Justified – “Raw Deal”: A pattern of misconduct

Justified: Season 5

Episode 7 – “Raw Deal”

Aired: February 25, 2014

Director: Bill Johnson

Writer: VJ Boyd

“Some men lead and some men follow.”

– Boyd Crowder

What I enjoy about the Crowes is the unpredictability they bring to this show, which is important at this stage in the game. Because, lets face it, we all know Boyd Crowder and the show’s writers well enough to know he was never in any real danger when Johnny outbid him and bought his life. Walton Goggins is too good of an actor and Boyd is too integral to the show to have Johnny actually beat him. So it was always just a matter of how he would escape, not if he would.

But when Danny gunned down the men Boyd had just set free, that was exciting and unexpected. Boyd is an excellent schemer and he’s great at getting people to do his bidding, but the Crowes are wild animals that can’t be tamed. Daryl is just biding his time, waiting to get the upper hand on Boyd. And Danny is a straight sociopath who enjoys gunning people down. Together, they’ve managed to sabotage Boyd’s moment of triumph, leaving him on the wrong side of the American-Mexican border with a slew of dead bodies, a truck full of coke and a cartel enforcer who has already shown just how expendable he considers Boyd to be.

Granted, we can all pretty safely assume that, by the end of the season, Boyd will be back on top and the Crowes will all be dead or in jail. But it still makes for some compelling television in the interim.

Less compelling was Ava’s continuing Orange is the New Black spinoff. I have liked Ava in previous seasons, but her story feels so disconnected from everything else and so meaningless that I have trouble investing in it at all. None of the other prison characters are compelling and the storylines themselves have all felt like standard, predictable prison fare. For my money, she can’t get out soon enough.

I also am feeling a bit frustrated with the Art-Raylan Cold War. Art punching Raylan is one thing, but having him use Rachel and Tim as intermediaries as he passive-aggressively punishes Raylan just feels weak. I didn’t expect Art to slap the cuffs on him when Raylan confessed, but he could have suspended him without going into too much detail of why or something besides playing the “I’m not talking to you” game. I’ve always found Art to be a strong, capable leader. This current dynamic completely undermines that.

I did, however, enjoy Raylan’s cat-and-mouse game with the one-legged hacker TC. It was a bizarre inversion of Timothy Olyphant’s battle with Bruce Willis in Live Free or Die Hard. This time Raylan was the computer-illiterate cowboy law enforcement official who struggled to keep up with a cocky computer hacker who went after his personal information. He never said, “Yippie-ki-yay, motherfucker,” which was disappointing. And overall, it did feel a tad bit rushed (which could have been fixed by devoting less time to Ava’s prison adventures). But other than that, it was a nice inadvertent homage to one of my favorite Olyphant roles.

And another thing …

  • If Breaking Bad taught me anything, it’s that you should be very afraid of guys named Uncle Jack.
  • Raylan making Wendy pick up the bar tab after shooting her down was a thing of beauty.
  • Chris the IT guy does seem like kind of a douche.
  • I do like Rachel taking charge. Maybe she could be the one to take over for Art when he finally does retire. I think she’d be great at it.

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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