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
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
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
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."