Justified – “The Toll”: Half of my half

Justified: Season 5

Episode 11 – “The Toll”

Aired: March 25, 2014

Director: John Avnet

Writers: Benjamin Cavell

“It’s not me. It’s you.”

– Alison Brander

I have a bad feeling we are seeing the last of Art Mullen.

I don’t think he’ll die. In fact, if I was a betting man, I’d wager that he wakes up from his coma in time to ID Daryl Crowe as the shooter, saving Kendal from prison. But I’m guessing after that, he retires and we spend our final season with Rachel in charge as the interim Chief Deputy.

Which is certainly not a bad thing. I like Rachel and think it will be interesting to see how she handles Raylan. She’s already shown a willingness to bend the rules when she roughed up Danny earlier this season, so she may be a bit more lenient than Art was. Then again, she might not. Maybe she’ll be the one to finally hold Raylan accountable for his actions.

Still, I’ll miss Art on the show. And if you need a reminder why, just rewatch that opening scene with him and Alison. In the wrong hands, the put-upon boss trying to reign in the office problem child could be a forgettable role, but Nick Searcy has really made the role his own. And the times like tonight where he’s gotten to leave the office and hog a bit of the spotlight have been pure gold.

The episode as a whole was one of the season’s best. Overall, season five has felt a bit rudderless. The Crowes never really came in with a cohesive plan and much of what has unfolded has been people reacting to the events of the previous week. It’s felt more like experimental jazz than a cohesive overarcing storyline. But Art getting shot and Raylan setting his sights on Daryl, while Boyd takes out Picker to force Wynn Duffy’s hand as he’s picking a side in this fight, gives us a clear trajectory to the finish line.

And thankfully, they kept things short and sweet with Ava this week. Not coincidentally, it was the most I enjoyed her storyline in a long time. For some reason, the ice cream scene really tickled me. And there’s at least some intrigue in what will happen next, now that there’s no end in sight to her incarceration and she has another murder charge potentially hanging over her head.

I’m also really loving the addition of Mary Steenburgen to the show. Katherine Hale arrives as this fully-formed, captivating character who I’m really excited to see interact with our regulars. Her scene with Vasquez was great and did an excellent job establishing who she is and what she’s all about. And I also enjoyed her conversation with Boyd. Wynn Duffy was meant to be a second fiddle. He’s not a leader. With Picker out of the picture, I like Katherine swooping in to tell him what to do next.

It’s been an uneven season. But it feels like we are officially on track as we speed toward the end of it.

And another thing …

  • I know it’s a TV show, but if I was Boyd, I would have been terrified carrying around that exploding cigarette. He was frisked (twice) on his way in and no doubt searched by the marshals as well. Anyone could have accidentally triggered that thing while patting him down.
  • I love Raylan slowly figuring out that he is the office problem child.
  • Pretty heavy on the racial slurs this week, weren’t we? Ed Kirkland took the crack at Picker’s nose and Katherine wasted no time calling Vasquez a “beaner.”
  • With all of the problems with the dope so far this season, I can’t help but wonder if Boyd’s plan to have it hidden will somehow backfire, either with one of his guys betraying him or with Raylan or someone else finding the moved stash.

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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