Tuesday, January 14, 2014

REVIEW: 'Justified' Returns to Harlan with Another Check In on Loretta in 'The Kids Aren't All Right'

FX's Justified - Episode 5.02 The Kids Aren't All Right

Dewey's ruthless cousin Darryl descends upon Harlan, as Raylan tries to undo a young friend's unfortunate mess and Boyd struggles to free Ava from jail.

Justified is back for its fifth season. Actually, the new season started last week - in an hour that took Raylan down to Florida and Boyd and Wynn Duffy up to Detroit. I wasn't able to cover the premiere episode but I'm hoping for this show to become a regular stable of coverage on this site.

Now, I love a good road trip episode - but I was a tad disappointed with the premiere because so much of it fell outside of the normal world this show does so well. Plus, they had a dozen or so new characters to introduce - and then just kill off! Seriously, so many people died in the premiere - with the biggest one being Sammy Tonin. It was a fun experiment for the show which did have some strong moments of merit - Raylan opting not to visit Winona and his daughter & Boyd assaulting Lee Paxton for not doing anything to help set Ava free.

"The Kids Aren't All Right" returns the action to Harlan - and the atmosphere and the cadences of the show once again feel as strong as they have ever been. Raylan gets caught up in another case of Loretta acting out. It's always so good when Last Man Standing lets Kaitlyn Dever return to this show because this has always been a good character for her. It's not an especially big or changing reappearance but it helps the start of the season showing what fatherhood means to Raylan. He has kind of assumed the role of father figure to Loretta. The man who will do whatever he thinks is in her best interesting even though Raylan is incredulous to take on such a role. He gets frustrated by her so easily and yet always wants to protect her - cutting a deal with Mickey Jones' "Hot Rod" in this hour.

Surprisingly the more serial story right now is the stuff going on in Boyd's side of the universe. His back is up against the wall in basically every aspect of his life right now. Detroit is collapsing and his distributors are getting very antsy - promising their buyers that a new shipment is coming in the next day. His attempts to free Ava from jail have lead to him beating Lee Paxton to an inch of his life - all because she drew the one incorruptible judge in the area. This all brings out very different and new shades of Boyd. All of these things happening at once is changing him. Things don't seem like they'll be letting up any time soon either - with the drug shipment being ripped off from him and Paxton regaining consciousness.

Some more thoughts:
  • At the TCA press tour, the creative team announced that the upcoming sixth season will be the series' last one. On one hand, it's disappointing to think that Justified will soon be over. But on the other hand, it's very encouraging that the show wants to go out when they are creatively on top of their game.
  • Also, Jere Burns has been promoted to series regular this season - so expect him to react to lots of things this year. His response to the distributor's questions was quite entertaining.
  • Karolina Wydra has been a pretty stellar addition. She's by far my favorite new character this year as the trophy wife of Lee Paxton who's now using Boyd to try and get out of this entire situation.
  • Apparently, real-life brothers Steve and Wood Harris have never played brothers on-screen before. I'm very thankful that Justified made that happen - and maybe find a way to bring them back later.
  • I'm really looking forward to seeing more of Ava's adventures in prison. That world is getting to her as evidenced in her one scene tonight. Her trial is in ten days. So big things should be happening soon.
  • I also really enjoyed the addition of Amy Smart as Loretta's new social worker and a potential romantic foil for Raylan. She brings up some interesting questions about his life and lifestyle.
  • Still very unsure of Michael Rapaport as Darryl Crowe. For a show that always nails its casting, his addition in this role just seems so odd. That is the story I have the least interest in at the moment. After what happened in the premiere I was wondering if there may be a pause before seeing him again - but alas there he is sitting on Dewey's couch.
  • And Art is now looking into the details of the night that Nicky Augustine dead - which should prove quite interesting in his relationship with Raylan.