The Season 5 premiere of our Kentucky show featured a pair of road trips and a number of introductions.
But first, there was a big farewell to Elmore Leonard, the author who brought Raylan Givens, Boyd Crowder and many of the other characters in Justified to life on the printed page. This will be the first season of Justified since Leonard’s death in August at age 87. In the prelude, Timothy Olyphant (Raylan) talked about how cool Leonard’s characters were, and how he had wanted to play one. Walton Goggins (Boyd) read from the passage in Fire in the Hole, the first Raylan Givens story, where we first saw Boyd and Ava, and Joelle Carter (Ava) reflected on the strong women Leonard wrote. Showrunner Graham Yost observed, “From the first time I read his stuff, there was this feeling, ‘I wish I could write this way. This is the kind of stuff I like. I like that kind of dialogue. I like these characters being very straight forward.’”
Many would say Yost and his crew have done a pretty good job speaking with Leonard’s voice, and Justified continues as part of his legacy.
The season premiere, A Murder of Crowes, starts with some housekeeping in the Bluegrass State to set up this season. Dewey Crowe (Damon Herriman) is being sprung from prison $300,000 richer, thanks to the abuse he took from Raylan in previous seasons. Ava is still in prison after being arrested and charged with murder in last year’s season finale, and Boyd is trying to get her out and maintain his drug-running crime business.
The body count starts piling up quickly when a drug deal on a rural bridge with some boys from Detroit goes wrong, and then down in Florida, one of Dewey’s cousins impulsively takes out a crooked Coast Guard officer.
Raylan is off to Miami to help nab the killer, and Boyd is off to deal with the Detroit mob.
Did we mention the body count?
Season 5 is off to a blazing start for a show that has already portrayed a startling number of homicides for Eastern Kentucky. Granted, in this episode, a number of them take place in metropolises that are more commonly associated with murder. Detroit mobster Sammy Tonin (Max Perlich) gets taken out quickly along with some other goons in a scene that looks like a cross between those haunting photos of abandoned Detroit and a slasher flick.
Down in Florida, we meet this year’s heavy, Dewy’s cousin Daryl (Michael Rapaport), who seems somewhat benign in this outing, save for a Fredo moment toward the end that is nowhere near as gentle as Michael Corleone’s Fredo moment.
As the extended season premiere closes, Daryl decides it may be time to head back to Kentucky and cousin Dewey, on advice of his consigliere (see, so Godfather here), Jean Baptiste (Edi Gathegi). And Boyd is trying to pave Ava’s way out of jail in a scene that tells us no one had better push him … at all.
Wait until we get Raylan, Daryl and Boyd together.
There is one scene with Winona (Natalie Zea) and her and Raylan’s little girl, who both seem safe down in Florida. But by now, we all know safety is wishful thinking in Justified.