Justified season 5 episode 11 review: The Toll

Towards the end of a lacklustre season, Justified delivers an episode that reminds Matthew how good it can be...

This review contains spoilers.

5.11 The Toll

Apparently, the emotional firepower that has been missing from much of this season of Justified has decided to begin appearing with reckless abandon this week. As Justified has always been a show that uses fictional clichés to its narrative advantage, it was fitting that this week the show decided to remind us all that ever since the brilliant movie Lethal Weapon that police officers who are close to retirement hardly ever seem to ride off happily into the sunset. Our beloved Art is shot while he is attempting to protect Allison from an extremely vengeful Daryl Crowe Jr, whom seems to be targeting Allison to lure Raylan into a confrontation. Daryl, still reeling from the death of his brother Danny, is fixated on turning his fury towards Raylan, the man whom he believes to be solely responsible for Danny’s death. Daryl is able to escape prosecution because the acting chief from Michigan, who is taking over while Art remains incapacitated, believes that the hit on Art was placed by Theo Tonin.

Upon interviewing Theo, our old friend Mr. Picker is identified as the shooter. Of course Picker had nothing to do with this but Theo is seeking revenge on Picker for killing his son Sammy. This all works out to Daryl’s benefit as the investigation into Picker takes away valuable resources from tracking down Daryl. Eventually Daryl’s plan begins to manifest itself because he has his sister Wendy set up a meeting with Raylan that takes him away from the station house. This allows Daryl to turn himself into the police with his nephew Kendall. Kendall then proceeds to confess to shooting Art but based on the fact that we clearly saw a grown man shoot Art, we know that this confession is extremely suspect and Raylan knows it too. Daryl has somehow convinced Kendall to take the blame for him and by doing so Kendall will essentially through his life away.

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Of course Raylan mentions to Daryl that Kendall will be completely destroyed by spending time in juvenile hall and Daryl’s reply is that the boy could use some toughening up. One thing Justified has done a great job with is calling attention to the deplorable conditions in the American Prison system and unquestionably we have witnessed enough scenes on the show that proves that prison is not a place that should be glorified in any capacity. Moreover, this interaction between Daryl and Raylan not only sets up a final showdown between these two men this season but it also helps us once again affirm the righteousness or justifiableness of Raylan’s actions. Raylan’s motivations have always been morally pure even if the outcomes of his actions have often crossed the line of moral decency. We can rest assured as viewers that even though Raylan may have crossed some very serious moral lines he has never and will never be a man like Daryl Crowe Jr.

In regards to Ava, her almost uncanny ability to survive has possibly put her in a position of power within the prison walls. By taking out Judith, “Mother Superior” she appears to have assertive herself as the new leader of Judith’s gang. At least to me this is what was being metaphorically conveyed to us when Judith’s loyal gang members began giving Ava their ice cream. Of course metaphorically this scene can also be read as a direct threat to Ava as well but I believe Penny’s line to Ava right before this exchange about hoping that Ava wasn’t the only person who wanted Judith dead makes my belief about Ava becoming the new gang leader a strong possibility. As long as Ava is able to smuggle and distribute drugs into the prison combined with the fact that she personally took out one of the toughest inmates, will keep her alive for at least a while longer. This is a good thing for Ava because she correctly sensed that Boyd could only help her so much and Boyd may not be in a position to help anybody in the near future.

Boyd Crowder has always been a predictable character because he always acts in seemingly unpredictable ways. In fact what makes Boyd such a special villain is that the unpredictable and impulsive behaviour he exhibits is actually anything but. His ruthlessly calculated actions are almost always impeccably carried out. In the pilot episode, Boyd launched a missile at a church and proceeded to blow it up mostly for his own amusement, even though it was part of a racially motivated attack against the church that was also really an attack against one of his drug dealing competitors. If there is one thing that Boyd knows how to do it is blow stuff up and he has used these deplorable tactics throughout the entire series. Yet it still came as a surprise to me that he was able to make an explosive out of a pack of cigarettes.

We should know by now that whenever Boyd is in a predicament that he will be able to concoct a plan in which he wins and everybody else gets burned – most of the time quite literally. Picker who has wanted Boyd dead for quite some time now has agreed to have a meeting with Boyd under the supervision of Mr Duffy, his trusted confidant Mike and Wynn’s newly hired personal consultant, Mrs. Hale. The first meeting involves Boyd being made aware that the meeting was actually called for him to have a chance to convince Wynn why he should not kill him. Boyd seemingly is able to escape from this potential confrontation without resorting to the use of violence because the US Marshall Service interrupts the festivities to arrest Mr Picker as a potential suspect in the shooting of Art. After it is clear that Mr. Picker had nothing to do with Art’s shooting and everyone else gets released as well the meeting is reconvened and that is where Boyd reminds everybody of how dangerous he really is.

Boyd asks Mr Picker If he would like a cigarette and eventually even though Mr Picker refuses, Boyd tosses him the pack of cigarettes. Of course right before he tosses Mr Picker the cigarettes he clicks something in the pack. It is within a matter of seconds that the package explodes killing Mr. Picker in an extremely brutal way. In the confusion Boyd is able to disarm Mike and tell Wynn that he will allow him to have half of his shipment of drugs as compensation for the unfortunate events that have plagued their partnership and as a sign of good faith so that both parties could move forward. Even Wynn who is no stranger to using extremely brutal tactics is in complete shock for a moment after witnessing what happened. At the very least it would appear that the Crowder and Duffy partnership is officially over.

Overall, I have been slightly disappointed with this season but this was a great episode that continued to put all of the important pieces in place for the final season. For the first time in a long time I am truly excited to find out what awaits Raylan at the end of his journey.

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Read Matthew’s review of the previous episode, Weight, here.

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