'Justified' Review: "Whistle Past the Graveyard"

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Justified’ season 5 takes aim with its eighth installment of the year in "Whistle Past the Graveyard,” as Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) gets roped into Wendy Crowe's efforts to retrieve Kendal from his "Uncle" Jack, while Boyd and the Crowes work on getting out of Mexico, and Ava strikes a new deal behind bars.

Last week’s ‘Justified’ episode “Raw Deal” saw Raylan relegated to pursuing a mischievous hacker, while Boyd negotiated against his cousin in Mexico, and Ava found a new role for herself in prison, so what will the eighth 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 8, “Whistle Past the Graveyard!”

The morning after Boyd’s shootout, the Mexican contact with Mr. Yuen agrees to spare Boyd and his men, though their future dealings will be severed, to which Boyd proposes they keep the arrangement as-is if he and the Crowes can get rid of the bodies themselves. Danny poses that they could call one of their smuggler associates in Texas to help them over the border, but Darryl thinks it a bad idea, given his history with the man’s sister. Back in the states, Kendal’s Uncle Jack pulls up alongside him and jokingly lures him into the car.

Jack dines with Kendal and Wendy, who seems none too pleased to see him, and worries that all of Jack’s big talk will get Kendal’s hopes up again. Jack proposes that he and Kendal should take a trip to some Ohio roller coasters, while Wendy excuses herself to the bathroom, but by the time she returns, the two have gone. Frantic, Wendy returns to Audrey’s to find a mysterious man named Michael looking for Jack with a menacing demeanor. Wendy grabs the shotgun under the bar, hiding it under cover of trash, before leaving to shoot out the man’s tires, and fleeing in her own car.

Raylan surprises Allison with a swimsuit, proposing they spend some time in Florida together off of contest money he won, though Allison suggests he only means to parade her around in front of Winona. Allison agrees, but no sooner has she started to pack when Wendy calls Raylan to offer information on her brothers in Mexico, as well as lifting her complaints against Allison, in exchange for his help recovering Kendal. Meanwhile in Mexico, Darryl attempts to persuade Boyd to trust their family, before commotion from the truck’s hold pulls them over. The four living men burst out of the back, unable to take the heat and smell from the dead bodies, deciding they’ll need another car.

Kendal deduces that Jack is in trouble and hiding from someone, to which Jack says that he prevented a rape but accidentally put the attacker in a coma, though he has since woken and begun chasing Jack for revenge. Elsewhere, Ava and Penny enact the first step of her plan to bring the drugs into prison, intentionally dislocating Ava’s shoulder to get an appointment with the doctor known to smuggle for prisoners. Meanwhile, Raylan meets with Wendy, trading information and barbs on how Wendy seems to place Kendal in harm’s way with the Crowe family repeatedly.

Jack enlists Kendal’s help in stealing a car, though the act is interrupted when Kendal admits knowing that Jack is his father, and Wendy his mother. Jack comes clean that he’d been skimming from a poker game in order to start his own fracking business in Mexico, until a top player caught on. Just then, Michael catches up to the pair and Jack runs, leaving Kendal behind with Michael. Back in prison, the doctor fixes Ava’s arm, but quickly shoots down her suggestive comments about bringing in more powerful painkillers.

Wendy brings Raylan up to speed on Kendal’s true parentage, just before Jack calls to admit that he lost the boy to Michael. By the time the three meet up, Jack tells Raylan he can only pay back $20,000 of the $35,000 he stole from Michael, but Raylan grows tired of the sob story, and insists he’ll be able to handle Michael with ease. Meanwhile in prison, Judith confronts Ava about the shortening window with which to deliver on the drugs, warning her of the dangers of depending on men for salvation.

