Justified Season 5 Finale Review: It's a Set-up!

By Tim Surette

Apr 09, 2014

Justified S05E13: "Restitution"

I wish I could say that "Restitution" rode in on its horse and saved Season 5 from its troubles in the eleventh (or thirteenth) hour, but it didn't. Instead, the episode was on a par with the rest of the season, meaning it was fine, but still well short of the brilliance we know that Justified is capable of (the curse of being a prestige drama!). But I'll give "Restitution" credit for resolving most of Season 5's unfinished stories by the time Raylan and Ava parted ways on Shady Meeting Bridge, as they all had to go off and prepare for Season 6, the series' final, which was looming in the distance. 

As I said in my review of last week's "Starvation," I was really hoping that Raylan's gamble in trying Kendal as an adult would backfire on Raylan because a) Raylan needs a kick in the pants, b) that would be a great starting point for Season 6, and c) things would seem too easy if Raylan's plan worked and Darryl copped to shooting Art. Well, that last part is pretty much what happened, with Wendy getting the confession out of Darryl after playing the part of a battered sister who loved her brother too much to turn on him. However, maybe next time Wendy ought to leave with the recorded evidence instead of flaunting it in front of Darryl, given his established history of killing his siblings. I am not the arbiter of who lives and who dies, but Wendy probably deserved to bite it for that dumbness. 

Instead, Raylan showed up at the right time and looked all cool with his gun barely drawn by his hip and Darryl decided dying in a whorehouse was better than living in a cell so he made a move for Wendy which was a bad decision because Wendy pulled a pistol on his privates and got Darryl's rocks off but in the bad kind of way. Another lunge, another gunshot, and Raylan didn't really have to do anything at all, which is fine because that's kind of what Raylan did all season long. He did get to say goodbye to Darryl with a real zinger, telling him, "Didn't I tell you you were gonna wish I killed you? Well don't ya?" I think Darryl's internal monologue in that moment was less concerned with Raylan's verbal vengeance and more of, "Ow my balls. My sister shot me in the balls." So that big showdown between Raylan and Darryl never happened unless you count Raylan taunting a ball-less dying man on the ground as a showdown, and Wendy probably would have shot Darryl whether or not Raylan was there at all. 

The Crowes were built as a near carbon copy of the Bennetts in Season 2 (my favorite season of Justified), but they never got a chance to be a real threat to Raylan. In fact, Raylan didn't take out any Crowes directly. Dilly was killed by Darryl, Danny was killed by a hole in the ground, and Wendy killed Darryl. The meanest thing Raylan did to the Crowes was not get Kendal a cup of coffee. Though these gingers from Florida started with such promise, I'll look back at them less as fearsome Crowes and more like pesky gnats who managed to self destruct without much interference from Raylan at all. 

As for Boyd, he was dealing with gangsters from Detroit Canada Mexico, and managed to get them off his back through smart phone slight of hand when he changed Raylan's contact information (I love how Boyd has Raylan in his address book; "sup R, where r u? hit me back") to read Darryl's name instead. So when the Mexican cartel demanded that Boyd bring Darryl in to pay for killing those men in Mexico, Boyd was actually texting Raylan. Okay, so phone trickery wasn't as cool as blowing someone up with an explosive cigarette box, but it worked when Tim and Rachel arrived (no Raylan?) and put a bunch of holes in the cartel members. It was a rather easy way of getting Boyd out of his jam, but that felt like the M.O. of "Restitution" as it had the mindset of wrapping things up by any means necessary and setting up Season 6 instead of salvaging the confusion created from sending Boyd all over North America.  

And the biggest set up for Season 6 came courtesy of... AVA? Yep, Ava finally had something relevant to do! Well, in the very final minutes. Before that, her part in "Restitution" was more of the same women's prison nonsense of watching her back and then fighting back and then getting into arguments and then me falling asleep. But once she got out of prison—YES she's finally out of prison!—Ava became important again because she was interwoven with the leading men of Harlan instead of eating ice cream and dislocating her shoulder in jail. And the terms of her release weren't that much of a surprise. She got out on the condition that she help the Kentucky Marshal Service take down Boyd, which looks like the backbone of Justified's final season. I don't think that excuses all the jail shenanigans that ultimately meant nothing to Ava's arc other than giving her a long-winded reason to break up with Boyd and get a haircut, but the idea of Ava turning rat on Boyd is a juicy start to Justified's final season because her allegiances to both Raylan and Boyd are rocky are best. 

