'Justified' Review: "Wrong Roads"

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Justified’ season 5 takes aim with its ninth installment of the year in "Wrong Roads,” as Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) teams up with a Memphis DEA agent (Eric Roberts) in pursuit of Hot Rod Dunham, while Boyd attempts to negotiate Darryl's part of their enterprise, and aid Ava in prison.

Last week’s ‘Justified’ episode “Whistle Past the Graveyard” saw Raylan get roped into Wendy Crowe's efforts to retrieve Kendal from his "Uncle" Jack, while Boyd and the Crowes worked on getting out of Mexico, and Ava struck a new deal behind bars, so what will the ninth episode of ‘Justified’ season 5 bring? Will Boyd finally manage to set up his new business and spring Ava from prison?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Justified’ season 5, episode 9, “Wrong Roads!”

Somewhere in Texas near the border, Darryl’s mules bring the heroin to Carl, Danny Crowe and Dewey Crowe, placing the drugs in hidden compartments of a car rigged up to their tow trucks, as Carl forces a poor-smelling Dewey to ride with his cousin. Meanwhile, Boyd and Darryl toast to their success back at the bar, but when Boyd calls out his partner for killing Hot Rod’s men and causing their problem in the first place, Darryl coolly fires back that he only wanted them to seem useful, and strengthen their connection. Elsewhere still, Raylan rebuffs a prostitute’s advances on his “vacation,” and ends up spurred to investigate a case in Memphis.

In Memphis, Raylan visits with the local DEA office and partners up with a hard-drinking DEA agent named Alex Miller (Roberts), the foremost authority on Hot Rod Dunham, whose dead crew has since been found in Mexico. Meanwhile, Boyd finally visits with Ava in prison again, insisting that he’ll soon have the ability to get her out, though she coldly asks that he perform whatever favor asked of him by one of her prison contacts. Over at Audrey’s, Wendy assures Kendal that they’ll leave Harlan behind after Darryl returns with her cut of the heroin money, before Darryl himself arrives, seeming suspicious of their plan.

Raylan and Miller pull up to the Hot Rod’s usual lair and find only lieutenants Jay and Roscoe, who claim to have no knowledge of Hot Rod’s whereabouts, as Raylan leaves behind agent Menkens to watch the two men while they continue the search. Meanwhile at Boyd’s bar, Ava’s prison contact Rowena arrives to ask her favor of Boyd, killing a man who killed her former partner, and cutting her into the heroin deal. Boyd expresses his displeasure that Ava seems to have gotten involved in the heroin trade without his knowledge, to which Rowena points out it will help protect her.

Jay and Roscoe taunt Agent Menkens into revealing that Hot Rod’s crew had been found dead, leaving a power vacuum that they themselves would be eager to fill, for which both men manage to incapacitate their DEA captor while still handcuffed. The two men call the member of their crew who holds Hot Rod captive, as the bound gangster requests a pencil to draw a map to Boyd’s bar. Raylan and Miller arrive at the scene to the sound of a gunshot, as they find the thug with a pencil in his throat, and Hot Rod fatally shot, but alive for the moment. Miller offers the man a drink as he dies, the pair remembering back to several collaborations they’d pulled.

Boyd pays a visit to his intended target Mr. Swain in a nursing home, though the man has long anticipated the arrival of a killer, even as Boyd suggests he’d much rather pay the man to leave town altogether than kill an old-timer. Out on the road, Dewey and Danny get lost hauling their cocaine, while back at Boyd’s bar Jay and Roscoe strong-arm the bartender into giving up Boyd’s location. Meanwhile, Ava finds herself confronted by a violent junkie prisoner angry about her delayed heroin fix, but Judith steps in to calm the woman down.

As Raylan and Miller happen upon the bound-and-gagged bartender on Jay and Roscoe’s trail, Boyd and Darryl meet with Wynn Duffy and Mr. Picker at Audrey’s to discuss terms of Darryl’s entry into the partnership. Jay and Roscoe force their way into the meeting at gunpoint, as Boyd begins to lose his composure at the repeated setbacks to his business. Further complicating matters, Raylan and Miller enter the meeting with their guns drawn, as Roscoe and Jay insist they only want what rightfully belongs to them. Roscoe fails to heed Miller’s warnings to drop his gun, for which Miller shoots the man, the anger of which nearly causes Jay to raise his gun, before he ultimately relents.

