It's been a while since Justified felt as confident, since it moved with as much purpose, as it did in "The Toll," an episode that lit the fuse of a three-episode arc that will undoubtedly close out Season 5 with a fiery ball of Kentucky fireworks. And I feel as though it took only one thing to make it happen: putting Raylan on Darryl Crowe Jr. on a collision course. Justified has staged so many classic scenes in and around that elevator into the Marshals' office, but Raylan confronting Darryl at the end of "The Toll" felt like the most important one of them all, considering that the fate of entire season may depend on it. These two locking horns FOR REAL was long overdue; they've been playing footsie for most of Season 5, and now that all the cards are out on the table, Season 5 feels like it's just getting started.
Getting to this point required an inciting incident, and Art taking a bullet from a mystery gunman while protecting Allison was one hell of an inciting incident. Art got shot! Nooooo! And the stud didn't even know he'd been shot, instead asking Allison where she was hit. I love Art (Nick Searcy's crazy Twitter feed be damned), but sending the character into critical condition just a few episodes before the season finale, with his retirement and Justified's final season looming, means there's no guarantee that Art will survive. The gravitas of the situation was aptly portrayed by the deputies (Tim was particularly hungry for some old-fashioned Kentucky justice), and seeing the other departments scramble made it feel that much more brutal. We know Art as Raylan's wise-cracking, eye-rolling chaperone, but the man is important. The question of who shot Art became the backbone of "The Toll," a whodunnit with two whos and two questions of why they dunnit: Darryl Crowe, as payback for his brother Danny's death (with Allison being the target as a means of getting at Raylan)? Or Theo Tonin, as revenge for getting shot and locked up by Art (with Art being the target)?
The details of the investigation aren't that important, but here's a quick summary: Tonin copped to hiring a shooter for Art but no one really believed him, the theory being that Tonin would rather plant false information and F with the Marshal service from a jail cell than not be a part of this party. That left Darryl as the likely shooter, but even he was quickly dismissed after he turned himself in. And here's the shocker: The confession came from Kendal, who said that he was going to see Allison again but was so scared of what'd happened to his
brother uncle Danny that he showed up strapped to defend himself. Justified used Danny's death beautifully here; it was completely understandable that Kendal would be jumpy enough around a Marshal to pack some heat, and also that Darryl would do whatever it took to avenge his bro.
And that led us to the conversation outside the elevator, when Raylan pulled Darryl aside and pegged him for making Kendal take one for Team Crowe. According to Raylan, it was Darryl who shot Art, after which he forced Kendal confess because life in juvenile hall is a lot easier for a kid than life in prison for a grown man with red hair. And as the credits rolled, we still didn't know who'd pulled the trigger. But we knew that Raylan was pissed, and that getting Darryl is now his main objective. After several episodes full of minor annoyances between the two, things finally got real, which is something we've all been wanting.
But what I really liked about "The Toll" was how it squeezed the clamps on Raylan as a father. In his first conversation with Art's wife, she questioned whether Raylan was where he was supposed to be. But it was a bigger question than just where he was at the time of Art's shooting. Justified has been hinting all season long that Raylan has strayed from his parental responsibilities. He still hasn't visited his daughter, not even when he was in Florida. In "The Kids Aren't Alright," Raylan's relationship with Loretta held new meaning since he's now a father himself, and it actually appeared that he was up to the task of being a dad. In "Wrong Roads," we saw a potential future Raylan in DEA Agent Miller, and it was a future no one wanted for Raylan even though that looked like where he was headed. And in "The Toll," there were signs that Raylan wants to be a family man. With Arlo gone, Art is the closest thing Raylan has to a dad, and in the final scene of the episode, Raylan took an unannounced shift to watch over him.
Elsewhere, Raylan was also protective of Kendal, pointing out that he'll turn out screwed-up without the right supervision, which Raylan is slowly realizing is also the case with his own daughter. It all points toward Raylan changing his tune and 'tude about being a father, and dammit, I need to see this happen before the end of the season, or at the very least, the series. Raylan being a responsible and loving father, whether or not he ends up with Winona, is my happy ending for Justified. God, the last thing I want for him is to end up like his own dad, who he hated. Don't pay that forward, Ray-ray.
