Justified – “Over the Mountain”: Pine Barrens

Justified: Season 5

Episode 4 – “Over the Mountain”

Aired: January 28, 2014

Director: Gwyneth Horder-Payton

Writer: Taylor Elmore

“I know Messer took a swipe at you. That’s why I’m sending Tim along – keep you from bumbling into some shit I have to clean up later.”

– Art Mullen

I couldn’t have been the only one thinking of the infamous “Pine Barrens” episode of The Sopranos while watching this week’s Justified, could I?

In that episode, Christopher and Paulie take a Russian into the woods to kill him, only to have him attack them with the shovel he’s given to dig his own grave. He runs off, they get stranded in the freezing-cold woods and calamity ensues.

I’m not sure if the writers were consciously thinking of that episode when writing “Over the Mountain,” but there was definitely a similar vibe to Dewey Crowe’s messy attempt to execute Messer. However, unlike The Sopranos episode, which ultimately felt incredibly frustrating because the Russian’s escape was a loose thread the writers never bothered to tie up, this episode felt more satisfying and is more likely to tie directly into the overall story arc of this season.

I did enjoy Dewey’s ineptness at killing Messer. I will say that, from a logic standpoint, it seems strange that Daryl would send Dewey and Messer off into the woods without at least sending Danny or Jean Baptiste along to make sure he gets the job done. I suppose I can chalk it up to Daryl both testing Dewey and wanting plausible deniability if it all went south.

I’m enjoying the escalating pissing contest between Raylan and Daryl as well. Their final scene together, with Danny sneaking off to the back to grab a weapon in case they needed to eliminate the marshal, was fantastic. And I like Raylan using his conversation with Allison as inspiration, getting a court order to have Kendal removed after catching him working the bar at Audrey’s. (Speaking of that, the Crowes wasted no time picking over Messer’s life for scraps. He wasn’t even dead yet and Danny had already moved into his house and Kendal had taken over his shift at the bar.)

Boyd manages to find himself caught up in all of the Wade Messer shenanigans. Not only was Messer skimming from Dewey to pay off Boyd, but Boyd was also feeding him insignificant information to keep Messer as a well-regarded CI without actually putting his operation in jeopardy. I continue to feel like the writers have Boyd’s fingers in too many pots right now. In addition to that storyline, he is also battling with Cousin Johnny (who has aligned himself with Hot Rod Dunham), trying to track down a new drug pipeline and feuding with Lee Paxton (while secretly working with Mara). Add to that the fact that he has now faked his death and it’s just too many things going on at once. I love Boyd and usually enjoy any excuse to see him on-screen, but it’s starting to feel overly convoluted.

I also feel like we need a flow chart to keep track of all of the interconnected relationships. Hot Rod is working with Johnny and had beef with Loretta. Messer was once aligned with Dickey Bennett, but then went to work for Boyd and finally Dewey. Etc, etc. I know it’s a small, rural community, but it does all start to feel rather incestuous.

And another thing …

  • The less I say about whatever the hell that side story with Ava and the creepy guard was, the better. Though I will admit I chuckled at Ava’s, “Aren’t you a little short for a Storm Trooper?”
  • Will Sasso makes a surprisingly-convincing heavy.
  • It was nice to have Tim involved, though I wish they had given him more to do. I always enjoy his banter back and forth with Raylan and I thought his exchange with Boyd about their mutual “friend” was great as well.

Written by Joel Murphy. If you enjoy his recaps, he also writes a weekly pop culture column called Murphy’s Law, which you can find here. You can contact Joel at murphyslaw@hobotrashcan.com.

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