What Was Up With Season 5 of Justified

So I mentioned that season 5 was very good, but a bit worse than 2-4. Now, I hesitate to bash it too much because it was great. Seriously. Watch it. But there’s no denying that something was quite “off” about it.

I think that “Restitution”, the finale, is really an excellent microcosm of the season as a whole:

  • The best moments involved Boyd. Pretty much like the rest of the season, I loved basically every scene he was in.
  • The worst moments came with Ava in prison. The plotline wasn’t exactly bad but with so much interesting crap going on it was definitely weaker than the rest of the show.
  • The Crowe family storyline seemed weirdly underwhelming. The point of Raylan’s anger was that he was pissed that Daryl shot Art, but he didn’t seem as angry with him as he did when his Aunt Helen was killed or when trooper Tom was killed. I know Art didn’t actually die, but Raylan wasn’t sure of that at the time.
  • At the same time, it contained some absolutely sensational moments….like the rest of the season. Raylan’s monologue to Kendal about how he killed his first pig was terrific, and Wendy Crowe’s final scene with Daryl was terrific, and Raylan’s gambit to get Kendal to out Daryl was ballsy and brilliant. It wasn’t as if the death scene of Daryl was underwhelming; it wasn’t. It lived up to the hype. But…
  • Like the rest of the season, the whole seemed to be less than the sum of its parts, perhaps because the Crowes didn’t seem as large of a threat to Raylan as the Bennets or Quarles. They had no real plan. While individual scenes involving them could be outstanding, they didn’t really have an overall story arc.
  • Despite the issues, Ava’s prison arc was resolved very well. The way they set up the final scene on the bridge was perfect.
  • And finally, by the time it ended I still came out with the feeling that it was REALLY good…like the season as a whole. The final scene with Ava and Raylan at the bridge was a brilliant twist that set up season 6 in magnificent fashion.

I think the key to understanding season 5 is that it really works best as a set up to season 6. The lack of a true central plot weakened the season a bit but it had some outstanding moments. At time Boyd just carried the entire show on his back, and it worked. While the finale might have been a bit less than the sum of its parts, like season 5 in general, when understood as the set-up to an explosive season 6 showdown between Raylan and Boyd it works extremely well.

Once again, I hesitate to say I was underwhelmed, because I was not, or disappointed, because I was not. But I think it’s only fair to give the season this sort of analysis, and admit it was perhaps a touch below the high standards set by the previous four seasons.

BUT – Season 6 looks like it’ll be AWESOME.

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