With the situation resolved, Boyd and Jimmy drive a still-nervous Mr. Swain out of town, but when Boyd stops the car to relieve himself, Jimmy garrotes the man from behind. Meanwhile, Kendall continues to lament their continued stay at Audrey’s, as a newly bailed-out Darryl returns, finding and confiscating Kendall’s stash of money from Raylan last week. Wendy insists they intend to leave Harlan behind, even as Darryl poses that he need only kill three people to take over the entire heroin trade himself. That night, Ava meets with her prison doctor Rowena to find that Boyd did the job, but Rowena coldly changes the deal to include Ava killing Judith.

Raylan returns to the Lexington office to find Art on his way out, as the two continue at odds about Raylan’s assignment to the new case regarding the Crowes. Art insists that Raylan hasn’t changed one bit from the selfish lawman he’d started as, though Art will only have to deal with it until his retirement in the near future. Elsewhere, Miller spies Dewey and Danny’s tow truck heading into Harlan, and realizing its significance, pulls the men over. Danny brazenly confronts Miller to say he can out-duel him with his “21 foot rule,” but before he gets the chance, Dewey slides over to the truck’s driver’s seat, agitatedly hitting both men as he speeds off.

OUR REVIEW:

The critical community seemed to turn on last week’s “Whistle Past the Graveyard” as one of the weaker episodes of the season, so we felt entirely justified (dons sunglasses, explodes) in giving it a similarly low standing. As it turns out, shworunner Graham Yost told Entertainment Weekly that the early departure of Edi Gathegi’s Jean Baptiste left a hole in the production order, forcing the writers to stretch an episode around Raylan and the less identifiable Crowes. It certainly informed what we expect from the family going forward, and places Kendal into a pivotal position for the final leg of the season, though it wasn’t without an overall feeling of disconnect from the more important arcs of an already-shaky season.

This time around, Raylan’s continued estrangement from the Lexington office keeps Tim and Rachel out of the mix again, along with Art until the final minutes, though Raylan heads off on his own to continue unraveling various threads of the season. As much as we might have liked to see more of the main players involved, the presence of a strong character actor like Eric Roberts more than covered for the absences as well, along with even more memorable turns for ‘The Wire’ alum Steve and Wood Harris as Jay and Roscoe, our Shakespeare-quoting enforcers that end up tying together a near Mexican standoff that undoubtedly proved the highlight of the season.

Yes, at long last all the major players have come together in a single room, pitting Darryl Crowe to match wits with Wynn Duffy, while Boyd begins to lose his composure and Raylan makes wisecracks from the corner, the clear recipe for any strong installment of the season. It all feels a bit discombobulated, as Raylan’s pursuit of Hot Rod Dunham to Memphis only leads back to Harlan anyhow, but we’re disinclined to argue with results, especially results that officially put Raylan back on the case. Things with Art remain pretty frosty though, and those cracks about impending retirement aren’t getting any less ominous.

Even Ava seemed to have a stronger connection to the ongoing storylines, her misadventures in prison clearly taking a toll on Boyd for all the estrangement it provides, though it seems as if the writing has put Ava into a corner that would keep her in prison far longer, or potentially remove her from the series altogether. Faring far better as wild card is Dewey Crowe, who manages to out-crazy even his cousin Danny by driving off into the night with Boyd’s heroin, angering Danny and potentially killing our new favorite ribs-loving DEA agent as well.

It’s hard to tell exactly where it all leads in only 4 episodes, though “Wrong Roads” clearly provides the most cohesive story breaks we’ve had all season, with plenty of excitement promised in the coming weeks.

Well, what say you? Did you feel that ‘Justified’ hit the mark with its fifth season’s ninth 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 10, “Weight” on FX!

Filed Under: Eric Roberts, FX, Justified
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