Tuesday, March 11, 2014

REVIEW: 'Justified' - Raylan Teams with a DEA Agent to Track Down Hot Rod & the Crowes in 'Wrong Roads'

FX's Justified - Episode 5.09 Wrong Roads

Raylan partners with a maverick DEA agent whose bad behavior feels uncomfortably familiar, while Boyd makes a hard choice to protect Ava.

Season five of Justified has been about the show going outside of its typical storytelling rhythms. The season opened with Raylan done in Florida and Boyd up in Detroit. Since then, the show has spent time in lockup with Ava as well as a trip across the border into Mexico. Some of the changes have been enjoyable. The split between Raylan and Art for instance. While others have been less so. The Crowes have been insufferable. The only interesting one is Kendal but if his story was taken out I wouldn't feel as if anything was missing. Taking Boyd out of Harlan for a bit also hasn't been that great. This season has been building up the struggles in his pursuit of rebuilding the drug trade. A lot of it though has been plot obstacles for Boyd to deal with before the inevitable showdown between him and Raylan in the final season.

"Wrong Roads" definitely gets the season back on track. Even though it runs an extra fifteen minutes, there's so much happening in this hour that it doesn't feel like it could be trimmed down any more than it is. It also gets the characters back into their natural environments.

Boyd returns to Harlan and has to figure out how to deal with the Crowes. He learned they killed Johnny's guys just so they could be the people who got the drugs out of Mexico. It's a ploy to establish importance. But Boyd rightfully doesn't want to deal with such tactics. He'll listen to Darryl plead his case but also offers the same job to the brothers when they pop through the door.

The Crowes are such a hassle to deal with. Danny is just so annoying and irritating while Darryl's core characterization is about "keeping a family together" which just isn't well fleshed-out at all. Hearing Wendy and Kendal wanting to leave, should make us fear for their safety. Darryl wants them to band together as a family always. His character should be willing to kill them if they try to leave. And yet, that aspect isn't played at all and makes that side of the show so lackluster.

But the focus of this hour is deservedly on Raylan. And he's off doing things the way he wants to do things. He's technically on vacation but that's not stopping him from trying to take down the Crowes, Boyd and Hot Rod. He just finds a new in to the investigation through DEA Special Agent Miller played by Eric Roberts. Miller turns out to be an older version of Raylan - doing things just to get results, threatening to shoot and then doing it. He's a much more active drinker but that doesn't hinder his job performance at all. He and Raylan make an effective team because they are cut from the same cloth.

This season has presented multiple instances of Raylan facing things that are thematically similar to his own life. This pairing shows what the future might have for Raylan if he continues down this path. Dewey runs over Miller at the end because he had the instinct to pull him and Danny over. It was a right instinct but it's one that likely got him killed. This job is eating at Raylan too. It's the only big thing in his life right now. He has a daughter down in Miami but he never quite makes it down there to see her. His personal issues pretty much ruined his relationship with Alison. Plus, he's alienated himself at the office. He and Art have that climatic argument but Art's also not ready to forgive Raylan for doing things the way he sees fit. If Raylan continues spiraling just like this, he's gonna end up just like Miller. A person who helped take down a lot of bad guys and had a fun time while doing it. But also who meets their end tragically while doing it.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Wrong Roads" was written by Dave Andron & Leonard Chang and directed by Michael Dinner.
  • Which Recurring Characters Died Tonight? - Hot Rod. Probably Roscoe too. Agent Miller as well but he wasn't a recurring character but was a big part of this episode.
  • Hammer and anvil, baby. Down goes Frasier. Dang, I'm gonna miss those brothers.
  • I've definitely been interesting in the Ava prison story this season. But that was also the weaker story this week. I also don't feel conflicted at all by the proposal that Ava will have to kill the head spiritual lady.
  • Also Wynn Duffy. The show could always use more Wynn Duffy.