The fifth season of Justified was surprisingly inconsistent, an issue with storytelling that the show had never really dealt with before. There were so many storylines to focus on from one episode to the next that the larger arc of the season, and of the show more generally, often got lost in the mix. But with the season finale, the show once again found its composure by returning to the only storyline that has really mattered after all of these years: the tension and inevitable showdown between Boyd and Raylan, and the wavering loyalty of Ava to Boyd coupled with her need to survive on her own. The final scene of last season’s finale, where Ava agrees to become a criminal informant for Raylan, to relay any and all information about Boyd to Raylan in order to keep herself out of prison, puts us right back where we started. Boyd, Raylan, and Ava have been intertwined since the very first episode of this series, and by returning the focus to those characters at the end of season 5, it served as the perfect prologue to the series’ final 13-episode run.
The final season premiere, “Fate’s Right Hand,” takes the first steps toward building to that inevitable confrontation between Boyd and Raylan, and in typical Justified fashion, it’s not immediately clear how everything will go down; but the general sense of foreboding means that we have 12 more episodes of a tightly wound cat-and-mouse game to look forward to. If Justified has a central theme that drives so much of its plot, it’s that our past is hard to escape, and that those pasts are an inherent part of the towns we live in and the houses we occupy. The story of Harlan, and the story of Justified, always had to come back to Raylan and Boyd, because there’s the blood of the Crowder and Givens families in the soil; they’re forever linked together.
“Fate’s Right Hand” opens with two scenes that establish where Raylan is at right now, both physically and mentally. We see Winona back in Florida, talking to her and Raylan’s baby girl, waiting for Raylan to finally get his transfer and be with them. “What in the world is worth missing this for?” she asks, before we get a great smash cut to Raylan occupying a bar in Mexico, using his typical gruff charm (or anti-charm?) to try to find out information about who killed Johnny Crowder. It’s all part of Raylan’s plan to nail down Boyd, to find someone, besides Ava, who he can leverage for more information. Initially, the plan doesn’t go too well, as the law enforcement in Mexico, who are downing tequila, don’t seem too keen on having a Yankee around. Raylan shows tremendous patience though—and by patience, I mean that he waits until the officer leaves the bar drunk and hops in his car before smashing into him with his own car and kidnapping him.
NEXT: Is Boyd back in the game?