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Justified “Starvation” Review (5×12)

2 Apr

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To what extent can Raylan Givens play loose with the law?

This has been the biggest question about this character thus far, and it’s certainly an intriguing one; we’ve seen him make decisions that have led to heartbreak and danger and death, but his badge has always protected him. What’s going to happen next week, though?

Note the similarity between Raylan’s walk away from the conference room in this episode and his walk away from Augustine’s limo. Two risky choices, but he decided he had to make them; one of them, he’s mostly gotten away with up to this point. The other? That remains to be seen, but I have a feeling his gamble here may not pay off. It’d be a darker resolution to it all, but the season seems to be setting things up for a fairly bleak ending. Raylan’s decision in this episode ties into the fatherhood themes that have been running throughout the season; he’s pretty much playing with Kendal’s life here, and everything hinges on Daryl Crowe, the exact opposite of a reliable man.

In fact, his role in the Nicky Augustine murder is bluntly stated in the middle of the office by none other than Boyd Crowder, and Olyphant does an excellent job conveying the surprise expressed by his character, the way those words hit him like a ton of bricks. For, this episode seems to be all about shit catching up to you, the web of justifications he’s built up over the years straining at the edges, ready to snap at any moment. Raylan’s fear isn’t necessarily going to prison; rather, it’s losing the badge, the very thing that separates him from people like Boyd and his father.

He and Boyd will continue to wind up clashing, as we see in “Starvation”, but there seems to be an underlying current of darkness and intensity to that conversation that we haven’t seen before. This is a portrait of two men who’ve been pushed to their breaking points, tired and angry and out to get people. I especially like Tim and Rachel’s reactions to it; they’re smart enough not to give Boyd the upper hand, but that look between them says 1) Man, Boyd and Raylan are looking hot today, and 2) This is interesting, and I’ll remember this. I don’t see suspicion, but this might affect the way they look at him, especially if more light is shed on the case (that Raylan-Art stuff is still hanging over the show’s head). Rachel and Tim are certainly not stupid–as they already know something’s up–and this is the kind of subtle character work I’m looking forward to in the future…especially, especially if it means MORE RACHEL AND TIM.

Ultimately, this is Boyd and Raylan’s story, and this is the story of two men who’ll do anything to not end up like each other. Boyd’s sense of self-preservation makes him come across as cold about Ava, and Raylan’s at the point where he’ll be unnecessarily cruel, whether it be to Ava or to Kendal. One thing’s for sure: he may believe that what he’s doing is necessary, but as long as this cycle continues, he’ll never leave Harlan alive.

GRADE: B+

OTHER THOUGHTS:

-We get a Worldstar reference and an American Hustle one.

-“Needs more Jason Statham.” and “I know I got a boner.” Tim, you are perfect.

-A good portion of the episode is also spent on Dewey Crowe, whose storyline represents the idea of Harlan’s crushing influence; all he wants is the possibility of a better life, but he ends up in jail at episode’s end. if this is the last we see of him, I’ll be disappointed; great job, no matter what, Damon Herriman.

-Dewey’s scene with the old lady is sublime. Then, we get “The anus is on you” later, followed by “Third person? This guy?”

-We also make some advancements in the Ava storyline, which is definitely ripe with plot holes and contrivances that are extremely annoying. The entire thing seems to desire to be a commentary of sorts, but it’s only scratching the surface of women and religion and prison life. Anyway, I hope Rachel and Tim parachute in next week and rescue her. As much as her storyline has dragged, she deserves a better arc next season.

-Nice to see the return of Stephen Root’s Judge “The Hammer” Reardon.

-Season finale next week. My, this year’s going by pretty quickly, isn’t it? Hopefully, they nail the finale, and we go into “Fargo” with a high opinion of the penultimate–PENULTIMATE–season of Justified (I’m still waiting for Ian McShane to just join this show already).

Photo credit: FX, Justified

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