'Justified' Review: "The Toll"

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Justified’ season 5 takes aim with its eleventh installment of the year in "The Toll,” as a shooting close to home puts Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) on the trail of Darryl Crowe, while Boyd (Walton Goggins) attempts to navigate his own fate with Wynn Duffy and his new partner Katherine Hale (Mary Steenburgen).

Last week’s ‘Justified’ episode “Weight” saw Raylan and Boyd attempting to track down Dewey Crowe, while Ava faced a dilemma behind bars and Wynn Duffy reached out for help with his drug trade, so what will the eleventh episode of ‘Justified’ season 5 bring? Will Boyd manage to save his own neck, while Raylan pursues the Crowes?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Justified’ season 5, episode 11, “The Toll!”

Ava cleans the blood off her arms, slipping back into the barracks with Penny, and complying with the subsequent lockdown that accompanies the guards discovering Judith’s body. Meanwhile back at Boyd’s bar, Terri offers her services to help console Boyd, before Wynn Duffy calls to schedule an ominous meeting, and Boyd lights his first cigarette in years, noting that the time has come for a few changes. Elsewhere, Art goes to move Allison into protective custody, before an unseen shooter at her door fires several shots. Art goes into protective mode and covers Allison, before realizing he’d been the one shot.

Raylan drives Art’s wife Leslie to the hospital, as she wonders what could have divided the lawmen so far as to have Art protecting Allison with no backup. By the time they arrive, Art remains critical but alive, while Allison failed to identify the shooter. Narrowing their suspects to Daryl Crowe and a man of Theo Tonin’s employ, Rachel reminds Tim and Raylan they’ll need to follow the lead of interim chief Ed Kirkland, while Tim suggest to Raylan they find Darryl before they lose the opportunity. Back at Boyd’s bar, Boyd urges his men to hide the dope where even he won’t know about it, as an insurance policy against his deadly meeting with Wynn Duffy.

Raylan finds Allison resting in Art’s office, before Ed Kirkland informs him they’ll indeed be pursuing Theo Tonin’s men over Darryl Crowe, even as Raylan rightly senses that Kirkland is trying to keep the department’s problem child in line. Before the two men can even come to an understanding, DA Vasquez announces that Tonin has confessed to the attempted hit, and intends to identify the actual shooter in exchange for a better deal.

Boyd meets with Wynn Duffy and an agitated Mr. Picker in the former’s hotel room, along with a silent Katherine Hale, though Boyd chocks up their half-confiscated dope shipment to Darryl’s failure, rather than his own. Katherine speaks up to get a sense of Boyd’s personality, to which Boyd recognizes the woman’s identity, though she explains her intent to find reason for Duffy not to kill him. Boyd goes for a cigarette to calm his nerves, but U.S. Marshals swarm the hotel suite before discussions go any further.

Back at the Marshals’ office, Raylan interrogates an uncooperative Mr. Picker for info on Art’s shooter, though Picker too had heard Darryl Crowe was the shooter. Despite Raylan’s efforts to threateningly pin the attempted murder on Picker, Tim explains that Picker’s hotel can account for his whereabouts, as a phone call from Wendy Crowe arrives for Raylan: Daryl intends to turn himself in for the crime, but only to Raylan. As they leave, Vasquez interrogates Katherine Hale, noting that most of the officers are too young to know how dangerous she can be.

Raylan arrives to a battered Wendy’s hotel room, but soon finds that Darryl isn’t present, rather they’d lured Raylan somewhere he couldn’t attack Darryl. At that very moment, Darryl and Kendal arrive to the Marshals’ office, and surrender themselves to the authorities. A short while later, Vasquez and Kirkland leave an interrogation room with Darryl, and shift their investigation toward Kendal, who responds that he hadn’t intended to hurt the old man. Elsewhere, Penny and Ava anticipate retaliation from Judith’s flock in the cafeteria, though they surprisingly hand over their ice creams in an apparent sign of gratitude.

