This week’s Justified was, surprisingly and unfortunately, disappointing. The more I think about it, the more I realize that it was just every small-scale complaint I’ve had about this season so far piled one on top of another to form a single large-scale complaint.
Raylan’s plot was pretty inconsequential. In general, I don’t mind filler episodes, but it seems like he’s been having a lot of them lately. The plot involved hunting down a thieving computer hacker, which he does very easily. Nothing important comes from it, but he does decide to take a few days of vacation to visit his daughter in Florida. The episode ends with him issuing Art an ultimatum, in classic Raylan fashion, declaring that he’s sick of the way he’s being treated by the management just because it’s possible he might be crooked. He tells Art to either forgive him or to transfer him. Oh, and Wendy Crowe unsuccessfully attempts to seduce him a couple times. That’s it for Raylan.
Ava’s still in prison. She falls in with an in-prison drug cartel, figuring it’ll help her stance in the joint, but she doesn’t like how things are being run (in that the current operation hinges upon bribing guards with sex). She plants drugs on one of the smugglers, gets him arrested, and proposes a new way to bring drugs into the prison: Boyd.
Things aren’t going so smoothly for Boyd, though, to exactly no one’s surprise. He heads down to Mexico to make his heroin deal only to discover that his fiendish cousin Johnny is trying to outbid him. The Mexicans side with Johnny, who gets both the heroin and Boyd. Boyd has an ace up his sleeve, though, and with help from his usual posse and the Crowe clan, he gets the drop on Johnny. Then, for absolutely no reason at all except that Danny Crowe is a horrendous douche, a gunfight breaks out. Then, after that subsides and everything’s totally fine MAJOR MAJOR SPOILERS, Y’ALL Boyd kills Johnny.
That last sentence? I consider that to be the worst misstep this show has ever made. Now, it’s possible that in the remaining episodes of the season, they’ll make it work and really get some mileage out of it, but otherwise I interpret it as a sign that the show runners finally just don’t know where they’re headed. It seemed like a move of desperation purely for shock value. That is not a good reason to kill off a character, especially one so interesting, well developed, and regular as Johnny. He’s been on the show since season one, and they killed him off like some random thug. Johnny’s character arc was one of the most interesting, but I guess it’s never going to get a satisfying conclusion now.
I guess my biggest issue with this is that it’s so out of character for the writers to get this sloppy. Justified isn’t Game of Thrones. They don’t kill people willy-nilly. That’s not the point of the show, despite its high violence level and considerable body count. Think about season two. How many major story arcs did they have in that season? One. All of the characters were highly invested in one story, which led to a deliberate climax right at the end. Season five, so far, has had, by my reckoning, five major arcs. Some of them have already been wrapped up, like two weeks ago when Boyd decided he was sick of playing games with his main antagonist, Lee Paxton, and just had everyone killed. Problem solved. Then there was the really intriguing and sinister Haitian character, who was completely wasted when Danny shot him for no reason. They haven’t really done anything with that yet. Right, and then Dewey killed Wade Messer. Now Johnny’s dead. They get to somewhere difficult in the plot and decide that the easy way out is to just kill someone, but that’s not Justified. These characters haven’t earned their deaths and neither have the writers. What’s going on? This is my favorite show on TV, and I’ve never had anything negative to say about it before, so why now? Why?
Remember about four years ago when Boyd, Ava, and Raylan were holed up in a cabin surrounded by gun thugs, and they knew that even though they were all enemies, they would have to put aside their differences and work together just for a short while if any of them wanted to survive? That was a perfect moment, I realize. Those are our three main characters, and for the first two seasons, they were mostly together. They didn’t overlap in every episode, but their lives were inseparable. Now they are all divided. Raylan and Boyd have had, what, two conversations together this entire season? Raylan and Ava haven’t talked to each other at all, I’m pretty sure. Boyd and Ava haven’t talked in a few episodes. I miss that.
I watched this video last night. It’s a very funny, rambling, pointless, half hour long conversation between Walton Goggins and Timothy Olyphant. It amused me very much, but also made me a little sad, because it was the longest period of time I’ve seen them on screen together possibly since season three.