Justified Review by Henry Tran

Justified 5.12: Starvation

Justified 5.12: Starvation

Written By:
Chris Provenzano
Directed By:
Michael Pressman

Behold the power of fear and intimdation by violence. That is the message this episode tries to impart. Strangely, it's that message that has somehow brought the stakes back into focus. The fact is, Darryl Crowe, Jr. hasn't been the kind of villain the show really deserves. That said, he proves here that he is a dangerous wild card that may need to be put down sooner rather than later. Raylan, Boyd, and Ava have their own problems to worry about now. And that's the beauty of intimidation: It forces people to figure out what their priorities are.

In this world, survival is paramount, though it has to be gained with intelligence and guile. A bit of luck on their side would also help. Raylan has the force of law behind him, and he is using every tool and gambit in his arsenal to extricate Kendal from the predicament that his uncle put him in. Boyd has to simply avoid death at the hands of the Mexican cartel, though that proves more difficult than I would think he first imagined it to be. Ava has the misfortune of being in the most dire predicament of the three main characters in focus of this episode. There may be no way to save her now.

I'll start with Ava because she has spent much of the season as a small, sometimes disconnected subplot. Her being in state prison does limit what kinds of stories can be done, but that doesn't lessen the amount of danger she faces. I felt a small pang of sympathy for her in this way because she did what she was told (killing Judith), and it brought her some level of respect with some of the inmates. It's really short-lived, though. I think that little bit of respect and feeling of invulnerability influenced her judgment when Raylan goes to see her the first time. He does so for his own selfish reasons, but that doesn't affect her. She broke it off with Boyd (like Raylan could really care about that) and so she can't help him out with his plan to smoke Darryl out using Boyd. It's a bitter conversation all around. That makes it hard to believe that they were once a couple. That seemed like a million years ago.

When she realizes that Gretchen is making her play to get her like she did with Judith, everything turns for Ava. Yes, it can be argued that Ava killed Judith in self defense and preservation because she attacked her first, but that matters little to everyone else. Gretchen kills Penny, rats out her own compadre, and sets her sights on Ava. So her tone changes on the second conversation with Raylan. She's willing to do anything she can to get out of there or short of that, some form of protection/safety from Gretchen. Only we know what Raylan's reaction will be: Snitching on Boyd isn't going to do anything. It almost feels like Raylan is being cold towards Ava to punish both her and Boyd. At this point, I don't think Boyd even cares what Ava is feeling. She's really out there on her own with no possible safety nets that she can use. I worry she might not even survive to next season.

The reason Boyd cares so little about his ex-fiancee is that he's trying to save his own hide. The threat could not be more direct. The cartel is coming for him since it was he who led the fiasco south of the border. It's really a matter of perspective (Darryl was involved, too), yet it was Boyd who made the promise to Mr. Yoon. While the threat is direct and seemingly everywhere at once, it becomes complicated by the involvement of the Marshals. The Marshals are more active now than they have been through most of the season, and I like that. Part of it is out of a sense of getting justice for Art, and yet it also seems to boil down to a personal feud between Raylan and Boyd. It's cocky showmanship inherent within Boyd to declare to the Marshals that "(their) savior has arrived." I was surprised they didn't arrest him on sight.

It's fascinating to see how this all plays out. Boyd is playing out of a position of power at first, but then easily acquiesces with the approaching threat of the cartel. Boyd does get Darryl to a place where the Marshals can make a move on him. It's about to work, and then Dewey proceeds to mess everything up. No one expected Dewey to be the wild force of nature that wrecks everything. Boyd has paid so little attention to him all this time and now it's come back to bite everyone in his way. Of course, Dewey can't even get out of his own way since the Marshals hear him admit to murdering Wade Messer.

The Marshals do capture the Crowes eventually, but they can't quite get Darryl on the charge they want. Kendal's confession is official. It doesn't look like Darryl will give up that information (which is the truth) so the Marshals are forced to press. Charging Kendal as an adult for shooting a federal officer, thus carrying a heavier putatative measure, could be the thing that pushes all of it to the edge. Wendy might be so desperate to save her son that she wrecks Darryl's plan to take the fall for his actions. Darryl wants his pound of flesh, and his anger is solely focused on Raylan. So we're left to wonder what exactly Darryl is going to do. That is likely to be resolved in the finale. 

This episode puts Raylan in an intriguing position. He is sick and tired of constantly dealing with Boyd, knowing for a long time that he is a dangerous criminal with a trail of bodies piling up. He tells Boyd that he's coming to get him soon so Boyd drops the bomb on him: He knows of Raylan's role in Nicky Augustine's murder. Raylan suddenly doesn't have everything over Boyd. Though the murder is a closed case (and, by the way, Boyd also murdered Mr. Picker, the only other witness) in the eyes of the Marshals, this would cast a harsher, more suspicious light on Raylan from his co-workers. They have already long suspected what was driving a wedge between Art and Raylan. Boyd has now provided some form of context just by uttering Augustine's name. This is only the beginning. It looks like more chickens are coming home to roost here.

Our Grade:
The Good:
  • Brings the season back into focus
  • Boyd's trails are fascinating to watch unfold
The Bad:
  • It doesn't overcome the weaknesses of the season

Henry Tran is a regular contributor of review for Critical Myth; The Critical Myth Show is heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @HenYay

Justified by - 4/4/2014 6:04 AM255 views

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