Review: ‘Justified’ – ‘Good Intentions’

Senior Television Writer
01.21.14 53 Comments


A review of tonight’s “Justified” coming up just as soon as I have curb appeal…

“Maybe he sent him to be an asshole.” -Raylan
“You do bring it out in people.” -Rachel

At this stage of season 5, the Raylan and Boyd halves of the show remain fairly separate, though “Good Intentions” at least offers us the pleasure of Raylan paying a visit to the Wynn-ebago, casually endangering Wynn’s life as part of a trap for bigoted bad guy Monroe. While Olyphant + Goggins remains the show’s most potent equation, Olyphant + Burns is pretty swell in its own right, even though the relationship as a whole is much more black-and-white.

But even though Boyd’s half is the more serialized one, I find myself enjoying Raylan’s adventures much more to this point. The whole mess with Ava, Lee Paxton, Mara, Mooney, etc. has thus far felt like a drag on the season, combining story elements either old and minor (the murder of Delroy) or uninteresting (Lee and the rest of his local Illuminati), flat characters (Sheriff Mooney) and a generally dour tone. Obviously, this is a dark time for Boyd and Ava – so dark that he would somewhat spitefully tell her that it’s not his fault, because “I didn’t kill Delroy” – and “Justified” can do dark very well, but this all just feels sluggish, other than isolated moments like Wynn using the air rifle on Cyrus, or Boyd giving Mara a guided tour to his tattoos. Walton Goggins usually brings such an electrical charge to his scenes that “Justified” has been able to put Boyd in almost any circumstance and make it work. Though this arc might get more interesting down the road (perhaps with the return of cousin Johnny?), right now we’re seeing the limits of what Goggins’ charisma can do with the material.

Raylan’s story, meanwhile, not only puts him back inside the Wynn-ebago, but in the middle of another elaborate, violent mess that comes from a series of simple misunderstandings. Raylan sensibly assumes the baseball bat thug was sent by Monroe to scare Raylan out of his house, Monroe hears a thug was at his house and sensibly assumes someone is trying to steal his gold, and hilarity – and one very intense choking scene – ensues. “Justified” always has a good mix of smart criminals and stupid ones – and offers both in the subplot where Daryl immediately figures out why Dewey’s new operation is doing so poorly – but the show is also excellent at depicting the potentially fatal mistakes that get made due to faulty information.

Mainly, though, I think I’m preferring the Raylan side of things so far because it’s fun. “Justified” can handle a wide variety of tones, and the show’s best season by far was the fairly dark second one. But it’s most reliable tone, in successful stories and muddled ones, incorporates plenty of the wry humor that was the late, great Elmore Leonard’s stock in trade. So while I’ll trust that the mess Boyd is in will lead somewhere interesting, in the interim I’d rather be spending more time with Raylan and Rachel as oddball roommates, Raylan trying to figure out how much he should be trusting his new girlfriend, Art being miserable and vocal about the whole arrangement, etc.

What did everybody else think? And how are you feeling about Michael Rapaport as Daryl now that he’s settling into Harlan?

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