Best: Elmore Leonard Tribute
Before the show even began, FX ran an Elmore Leonard tribute, which discussed his literary history and his simple, classic style of writing that managed to capture mood, character, and setting in the least amount of words possible. I’ve been a huge fan of Leonard’s work for a while, so I was very happy that they gave him more than just a black screen with his name. Although it was a quick tribute, having it before the show began ensured that people would watch it. If I had any complaints it is that it could have been a few minutes longer to discuss his influence on the show itself.
Worst: Too Many Locations
Part of the charm of Justified is Harlan and Raylan’s connections to the setting. I don’t mind the show venturing outside of its comfort zone every once in a while, but this episode was all over the place. While Raylan went from Kentucky to Florida, Boyd spent time in Harlan and Detroit. There was even mention of Canada and the prospect of the gang heading north isn’t exactly exciting. It would have been better to have an episode solely in Florida or Detroit to focus on a specific case or storyline. Even better would have been focusing on the setting we’ve known and loved for four seasons for the first episode of the season before venturing out.
Best: Dewey Crowe
Dewey Crowe has always been one of the funniest characters on Justified. His episodes are always hilarious. I still laugh at the memory of his four kidneys. (And bless the writers for bringing that up again.) His outrage turned to happy disbelief when he discovered that he was getting $300,000 instead of $300 was gold. Dewey is a character worth keeping around, even if it’s just for one episode every once in a while. It was great to see Dewey get out of jail after all the (deserved) abuse he took from Raylan. However, I did worry about his safety once he got his settlement. There’s no way a dummy like Dewey gets $300k and doesn’t end up dead or injured soon after. (Although Boyd did end up conning that money from Dewey’s grips pretty quickly.) The prayer circle for Dewey’s life begins here.
Worst: The Rest of the Crowes
It may be a snap judgment, but I can already say I’m not too fond of the Crowes as villains. Setting aside my feelings of Michael Rappaport as an actor (he’s terrible), Daryl Crowe and his family just don’t grab me the way the other Justified bad guys have in the past. In a way, the Crowes reminded me too much of the Bennett clan from season 2. Daryl is the piss poor version of Mags, as the head of the family who will do anything for the love of money and family. Dilly and Daryl as just like Dickie and Coover Bennett who were foot soldiers, if not dumb as rocks. Wendy, the paralegal, supposed non-criminal of the family, is probably just as corrupt as former Sherriff Doyle Bennett. Unfortunately, it’s not a favorable comparison because they don’t quite live up to any of the things that made the Bennetts so great.
First, the Bennetts clearly had more affection for each other in a relatable way. Sure, Mags was willing to hit her son’s hand with a hammer, but she probably wouldn’t have iced him as coldly as Daryl got rid of his stuttering brother, Dilly. Second, their connection to Raylan and the main plot was way more tangible. With the Bennetts, Raylan had a long history with their family that stemmed to his days in high school and was actually a bit fond of Mags. The Crowes busted Raylan’s legs once and stopped him from going to a Tom Petty concert. It’s not exactly a blood feud.
It’s only the first episode, so they’ll have time to become more interesting but so far they aren’t doing it for me.
Best: Boyd’s Final Dilemma
During season 4, Raylan dropped a bit of a truth bomb on Boyd. He told him that he was the sort of person that loves things so intensely until he drops it cold. He loved preaching the word of white supremacy before he was a preacher in the woods. Then he was all about the living clean life in early season 2. Raylan supposed that it was only a matter of time before Boyd decided there was something he loved more than Ava. While I don’t know if that’s really true, it’s an interesting idea and fits within Boyd’s character so far. When Paxon told Boyd that he could confess to Ava’s crime and trade places with her, it was obvious that it wasn’t really something he was willing to do. And once Paxon pointed out that Boyd’s love may not be exactly pure, Boyd beat him to death. Hopefully this will lead to a more interesting plot for Boyd than dealing with Detroit and Canadian drug dealers. I’d love to see Boyd have to face his true character and see how far he’d actually go for Ava.
Worst: Too Many New Characters Introduced in One Episode
Man, there were a lot of new characters in this episode. I tried my best to jot all their named down but a few slipped through the cracks. Along with a whole big family worth of new characters, in Florida we met Elvis (who met his demise when he was dumb enough to pull a gun on Raylan), Tom Tom, a Hatian criminal attached to the Crowes, and Raylan’s Floridian partner Sutter (played by David Koechner. On Boyd’s side of the story, there were Canadian mobsters (played by Will Sasso and Dave Foley, which makes me think we shouldn’t take them as serious threats) and new faces in Detroit to contend with in the future.
While I don’t mind new blood in the show, many of these new characters barely got a chance to make an impression. Not to mention that some characters had to get the boot to make way. Sammy Tonin was shot, likely ending the reign of the Tonin family in Detroit. (Unless Theo makes his way back. Doubtful since he wasn’t mentioned at all.) Rachel and Tim didn’t get so much as a cameo in the episode, while Wynn Duffy barely had time to be his sassy self.
Best: Raylan and His Family
Did anybody think for a second that Raylan was actually going to make it to see his child in Florida? We’ve known this character for too long to think that he’s going to be an active presence in his child’s life. Last season explored a plethora of his daddy issues and he’s got to be thinking that his dad’s parenting skills could be genetic. He’ll probably avoid spending too much time in his daughter’s life. After all, he has a tendency to incite violence all around him. However, the scene where he was video chatting with Winona and his baby was so great. It was an amazing way to show insight into what must be going on in Raylan’s mind without saying a single word about it. That’s the way this show works. And it’s perfect.