‘Justified’ Season Finale Review: “Restitution”
‘Justified’ season 5 takes aim with its 13th and final installment of the year in "Restitution,” as Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) continually presses Darryl Crowe to confess to shooting Art, while Boyd deals with cartel killers, and Ava finds hope from an surprising offer.
Last week’s ‘Justified’ episode, “Starvation,” saw Raylan reluctantly partnering with Boyd to incriminate Darryl Crowe for Art's shooting, while Ava faced an increasingly desperate situation in prison, so what does the final 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 13, season finale “Restitution!”
Raylan sets Darryl Crowe loose, opting to keep Wendy in custody for the moment as he suggests Kendal will likely change his story after learning he’ll be tried as an adult. A short while later, Darryl realizes Deputy Tim has been tasked with following him, something Tim assures Darryl he’ll never get too tired to do. Meanwhile, Boyd returns to his bar to find Alberto, his men and a captive Jimmy waiting, before Alberto coldly shoots Jimmy dead as a threat. Alberto gives Boyd until noon to track down Darryl Crowe, for which Boyd slyly changes Raylan’s contact name to Darryl, and texts to set up a meeting.
Raylan meets with Kendal in custody and frightens the boy by revealing that he faces up to 40 years in prison for his crimes. Asking Kendal about his first gator kill, Raylan relays that his own father once forced him to put down a feral pig, the difficult task of which carried a similar feeling to the first time he’d shot someone on the job. Noting that Kendal doesn’t seem nearly as disturbed by his supposed crime against Art as the gator he’d killed years earlier, Wendy admits from behind the glass that Kendal must have lied for Darryl. Raylan insists she wear a wire to catch Darryl’s confession, though Wendy believes he’d catch her deception before then.
While Darryl manages to lose Tim’s tail at an intersection, Ava finds her prison friends avoiding her for fear of associating with a snitch. Gretchen and her girls attempt to intimidate Ava, for which Ava gets up on a table and loudly suggests to the entire yard that she couldn’t have been the snitch, accusing Gretchen of cowardly selling out her own crew member. Meanwhile, Boyd desperately attempts to bond with Alberto’s men, inviting them to kill their boss in exchange for a cut of his heroin business. The men briefly turn their guns on Alberto, but quickly reveal their turn to be a practical joke.
Wendy calls Darryl to reveal that the Marshals fraudulently claimed to be trying Kendal as an adult, vowing to sue the department for harassing their family. Meanwhile, Raylan learns that Darryl shook Tim from tailing him, and heads off to find Wendy, noting a text from Boyd seemingly addressed to Darryl. Back at Boyd’s bar, time for Boyd to deliver Darryl runs out, and Alberto gruesomely threatens Boyd with castration and death. Boyd ignores the man’s threats and invites him to finish the job, before “Darryl” texts back to meet him at Ava’s country home.
Ava’s friend Nikki warns that Gretchen and her gang will retaliate even more strongly after being accused of cowardice, for which Ava starts a brawl in the lunch room to get placed in solitary confinement. Meanwhile, Boyd, Alberto and his men wait in Ava’s home as a car drives up, revealed to be that of Rachel and Tim. Alberto and his men open fire, forcing Rachel and Tim to retaliate, taking out both Alberto and his first man. The second races back into the house to kill Boyd, but Boyd manages to shoot the man with his hands still cuffed behind his back. In the aftermath, Boyd claims not to have known that the marshals were walking into an ambush, for which Rachel boasts she’ll make sure Boyd is punished for every crime in his file.
Nurse Rowena fixes Ava’s arm in solitary confinement, noting that Ava will likely have to spend the next few years getting into trouble if she doesn’t learn to fight back. Meanwhile, Wendy returns to Audrey’s and reveals to Darryl that she knows Kendal didn’t shoot Art. Wendy lays out their family drama from Dilly to Danny, adding that she understands how Darryl only wanted what was best for the family, and insists she wants to be there for him where she hadn’t earlier. Darryl admits that he hadn’t intended to shoot Art, and believed Kendal wouldn’t be as severely punished for taking the fall, prompting Wendy to reveal she’d recorded their conversation. Darryl threatens her until she places her gun at his crotch, just before Raylan enters, though Raylan insists he couldn’t come between family. Darryl’s sudden move forces Wendy to fire, and a second attempt forces Wendy to shoot her brother in the neck, as Raylan leans over the dying Darryl and reminds him how he’d wish Raylan had killed him.
