‘Justified’: Time To Start Making Some Changes

Published 5 months ago by

Cathy Baron and Walton Goggins in Justified Season 5 Episode 11 Justified: Time To Start Making Some Changes

[This is a review of Justified season 5, episode 11. There will be SPOILERS.]

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Television has been filled with some shocking deaths recently; some have managed to help redefine the series as it moves forward, while others have seemingly only sought to increase the audience’s tolerance for nihilism. Despite reservations regarding what the end result of these deaths may be, or what they say about the series in general, for the most part, each death managed to work within the framework of the series in question.

Now, for a series like Justified – where death is a fairly regular occurrence, but by no means a relentless entity – the manner in which a fatality is handled usually says more about the tone of a particular episode, and less about its overall or series-wide impact.

Case in point: last week’s expected, but unexpectedly humorous and very Elmore Leonard-esque death of Danny Crowe is a far cry from the similarly expected but unexpectedly explosive and gory death of Ethan Picker.

One event was framed in such a way as to play up the dangers of a foolish man-child literally running headlong into a dangerous situation without first bothering to check all the angles. The other, with its bits of viscera sprayed all over the likes of Wynn Duffy, his henchman Mike (who bares an uncanny resemblance to Jai Courtney), and the recently introduced Katherine Hale (Mary Steenburgen), as well as the camera’s lens (i.e., the audience’s eyes) demonstrated a shocking level of violence that is instantly sobering and immediately serves to supplement the weighty tone of the episode.

But Boyd’s explosive execution of his would-be nemesis results in more than Duffy and Hale picking Picker out of their hair and off the hotel room’s walls; it snaps the overarching focus of ‘The Toll’ back to the concept of mortality, and just how quickly and unexpectedly a person can have their life extinguished. Or, in the case of Art, almost extinguished.

Michael Rapaport Timothy Olyphant in Justified Season 5 Episode 11 Justified: Time To Start Making Some Changes

Boyd’s dabbling with explosives is also tied into Ava’s adventures in prison, after her bout with Judith ended with the elder convict’s death. Both Boyd and Ava found themselves backed into proverbial corners, forced to fight or die. In the end, Boyd certainly made his intentions clear – though the ramifications of his actions will likely be stretched out over the next two episodes – while Ava does the same, and manages to find out just how much meaning a frozen confection can carry within the unforgiving confines of the prison system.

The response to such threats demonstrates the separation between Raylan and the Crowders. Despite coming from similar backgrounds, and both of them having a generally flagrant disregard for rules and procedures, Raylan is, at the end of the day, a lawman, while Boyd and Ava are outlaws. As ‘The Toll’ suggests, there’s plenty of outlaw in Raylan Givens, too – which is why Rachel is rightly put in charge of the Lexington office and not him.

In fact, that lawless streak is pretty much responsible for Art’s current critical condition. Had he and Raylan not had a falling out over the parties responsible for Nicky Augustine’s death, Raylan would’ve been where he was supposed to be. Sure, maybe Art still takes a bullet, but chances are pretty good Darryl Crowe is apprehended (dead or alive), and young Kendal doesn’t take the rap for his uncle’s vendetta.

It’s somber territory to be sure, but with the recent spate of deaths and attempted murders, Justified has certainly gained a great amount of traction in these final episodes of the season. That traction also works to finally bring Raylan’s focus back where it is he needs it be, a question that likely extends well past taking a shift to watch over his injured boss.

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Justified continues next Tuesday with ‘Starvation’ @10pm on FX.

Photos: Prashant Gupta/FX

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  1. I can’t believe Kendal is dumb enough to do such a thing for Daryl… He’s just breaking his mother’s heart.

  2. Last night was a prime example of why Justified is my favorite television show. What other show has a hero and a villain this equally compelling to watch? It’ll be some time before we see a show with characters as rich and entertaining as Raylan and Boyd again.

    • @ CJV

      I couldn’t agree more.
      You’d think that a show with so many characters would lead to so a lot of them being one-note and short changed but starting with Raylan and Boyd and moving down the list the writers have done a masterful job of fleshing everyone out.

  3. Maybe it was the score or the somber tone, but last night’s episode epitomized the Deadwood-esque feeling this season’s taken: Lots of colorful characters making slow advances toward an inevitable showdown. If memory serves, there’ve only been two short scenes all season that were shared between Raylan and Boyd.

    The ice cream scene stands out as one of the coolest, especially lightening the gravitas of the main plot.

  4. G*DD*MN’ this show is a fine piece of TV !

  5. Better late than never as they say, the last couple of episodes are making up for what was kind of a disappointing season for the most part. With just one more season after the current one it leaves me wondering if in fact Art will pull through, which makes for some pretty good drama especially if he doesn’t survive and Raylan looks to avenge his death. As for Boyd, he is indeed one likeable bad guy and wow, what a great touch that explosive cigarette pack was; it certainly was innovative and Boyd’s line about being good at “blowing s— up” brought back memories of Raylan saying the same thing about Boyd way back in the pilot episode of season 1. Things are really getting good now and it should make for a great finale.

  6. Well, the best part of this season is the scene with Mary Steenburgen and her reunion with the Federal Attorney who put her husband in jail. I hope this means she will be the main villian next season. This season…a mess. It just kind of meandered around with nothing interesting happening. It is a waste of two really good characters, Raylan and Boyd. Not really easy to get Raylan involved in the local crimecapades of the Harlan county bumpkin criminal gang of Boyd. He is a Marshal, not a police officer so their paths can only cross in so few ways. I hope next season is better, last season was the best…they should keep that in mind…

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