The three main stories of the season represented this week (Art’s relationship with Raylan isn’t referenced) could not feel more segregated right now, which will probably be rectified before long, but it remains a persistent thorn in the side. The fact that series pro Chris Provenzano (“Raw Deal,” “Decoy”) takes the reigns this week but can’t marshal a whole lot of forwardmomentum is a troubling sign. Of the three, the Ava storyline is the most compelling (as usual), though it gets the least actual screentime. It’s helped greatly be giving Dale Dickey a lot more to do; her scenes with Joelle Carter are the episode’s best. Dickey is able to make clear that she has an underlying respect for Ava, though circumstances may well dictate that at some point they will become bitter enemies.
Raylan is paired almost exclusively with Wendy Crowe this week as they head out on a quest to save young Kendal from danger when his “Uncle” Jack picks him up whilst in mid-flight from a grumbling baddie (William Forsythe, late of Boardwalk Empire and a zillion other things,hugely underused here a la Michael Ironside). The reveal that Wendy is Kendal’s mother is…what, exactly? Truthfully, it makes perfect sense for all characters concerned, but it’s a very low-key pleasure at best. The showdown itself is almost hilariously anticlimactic; the entire subplot winds up feeling like one long shrug, even including the final scene, in which Allison proves to be the sanest woman in Justified history when she decides she’s had quite enough of the trademark Givens shenanigans.
Lastly, and probably least, there’s the continuing adventures of Boyd and the Crowes in Mexico, where (of course) it turns out the Crowes are angling to ultimately cut Boyd out, forcibly. It was strange when the show’s writers decided to really refocus on Dewey Crowe; it’s even stranger now that he’s essentially a background player in the Crowe crew. (Is he even aware of the complicated schemes being cooked up? It’s hard to imagine he can even follow them.) The real sticking point here is that we know Boyd is far too cunning to be caught out by some relatively simple-minded hillbillies.
With five episodesto go, the season is in fairly drastic need of a refocus on something with someemotional heft or real import. There’s reason to believe that’s in the works, but this last pair of episodes indicates that Justified is in a minor rut that often crops up in penultimate seasons. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s mildly disheartening to watch a great show misplace its mojo.