Raylan pays a visit to Art, who has since woken from his coma and begun the path to recovery. Confirming that Darryl Crowe died, and not by his own hand, Raylan is surprised by Art’s news that his transfer back to Florida had been approved. A short while later, Raylan tells the news to an overjoyed Winona over Skype. However, DA Vasquez and Rachel update Raylan that they intend to prosecute Boyd Crowder under RICO statutes in the next few weeks, and will need his help, to which Raylan eagerly agrees.
Boyd begins fixing up Ava’s country home, before a call from their lawyer brings the news that Ava has been released from prison, and will return home in a few hours, the lecherous guard Albert having apparently have recanted his statement. That night, Ava returns home to a Boyd uncertain of how their relationship will progress, though they agree to table the matter until the morning. Boyd next visits Katherine Hale and Wynn Duffy in his trailer, as Boyd expresses his intent to lay low from the heroin business. Katherine and Wynn smugly offer him the chance to make all the money he wants, not by resuming the heroin trade, but by returning to his roots robbing banks.
Out on a deserted bridge, Raylan meets with Ava and explains that it was he who affected her release, contingent upon her agreement to inform on Boyd. Ava expresses her fears for how the future plays out, but Raylan assures her things will be fine, before parting ways.
Sigh. ‘Justified’ began the season in something of an awkward position, trying to do too much at once as Boyd dealt with the fallout from Ava’s incarceration and the lingering Harlan Illuminati, while Raylan headed south to introduce an abundance of new villains to make their way to Harlan before long. And while things certainly picked up in recent weeks, hitting a speed that felt mostly absent from the middle stretch of episodes, the Crowes had essentially done enough damage to the central arc that ‘Justified’ season 5 was never going to close on the strongest of notes. The best it could do, realistically, was to set up a few major pins for the confirmed final season, and wrap up the season 5 threads that hadn’t quite worked, something “Restitution” mostly accomplishes.
The problem inherent to season 5 has mostly proven a lack of personal stakes, on either side of the two men leading the series. It was always going to be difficult to find personal stories for Raylan without Winona or Arlo having a regular presence, and Art’s shooting made for a strong bit of pathos in the recent episodes, save for the fact the character had mostly been established as out of the woods. Sure, Raylan needed to settle with Darryl Crowe and make good on his threats, but it never felt as if Darryl’s end would right some great wrong in Raylan’s story, if Art’s shooting came of so little consequence.
A similar feeling arose on Boyd’s side, considering that he and Ava had largely agreed to separate by the finale, while neither the dual drug cartels nor the Crowes had really been developed enough to provide tangible threat. Some of ‘Justified’’s stronger years have found narrative pathways to root villainy in the character of Harlan itself, and craft a sense of heritage that informed both Raylan and Boyd’s respective journeys, something lacking from the fifth season’s “invasive species” villains. It worked in the sense of Robert Quarles, to have his big-city attitude challenged by Boyd and Raylan’s rural sensibilities, though the Crowes never belonged to either world strongly enough to coalesce as a specific threat.
It almost goes without saying as well that Ava’s prison time had paid far too few dividends to justify (heh) its presence with in the season, though we at least understand in principle how it accomplishes the end to turn Ava against Boyd for the final season. In the end, that’s all “Restitution” really seemed to aim for, pointing the barrel back at Boyd in time for the final season, and introducing a few perilous cracks into the plan from the get-go. Where Raylan lands in that final season is anyone’s guess, considering his eerie puppetry of pitting Wendy against Darryl calls into question what moral lessons he might of learned by Nicky Augustine’s example, or that he seems to have found another reason to avoid Winona and his daughter for the time being.
‘Justified’ season 5 has shown a few strong moments to be certain, but we imagine the decision to go out on its own steam in season 6 will greatly improve our chances for a worthy finale, particularly in that pitting Raylan against Boyd should happily return some of the personal stakes that “Restitution” lacked material enough to capitalize on.
Well, what say you? Did you feel that ‘Justified’ hit the mark with its fifth season finale? Will Raylan really put off a return to Florida to take on Boyd Crowder one last time? Give us your reactions in the comments, stay tuned for the latest on tonight's finale, and join us again next season for more all-new ‘Justified’ recap of the sixth and final season on FX!