“Justified” Season 5, Episode 1: Spoiler-Free Review
All rejoice! The critically acclaimed crime drama Justified has returned for its fifth season on FX. Justified stars Timothy Olyphant as U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens and Walton Goggins as criminal mastermind Boyd Crowder. It is based on the fiction of crime author Elmore Leonard, who died earlier this year. Brought to life by showrunner Graham Yost and filmed in Harlan County, Kentucky, Justified is one of the best and most unique shows on TV. But if you’re reading this article, you probably know that. Feel free to check out our coverage of season 4 to catch up on what you’ve missed or forgotten.
There’s a bit of a been there, done that feeling to tonight’s episode. The show has always relied on a winning formula: introduce key plot elements in the first few stand-alonish episodes while slowly laying the foundations for a long-form narrative that picks up mid-season and culminates in a bloody climax. The show gets away with this approach on the strength of its writing, acting and colorful characters and this season is no exception.
As Justified enters its fifth season, the predictability is more pronounced. We’ve known Raylan Givens for a long time now, but he’s pretty much the same suave badass we met in season 1. Criminal mastermind Boyd Crowder is in a constant state of transition, and it should be interesting to see where the writers take him this season. Ava Crowder (Joelle Carter), who really blossomed last season, is confined to prison and doesn’t have much to do as of yet, but hopefully this will change. Other supporting characters like Art Mullen (Nick Searcy), Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns), Winona Hawkins (Natalie Zea) and Bob Sweeney (Patton Oswalt) are as entertaining as ever, but could use more development at this point in the series. Perhaps we’ll get some in subsequent episodes.
This is, of course, only the first episode of the fifth season, so perhaps Yost and the writers will throw us all for a loop and turn the formula on its head, taking the characters in surprising new directions. The stellar quality of previous seasons gives us reason to hope. Tonight’s episode, though, felt familiar, although it’s hard to call this a problem when it comes to a show as brilliant as Justified.