It’s that time again: the time in which Justified wraps up another violent, complex and witty season. This time around, it’s tempered slightly by the knowledge that next season will be the show’s last, and some of the pieces for the ultimate end are already in play. With that in the back of our minds, let’s say goodbye to Season 5 and look forward to what this tells us about Season 6.
Daryl Crowe is already mouthing off within the first thirty seconds (and unwisely getting into a staredown with Tim Gutterson; we would not want to cross Jacob Pitts). No one at the Marshals Office is amused by this. They also inform him that they’re keeping his sister Wendy in custody. Daryl leaves swearing he’ll have a final showdown with Raylan, which we know he will in one way or another. An unruffled Raylan tells Wendy he’s going to prove her wrong about both her brother and her son.
Some time later, Daryl crosses paths with Tim in a parking lot. Tim drops another awesome one-liner about being “comfortably erect watching your b–ch ass squirm” on Daryl before they part company. Did we mention we love Tim yet? Because we do. There needs to be a lot more of Tim in the next season.
But things aren’t all witty comebacks in Kentucky. Boyd returns to his bar and finds Jimmy tied to a chair in the back room and several of his former business partners lying in wait. They’ve figured out Duffy was lying when he claimed that Boyd was dead. Apparently Jimmy tried to escape to warn Boyd, and that’s what gets the poor bastard shot in the gut right in front of Boyd. And that’s how we go into the main titles. Seven minutes into this finale and we’re already gut-punched.
With Jimmy now deceased, the cartel folks tell Boyd that they want both him and Daryl, and expect Boyd to deliver Daryl in short order.
Raylan is having another conversation with Kendal, informing him that he’ll be tried as an adult for the murder that his uncle decided to pin on him. Naturally, the kid is not enthused about the prospect of four decades behind bars. The two have a mostly one-sided discussion about their dysfunctional relatives as well as killing things and people, before Raylan leaves Kendal to squirm and reconsider his loyalties.
Having watched the whole conversation, Wendy admits that Kendal is innocent but refuses to wear a wire to incriminate her brother. She’s terrified, considering the beating she’s already previously taken at Daryl’s hands. Raylan is unsympathetic. After Tim’s SUV gets T-boned while he’s trailing Daryl (thankfully, our favorite sniper is fine), Wendy calls her brother talking about their “payday” and how she intends to stop by Audrey’s for a drink. Erm…
Boyd is continuing to try to convince the cartel henchmen not to kill him, offering them partnerships in his business and a trip to Las Vegas instead. This play does not work at all, and we’re given one more lingering look at Jimmy’s dead body to remind us that this is Serious Business.
As Raylan sets out to locate Daryl, he’s getting text messages from Boyd intended for the elder Crowe, which make him start to wonder. The next thing you know, Boyd is getting a text from Daryl wanting a meeting at Ava’s house. Put two and two together there, folks. The cartel guys figure out too late they’re actually being visited by Rachel and Tim.
“You have three seconds before we kill every one of you,” Tim declares, and gunfire promptly breaks out. Did anybody doubt that our two series regulars were going to drop the guys that didn’t even have first and last names? Rachel and Tim enter the house and free Boyd. Tim has a headache (you can actually see him rubbing his temples) and Rachel gets to drop the one-liner this time. Let’s hope someone cleans up if Ava ever gets to return home.
Wendy arrives at Audrey’s and tells herbrother that she doesn’t actually want a drink. She knows her son is innocent. Daryl calls her a “deadbeat mom.” Another fight ensues, during which Wendy brings up the fact that Daryl murdered Dilly (Jason Gray-Stanford) in the season premiere, and then collapses in apologetic tears for not being there for her family. This act gets Daryl to admit to setting Kendal up for murder. “Thank you, Daryl,” Wendy tells him. “I got what I needed.”
She then shows him that she’s been recording the whole conversation, which seems like a stupid decision from a previously pretty smart character. Thankfully, she’s also got a gun wedged in his groin, and Raylan behind her. Wendy finally snaps and shoots Daryl in that very important region, then in the neck, forcing Raylan to draw on her while her brother bleeds. Not that he’s getting any help from our hero, who just gloats for a moment before Daryl expires.
