Tonight, FX’s Justified (Tuesdays, 10/9) returns with all the panache we’ve come to expect from the Elmore Leonard-based series. This season, we meet the Florida branch of the Crowe family, while Boyd Crowder and new regular Wynn Duffy try to deal with some problems that arise from their business with Detroit. Raylan gets the equivalent of posterized in court and we meet the newest member of the Givens family.
The season five premiere of Justified opens with Dewy Crowe (Damon Herriman) winning a huge amount of money for being denied due process and suffering physically at the hands of Deputy Marshall Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) – though he’s so dim that his lawyer has to explain that he has been awarded 300 thousand dollars, not three hundred.
Meanwhile, we cut between Florida – where we are introduced to some Crowe cousins, two of whom seem pretty smart and one of whom looks to be downright deadly – and the misadventures of Boyd (Walton Goggins) and Wynn (Jere Burns) as they encounter problems with acquiring the drugs they’ve paid for – from a Detroit mob that is rapidly collapsing.
Before long, the smart, deadly Daryl Crowe (Michael Rapaport) learns of his cousin, Dewey’s good fortune and, after dealing with some loose ends – with the help of his sister, Wendy (Alicia Witt) – heads north to Harlan County. About the same time, Boyd is pepping for his business dealings and pledging to his fiancée, Ava (Joelle Carter), that he will do everything he can to get her out of jail.
Raylan get assigned to track down a Cuban named Machado (Amaury Nolasco) – who happens to be working with the Florida Crowes. On his trek into the Florida swamps, he is accompanied by Gregg Sutter (David Koechner), a long-time Deputy Marshal with a unique, laid back style. Art thinks assigning this trip will give Raylan a chance to visit his new daughter. Silly Marshal…
Written by series creator Graham Yost and directed by Michael Dinner, A Murder of Crowes is everything we’ve come to expect from Justified: characters brilliant and dim; dialogue that crackles with wit, style and that unique Elmore Leonard feel; themes like family (the need for – or not) and justice (as opposed to law), and plot twists and turns that keep everything feeling fresh and new.
When Justified is firing on all cylinders (and when is it not?), it is one of the absolute best shows on television. Whether planned for developing later or not, A Murder of Crowes is filled with characters that are memorable – even in brief appearances (like Will Sasso and Dave Foley as The Canadians, or Edi Gathegi as Jean Baptiste – who runs an alligator poaching operation for Daryl Crowe); breathtaking cinematography; great lines (which I will not spoil here) and intriguing criminal enterprises (did you know sugar trafficking was a thing?).
After the drama of season-long Big Bads like season two’s Mags Bennett, or season three’s Robert Quarles – or the hidden-in-plain-sight fugitive tale from last season, A Murder of Crowe’s promises a season that should be both lighter and darker in tone. The presence of the dimwitted Dewey guarantees humor (and a dash of pathos), while much smarter cousin Daryl is casually, disturbingly nasty. Add in Boyd and Wynn’s adventures in heroin trafficking and Boyd’s determination to spring Ava and you have the makings of yet another great season.
Judging from the two episodes in the season five press kit, Justified is going to continue to be one of the best, most original shows on TV.
Final Grade: A+
Photos by Guy D’Alama/Courtesy of FX