Justified Season 5 Premiere Review: Raylan Takes Out More Trash

By Tim Surette

Jan 08, 2014

Justified S05E01: "A Murder of Crowes"

I hate jumping to conclusions (and any form of exercise, really) but I'm already thinking that Justified's fifth season has a shot at being its best one yet after watching the fantastic premiere, "A Murder of Crowes." More than most other dramas out there—if you can call the incredibly funny Justified a drama—this show has embraced the idea of individual seasons being separate parts of a whole. The Wire is the best example of this notion that I can think of, and Justified is probably a close second. Season 1 was Boyd and Raylan, Season 2 was that hoedown with the Bennetts, Season 3 brought in Detroit and one scary BBQ master, and Season 4 was the one with the mystery. Now, only an hour into Season 5, it's very clear that Raylan Givens versus Daryl Crowe and the rest of the ginger clan will occupy the 13 episodes, and that's more than okay with me because what we've seen so far is so, so good. 

Genetically, Season 5 looks to be the kissing cousin of Season 2, which is widely considered Justified's best, at least around these parts. And while repetition is often looked down upon, I'm not the slightest bit worried about pitting Raylan against another family of hillbilly criminal masterminds because it worked so well the first time around and the Justified writing staff does amazing things with dysfunctional-yet-strong family relationships. Plus, after Season 4's experiment with the absence of a Big Bad, which worked at some points and didn't at others (Season 3's use of two Big Bads wasn't spotless either), I'm pretty comfortable knowing that Daryl Crowe Jr. will be the one Raylan puts in a box—either a jail cell or coffin—by the time Season 5 is through.

And maybe the simple idea of Raylan versus a clear-cut enemy is where Justified should live out its days, because it's already so good at doing everything else a TV show should do that adding too much of anything else could be distracting. The dazzling dialogue, the solid sense of place, the characters that feel so real after being on screen for three seconds that each and everyone of them deserves a spin-off, the easy way the plot settles in rather than beating you over the head, and the occasional one-off self-contained story were all sparkling in "A Murder of Crowes," and that's a busy-enough formula as it is. I can't tell you how many times I rewind Justified to make sure that every little detail and word sinks in, and that's before I figure out what's going on. So, as far as coming right out and pinning a black hat on Daryl Crowe, I'm all about it. 

However! Raylan versus a family is only as good as the family itself, and so far the Crowes don't look like they'll have us missing the Bennetts. Although their names—Dewey, Dilly, and Daryl—bring to mind Donald Duck's troubling nephews, they could be a formidable bunch. Let's see who we have here:

  • Darryl Jr. (Michael Rappaport) seems to wear the smallest dunce cap of all the Crowe boys, which puts him in charge. With his shitty sugar business tits-up after Dilly blew it by offing a member of the Coast Guard, Darryl is looking for a new avenue of revenue to keep the Crowes crowin'. I liked his talk with Raylan at the end, when he said he promised his daddy on his deathbed that he would do everything he could to keep the family together. Raylan said that was bullshit, and that Darryl's daddy died flipping a boat, as Darryl had told him previously. We don't know which tale was a lie, but it almost doesn't matter. Both stories indicate that Darryl idolizes his father and has taken on the responsibility of filling his shoes as the family's provider. Both stories also indicate that Darryl is a lying sack of shit, and possibly a psychopath.
  • Dillon or Dilly (Monk's Jason Gray-Stanford, yep that was Randy the cop with that huge handlebar on his face) is the dolt, this season's homage to dumb ol' Coover from the Bennetts. And just like Coover, he's dead. I was not expecting that, and frankly, I'm a little upset about it. I liked seeing Gray-Stanford s-s-s-s-stutter through lines and get treated like a bad dog by Daryl Jr.
  • Danny (CSI:NY's AJ Buckley) appears to be the muscle, the dog that does the biting for Darryl whenever Darryl asks. He stabbed Dilly in the gut and then presumably fed him to the Haitian's alligators to make him disappear through the gators' digestive tracks.
  • Wendy (Alicia Witt) is the poor sister who's stuck with these buffoons, and obviously the smartest of the lot, as she's made it out of the swamps and all the way to answering phone calls and fetching coffee for a lawyer in Miami. It will probably be through her common sense, or possibly Danny's volatility, that Raylan gets the Crowe family to turn on itself. 

