Justified – “Restitution”: The shape of things to come

Justified: Season 5

Episode 13 – “Restitution”

Aired: April 8, 2014

Director: Adam Arkin

Writers: Fred Golan & Dave Andron

“You’re going to walk away from all of this. And we’re going to have to live with that. But I’m going to go back to Lexington, take that file Raylan has on you and make it my sole purpose on this earth to make sure you receive every ounce of punishment you have coming your way and then some.”

– Rachel Brooks

There’s a brilliant moment toward the end of the finale where Rachel and Vasquez sit Raylan down to try to talk him out of transferring to Florida. They go through all of Raylan’s recent cases in Harlan (a.k.a. all of the show’s recent overarcing storylines) and ask Raylan if he sees the common thread. Confused, he answers, “Me?” before they quickly correct him, telling him they meant Boyd Crowder.

It’s a telling scene for many reasons. For one thing, Raylan is too close to Boyd to see him the way that Rachel and Vasquez and the world at large see him – as a powerful criminal mastermind. Secondly, it shows us that Rachel and Vasquez and the others in the marshal service are too close to Raylan to see him the way that Art now does – as a common thread in all of these incidents, a man whose hands are far from clean. But most of all, it shows us the parallel paths these two men have been on. Two paths that are set to collide in the upcoming final season.

The episode reinforces this by giving us several parallels between Raylan’s story and Boyd’s. Both men are desperately looking for Darryl. Both men have long conversations with someone else about how their fathers taught them to trap animals and kill them. (In this parallel, the power dynamics are completely reversed. Raylan is using the story about Arlo to free Kendal while Alberto is using the story about skinning animals with his father to intimidate and defeat Boyd.) Both men let someone else do their dirty work for them. (Boyd uses the marshals to eliminate the cartel while Raylan allows Wendy to gun down Darryl right in front of him.) And both men are ready to walk away from their current lives in search of a fresh start, only to be suckered back in for one last job. (Coincidentally, Raylan’s one last job is taking down Boyd.)

The show is always at its best when Raylan and Boyd’s paths cross, so needless to say I’m excited for this final battle. I’m also excited that Ava gets to return for her season of exile in a pointless prison story to once again be a key figure in this war. Obviously, she cares about and feels betrayed by both Boyd and Raylan, so it will be interesting to see where her loyalties lie throughout the final season.

I’d say this was a successful finale in that it has left me very excited for the future of the show. I do think it’s a bit telling though that they tied up all of the loose threads from this season halfway through and devoted the final half of the episode to setting things up for season six. Season five was by no means a bad season, but it was definitely an uneven one. The prison stuff with Ava dragged, Boyd was involved in so many different storylines that his arc felt fragmented and convoluted and the Crowes storyline, while good in spots, never quite came together the way it should have. It was a wise move to wrap things up as quickly as possible in this episode and then devote the rest of the time to setting the stage for what is shaping up to be an epic final season.

That’s not to say that the first half of this episode was bad by any means. Rachel and Tim showing up to make the save to Boyd (and Boyd killing the last guy with his hand cuffed behind his back) was easily my favorite thing that’s happened this whole season. And watching Wendy take down Darryl with two absolutely brutal shots was a thing of beauty as well. I also really enjoyed Raylan’s scene with Kendal.

But, in the end, I find myself thinking less about this season and more about what is to come.

And another thing …

  • I really hope that wasn’t the last we saw of Art. I imagine the last season will unfold with Rachel as interim chief deputy, which will be a nice change of pace, but I really hope they find a way to bring Art back, at least for an episode or two.
  • In addition to the parallels between Raylan and Boyd, there are certainly a lot of parallels between Raylan and Kendal. Kendal though seems less capable of handling the shitty cards he was dealt.
  • Three cartel members and Darryl Crowe all meet their demise this episode and Raylan never even unholstered his gun. And speaking of parallels, Raylan’s hand in Darryl’s death was obviously reminiscent of Nicky Augustine.

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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