‘Justified’ Review: “Kill the Messenger”
‘Justified’ season 5 takes aim with its sixth installment of the year in “Kill the Messenger,” as Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) bristles against the Crowe family once more, while Boyd considers an unexpected alliance to protect Ava in federal penitentiary.
Last week’s ‘Justified’ episode “Shot all to Hell” saw Raylan dealing with the potential exposure of his mob dealings last season, while Boyd tangled with the Crowes and finds his plans to free Ava from prison marred by unforeseen circumstances, so what will the sixth episode of ‘Justified’ season 5 bring? Will Raylan finally atone for his brief dalliance with criminality?
Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Justified’ season 5, episode 6, “Kill the Messenger!”
Raylan arrives to a bar in the pouring rain to find Art drinking alone, before Art wordlessly punches Raylan in the face, and walks off. Elsewhere, Ava settles into Kentucky State Women’s Prison, while Boyd attempts to barter with his former Neo-Nazi compatriot Gunner Swift to have his incarcerated sister Gretchen protect Ava. Gunner makes note of Boyd’s lapsed racial hatred, but agrees to the protection when Boyd offers a sizable sum .
Allison arrives at the Crowe’s new upscale residence to check on Kendall, for which Wendi Crowe happily provides a documented rental agreement, while Danny Crowe restrains his dog Chelsea and makes lewd, threatening gestures toward Allison. After Allison departs, a pickup truck quickly appears and runs Allison off the road, from which Danny menacingly gloats and barks.
The next morning, Tim jokes that Raylan must have hurt his eye in the same shower accident that damaged Art’s fist, as Raylan volunteers for inventory duty and Rachel tags along. On the way out, Raylan finds Allison waiting for him, after which Rachel agrees to tag along while Raylan tracks down Danny Crowe. Meanwhile, a drunk Daryl Crowe questions why Jean Baptiste would have run off, for which Danny claims he’d been tired of their floundering operation. Afterward, Dewey asks Danny if Daryl would really leave, given Dewey provided enough money, for which he suggests they simply hold Boyd hostage until he gives up the cash extorted from the Audrey's sale.
Ava meets with her lawyer to learn that the guard Albert neatly covered his tracks, while Boyd has arranged protection for her in the general population. Meanwhile, Boyd himself meets with representatives of the Mexican heroin trade, including Alberto Ruiz and his associate Mr. Jung, as Boyd and Wynn Duffy talk them into forgoing the usual upfront payment, in spite of any insurance it might buy them. Back in Harlan, Dewey and Danny enter Boyd’s bar to find only Karl cleaning up. Dewey threatens Karl, claiming that killing Wade Messer has made him even more dangerous, before Karl starts a brawl that ends with Danny knocking him out. Danny proposes an alternate plan, that they see how much Boyd would pay for Karl’s life.
Raylan arrives at the Crowe residence just as Danny and Dewey bring Wendy up to speed on their hostage, though Wendy urges them to hide and let her deal with the Marshals. Wendy denies that Danny is present, reminding Raylan that he needs a genuine reason to enter the home and search, before Raylan reluctantly agrees to find their landlord for permission to enter. Meanwhile in prison, Ava enters general population and gets sized up by the other inmates, who back off at the sight of Ava’s protector Gretchen. No sooner than Ava thanks her however, Gretchen and her associates attack Ava, cutting off pieces of her hair as punishment for Boyd’s racial treason.
While Boyd learns of Ava’s encounter and finds Karl missing, Rachel and Raylan arrive at the hardware store owned by Crowe landlord Mike, instead finding Kendall and Daryl. Daryl happily takes Raylan to Mike, who insists that the rental agreement is legitimate , but inadvertent reveals a hunting lodge that was part of the deal. Meanwhile, Boyd attempts to call Karl on his cell phone, for which Dewey answers and attempts to extort a ransom, though the broken cell phone reception prevents either side of the call from understanding what the other wants.
