. The most powerful, as I was concerned, was Raylan's reflections on killing the feral pig at Arlo's insistence. The way he manipulated Kendal was subtle, and honest and peeled back another layer of the Raylan Givens mystery. Equally effective was the confrontation between Wendy and Daryl, and kudos to both Michael Rapaport and Alicia Witt for how they played that scene, moving from calm, to anguish, to fury. And it served Raylan's development over the season that he, for once, wasn't the man to pull the trigger. His later admission to Art that he didn't kill Daryl, but he was dead represents a huge amount of growth for the Marshal. He was genuinely interested in getting this one right. And while a dead Crowe isn't as happy an ending as a caged one, a form of justice was done (Raylan has never been one to see a difference between prison and death).

The one development that left me cold was Ava's sudden release from prison, at least right up until the reveal. While I still have misgivings about how quickly the entire thing played out, the anger I felt at such a tidy wrap up to what has been this season's least interesting and most meandering storyline was immeasurable. The scene with Raylan, Rachel and Vasquez, when they reveal that they are going after Boyd on RICO conspiracy charges, would have been a pretty perfect way to end the season. To immediately move to Ava's convenient release was at first too easy. Elmore rarely took the easy way out. So the final scene, revealing that Ava has turned to Raylan in desperation, and agreed to be a CI against Boyd, was the Leonardian overturning of expectations that was needed. Though, as I've been saying for years, I foresee Ava's future being the true crime lord of Harlan. While I have been comparing her to Mags Bennett, perhaps the introduction of Katherine "Power Behind the Throne" Hale might be a glimpse of Ava-Yet-To-Come, just as Eric Roberts and Hot Rod served as future versions of Raylan and Boyd earlier this season.

As for Boyd, this season has stripped him of everything he had. He lost his empire, his fiance, his mojo, and the one lackey left who was loyal. And even his silver tongue failed him here, and Boyd was as close to death as he's ever been at the hands of the Mexicans. Somehow I don't think that Yoon's goon's deaths would get Boyd out from under the ire of the Mexican heroin cartels so cleanly, but the end result was a broken and depressed man. He's in a far worse place than he was at the end of last season, seeking solace in the bottom of a bottle. Despite the sparkle in his smile at the prospect of getting back to his roots, considering the way the last few months have went for him, he might consider an offer from Wynn Duffy with a little more caution this time around.

I'll leave this season with a thought. Now that Boyd, who is renowned for his bank robbing abilities, is looking to get back in old form, might they use their last season to finally achieve that train robbery Graham Yost has wanted to do since season three.
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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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