Justified season 5 episode 12 review: Starvation

Review Matthew Giordano 3 Apr 2014 - 06:22

Justified is preparing the ground for a final confrontation between Raylan, Boyd and Ava...

This review contains spoilers.

5.12 Starvation

Timothy Olyphant has been quoted as saying that he would like to see the series come to an end with a final confrontation between the characters of Raylan, Boyd and Ava, and this week's episode seem to be setting up a scenario where Mr Olyphant will get his wish. Raylan's time with Ava is short but important because he attempts to use her as a means to destroy Boyd and when she does not acquiesce to his demands he is more than disgusted by her decision. Ava is the one who reminds us all that Raylan was the man who not only seduced her right after she had shot and killed her husband but that he was also the one primarily responsible for destroying her life. Being put into such a broken down emotional state is exactly what allowed Ava to wind up embracing Boyd in the first place.

Moreover, the irony of the situation is not lost on Raylan as he essentially acknowledges that Ava is not wrong to question his motives. However, what makes their meeting all the more tragic is that when Raylan returns to visit Ava she has decided that she will give Boyd up because the white supremacist group which has been trying to bring Ava down ever since she first appeared in the prison has decided that her time is up. By aggressively killing her friend Penny, Ava knows that she is running out of options. In a further ironic twist, Boyd, unbeknownst to Ava, has already agreed to help Raylan and Ava's desperate plea to Raylan is completely meaningless. Now, Ava may finally see that Raylan always viewed their relationship as a meaningless endeavour.

Boyd has no choice but to agree to help Raylan because Mr Yoon's cartel is out for revenge and Boyd is their number one target. Wynn has once again decided, seemingly against his better judgment, to help Boyd. Wynn lies to the cartel's henchmen and tries to convince them that he has already killed Boyd. The cartel gives him a chance to prove himself by producing Boyd's skin and Wynn starts to realize that he may need to formulate a better plan. Call me crazy but even though Wynn claims to help Boyd because he wants access to Boyd's drugs, I think Wynn has always been impressed by Boyd's theatrics and as such has a twisted sense of admiration for the man. Regardless, Boyd's cover is eventually blown and this leads the cartel straight to Boyd's bar where his loyal henchman Jimmy has been ambushed. Being that Jimmy has a gun to his head it is clear that he has no choice but to help the cartel lure Boyd into a trap.

Daryl continues to use his manipulative tricks as he convinces Wendy that he needs to acquire six keys of heroin to help pay for a lawyer for Kendall. Daryl convinced Wendy that since the police are watching him so closely he cannot go near the drugs so Wendy needs to pick them up for him. Of course, Daryl was smart enough to sense a trap and by sending Wendy in ahead of him he is able to avoid any connection to the drugs. This was a good thing because it was a set-up perpetuated by Boyd and the US Marshall Service was witnessing the entire event. They proceed to arrest Wendy and once again we see how so many women that we have met throughout the course of this series are too easily manipulated by abusive men who want nothing from them except their blind obedience.

While some people have criticized the show for being misogynistic at times and for not fully developing the female characters with any real emotional depth I believe that instances like these prove that the show is very much aware of the sexist attitudes that still exist in modern day society. Ava very poignantly said in the prison that the women who fight amongst themselves, usually over a man, only seek to keep themselves trapped in a form of emotional bondage. This ideological bondage to a higher patriarchal order is exactly what is keeping these women from attaining any meaningful connection to the world around them and to each other. Although, as Ava happens to be a three-time murderer, it is not unfair to assume that the show's critics are not completely off base in regards to its development of the central female characters.

The most pivotal plot development in this episode involved Raylan using his influence with Judge Reardon to allow Kendall to be tried for attempted murder as an adult. Even though Judge Reardon, who we know is always very much in favor of brutalizing criminals, is deeply conflicted about this move he agrees to comply. Raylan is hoping that this will convince Daryl to admit to shooting Art and let Kendall off the hook. At the very least it shakes Wendy up pretty badly and she is outraged that this could happen but what arguably shocks the Crowe family the most is that Raylan was the man who suggested that this should be done. This was a desperate and dangerous manoeuvre by Raylan and knowing what we know about Daryl there is a strong chance that this is not going to work out in Raylan's favour. Even for Raylan, this was a drastically bold move that has almost no moral justification. By what "right" can Raylan allow Kendall, who is innocent of this crime and clearly being manipulated by his surrogate father figure, to face forty years in jail?

What makes matters worse is that Kendall and Raylan have had a very similar upbringing and to see Raylan use this morally questionable tactic against Kendall is disturbing.

Lastly, as I keep alluding to, the endgame involving Raylan, Boyd and Ava may already be underway. We had a wonderful scene this week between Boyd and Raylan in which Nicky Augustine's name was mentioned. Furthermore, Nicky Augustine's name was mentioned by Boyd in the presence of Rachel and Tim. Not only is it fascinating that Boyd is aware of Raylan's involvement in this event but it is also good writing that Raylan's most morally questionable decision seems to always be coming back to haunt him. It also gives us a reason for Boyd and Raylan to continue to play their cat-and-mouse game with each other. As time seems to be running out for both of these men perhaps the final confrontation will involve this information that Boyd just happens to have. Thankfully this season is coming together rather nicely and setting up what should be a fascinating finale next year.

Read Matthew's review of the previous episode, The Toll, here.

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