Kendal admits to having taken his uncle Danny’s gun to see Allison, but only for protection against the lawmen that have been hounding his family. The appearance of Art at the doorway startled him, and they both drew on one another and fired, while Kendal insists he only tried to defend himself against dying and leaving his mother all alone. Meanwhile, Boyd resumes his hotel meeting with Duffy, Katherine and Picker, down to the cigarette he’d prepared to smoke before the raid, before offering half of his take to Duffy as an apology. Picker angrily insists they should just kill Boyd, but when Katherine pulls Duffy away for a sidebar, Boyd offers Picker a cigarette, squeezing the carton and tossing it to the man. Suddenly, the carton explodes, killing Picker instantly, before Boyd leaves the meeting at gunpoint and reminds Duffy his offer still stands.

With Kendal in custody and the threat abated, Ed Kirkland prepares to leave his position as interim chief, but when Rachel inquires as to his replacement, Kirkland explains that Art had already chosen her for the position. Meanwhile, Raylan takes the exonerated Darryl to the elevator, suggesting that he was the actual shooter, and that he’d convinced Kendal to take the wrap for a lighter sentence. Raylan assures Darryl that he won’t shoot him for attacking the one man Raylan values, though he might eventually strangle him with his own web of lies. Darryl taunts Raylan as he leaves, after which Raylan drives to Art’s hospital room and relieves the protection detail to take their place.

OUR REVIEW:

The past 11 episodes of ‘Justified’ season 5 haven’t proven entirely a misfire, though Boyd’s Mexican adventures and a few straggling storylines have kept things effectively in neutral before the last few episodes. Now, we have the remaining Crowes more firmly established as villainous antagonists to both Raylan and Boyd, though the usual manner in which both men’s sides of the story dovetail haven’t proven quite as elegant this year. Not only that, but Art’s shooting should feel like a higher stake for the final three episodes than it does, though his imminent retirement and insistence on handling Allison’s protection alone more than telegraphed the punch, even for those who weren’t flat-out spoiled by last week’s “next on” promos.

So while we knew the higher stakes would come, “The Toll” doesn’t necessarily suffer the lacking expense, putting a personal tone over the final three episodes that should carry us well into the finale. The Crowes have a more despicable tinge to their villainy, with Darryl’s actions far-exceeding the late Danny’s for need of some retaliatory Raylan justice, while Boyd both literally and figuratively blows up his current business dealings. Darryl may have escaped the law for the moment, but if anything, the final episodes may come down to Wendy Crowe’s ultimate allegiance, while Alicia Witt herself put in the best work to date with Kendal’s “confession.”

Elsewhere, Boyd seems to have suffered nothing but setbacks all season, while fans of the series well know that Walton Goggins does his best work as the “blow s—t up” kind of take-charge Boyd, rather than the broken-down man we saw shouting at the prison glass last week. It’ll be interesting to see how Wynn Duffy and Katherine Hale respond, particularly given that Steenburgen’s icy Hale seems primed for a more prominent role next season. Of course, Ava still merited a few scant scenes as well, though a bit of lacking context prevented either encounter from truly landing, let alone finding a stronger foothold in the season story itself. Seriously, what does it mean when a group of imposing inmates with an axe to grind hand over their ice cream? Is it a sign of respect? A last treat before execution later in the day?

We doubt if the fifth and penultimate season would truly venture to kill of Art altogether, even if Nick Searcy appeared in a more supporting capacity next season with Rachel taking over as an interim chief, but for now “The Toll” provides some reasonably effective setup, both for the final episodes, and a few threads to be picked up next year, even if something felt a bit off about the execution. The figurative execution, that is, as Boyd’s explosive execution of Mr. Picker proved pure magic.

Well, what say you? Did you feel that ‘Justified’ hit the mark with its fifth season’s eleventh installment? Will Raylan avenge Art's condition, or will Boyd blow everything up before he gets a chance? Give us your reactions in the comments, and join us again next Tuesday for another all-new ‘Justified’ recap of season 5, episode 12, penultimate installment “Starvation” on FX!

Filed Under: FX, Justified, Mary Steenburgen
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