Raylan arrives at the hunting lodge just as Dewey hangs up on Boyd, before Rachel incapacitates Danny Crowe and the pair find Karl tied up inside, though Karl surprisingly insists he and Danny to be having a consensual, if bloody encounter, before Raylan cuts him loose. A short while later at the house, Daryl and Wendy worry that Raylan will come after Kendall again, before Danny arrives and relays that Boyd’s man Karl wouldn’t press charges. Just as soon as Danny mentions the name, Boyd and his crew arrive to presumably seek vengeance, ultimately surprising Daryl with an offer for a job.
Boyd pays a visit to Gunner and his men, quickly turning the tables on the Neo-Nazis with the revelation that the Crowes have become his allies, as Daryl Jr. easily beats Gunner down, while Boyd threatens further harm should Gunner’s sister Gretchen threaten Ava again. Meanwhile, Ava borrows her cellmate’s illegal razor in the dead of night, using it to even out her shorn hair, rather than seek any kind of vengeance.
Hours later, Boyd calls a visibly-nervous Hot Rod Dunham to confirm their meeting in Mexico the following day, though Dunham signals that something is wrong by assuring Boyd it would go as smoothly as their last heist, in which Boyd robbed the Kentucky mobster. Out on the road, Raylan insinuates that Rachel tagged along so she could brag to Art that she kept Raylan in check, though Rachel counters that she instead hoped Raylan would open up about what caused the two to come to blows. Raylan apologizes, admitting he thinks the world of Rachel, but won’t divulge what happened with Art, given what it might bring down on all of them.
Later that night, Allison dresses down Raylan literally and figuratively, assuring him that he’s a hero after all, even if he sometimes sets the fires he bravely rescues people from. Elsewhere, Boyd pays another visit to the Crowes to enlist Daryl’s help in killing his cousin Johnny.
After something of a slow start this season, which thus far seems to revel in a bit more misery than usual in anticipation of its ultimate endgame next year, last week’s “Shot All to Hell” really kicked the season into high gear as far as dancing around Raylan’s criminality, and moving the Crowe storyline along in a manner that unfortunately sidelined poor Dewey. Even Boyd got plenty to do, finally taking care of his Leo Paxton problem -- though Ava ended up further behind bars -- but last week more than delivered on our expectations, with one hell of a setup for the weeks to come.
So, what happened? Art socks Raylan in the eye (had Art called him to the bar, or did Raylan simply know to find him there?), and they decided to keep the matter under wraps for the time being? Don’t get us wrong, the daggers shot between Art and Raylan in subsequent scenes make for some interesting moments, as does the levity provided by Tim’s jokes about the situation, but there’s no denying that we’re given a bit of short shrift to witness the fallout of Raylan’s apparently game-changing revelation.
Elsewhere, the series gets to play with a bit of its old history in returning Boyd to his hate-mongering past, a nice tip of the hat to a character who was initially to have been killed off during the pilot, and now dominates the marquee in its fifth season. The storyline also finally affords Boyd a bit of a win, without necessarily dipping into ‘Orange is the New Black’ territory on Ava’s side either. And while the Crowes have worked better in theory than in practice this season, the thrill inherent to watching Daryl act as Boyd’s new enforcer nicely ties together the two straggling threads. It remains to be seen how long the partnership can hold, given Daryl’s opportunism and Danny’s repeat instability, but if you’ll forgive the crowing, it certainly kills two birds with one stone.
Once again Raylan seems to get the short end of the stick, pinging around at Allison’s whim while we wait for Art’s hammer to fall, though the short scenes between he and Rachel afforded a few nice moments between the characters, as we get the chance to see Raylan finally owning up to some admiration for his erstwhile partner. Now, if only we can get Rachel and Tim in their own episode, we’ll have bingo!
All in all, probably one of the more entertaining and event-filled episodes of the season to date (Karl asserting himself into bondage with Danny Crowe will never not be funny), though perhaps lacking some of the tension from last week’s installment. Either way, ‘Justified’ season 5 is definitely starting to hit a stride, however long it took, and however long it takes before we have a clear sense of who to root for in the end.
Well, what say you? Did you feel that ‘Justified’ hit the mark with its fifth season’s sixth installment? Will the new alliance between the Crowes and Crowders prove too much for even Raylan to handle? Give us your reactions in the comments, and join us again February 25 (blame the Olympics) for another all-new ‘Justified’ recap of season 5, episode 7, “Raw Deal” on FX!