‘Justified’ Review: “Raw Deal”
‘Justified’ season 5 takes aim with its seventh installment of the year in “Raw Deal,” as Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) finds himself relegated to pursuing a mischievous hacker, while Boyd negotiates against his cousin in Mexico, and Ava finds a new role for herself in prison.
Last week’s ‘Justified’ episode “Kill the Messenger” saw Raylan bristling against the Crowe family once more, while Boyd considered an unexpected alliance to protect Ava in federal penitentiary, so what will the seventh 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 7, “Raw Deal!”
The Crowes load up their weapons, leaving Kendall to run Audrey’s by himself, while over in prison Ava sees her visitation time running out, no Boyd in sight. Fellow inmate Penny encourages Ava to rely on the heavenly Mother instead, cryptically suggesting it might save her life. Meanwhile, the Crowes enter Johnny Crowder’s warehouse to find it entirely empty, as Boyd steps out of the shadows with a similar conclusion. Realizing that Johnny has gone to Mexico to intercept his heroin deal, Boyd plots a new purpose for the Crowes.
Raylan arrives to the station early, having been humiliatingly tasked with walk-ins by Art, as a man named Larry shows up first thing, demanding his online backgammon winnings from a site that the Marshals seized. Raylan finds that the website was run by Charles Munroe, but the notice of seizure misspells “Marshall,” and was likely the work of a hacker. The man angrily leaves, as the department’s tech guy Chris points to the website’s creator TC Fleming as the most likely culprit.
Meanwhile, TC plays video games with his girlfriend Candace, before the two are interrupted by Larry and his large enforcer Mr. Kemp, who demand the money returned, despite TC’s insistence he doesn’t have a physical copy of it. Kemp threatens Candace to force TC’s cooperation, but when Larry reveals the sum of $250,000, Kemp shoots his employer and demands the money for himself. Elsewhere, Ava meets with Christian inmate leader Judith (‘True Blood’ star Dale Dickey), who explains that their group is protected for smuggling in drugs, not their faith, something Ava would have to help them continue.
Down in Mexico, Johnny Crowder meets with Boyd’s intended cartel contact, explaining his intent to outbid his cousin for the heroin contract, and accepting a bag over his head to be taken to their Chinese supplier Mr. Yuen. Meanwhile, Allison arrives to work at child protective services to find Wendy Crowe leaving, having revealed Allison’s relationship with Raylan to damage her career. Back at TC’s apartment, Kemp is forced to leave with Candace when Raylan arrives, tensely greeting the lawman on the way out. Raylan scarcely even has to ask TC any questions before finding Larry’s blood, for which TC manages to slip out a window and slide down a flagpole, revealing a fake leg, and flipping a bemused Raylan off in the process.
Back down south, Boyd arrives at Mr. Yuen’s mansion under a similar black hood, but finds Johnny already waiting in the man’s meeting room. Johnny insists that he can easily outbid Boyd for the contract, which Yuen reveals to include Boyd’s life as well. Keeping cautious however, Yuen reveals his intent to go with Johnny once his own money arrives, reverting back to Boyd if it doesn’t. Meanwhile back at the police station, Raylan finds himself relegated to tracking down Mr. Kemp, despite his enthusiasm for getting back at TC for his humiliating escape.
Boyd and Johnny remain captive outside the mansion, as Boyd attempts to remind his cousin of better times between them, shortly before Johnny’s contact arrives to make good on the money. Meanwhile, Rayland and Allison share drinks over her job suspension, before Raylan finds his credit card declined. TC swiftly calls, claiming responsibility for Raylan’s declined card, even as Raylan insists their own tech guys will help track TC before long. Elsewhere, Kendall Crowe finds himself brushed off by Wendy, for which he calls his “Uncle J” to inquire of his whereabouts.
