A review of tonight's “Justified” coming up just as soon as I'm a doctor working on a cure…
On the whole, season 5 has been a step down for “Justified,” feeling a bit like a placeholder year before we get to the series' conclusion. Lots of characters and/or story arcs that didn't work or continue to not work, and a lack of cohesion to all of it.
But even with all that, this is still a show that has Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder, that has this great stable of supporting characters and colorful guest stars, and writers who understand the basic Elmore Leonard of it all. I haven't loved this season, but “Justified” remains highly watchable even when various individual pieces don't click.
“Whistle Past the Graveyard,” though, was the first episode of the season – and one of the few episodes in the life of the show – to fall almost completely flat. It increases the tension between Boyd and the Crowes, while at the same time suggesting an ever-so-slight thaw between Raylan and Wendy (and gives Raylan an opportunity to try bonding with Kendall over their similar upbringing) that could pay off in the season's concluding chapters, but as an hour of TV, it was something this show should never be: dull.
Now, some of this came from the season's over-reliance on Boyd and the Crowes, to the point where we spent the 10 minutes before the opening credits with Raylan entirely absent, but even when the man in the hat turned up to invite Allison to Florida, the energy level didn't pick up appreciably. The story about “Uncle” Jack(*) filled in some backstory on Kendall and Wendy, but it wasn't notably intense and/or funny, and it completely wasted William Forsythe as the man pursuing Jack. I get that not every case Raylan works is going to be complicated or especially dangerous, but the show usually loads up on humor in those situations (with last week's episode as a fine example of that) to compensate. This was just filler.
(*) Played not by Michael Bowen from “Breaking Bad,” but by TV's Kyle Bornheimer, who also guest-starred on tonight's “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.”
So, for that matter, was Boyd's continued journey out of Mexico. We got a series of obligatory plot points designed to get us to Daryl and Danny trying to steal Boyd's dope out from under him, but it all dragged. Boyd has spent this entire season trying to get some dope, any dope into Harlan, which is the sort of thing that could play successfully as a black comic nightmare, but too much of it has been played straight(**) to feel like anything but a slog.
(**) And with much less Wynn Duffy than one might have hoped for after Jere Burns was promoted to series regular status this year.
“Justified” will offer up a dud every now and again, but they usually come early in the season, while Yost and company are waiting to really dive into that year's arcs. This is the eighth episode of season 5, when you would expect everything to be coalescing and rising in speed and intensity. Instead, we got Raylan hanging around a mall parking lot until he had a chance to club the bad guy over the back of the head.
Hoping for better next week.
What did everybody else think?