Season 5 had about six episodes worth of story to tell and got lost in all the manufactured complexities that came with stretching things out. And some of the more interesting elements were ignored or abruptly dropped. As soon as Mara, the mail-order bride who was briefly married to Paxton, became interesting, she was shuffled off the show with little fanfare. Jay and Roscoe, the two sibling gangsters played by Steve and Wood Harris, were the most fascinating villains of Season 5 but they were relegated to second-fiddle nuisances (but they were part of the season's best scene). And Season 5's most fascinating development—Art learning about Raylan's involvement in the murder of Nicky Augustine—was scuttled to the point that the writers shot Art instead of dealing with it head on. Even Raylan's love life drama fizzled out as Allison simply faded away. 

Of course, I'm comparing Justified to itself and its past glory, and that's a high hurdle for any show. But I'll remember Season 5 as a season full of messiness and missed opportunities, unfortunately. 


– Whatever happened with Rachel becoming interim Chief Deputy? Nothing seemed to change much from that promotion. 

– What happened with Katherine? Did we need her this season? 

– When the prison guard said, "Crowder get off that goddamn table!" I laughed a lot. I still am not sure why.

– The scene with Raylan and Kendal in the interrogation room was outstanding as Raylan swapped hunting stories with Kendal as a way to get Kendal to slip up and prove to Wendy that he didn't commit the shooting.

– Did Boyd really think he could convince those cartel members to turn on their boss? I'm not sure what the point of that scene was.

– Tim spoke Spanish. This show needs more Tim.

– For a minute there I thought Season 6 was going to be Raylan in Florida, but I guess his trip down south to see his daughter will be postponed until they catch Boyd. By that time, Raylan's daughter might be in a Boca Raton retirement home. Winona is going to be pissed

– [UPDATE] Oh crap I forgot to mention that Jimmy got killed and that was SO not cool with me. What are the chances Star-Crossed gets a second season so we can continue to see Jesse Luken on television? What are the chances any of us will be able to sit through Star-Crossed to watch Jesse Luken?


Tim: "The way this works Darryl, I follow you around."

Tim: "I appreciate your concern, this may as well be a slow night in the champagne room for how comfortably erect I'm going to be watching your bitch ass squirm about."

Boyd: "Some folk say Disneyland is the happiest place on Earth, well I promise those folks ain't ever partied with Boyd Crowder in Sin City."

Boyd: "You want me to shit my pants, Alberto, because it seems to me that would make your job more unpleasant."

Boyd: "You ever pulled off a shot like that Mr. Ranger Sniper?"
Tim: "Good guys don't need to shoot people with their hands cuffed, Crowder." 

Tim: "What you did is use us to save your own ass.."
Boyd: "Well if my survival is a happy byproduct of my selfless act, so be it."

Winona: "Did you hear that sweetie? Daddy's coming home so that mommy can finally take a nap."

  • Comments (209)
Add a Comment
In reply to :
  • Ankh49 Nov 19, 2014

    I have just finished binge watching (and binge reading Tim's reviews of) Justified. There is still something I don't understand - why did Boyd give up on Eva? The prison guard confessed to Boyd that he shanked himself - why didn't Boyd make the prison guard make an official confession?

  • TQB 8 hours ago

    And here I just did the same, years later. As noted in the review, it feels like the only purpose of Ava's incarceration was to break up her relationship with Boyd and get a haircut, and truthfully only one of those things was really served. She broke up with Boyd and he... accepted that? Stopped trying to get her out of jail? Even though he had the guy who could get her out tied up in his bar? REALLY? Sigh. It was a sloppy season and part of what made it so was having important plot pieces basically just stated for the audience to accept without justification.

