tv review – FX’s Justified, episode 5.8

Justified‘s latest episode consisted of three threads: Boyd and crew trying to get out of Mexico with bodies and “drogas” in the back of their truck, Raylan and Wendy tracking down Kendal and Uncle Jack, and lastly Ava finding a way to get her heroin into the prison. You would think this could make a for a solid and fast-paced outing, but instead surprisingly little progress was made: at the end of ‘Whistle Past The Graveyard’ there’s still no indication of a clear season arc, and the episode really didn’t further the plot by much. It all wasn’t eventful, the conversations and situations dull, the attempt at a significant twist utterly ineffective.

When the episode ended there were a few changes to the status quo: Alison broke up with Raylan, we learned that Wendy is actually Kendal’s mom, and Ava now has someone who will smuggle the drugs into the prison for her. Why all of these developments failed to have any impact is because we know or care too little about these characters. The Crowes, for example, are a poor man’s Bennett family, because they’re not fleshed out well, and after all these episode we still know very little about them. With the Bennetts we were presented with a wonderful backstory, with relationships that were actually being developed through copious amounts of screen time. Through this we grew to understand and feel sympathy for these antagonists, a thing that’s sorely lacking this season. The way the Crowes are portrayed is like a one-note copy of the Bennetts, of their family dynamic and how Raylan interacts with its different members. Apart from the fact it isn’t done well, it also doesn’t help we’ve already seen a version of this before, which makes the tedium set in fast.

This copying is most apparent in they way Raylan behaves toward Kendal. It’s very reminiscent of the relationship he developed with Loretta, as is the whole storyline surrounding him. Loretta, however, had a lot more to do and say than Kendal, which is why we grew to love her. While Kendal being a smartass is fun to watch, that’s really all he does. We do care for him because he’s a kid growing up in a bad place, but I’m not sure if you’d have to be that good a writer to create that form of sympathy from your viewer. It’s practically guaranteed. It isn’t enough though to make us care about the revelation Wendy was his mother: we know little of the two and the revelation was thrown in there without care or thought. It was one sentence in a conversation and, like us, Raylan wasn’t impressed with it either. Like us, he wanted to learn more about the goings-on in Mexico.

After last week’s shoot-out Boyd struck a deal with the cartel: “the bodies disappear, all is well.” So, with a truckload of heroin and dead men Boyd and company were headed back in the direction of the US, but along the way they were pulled over by Mexican border police. After a bribe the cops still demanded to take Boyd’s truck, but as it turns out, that wasn’t a problem: Boyd had moved the drugs to his car, so all the Mexicans had taken from him was a truck containing four corpses. It wasn’t a surprise: by the way Boyd and Daryl Jr. acted, you could tell they weren’t in a pickle. Last but not least Mr. Crowder learned that the Crowes were planning to betray him, but we knew that already, because the shoot-out was the Crowes’ doing, as was a plan to get out of Mexico. It was another underwhelming plot line in which all of these characters just go through the motions, and no tension is built.

It’s safe to say Justified‘s fifth season is its weakest by far: lots of filler, no stakes, no tension, no fun. 4/10

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