When Elmore Leonard passed away late last year, he had already left behind a brilliant legacy not merely of best-sellers, but an unparalleled level of success when it came to adaptations of his work on the big and small screen. If Graham Yost manages to bring Justified to a successful conclusion by the end of next season, he may well have created a final cherry to put upon a lifetime achievement. Given how well the fifth season of the show is unfolding, there's a very good chance that will happen.
Having presented it's fair share of master criminals over the years, Yost seems to have decided to fix on one of the dimmer bulbs we've met--- Dewey Crowe, who received a $300,000 settlement from the state after a hysterical organ bank scam caused him to lose a kidney back in Season 3. Unfortunately, Dewey's idiocy have made him the easy target for the greater criminal forces in Harlan County. And as if dealing with Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) wasn't risky enough to his health, he is now landed in the crosshairs of a cousin from Florida (Michael Rappaport, who has never seemed so menacing in his life), who wants to 'help his cousin with his money problems.'
Boyd has enough on his plate as it is. The Detroit Mafia seems to be in the task of falling apart, leaving his narcotics market on the verge of ruin, an event which is not helped one iota by the fact that his Cousin Johnny, who memorably turned on him last season, has been using to his advantage. His beloved Ava is still in prison, and the key to her freedom may be held in the complex hands of a Russian mail order bride, who seems just as corrupt and manipulative as, well, just about everybody else in this part of Kentucky.
As for our hero Raylan, the line between lawman and criminal seems to be getting thinner with each passing day. Now a father, he seems less interested in spending time with his ex-wife and baby in Florida, and more time with a sexy social worker who seems to be walking a fine line herself. He is now living in the seized house of a Dixie accountant (Xander Berkeley, who I hope we haven't seen the last of), and went through a manipulation of the law that seemed a lot less about keeping a bad man in jail then keeping himself in his new mansion. Then there's the fact that Art (Nick Searcy, who can make you laugh with just a twitch of his eyebrow) is now looking into the murder of Theo Tonin, the Detroit Mafioso who Raylan played a critical role in killing. He hasn't even been in the same room with Boyd yet this season, but we know it's only a matter of time before that changes.
Justified is a perfect mix of action and comedy, a combination that is sorely lacking in many series that try to do both. Timothy Olyphant continues to bring the perfect mixture of outlaw and lawman in the same personality, and the rogues gallery he deals with, from Goggins and Jere Burns on down, is a fine mix of menace and foolishness that Leonard was such a master of us. The only thing wrong with the season so far is that there hasn't be much use for the women regulars, who the writers do so well. Other than that, it's hard to think of a show that does all the little and big things right.