In the opening of the episode, we saw that Dewey, cousin to the Florida Crowes, landed a windfall of $300,000 from a court settlement to avoid a potential class-action lawsuit by just about everyone whose jaw has been unwillingly adjusted by Raylan. It was a good time to be Dewey; he used the money to purchase Delroy's old whorehouse business and made his dollars work for him rather than spending everything on White Power tattoos and mullet wax. But now it's going to be a sad time to be Dewey, because with Darryl jobless, broke, and fresh with the knowledge that his cuz Dewey has a "boatload of money" (the Haitian overheard Raylan talking about Dewey's settlement and relayed the info to Darryl), them Florida Crowes will be flocking to Kentucky and knocking on Dewey's trailer door. I'm curious to know whether Raylan talked about the money like that on purpose, in hopes that it would draw the Crowes back to Dewey so Raylan wouldn't have to travel to America's Penis (a.k.a. Florida).

It wasn't just humidity and bandwagon Miami Heat fans that Raylan was trying to avoid, though. The most emotionally wrecking part of "A Murder of Crowes" was seeing Raylan dodge his newborn daughter and Winona like a deadbeat dad. The man went all the way down to Florida—where Winona and his daughter live—for work, and couldn't even muster up a drop-by? Both Art and Greg Sutter (David Koechner), Raylan's Marshal chauffeur in the Sunshine State, even suggested that he see his little spawn and the mother of his child, but all Raylan did was avoid them in favor of a Skype chat when he got back to 'tucky. For as broken as his relationship with his own dad Arlo was, you'd hope that Raylan wouldn't fall into the same pattern, but I guess it's true what they say about falling apples. 

As for our dear old friend Boyd, my oh my this was one shitty episode for him. He started off making promises to Ava that he would get her out of jail, but ended up losing part of his ear, going to Detroit, getting hustled by Canadians (of all people!), hearing stories about the legend of Tim Horton, and beating Mr. Paxton to death or as close to death as he could possibly go. I expect a bit of a fight for a funeral home director with a wife like he had. Plot-wise, what Boyd did was insane. He tried to keep his heroin business alive by trekking to D-town to get the package he was promised, but Detroit is in such shambles that he got caught in the middle of a war between Detroit and the Canadians. Now he might have to develop some new connections in Mexico just to keep his piece of the Harlan drug pie. To me, all the Boyd stuff wasn't about what he was doing as much as it was how he was doing it. "Normally I'm not a violent man, but my back is against the wall," Boyd told Paxton's hot wife as her husband's blood and face pieces dripped down his chin. We just might see Boyd step back into Psycho Boyd as the season progresses and he does whatever it takes to get Ava out of prison, and that's a scary thought. 

"A Murder of Crowes" was sort of a welcome-back handshake type of season premiere, introducing us to the season's new characters while also reacquainting us with what we love so much about Justified. But damn it was good, like the series had never missed a beat. It was also the first episode since the passing of author Elmore Leonard, who created the character of Raylan Givens, and with the relocation to Miami, it just so happened to emulate lots of Leonard's other works, including the films that were adapted from them, Out of Sight and Get Shorty. The tribute to Leonard that aired before the episode wasn't included in my press screener, but this strong opener carried his unmistakable voice and was a great tribute to him on its own. Holy hell I'm so glad Justified is back.


– Haha, Dewey's reaction to getting his settlement was so funny. I'm surprised he didn't squeal like a little girl.