  • RedShoesGirl Apr 28, 2014

    would someone please tell me what happened after boyd got to the meeting with winn? my dvr didn't records the last couple of minutes.

    and did someone say the next season is the last?

  • bhammer100 May 27, 2014

    Yep. Season six is the last one.

  • matthewaaronweber Apr 14, 2014

    I actually thought that this was the best season so far. While the villains weren't as good (The Bennetts were the best IMHO), I thought it did a good job of moving the main characters along. I think the story was good, and I even started to like the prison scenes with Ava.

    The worst part, IMO, was Art. He's had a bug up his ass the entire time Raylan has been in Kentucky. Raylan hasn't been that bad, and even the Augustine thing would have been something Art himself would have done. I don't see how he can ride this high horse when he beat up some dude in season 3 when one of his friends was killed.

    Anyhoo, Looking forward to season 6.

  • sergioleandro1 Apr 15, 2014

    Raylan hasn't been that bad?! Sweet Jesus...

  • matthewaaronweber Apr 16, 2014

    Hasn't really murdered anyone, he's been Justified. Plus the real point was that Art hasn't been a choir boy either yet judges raylan to no end.

  • sergioleandro1 Apr 16, 2014

    He gambled a young man's life to get arrest/kill a man? You don't think that's bad?

    Art isn't innocent, sure, but who is? He's still more innocent than Raylan and actually a very cool guy. Even Raylan likes and respects him.

  • WavSlave Apr 13, 2014

    It's sleight of hand, not slight of hand. Yes, that's a weird one.

  • ludoTV Apr 11, 2014

    That was a fair review. Even at its weakest, Justified is a better show than most stuff on TV right now but this season wasn't great. A lot of missed opportunities...

    • The Crowes were just not that interesting esp once Wendy went from being the smart one to believing Darryll's BS. That said, the plight of Kendall was a not to subtle echo of Raylan's youth which Raylan used very well in that 'choco' scene.
    • The whole Ava season was pretty unwatchable but in truth it had to get THAT bad for Ava so that it would make sense that she could betray Boyd which personally I am not loving for Season 6 where it looks like finally Boyd & Raylan will face off and it will be serious this time. Ouch for one or both.
    • Tim and Rachel are so underused. As was the mail-order bride who I hope comes back in Season 6? Although I doubt it if Ava's spy plans need her to make nice with Boyd...
    • Raylan on skype with his daughter seems always bittersweet to me. That he can stay away from his own child so easily is kind of a disappointment esp. considering how often he makes references to what a bad father Arlo was (which sure, he was). Poor Winona...
    All that said, can't wait for Season 6

  • JustifiedCEO Apr 11, 2014


    Your comments were extremely well thought-out. And well organized. Something that I appreciate.

    • Like you, I saw the resemblance between Raylan and Kendall. Down to the squinty eyes. I instantly thought that he would be a vehicle for Raylan to identify with and open up more of his own childhood. Great call on your part.
    • I have come to share your point. I think if Joelle Carter was to finish the show (I don't have a problem with the actress, I have a problem with the character), then she would had to have the screen time to set up the last season.
    • Tim and Rachel's use has always perplexed me.
    • Ditto on Raylan as a father.
    Some other comments. I think the writers have some room for the demise of Boyd. Raylan can't die because Raylan's character is a living money-machine for Elmore's estate. But they do like to book-end. So I wouldn't be surprised if Ava ends up killing Boyd at the dinner table with ham. Add in some Limehouse there.

    Some risks I would like to see the writers take. An affair between Raylan and Rachel. They have established their rapport. It would make her character more interesting by being co-opted by Raylan. They are going to need some filler. And It would be Kentucky's 2015 breakout of the 1960's Guess Who Is Coming To Dinner. Am I the only one that thinks Rachel is one of the most beautiful people on television?

    While we are talking about stereotypes, is it also too risky to have Duffy and Mike come out of the closet (motorhome)?

    Another filler risk I would like to see the writers take is for Raylan to find out more about his mother. Limehouse teased it out. And his father teased "that his mother wasn't St. Francis". A con is Hunter saying that his father fought for her honor. So I am not wedded to Raylan's mother having a backstory that totally floors Raylan. But I do think it is a good time to better develop her character. And give Limehouse another reason to return for a few episodes.