Ava follows Penny into the prison showers for introductions to the guard and custodian who smuggle in the drugs, in exchange for sexual favors. Ava isn’t put to work just yet, instead collecting the drugs, though she covertly places them back in the custodian’s belt when his head is turned. Meanwhile, Raylan leads the Marshals into a hotel room TC had been traced to, but is disappointed to only find Kemp and Candace. However, Candace freely gives up TC’s true location, given that he’d earlier insulted her coding abilities. Awhile later, Raylan arrests TC for real in his grandmother’s basement, the felon admitting in the car ride after that he’d lost his leg to cancer growing up.
Raylan returns to the station to find that Art denies his request to have Darryl Crowe’s parole revoked, for which Raylan finally decides to confront his boss personally. Tired of the passive aggression, Raylan insists Art either treat him like a deputy or transfer him, anywhere besides Florida. Art agrees to consider it, while Raylan insists he’ll take some vacation time in Florida in the meantime. Meanwhile, Judith and Penny inform Ava that their custodian connection got busted with the drugs, for which Ava suggests she can provide a replacement that won’t involve trading sex.
Wendy sits down for drinks with Raylan, even as Raylan continually rejects her advances and points out that she should help him put away Darryl, even revealing how Darryl killed her brother Dilly. Meanwhile, out in the desert, Johnny puts Boyd on his knees and goes to open their stolen heroin truck, when out from the back pour the Crowes, turning the tables. Boyd admits Yuen was in on their ruse, and offers Johnny’s men the chance to return to their original positions as Hot Rod Dunham’s men, though Danny Crowe opens fire, claiming someone pulled on him. Johnny laughs that Boyd has no means to smuggle the heroin, for which Boyd finally shoots his cousin, and calls Mr. Yuen to relay their new problem.
The prior two installments of ‘Justified’ really turned up the intensity of the 5th season, thanks in no small part to the bowties wrapped around most of the straggling threads, and the smart decision to put Team Crowder and Team Crowe together, though it still hasn’t shaken a sense of the wonky ups and downs the season has wrought. Just when we thought Raylan’s betrayal would represent a game-changing shift between he and Art, so far we’ve mostly only seen the passive aggression and empty threats, without any real discussion as to what either knows.
It’s a minor nitpick, perhaps, and one that gets a bit of facetime in Raylan’s direct confrontation with Art tonight, though it’s still a curiously underdeveloped conflict, for all the rich dramatic potential it has. And while ‘Justified’s more dour turn in the early episodes of the season felt a bit out of character, tonight’s more levity-filled plot against the hacker TC once again feels somewhat ill-timed an inconsequential, however much fun it provides. The FX gunslinger drama isn’t known for its one-off episodes, that’s for sure, though we’d be hard-pressed to deny the crackling dialogue and humor that results.
So while Raylan mostly keeps his anger in check thorughout the episode (“Come on, I love this guy!”) Boyd’s side of the story (and by association Ava’s) seems increasingly dour. It wasn’t entirely hard to predict that Boyd would have found way to get over on cousin Johnny in the end (the final shooting of which was too quick for a conclusive kill), though we’re certainly starting to see the downside of Boyd’s surprise alliance with the Crowes, even if it remains somewhat unclear if Darryl was in on it. Once again, all of Boyd’s best-laid plans go to ruin, stranding poor Ava even further up sh-t creek, in a story that seems increasingly tangential to any relevant plot.
Don’t get us wrong, “Raw Deal” is as fun and wittily watchable as ever ‘Justified’ can be, the narrative just feels a bit fragmented, with the season’s overall tone wildly vacillating, to the point even Raylan’s more enjoyable collars feel a bit hollow in the end. Hopefully, next week will give us a stronger sense of what the Crowes actually intend to accomplish with their Harlan presence, while Raylan and Art find a more plausible method to work through their strife.
Well, what say you? Did you feel that ‘Justified’ hit the mark with its fifth season’s seventh installment? Will Raylan make good on his threat to transfer out of Kentucky, or will the Crowe problem draw him back in? Give us your reactions in the comments, and join us again next Tuesday for another all-new ‘Justified’ recap of season 5, episode 8, “Whistle Past the Graveyard” on FX!