A review of tonight's “Justified” coming up just as soon as I have a pleather attaché…
Early in “Weight,” Ava tells a visiting Boyd that she sees no end in sight to her ever-worsening miseries. While I doubt this was intended as a meta comment about the prison storyline – or the Crowe family troubles, or any of this season's other weak spots – it unfortunately played out that way.
And the thing is, “Weight” really didn't do anything to improve the many problematic areas of season 5 – other than killing off Danny Crowe, in one of the season's best (and, not coincidentally, most Elmore Leonard-esque) scenes – but the parts around the parts that aren't working were kind of terrific.
I still don't care about the status of Boyd's heroin shipment, about Ava's struggle to open up a new drug pipeline into the prison, or about the petty squabbles and stupid loyalties of the Crowe clan.(*) But on the other hand, this episode gave us Raylan outfoxing a bitter Dickie Bennett (who was apparently wounded but not killed back in season 3). It gave us the introduction of the great Mary Steenburgen as Wynn Duffy's special consultant Katherine Hale. And it gave us Danny's 21-Foot Rule demonstration fatally backfiring due to the hole Daryl ordered Kendall to dig for Chelsea the dog.
(*) And in hindsight, the murder of Dilly makes no sense given everything we've seen since of this bunch. They are loyal and family-obsessed to a fault – they make the Bravermans on “Parenthood” look like strangers who wound up in an elevator together – and yet Daryl would that easily decide that one dumb brother had to die, while the equally stupid brother would live?
Those were three fantastic scenes that each played up the show's biggest strength: showing smart people being smart. Dickie once again thinks he's the most clever cat around, and Raylan just outthinks him and figures out Dewey's whereabouts on his own. (Raylan dismissing Dickie's earlier rant with a cool, “Proud of that one, aren't ya?” was a beautiful thing, as well.) Realizing that he has perhaps placed himself in a very bad position working with Boyd, Wynn finally calls in an expert who appears to be even colder and more ruthless than he is (and someone who harbors a grudge against him but will gladly take his 50 grand and provide excellent advice and company). Raylan's showdown with Danny wasn't exactly a victory of brains over brawn, since Raylan didn't see the pit, either – and assuredly is fast enough on the draw to take Danny even at that distance and speed – but it neatly echoed both the disarming of Robert Quarles and the accidental death of White Boy in Leonard's “Out of Sight,” where bravado is no match for bad luck and/or a sharp blade.
And the shame of it is, I think Daryl Crowe probably could have been a good villain with a few tweaks. He was introduced as a clever guy who had learned a lot from the classes he took in prison, and if he'd been presented in later episodes as someone genuinely capable of outthinking Boyd and/or Raylan, the season could have been a lot of fun. Instead, he's become this bumbling con man who can scrape by for a little while on sheer nerve before he and/or his stupid relatives screw things up in the end. The closing scenes where he beats up Wendy and forces Kendall to take a blood oath are meant to make him seem far more dangerous than before, but instead he remains a weak retread of Mags Bennett: more physically capable and far more lacking in every other way.
I could go into more detail about Ava being put in position to kill Judith, or Boyd feeling so distant from Ava that he would let Albert go free without forcing him to recant, or why Allison the social worker seems to miss the abundant warning signs that Kendall is in a bad situation that he should be removed from, but I'm just waiting for most of this season's story threads to be finished with, and hopefully with some more humor along the way. And I'm also worried that Art's decision to play bodyguard for Allison is going to eliminate Raylan's current work problem for him, and I would miss Art terribly in the final season.
But as for “Weight,” what did everybody else think? Did the good parts outweigh the bad? Were you happy that Dickie returned, or annoyed that Raylan “I always shoot to kill” Givens only wounded him? Does Wynn's old friend intrigue you, or is he an idiot for even thinking of staying in business with Boyd? Do you care at all about what will happen next to poor Ava?