– Holy moley the cast in this episode! In addition to everyone mentioned above, Amaury Nolasco (Prison Break, Work It hee hee) played the Cuban crook Elvis, and David Foley (Kids in the Hall) played a Canadian gangster. Even the kid from Mud was in this (I think). Actors must be beating down doors to get on Justified; just to have the privilege of saying some dialogue and becoming one of the characters that these writers craft is everything an actor can hope for in the TV business.

Justified's strength of setting a scene was on fantastic display in this episode as the show bounced back and forth between a decrepit building in crumbling Detroit and the lush expanse of the Florida Everglades. Everything was absolutely beautiful to see.

– And beautiful to hear! I really liked the pops of the firecrackers intensifying in the background as Darryl had to deal with Dilly's stupidity.

– Well goodbye, Sammy Tonin! I'm sure that Theo Tonin is somewhere in hiding, screaming into a severed ear. 

– Chainsaw dude? Sure, chainsaw dude. And what was up with that room full of mannequins? 

– In addition to learning that Raylan isn't cut out to be a father, we found out that he also likes to shoot inflatable things.


Because Justified is stuffed with great dialogue, I'll post my favorite lines from each episode right here. 

Raylan: "I don't remember putting that in the report," referring to busting up Dewey's nose.

Jimmy: "Boyd, he got your ear." Boyd: "I know, I'm the one who got shot."

Wade: "Can I get you a blowjob... or something?" Raylan: "Just some water." Wade: "I didn't mean me, of course."

Raylan: "If I start arresting girls, how's that for business? You and Wade the only two pussies in this whorehouse."

Raylan: "I'm gonna shoot your balls off and feed them to the squirrels if you don't tell me what you know."

Daryl: "Danny, that dog shits in the house because of all that racket I'm gonna make you two eat it."

Boyd: "Oh well I have been to Iraq. It's a lot like Detroit but you have better music."

Thug: "What happened to your ear?" Boyd: "Ceiling fan."

Canadian mobster: "Ay, you guy got Tim Horton's in Kentucky?"

Canadian mobster: "If you want, to keep it simple, we can add you and Mr. Eyebrows to the list." Boyd: "And I though all Canadians were supposed to be nice." Canadian Thug: "Wrong Canadians."

Boyd: "I think he bumped his head." 

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  • efonsecajr Jan 14, 2014

    It was good. Needed more Tim Gutterson and Art ramblings.

  • bothcats Jan 11, 2014

    Michael Rappaport's accent was a bit distracting for me. Great season premiere! Not as good as last year's, but looking forward to the rest of the season.

    Sadly though, no Tim or Rachel:-(

  • JT_Kirk Jan 11, 2014

    This is a very generous review. Michael Rappaport was a mess as a Floridian Crowe and surely didn't feel menacing at all, doing away with the entirety of the Detroit Mob guys was clumsy, the Canadians were a nothing of a scene, and Boyd was over-the-top as ever. The real problem was that Raylan was inconsistent and kinda wishy-washy, and just didn't deliver anything on the whole. It was a fun episode, but didn't go anywhere or do anything special. It surely didn't feel like this was the setup on the level of Mags Bennett of season 2.

    Everything just kinda "happened", they threw ideas at the screen and hoped something would stick - Dewey getting a big payday, Dillie killing a federal agent who was also his sugar mule, Boyd going to Detroit, Darryl going to Kentucky, Wendy is stupid enough to get involved in a potential double-cross yet smart enough to have stayed clear of it before and run away again, Raylan not seeing his kid, David Koechner's character just existing, none of it really felt terribly organic and that kept it being kinda fun but kinda lousy storytelling.

    Thanks for the callout on Dillie's actor, that was driving me nuts.

    Raylan shooting the inflatable raft felt like a necessity, I was disappointed that they thought anybody would try to draw on the marshals in that situation because that should have played out longer or ended quickly on a punchline instead of a one-sided gunfight.