    Finally tie up loose ends. What happened to Karl (Boyd's new henchman)? Why is the granny still keeping Jed locked up in prison for killing Raylan's mother? I could go on and on.

    The point being, that 13 episodes waiting for E6 and the show's ending, is going to need some plot development to keep it interesting. I have been a critic of S5 of the show; but I am still a huge fan. I have faith in the writer's to know they have a chance to make the final season establish the show as one of the top shows ever. Knowing S5 will be forgotten. The know they can't mail it in. They have to make each episode count. If S5 was practice/set up; than S6 has to be the game and make each second count.

    Thanks again ludoTV for your post. And for your continued enthusiasm being a fan of the show!


  • bhammer100 Apr 14, 2014

    On the loose ends:

    1) I'm sure Karl will be back. He was a cool character.

    2) As for the granny, it was explained in an episode in season 3 why Jed is still locked up, "Guy Walks into a Bar" I believe. Mags helped granny with something and keeping Jed in prison

    What other loose ends?

  • ludoTV Apr 11, 2014

    Also, whatever happened to Eric Roberts??? He seemed like a good addition if shortlived unless he is coming back in Season 6?

  • JonStryker Apr 15, 2014

    He was there to show how Raylan could become if he keeps on going like this, not caring for his daughter and never backing out of a confrontation.

  • ludoTV Apr 15, 2014

    WOW! What you say makes total sense but it seems to have gone over my head... I must have been to excited by seeing Eric Roberts on Justified and hoping there may be some new charismatic character on the horizon...
    Is it supposed to have worked then, as a cautionary tale? I honestly can't tell

  • ceebrown Apr 11, 2014

    This is a really poor review of what was a well thought out strategy by Raylan - don't you get it? - he pulled the strings. Tim and the new 'boss' arrived at the country house because Raylan sent them there - he was making sure Wendy survived at the time. Danny wouldn't have made the 20 feet even if he hadn't fallen in a hole - he would have had a couple of holes in him. Writing lines such as 'Raylan needs a kick in the pants', 'The meanest thing Raylan did to the Crowes was not get Kendal a cup of coffee'. and others seems to show a deep lack of understanding and some animosity towards Raylan (who is a character by the way - this is not real life.). I guess some people just can't really follow or recognise a bit of complexity. I'd suggest that if it annoys you so much perhaps you should stay away from season 6. You aren't adding anything useful.

  • Kuro_Neko- Apr 11, 2014

    I know Boyd is a bad, bad man, and I'm not usually down with villain protagonists, but I'm kinda hoping Boyd gets a happy ending rather then the finial season ending with his capture or death.

  • sergioleandro1 Apr 15, 2014

    He was walking in that direction (quiet, happy life) until someone said "bank robbery"!

  • tryptz Apr 11, 2014

    I have a bad feeling bout season 6 for Raylan he should have left for Florida. The Marshalls' can get Boyd without him. Am glad for Eva though she gets to leave prison.
    The Crowthers were low life bottom feeders just scrambling to survive . I honestly felt sorry for them, Darryl was just not high powered enough to go against Raylan.And I feel Wendy manipulated the situation to get rid of her brother and claim self defence with a Marshall around to backup her story. She knew her brother well and knew what he'll do and so she told him about the recording to provoke a response when she could have just left.
    Season 5 while quite good didn't deliver the antagonist we were accustomed to in the other seasons.But it sure as hell was better than 95% of crap on TV and kept me riveted too.

  • Laserwolf412_XL Apr 11, 2014

    I'm kind of bummed that the last season is Raylan vs Boyd. They don't really come across as harboring much animosity towards each other and Boyd is actually the more likable of the two. I hope someone bigger and badder comes in at the end of the season and drives them together. Ava will have to die which I'm cool with but so will either Tim or Rachel(money is on Tim).

  • Hutchy_TVSeries Apr 10, 2014

    Anyone knows the name of the song at the end?

  • Sanko Apr 11, 2014


  • Hutchy_TVSeries Apr 13, 2014


  • See More Comments (100)