Boyd decided to take up smoking, so to speak, as he grew sick of paying for the Crowes' mistakes. But it was Boyd's second-hand smoke that proved to be the deadliest when he tossed a rigged cigarette box to Picker that blew the man up and left him looking like that overeater from Monty Python's Meaning of Life. It was absolutely ridiculous and ridiculously awesome; someone please hand over a .GIF if I don't get to it first. I always appreciate Boyd for his wit, but sometimes a heaping helping of crazy really does the trick. Boyd's new deal with Wynn? He's handing over half of his half of the heroin, and their business is concluded. Who knows if this is the end of that storyline? It's been kind of a rocky one (remember Mexico?) but hot damn, Boyd just blew someone up with a cigarette box. I assume that Darryl has the other half of Boyd's heroin (minus the three bricks that Dickie's pal took), so Boyd could and should see that it ends up back in his own hands before the season is through. Ain't nothing like seeing Boyd and Raylan go after the same thing.
Back in prison (ugh, prison) Ava was due to pay for Judith's murder—and on ice cream day, no less. But Judith's followers did something peculiar. Instead of shanking Ava and turning her into a colander, they all handed over their ice cream. Either they want to gift her with the cruel, slow death of diabetes, or Ava has suddenly become the state prison's new holy woman. I stand by what I've been saying ever since Ava went to jail: Get Ava out of jail! #FreeAva. When is this arc going to tie into everything else that's going on?
Ava's story aside, there was a lot to be excited for in "The Toll," and now I'm stoked for the finale. The long-awaited showdown between Raylan and Darryl is ON. As long as I'm not crazy, we have an idea of how everything is building up to a big decision for Raylan. And Boyd made a dude explode, which is always welcome. But most importantly, Justified finally seems to have a clear direction in mind. The final two episodes have a really good shot at being truly great, and "The Toll" was easily one of Season 5's best episodes yet.
– I like the Katherine Hale character, but I wonder if she was introduced a little too late to really have an impact.
– How awesome is it that Rachel was given the interim Chief Deputy position until Art heals? I adored every bit of that scene when Ed Kirkland delivered the news. It sure as hell wasn't going to be Tim or Raylan getting the keys to the castle while Art was away.
– While we're on that topic, I was so happy we got to see Ed again. That guy is great. Keep bringing him back, Justified.
– That Allison sure does love her weed!
– One more thing about Allison: She said, "I'm sorry, Raylan," when Raylan ran into her in Art's office. But it seemed like there was something else going on. Hmm... I'm probably reading too much into it.
– I'm not sure I trust Penny! Something's off about her!
Art: "Let me ask you this, if I were to admit to hitting him, could you call it child abuse and take custody of him for me?"
Tommy: "They want war? We'll stack 'em up like a cord of wood."
Boyd: "The only explaining I've ever done in my life was to my momma when she caught me sneaking in after my curfew. And you ain't my momma. But I'll indulge you with a short answer to your question. Shit happens, Mr. Picker."
Katherine: "Wynn brought me here especially to meet
Boyd: "Thinking any friend of his ought to be a friend of mine?"
Katherine: "No, he wants to know if I can come up with a reason why he shouldn't kill you."
Boyd: "Other than my winning personality?"
Picker (looking at Tim): "That's the prick."
Katherine: "No, I remember which one you were. Smug little hobbit-looking beaner shitbird who told the jury what a no-account savage my late husband was. And that I was worse."
David: "You don't look like any grandma I know. Of course, both my grandmas look like Edward James Olmos."
Boyd: "I may not know a lot about a lot of things, but I do know how to blow shit up."
Darryl: "Just so I'm clear. You not going to kill
Raylan: "Oh, be worried. Because that web of bullshit you spun around yourself to protect yourself, I'm gonna use it to strangle the life out of you and take away everything you've got. Then you're gonna wish I'd blacked you out with a bullet to the head."
AIRED ON 4/14/2015
Season 6 : Episode 13