  • sylaine Jan 09, 2014

    Very promising start to what seems will be a great season. Not that Justified ever had what you could call a "bad" season. Even at its worst it's still much better than 90% of what else is on TV.

  • borgsblueyes Jan 09, 2014

    TV's best show is back, I couldn't be happier. Great opening episode. I see a lot of people have an issue with Michael Rapport, I thought he was great. He captured a good blend of this character, that he is going to be a pain in the ass for Raylan, and he is a bit psycho. Good move having him kill Dilly. It shows that he is more calculating and unforgiving of f'ups, he doesn't let things slide because they are family, which could have been his weakness.
    Oh Boyd, you'll do anything for your girl, except take her place in prison. Self-preservation above all eh Boyd!
    Oh Raylan, you are seriously emotionally messed up. Not able to visit your baby girl. While I can see why it would be horrible to see her and have to say goodbye, and Winona too cause he is still in love with her, but don't be that guy Raylan!!!!

  • saizen33 Jan 10, 2014

    I think the idea is that Boyd and Ava want to be together. Sure, he could take her place, but that wouldn't solve the problem.

  • borgsblueyes Jan 10, 2014

    The ideal would be for them to be together, but I think the episode proved that if it's Ava or Boyd going to jail, Boyd will let Ava go down. That's why he lost it and attacked the judge. He hit a nerve with Boyd.

  • AndreaMcCooey Jan 09, 2014

    "Holy hell I'm so glad Justified is back."
    Michael Rappaport certainly looks the part, but even I (a non-American) noticed his accent slipping at times, which kind of jarred me out of the scene. I'm hoping I wont notice this so much in future episodes.
    It hurt my heart that Raylan wouldn't go see Winona and his baby. Bad form Raylan, bad form.
    Dewey Crowe is hilarious.
    More Art, Tim and Rachel.

  • c07111 Jan 09, 2014

    It's on and cracking in Kentucky. Loved Justified as usual and agree, I think this season may equal or be better than Season 2. We got re-introduced to who Boyd really is...he's not the hero. I think previous seasons might have blurred that line a little but this opening kind of reminds us, Boyd is well....damaged and a tadbit unhinged. As is Raylan in a way. I took Raylan's ducking and dodging his new born as this man thinks he's destine to be Arlo. Great season opening, seems Raylan's and Boyd's story will be running parallel, will be interesting to see if they meet up in the season.

  • ToddMurray Jan 09, 2014

    Absolutely fantastic return for Justified! The cast of guest stars was amazing as well! Such a great episode from start to finish!

  • antmorris3511 Jan 09, 2014

    This episode was like no other, and not just because of the scenery. It felt different.

  • haroven Jan 09, 2014

    A murder of Crowes showed some potential, altho I also doubt Rappaport's ability to accurately portray a Justified BigBaddie. His accent slipped in and out; drawing energy away from what he was saying/doing.

    Dewey Crowe is one of the chaps who makes Justified unmissable and I trust that the writers won't kill him off as a plot device this season. We need Dewey peeps like him are what makes the world & the humans in it.

    I was happy to see poor old Dewey cop some luck in the shape of "Three hundred thousand dollars - you nitwit!" but that Raylan was cheap & mean towards Dewey, who let's face it, is one of life's unfortunates.

    Even Boyd draws the line at seriously injuring Dewey no matter how stupid or life/freedom threatening Dewey's behavior may have been.
    Shooting the shit outta Dewey's pool was a new low.

    Life daily demonstrates Dewey's a type who isn't likely to keep his money more'n about 5 minutes. Boyd will certainly get it if Darryl Jnr don't, so what's with the grumpiness Raylan?
    Blind man marco polo with a coupla naked whores is so Dewey - fun - slightly bad but not really; Raylan's deteriorating psyche is at an all time low is what that act says to me.