Boyd and the follow car find themselves pulled over by the Mexican police, who quickly see through their missionary cover story and demand a payoff. Boyd reluctantly hands over all the cash he has, though the lead officer insists they’ll take the truck and its contents as well, for which Boyd has no choice but to hand it over. Meanwhile, Wendy, Raylan and Jack meet with Michael and Kendal in a parking lot, as Michael explains that Jack put his poker-playing son in a coma with a cowardly brick to the head. Michael ignores Raylan’s attempts to pacify the situation and lunges after Jack, though Raylan easily downs both men.

With Michael in custody, Wendy apologizes to Kendal for being a bad mother, and keeping the truth from him, and poorly at that. Raylan reminds the boy that in a few years he can make his own way outside of his troubled family, much as he once did with his own father. Handing Kendal his “prize money,” Raylan advises the boy to save up for something important, before Wendy admits to the weary marshal that she had no more information on her brothers’ dealings than their Mexico location. Meanwhile in prison, Ava emerges from a shower to find the doctor waiting for her, offering to get the drugs in on two conditions; that Judith not know about it, and that Boyd do something for her on the outside, to be revealed at a later date. Subsequently, Ava tells Judith that the drugs are coming, but that she can’t say how just yet, without trusting her at least.

Boyd and the Crowes toast to their victory, having packed the heroin into the smaller car before being pulled over, and leaving the four dead bodies in the truck taken by the police. Darryl’s smuggler contact Flores arrives, though Boyd remains suspicious that Flores would help Darryl so readily, given what he’d heard about their feud earlier. As the groups prepare to leave, Jimmy overhears Flores’ men talking in Spanish about how Darryl had called the man days earlier, bringing to Boyd’s attention they’ve likely been set up by the Crowes. Elsewhere, Raylan arrives at Allison’s apartment to explain he gave away the money for their trip, though they could still go the following month, but Allison sees a pattern emerging and decides to break up with Raylan then and there.

OUR REVIEW:

There must be something in the water over at FX, making 'Justified' the second series in as many days to lose a bit of footing so deeply into its fifth season. 'Justified''s more one-off stories have historically run the gamut, last week's "Raw Deal" at least affording more humorous character work as Raylan chased down a one-legged hacker. This time around, we're at least tethered to the ongoing story with Wendy and Kendal Crowe, who turned out to have a bit more in common genetically than we thought, though with Raylan wearily slogging his way from scene to scene without the aid of the Marshals, it's hard to feel any thing of consequence arriving from their side of the story, even if Wendy chose the side of the angels in the end.

On the other side of the border, Boyd seems to have a bit more luck in getting his heroin across the border despite the bodies dropped along the way, though the Crowes have predictably double-crossed him to some unknown end. The Crowes have certainly proven memorable over the course of the season, though we still don't have enough sense of what they intend to accomplish for the threats to register. Raylan wants them gone, while we expect they mean to cut Boyd out of his own heroin business altogether, but so far we've seen very little beyond the general hornet-kicking.

The best 'Justified' villains have maintained some kind of tie to history (or in the case of Quarles, precisely the opposite), leaving season 5 somewhat adrift in its central conflict. Raylan continues to wrestle with his morality (we presumed the radio contest reference last week was merely a snappy quip, not that Raylan had actually stooped so low as to commit fraud), but with the Marshals out of the picture for the time being, it becomes increasingly difficult to invest in the central story. The same goes for Ava's turn in prison, which at least affords Joelle Carter something to do, and intriguing characters to play off of but very little tether to the other arcs, at least for the moment.

We presumably won't hear from Uncle Jack again anytime this season, so hopefully subsequent episodes will put the major season 5 players back in town for a more centralized conflict. If anything, we're starting to feel a bit like Allison toward Raylan, in that season 5 thus far has displayed plenty of charm and eloquence, but isn't sure exactly what it wants to be just yet.

Well, what say you? Did you feel that ‘Justified’ hit the mark with its fifth season’s eighth installment? Will Boyd be able to outwit the Crowe family, or will Raylan beat him to it? Give us your reactions in the comments, and join us again next Tuesday for another all-new ‘Justified’ recap of season 5, episode 9, “Wrong Roads” on FX!

Filed Under: FX, Justified
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