With each passing of another season of FX’s dependably fantastic southern-fried crime drama Justified, I’m always surprised that the country isn’t filled from coast to coast with candlelight vigils, or at least bourbon light vigils. I’ll never understand why more people aren’t completely fanatical about this smart and darkly hilarious series, as it features some of the most richly drawn characters on TV, and is set in a world where everyone and everything has a distinct personality. And if you aren’t a Hardcore Harlaner – this needs to be a Pop Warner football team name, stat – and aren’t up to date on watching, know that there are many spoilers ahead.

Season 5 will not likely be many fans’ favorite, as Deputy Marshall Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) took on the polarizing Crowe clan, whose Floridian upbringing imbued them with an unwavering sense of menace that Justified hasn’t wholly embraced before, as it never really had to. When your mainstay bad guy, the magnificent Walton Goggins’ Boyd Crowder, is one of the most predictably dangerous men walking, there’s no need to up the ante elsewhere. But despite the arguable story treading this season may have gone through, it was still a hell of a ride, and perfectly set the stage for a more focused sixth and final season. I attempted to find objectivity in the beginning of that last sentence, but I really did love this season week in and week out. You’ll see why below, followed by a few tweaks that need to happen before next year’s premiere.

The Crowe Family
No, there is nothing inherently likeable about the selfish Daryl Crowe, Jr. (Michael Rapaport at his grimy best), the psychopathic Danny (A.J. Buckley), the cunning Wendy (Alicia Witt) or the beyond-his-years Kendal (Jacob Lofland). But damned if they didn’t make for some of the most unpredictable sequences Justified has ever given us, including Danny’s spittle-flying bursts of dog barking intimidation used on Raylan’s lady friend social worker Alison (Amy Smart). Sure, it’s a caricature of unrefined madness, but one that still made me giddy with discomfort. The Crowes swoop in from Florida to make their whorehouse-running cousin Dewey’s life a living hell, which is always fun, and manage to make a few permanent changes in Harlan County along their path to retribution and death. (Seriously, both Daryl’s bleeding balls murder and Danny’s “I stabbed myself in the throat after falling into a dog’s grave” demise are series highpoints for me.)

As far as the acting goes, Lofland proved that his breakout performance in Mud wasn’t just a fluke, and brought warmth that made you feel sorry that this kid was born into such a rotted family tree, but it’s Rapaport’s over-the-top swampness that I treasured in every episode. Daryl Crowe is one of the worst human beings on the planet, but his faux-telligent bravado was relayed perfectly by Rapaport’s drawling line deliveries. He could have his own quote calendar. While their outsider roots may keep them lower on the list of Justified villains, especially given how they ended their own storyline without Raylan or Boyd having much to do with it, the Crowes were a ruthless force to be reckoned with, and their backwoods idea of the American Dream will be missed.

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