Justified season 5 episode 7 review: Raw Deal

Justified's otherwise excellent fifth season delivers its first disappointing episode. Here's Matthew's review...

This review contains spoilers.

5.7 Raw Deal

I almost want to say that Justified took a step back this week in regards to its narrative momentum, but to be fair, Raw Deal developed a few major plot points further. That said, now that Art is fully aware of Raylan’s involvement in the death of Nicky Augustine it’s becoming frustrating to have Art’s decision about whether to turn Raylan in for his actions get dragged on for another week. Art has decided for now to put Raylan on extremely tedious and boring duty in which he has to be at work at seven AM and handle absolutely mindless cases. Of course, as luck would have it, Raylan’s first case involves a man seeking compensation from the US Marshals service for money he lost when the it supposedly seized his website. Raylan quickly discovers that the man’s website was actually defrauded by a low-level hacker. Upon seeking to correct the situation himself, the hacker Mr. Fleming is confronted by his victim and a rather large bodyguard who decides that having a couple of hundred thousand dollars is well worth killing someone over and he murders the man who hired him as muscle, kidnaps Flemings girlfriend and threatens to kill her. Without too much of a problem, Raylan is able to arrest everyone involved and even get some excellent phone hacking tips from Mr. Fleming before it’s all said and done.

Now onto the two characters who actually had their stories advance in this episode. Clearly the distance between Ava and Boyd continues to grow deeper as Boyd does not show up for visiting hours at the prison. Of course, Boyd is off to Mexico to try to get his heroin directly from the Mexican Cartel he is now doing business with. Ava whose life is in danger from the neo-Nazis who hate her for being involved with a ‘race traitor’ is desperate to seek protection. Her new friend Penny convinces her to find “God” (really just a ploy for Ava to join Penny’s prison gang which is run by an old time inmate turned preacher responsible for smuggling drugs into the prison for the inmates). Penny convinces Ava to help them smuggle drugs into the prison in return for protection. Ava agrees, but is not happy about having to prostitute herself out to the guards in order to make this a smooth transition. She devises a clever plan to plant the drugs on one of the guards and his accomplice which cuts off the supply of drugs to the prison, which she claims that thanks to her connection Boyd, she can happily help start up again. If nothing els, it shows for the first time in a long time that Ava has always been opportunistic when it comes to her survival even if she is prone to trusting the wrong people. It also continues to raise some serious questions about the American penal system and shows just how corrupt some particular institutions can be.

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Arguably, the real heart of the episode centered around Boyd’s trip to Mexico and he is surprised to see his cousin Johnny waiting there for him. It looks as though Johnny has made his own deal with Boyd’s Mexican cartel connection and in doing so, has finally bested his cousin. Boyd is turned over to Johnny and upon agreeing to not kill Boyd in Mexico, Johnny sets off to reap the rewards of his clever planning. Upon being double-crossed Boyd has a classic line in which he says “Now I understand you mexican cartels have a reputation but let me tell you something, so do the rednecks in Kentucky.” Lines like this from Boyd always make taking in an episode of Justified enjoyable even if it’s not firing on all cylinders.

Of course, Boyd is not so easily bested by anyone and it turns out Johnny was the one who was fooled the entire time. As Hot Rod previously tipped off Boyd to Johnny’s involvement, Boyd already made his own deal with the cartel and they played along with Johnny simply so they could steal his money. Boyd has Johnny and heads off with his drugs. Seemingly victorious, Boyd is willing to let Johnny’s men go free and that’s when Danny Crowe decides to go on a killing spree, as he seems prone to do, and murder all of Johnny’s men. The problem is that they kill these men on Mexican soil which will make a problem for the cartel and hence a major problem for Boyd. Cousin Johnny cannot contain his amusement at the situation and Boyd simply turns around shoots Johnny in the neck and begins to focus on the bigger problem at hand.

Lastly, Raylan and Art do have a mini confrontation in which we are made fully aware that Art is still grappling with how to handle this situation with Raylan. Raylan decides that he has had enough of doing what he calls “shit” duty. He tells Art to transfer him or put him back to real work because he is certainly not going to quit. This line of thinking does highlight how clueless Raylan can be at times as he thinks that doing a couple days worth of “shit” duty is enough of a penance to pay for being a key component in a major homocide. At the very least it looks like the tension between Raylan and Art will be there for the rest of the season and it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

Overall a decent but far from great episode of Justified in an otherwise solid season.

Read Matthew’s review of the previous episode, Kill The Messenger, here.

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