Raylan returns to the hospital to visit Art, finding his wife, Tim and Rachel already there. Art is awake now and talking, and he asks Raylan if he’s still intending on going to Florida. Apparently his old boss was willing to welcome him back. This gives Raylan a decision to make. He informs Art that it was Daryl who shot him, and that Daryl is now deceased, before he leaves to have another Skype call with Winona. He tells his ex-wife and baby mama that he’ll be in Florida “in a few weeks,” which makes her cry.
AUSA Vasquez and acting Chief Deputy Rachel are not enthused about his transfer, especially since Wendy and Kendal Crowe are also headed to Florida. They ask him about Boyd, as they’re planning on going after him “under the RICO statute. We’re going to bury him. Fifty years, minimum,” says Vasquez, who wants Raylan’s help taking down Boyd before he leaves Kentucky. And now you’ve just discovered the premise for Season 6.
Boyd gets a phone call from Ava’s lawyer, who tells him that she’s being released from prison. Apparently the case against her conveniently fell apart. And after an entire season – 13 episodes – spent behind bars, Ava is finally free. She returns to her house to find her ex-fiance on the front porch (and a few bullet holes that weren’t there before). “What happens now, Ava?” he asks her. “Where do we go from here?” She leaves him standing there and Boyd, realizing their relationship is still on the rocks, goes to see Duffy and Katherine in the now no longer impounded RV. He’s determined to finish their business, but she’s interested in his proficiency with bank robberies. Again, massive plot hint.
On that bridge where stuff always seems to go down, Ava is having a late-night meeting with Raylan; it’s revealed that he was responsible for her release. Seems she’ll be working for the U.S. Marshals from here on out; yep, it looks like she’s turned sides. He assures her that everything’s going to be fine, which we wouldn’t bet on that, even with Raylan behind her. And we get a new version of “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive” as they part company.
Since we know that parts of Season 5 will be relevant in Season 6, we’re forced to evaluation “Restitution” from two sides: as a season finale, and as a prologue to Season 6. The conclusion to the Florida Crowes story is typical Justified: bloody and brilliant. If you’ve watched this show long enough, you could’ve probably guessed that Daryl was going to die, because the big bads here usually do (with the exception of Boyd). The fact that it’s Wendy who does it is a nice twist, but only a twist insomuch as it wasn’t Raylan; with the beaten-down attitude she’s had for the last few episodes, it was likewise obvious that she was going to rise up at some point. Everything pretty much ends as we expected it would, and there’s nothing wrong with that, because it’s all done well.
On the second front, there are parts here that definitely have piqued our interest. Firstly, if their brief scenes in this episode don’t prove that we need more Jacob Pitts and Erica Tazel next year, we don’t know what else to do at this point. They’re both fantastic actors with characters that really have been terribly underwritten for years now. With this being our last chance, let’s get them some development, because they are awesome, and hilarious, and great foils not just for Raylan, but for Boyd as well.
And the idea of Season 6 spanning a brief (because presumably it will only take place over “a few weeks”) showdown between Raylan and Boyd is really the only one the show could’ve and should’ve gone with. It’s been set up since Season 1 that these two are each other’s endgame, plus that plotline puts the two strongest actors on the show at the forefront, and brings both halves of the series together at the conclusion. Plus, either one of these guys could conceivably win that fight, and both of them could conceivably die doing it. We already know that from five seasons of watching them both work. That’s actual suspense that doesn’t have to be manufactured.
Plus the idea of Ava working with Raylan and against Boyd is a stroke of genius here; it takes us back to season one, when Ava and Raylan were on the same side (and dating, even) – we’d expect quite a few throwbacks to the first year in the last one. It’s definitely a game-changer for both the characters of Boyd and Ava, too. It’s probably a better move for Ava; she’s always been a strong woman, but for most of the time on the show, she’s been tied to one of the men. She’s been either Raylan’s girlfriend or Boyd’s fiancee. We could absolutely see her becoming the third part of this final showdown, and heading off into the proverbial sunset on her own.
In total, there’s a lot of stuff here that you can see the endgame for. Art’s going to retire and Rachel’s poised to take over. Raylan could be headed to Florida to reunite with Winona. Boyd may be going down for good. Ava could be the last woman standing in Harlan. It all adds up to what should be a great swan song – but considering this is Justified, did you expect anything else?
The final season of Justified will begin in 2015.