    I don't reckon Raylan has the slightest intention of visiting his daughter. We know he can't reconcile his need to not be his father by arresting and/or shooting anyone or anything reminiscent of dear old dad, with the keep the family safe instinct imprinted on most males.
    Raylan's bullshit, avoidance way through that is to keep arresting and/or shooting the shit outta Kentucky whilst visiting his Florida family via Skype.

    I'm happy about this in one way. If it keeps his dragon of an ex-wife off the screen for most of the show its a win win, a win for Raylan and a big win for me as a Justified fan.
    But I suspect Raylan will get too close to Ms Crowe before the season is out. She will rip him blind as all women seem to manage with Raylan Givens. Even "her he puts on a pedestal", the mother of his child, manipulated ol' Raylan into ripping off $100,000 from the marshall's office.
    Raylan who is so straight he would arrest an 80 year old widow for an overdue library book allowed himself to get so suckered by a woman he stole from his god (the US Marshall's Office)

    Maybe that is because he only knows how to behave around women the same way his daddy did.

    Boyd is gonna get into all sorts of trouble with the Baltic doctor - it will be interesting to see if he keeps his promise to 'Ava inside' after a coupla rounds with the 5 foot Pole he shouldn't even want to touch Duffy with.

    Boyd is rudderless without 'someone to do it for'.
    If Ava is slotted up too long he's gonna have to find a replacement. Otherwise he'll end up back behind bars as his reckless streak takes over from his calculating, strategic part.

    I must spend too much time thinking about these people, it is only a TV show but the characters are reminiscent of a few types I may have 'bumped into' during a mis-spent youth.

    If Boyd n Duffy do go south to Mexico to source their 'hammer n tack' lets hope the show stays true and manages to portray their suppliers as humans beings free of the racist "Mexican cartel" sociopaths stereotype, that thus far only "The Bridge' has tried to avoid (and there with only limited success).
    I for one would prefer the canadian supply to continue, it is credible (big mobs of asian & ME heroin go through Canada to the US & Detroit is geographically spot on as the US end of the route), AND, most importantly, the Canuck Connection hasn't been done to death on about a zillion lame movies & TV shows.
    It would be nigh on impossible for any show, even Justified to present a mexican drug connection in a novel, original, realistic or interesting way.

    Same same for Russian and/or Albanian gangs, or Colombians or any of the other flogged to death drug supplier memes.

    Canadian good, english could work, as could Indian or Israeli, Indonesian or Dutch. Actually Boyd in Amsterdam would be great. I spent a summer in Amsterdam with a geezer from Roanoke once, seeing the clubs through his eyes was like being there for the first time again - oops I digress.

    I trust Justified's writers to be outta the box, but Mexican drug dealers is gonna be a yawn pretty much any way it is presented.

  • peterspoor33 Jan 23, 2014

    I'd say Raylan is unsympathetic to Dewey because he is a criminal and Raylan is near inflexible on the issue given his upbringing, the shooting of the pool purposely gave evidence to the bald faced lie that Dewey said the gun was unloaded and that Raylan knew it, let alone that it was illegal to be in his posession, not some socio-economic predatory behaviour. I think he even apologised to Dewey and didn't arrest him despite the justification to do so. Sure Dewey is likeable as a comedy relief but capable and likely to have done some nasty stuff pre-Raylan intervention.

    I get Raylan not seeing his family, he knows his own flaws in his character, as Winona once said he is the angriest man she knows even if he doesn't outwardly display it and it's behind a veneer of southern manners. Then there is his complex attraction to the criminal element, danger and high noon like showdowns.

    Your dead on about "nationality" based drug dealers, such a cliche, I preferred when it was just coming from the "Detroit Outfit". Keep the show on target with what it knows and does best Kentucky characters and the wider world influence. Liked Boyd's comparison of Detroit to Iraq and at the same time effectively cutting short Wynn's insinuation about his lack of worldliness and capabilities.

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