Episode Title: “A Murder of Crowes“
JUSTIFIED 5.01 ‘A Murder of Crowes’
Writers: Graham Yost & Fred Golan
Director: Michael Dinner
Previously on “Justified”
“Murder of Crowes” spent a good deal of time introducing us to this year’s villain on “Justified.” And I don’t mean Daryl Crowe, Jr. (Michael Rapaport).
Instead Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) has revealed himself to be his own worst enemy. Anyone who has been watching “Justified” from the beginning can attest that Raylan isn’t an evil man or even a cruel man. But Raylan can be a huge dick… and he seems to enjoy that.
However, Raylan’s self-destructive streak rears its ugly head in the fifth season premiere. Raylan is creating big problems for himself and he doesn’t even realize it. Because Raylan mistreated Dewey Crowe (Damon Herriman), a small time crook gets a big payout from the government. And because Raylan couldn’t keep his mouth shut about Dewey’s newfound wealth, he’s basically set the stage for Daryl to move his entire family of outlaws right into Raylan’s backyard.
More tellingly, Raylan keeps his distance from his ex-wife, Winona (Natalie Zea) and their baby girl despite being assigned to a case in Florida by Chief Deputy Art Mullen (Nick Searcy) so that Raylan could get some facetime with his remaining family. Raylan has the perfect opportunity to go through with the visit, but he runs home to Harlan without even holding his child in his arms… because he’s afraid that he won’t be able to leave her again? Because it hurts too much to say goodbye?
Raylan’s fear of emotional heartache is only going to cause him more pain by separating him from the most important people in his life. That’s eventually going to affect his daughter as well. She’s too young to notice Raylan’s absence at this point in her life. But when she gets older, she will notice. I’m sure that Raylan intended to be a better father than Arlo, but he hasn’t figured out how to be a parent to his kid.
There are full spoilers ahead for “Murder of Crowes,” so if you missed the fifth season premiere of “Justified” then you should probably skip this review or else someone will have to ask about the mannequins.
As “Justified” tends to do, the inciting incident is a murder. Corrupt Coast Guard officer Simon Lee (Ron Yuan) gets gunned down by Dilly Crowe (Jason Gray-Stanford) for making fun of his stutter and Dilly’s partner, Elvis Manuel Machado (Amaury Nolasco) finishes Lee off with a bullet to the head. Raylan gets involved because he’s tangentially connected to Dewey Crowe… if by connected you mean that Raylan is the reason that Dewey is playing naked Marco Polo with two girls from his new brothel.
Damon Herriman has a great comic presence on this show that was sorely missed last season. Herriman manages to create hilarious moments using only his facial expressions, as he does when Dewey realizes that the offer on the table from the government was $300,000, not $300. Judge Mike Reardon’s (Stephen Root) dismissal of the case and Dewey was also a very funny moment. “Nitwit,’ indead. But Dewey’s never been happier.
That will probably change when Dewey’s distant relations show up in Harlan. In the meantime, Dewey acts like he’s finally got one over on Raylan and he demands an apology from Raylan… which he gets! Yet as soon as Raylan realizes that Dewey has nothing useful to offer him, he simply shoots holes in the inflatable pool and goes on his way.
Down in Florida, Raylan is partnered with Deputy US Marshal Greg Sutter (David Koechner), a family man who didn’t seem destined to survive the hour. But instead of playing the red shirt to Raylan, Sutter proves to be a capable partner to Raylan. And Sutter is able to voice some of the fears that Raylan has about being a father.Although I would argue that Raylan took the wrong lessons from Sutter’s example of how to be a father.
Because Raylan and Sutter think that Elvis is the only one who killed the Coast Guard officer, the Crowe family opportunistically strikes a deal to get Daryl out of his parole early in exchange for his cooperation. Enter Wendy Crowe (Alicia Witt), the paralegal of the Crowe family who seems an odd fit as a lawyer. But Wendy still gets everything she wanted from their deal.
I really liked Wendy in this episode. She strikes me as someone who could simultaneously be a villain and Raylan’s love interest. It’s also telling when Wendy causes a car crash to get away from Elvis after he took her prisoner. I was expecting that to play out differently, so I appreciate the way that the writers subverted expectations in that scene.
Elvis ends up pretty much as you’d expect. He tries to draw on Raylan and Sutter before getting fatally shot on a sinking boat. It was another darkly comedic moment, although I would have been happy to see Nolasco stick around for a while. He played Elvis with a strong sense of menace.
While Elvis’ fate wasn’t a shock, the real surprise was the quick demise of Dilly at the hands of his brother, Danny Crowe (A. J. Buckley) on Daryl’s orders. I had assumed that Daryl was pointing Raylan towards Elvis as the murderer to protect his brother. But Daryl is really about protecting himself and his family. When one family member endangers the rest, Daryl doesn’t take any half measures. But at this rate, he may run out of siblings by midseason.
Because both Daryl and Raylan get what they want out of Elvis’ fate, they actually part on friendly terms. Don’t expect that to last for long when the action shifts back to Harlan.
The other half of this episode focuses on the unlikely team of Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) and Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns) as they go on a road trip to Detroit to figure out why the drug delivery men tried to rob and murder Boyd instead of delivering the product. What they find is a crime organization in an advanced state of decay, as Sammy Tonin (Max Perlich) hides in a nearly abandoned building before Picker (John Kapelos) murders him in front of Boyd and Duffy.
It was always clear that Sammy Tonin was going to run the Detroit mob into the ground, but I don’t think anyone could have predicted that he’d be dead so quickly. Especially since Sammy had something to hold over Raylan’s head: Raylan turned a blind eye as Sammy arranged the death of Nicky Augustine in the season four finale… and Raylan hasn’t really suffered any consequences from that incident yet. Although Picker could potentially use that against Raylan, since he’s one of the few drug runners who escaped the wrath of “The Canadians” who had been distributing drugs through the now defunct Detroit mob.
But the potential loss of income is only secondary to Boyd. Boyd’s real problem is that his true love, Ava Crowder (Joelle Carter) is still behind bars for transporting a body… and probably murder charges as soon as the cops can prove it.
Boyd makes a few empty promises to Eva that he knows he can’t keep. But he keeps trying anyway. Yet all of this frustration eventually boils over into murderous intentions as Boyd brutally beats Lee Paxton (Sam Anderson), the influential rich man who helped set Eva up for the fall while trying to trap Boyd.
This episode did a great job of making Boyd seem truly dangerous again. But against Boyd’s better judgment, he lets Paxton’s trophy wife survive even though she witnesses him committing a murder. Unlike Ellen May, the newly widowed wife seems to know when it’s time to take a bribe. But given Boyd’s current temperament, it wouldn’t be a shock if he eventually kills her just to protect himself.
Ultimately, “A Murder of Crowes” is a pretty solid start for the season, although Raylan and Boyd feel like they belong to completely separate series at this point. However, Raylan and Boyd are so much fun to watch that I can’t wait to see the story that eventually brings them back into conflict with each other.
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