Justified s5 ep 5

“Shot All to Hell” is a particularly apt name for this startlingly violent episode which starts with an especially cruel, revenge-fuelled murder and just keeps right on going in the same vein.

Assassins, shoot-outs, guns drawn, bullets flying… I think we had four separate killings, only one of which was legally Justified (remember when that was the show’s premise?), but all of which made me jump.

For all the action going on, though, there was no skimping on the characterisation, with the gunplay telling us plenty about the show’s three main men. Boyd Crowder, for instance, (and his Bonnie and Clyde-style romance with Ava) can be a little romanticised for my liking: the writers (and plenty of the audience) love him and he’s a marvellous character, but he’s also an appalling human being, and this week’s episode reminded anyone who might have forgotten that he’s a violent, ruthless man with a mean streak the size of Kentucky itself. Yes, REDACTED and REDACTED were dreadful people as well, but that doesn’t make their summary executions okay.

My beloved Raylan, meanwhile, is fantastic, and on the right side of the law as long as it suits him, but, when it doesn’t, he can be pretty ruthless himself. He’s no Boyd, obviously, but as Mr Givens himself puts it to REDACTED this week, “The reason you’re in a position to blackmail me is because of things I do. Things you’ve seen me do.” Things which he can’t get away with forever, and his final scene with Art this week suggests that he knows that. Is Raylan ready to come clean? Has he taken Rachel’s words to heart? Or does he just realise there’s no point in trying to fool the unfoolable Art any longer, when Art has just had the best day of his career?

If this episode reminds us that Boyd is irredeemable but there’s hope for Raylan yet, however, it also reminds us just how awesome Art actually is. His one man, off-the-books investigation, in his old man t-shirt and cap, leads to the best, coolest scene of the week – the diner scene, you’ll know it when you see it – which is no mean feat when you’re competing with the impossibly striking Raylan and Boyd. My goodness. Nick Searcy is always excellent, but this week he really gets a chance to shine and it is a magnificent sight.

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