Justified season 5 episode 4 review: Over The Mountain

Review Matthew Giordano 30 Jan 2014 - 07:30

This week's Justified is about the toxic side of family togetherness, and moves the show into darker themes...

This review contains spoilers.

5.4 Over The Mountain

As Justified appears to be entering its final act, the stakes have been raised and familial ties as well as events from the past seem to be exerting their control over the current state of affairs. As such, the night Raylan allowed Nickey Augustine to be killed may be the very thing that finally brings him down. Ironically, allowing Nickey to be killed may have been Raylan's most justifiable action, as there was a direct threat to his family. Unquestionably Justified has always made us confront the idea of family, and more particularly the show seems to want us to ask ourselves if it is our family or us that predetermines who we become as people? It also makes us realize how guilt is used as a weapon by social miscreants to control the people around them with the excuse of having to be loyal to your "family".

We are fully aware of how much Arlo has affected Raylan as a human being, and in this particular episode we see how Daryl Crowe manipulates Dewey in much the same way. Daryl makes Dewey kill Wade Messer so that he can control his cousin and if need be, he will turn him into the police if he goes against his "family". Clearly Daryl could care less about Dewey's well being but then he tells Dewey that he will not turn him in as long as he stays with his family. This bizarre desire to keep one's family intact despite how dysfunctional they may be is something that we have seen play out in some truly interesting ways over the past four seasons and it continues to be a major subtextual component.

Continuing with this theme, we had a heartfelt reunion between Boyd and Cousin Johnny which took place at the county jail with Ava there to act as a safety buffer so that the two men would not kill each other. Once again credit to the writing staff and Walton Goggins for creating a character in Boyd who is smart enough to set up meetings like this that always give him the upper hand. Boyd is a brilliant criminal and if he had put his mind to another line of work, who knows what this man may have accomplished. That said, Boyd, who desperately wanted Ava to be his wife and become his "family" has cruelly turned his back on her and it was telling when Johnny left that Boyd immediately left without saying so much as a word to Ava who is now starting to realize just how awful her taste in men really is.

Amy Smart who plays Raylan's new love interest Alison recants a story about a young boy who was kept chained up in a garage by his father who then went berserk when the police tried to take him away. He could not bear to lose his son as that was all that he had in the world. Again we have this perverse fascination with the family unit having to remain intact even under the most disturbingly bizarre circumstances. This story about a son kept in confinement by his father could also symbolize the emotional prison that Raylan was put into by his own father and it is one that arguably Raylan has never broken out of. Amy Smart continues to be more then a throwaway love interest for Raylan and this season, usually has a pivotal scene in each episode.

We also found out this week that Messer was working as a CI or paid police informant so his disappearance serves a strong narrative purpose because it brings Raylan into conflict with both Boyd and the Crowe family. Raylan and Boyd have a nice exchange as they always seem to, but their interaction was more of a tease that foreshadowed that their final confrontation is going to come at some point next season, most likely after Boyd takes care of Mr. Paxton once and for all and when Raylan has taken care of the Crowes, who in this episode move precisely to the forefront.

There was also a pivotal moment in this week's episode that highlighted why the combination of faith and ignorance can be such a dangerous one. Dewey prays to Jesus to help him kill Messer and in return promises to go straight! The shocking thing, besides the fact that Dewey apparently has never read the bible or attended any Church service not run by Boyd Crowder, is that Dewey seems to believe that he is a good person who Jesus or God should help because he deserves it. It also raises an interesting point about prayer and how it is not really meant for us to ask God or whoever you may believe in for personal favours in return for service. That cheapens the whole spiritual experience of prayer, which any true theologian would attest to. The goal is to feel the spirit and be connected to a higher power, not to ask to kill people in return for acting differently. Only Dewey Crowe could believe this line of thinking and I for one thank the writers of Justified for continuing to throw out these complicated themes for us to ponder.

Next week should continue to bring more intrigue and I personally feel that the tone of this week's episode is taking us in a much darker direction than we are used to with this show. Raylan may be oblivious to the storm that is coming but rest assured, it is on its way.

Read Matthew's review of the previous episode, Good Intentions, here.

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