Until this episode of “Justified,” Season 5’s supposed primary bad guys seemed more like minor irritants than true, fearsome opponents for Raylan and the law in Harlan. And Boyd, for all his skill at the criminal game, was losing as much as he was winning.
The Crowes and Boyd came together — albeit in a tense, marriage-of-convenience kind of way — in Tuesday’s (Feb. 11) show, “Kill the Messenger,” and things may be looking up for both of them. It’s still hard to get a read on just what Daryl’s agenda is beyond “family,” and it could all come crashing down the next time his psychotic brother Danny decides he’s been slighted. But for the first time this season, the criminal side of the “Justified” equation feels like it’s jelled and like a formidable adversary for Raylan.
The new arrangement — let’s call it Crowder & Crowe — may not be Raylan’s biggest problem. Raylan’s half-admission to Art at the end of last week’s episode that he was the lawman involved in Nicky Augustine’s death results in Art popping him in the face at the start of the hour. What happens next, though, is anyone’s guess, including theirs.
The rest of their interactions over the course of the episode are, putting it mildly, strained. Both seem to realize that their relationship has fundamentally changed, but neither of them know just how it’s changed yet, and thus the audience doesn’t either. Watching these two normally decisive men get caught entirely off guard by their new situation is kind of fascinating, and likely will be for as long as the show plays it out in the season and a half that’s remaining.
So too has been the way Rachel and Allison see the bad side of Raylan so clearly, even if their attempts to draw some sort of self-examination out of him — “open up a crack,” Rachel pleads at one point — are in vain. Allison’s observation that Raylan is the kind of guy who would run into a burning building, and also the one setting the fire, is spot-on.
The Crowder & Crowe part of the story also ties into Ava’s struggle as well as it has all season. Everything Boyd has been doing thus far has been in hopes of getting Ava out of jail, but when he wasn’t visiting her in lockup it was all too easy for his motives to recede as he settled scores with Lee Paxton and tried counter-moves against cousin Johnny.
Now, though, with Ava in state prison and Boyd’s initial protection plan with his former skinhead pals backfiring, he calls on the Crowes for backup, likes what he sees and then enlists their help in getting rid of the impediment to his heroin business that is Johnny. The combination of Boyd, the shrewd but seemingly aimless Daryl and loose-cannon Danny is going to be a volatile one, but if it doesn’t implode too quickly it could make things very interesting in Harlan.
Other thoughts on “Kill the Messenger”:
- Ava’s journey through the penal system is becoming positively Kafkaesque, with her supposed protectors jumping her and seemingly the only friendly fellow inmates being her bunkmate and Danielle Panabaker’s Penny, whom I’m guessing we’ll see again. Watching Ava hack off her hair was heartbreaking, but it’s also among the few times we’ve seen her take any sort of control of her own situation this season. Here’s hoping it’s a positive step.
- Boyd’s various henchmen have been mostly interchangeable, but Carl was definitely a good hire. His quick thinking when Raylan and Rachel showed up at the cabin paved the way for the Crowder & Crowe teamup, even if his initial intention was just to get free so he could take Danny out himself. Add him to the wide array of strong secondary characters on the series.
- FX is resting “Justified” next week rather than have it face the Winter Olympics again, but it will be back on Feb. 25.
What did you think of “Justified” this week?