[This is a review of Justified season 5, episode 5. There will be SPOILERS.]
As this is the penultimate season of Justified, there are now more reasons than ever to take a deeper look at certain characters, offer them a moment to shine – or in the case of Dewey Crowe, in last week's 'Over the Mountain,' dramatically alter how they perceive themselves – and give the audience a sense that these myriad individual storylines crisscrossing one another are doing so by some kind of larger design.
If 'Over the Mountain' and tonight's 'Shot All to Hell' are any indication, the writers over at Justified are attempting to do something along those lines, with varying results. Of course, there's still plenty goings-on of Deputy Marshal Raylan Givens and perhaps even more than a fair amount of whatever deadly scheme Boyd Crowder's currently cooking up. Overall, these side character-centric plots have made for some entertaining episodes, even if their importance to the season as a whole isn't necessarily clear.
Here, Darryl briefly takes center stage, confronting Boyd about the sale price of Audrey's, before attempting to convince his sister Wendy (Alicia Witt) that it's in the Crowe family's best interest if they all stick together. That means giving up her paralegal job down in Florida to help turn Audrey's into that little nest egg the Crowes have long been dreaming of. And with the intimation that Wendy's about to join the crew, psychotic brother Danny (A.J. Buckley) winds up making it a true family affair by killing Darryl's right-hand man, Jean Baptiste (Edi Gathegi), after a discussion over the 20-foot rule leads to someone feeling like his masculinity was in question.
So now we've got one slightly marginalized character becoming relevant by murdering the other. Perhaps the question of whether or not Jean Baptiste's death will prove integral to the season or reveal the writers simply didn't know what to do with him will be answered through Danny's storyline. Whatever the outcome, let's hope Tim and Rachel don't end up in a similar situation.
The most pressing concern of 'Shot All to Hell,' however, is Art's continuing investigation into the death of Nicky Augustine, which finds him crossing paths with a hit man named Elias Marcos (Alan Tudyk) in a fantastic and tense scene set in a diner that once again showcases the series' knack for turning clever dialogue into a verbal shootout.
Tudyk sadly doesn't make it through the episode, but Art does manage to snag the biggest collar of his career, when Theo Tonin (Adam Arkin – who also directed the episode) is found hiding out in a shipping container not far from where Marcos made his last stand. Everything happens in the blink of an eye, but it all seemingly transpires to open the door for Raylan's apparent confession regarding Nicky Augustine's murder at the end of season 4. So, if that proves to be dramatically satisfying, then the brevity of Tonin's discovery will be...well, justified.
Even though most of the storylines this season seem to be pulling their weight, it's a sure sign that maybe too much is going on when Boyd doing away with his two primary nemeses, Lee Paxton and Deputy Mooney, Ava being framed for stabbing Danny Strong and then being shipped off to the state penitentiary, and Cousin Johnny double-crossing Hot Rod Dunham only register as minor blips on the radar.
Obviously, these storylines will begin converging at some point (hopefully), but come that time, we might be left wondering if taking a step back and allowing some of these events more time to resonate would have better served the overall story.
Justified will continue next week with 'Kill the Messenger' @10pm on FX.
Photos: Prashant Gupta/FX