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Did 'Justified' Spend Too Long Setting Up This Season?

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Apr 07, 2014 | 4:48pm EDT

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The Justified season finale is fast approaching, and things are gearing up for an explosion. While Art Mullen (Nick Searcy) lies in intensive care, both Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) and Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) are dealing with crossing various lines of justice and morality. There's the question of how Ava Crowder (Joelle Carter) is going to survive jail, and how the villainous Darryl Crowe (Michael Rapaport) will meet his end... that is, if he does. Finally, will Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns) and his eyebrows live long enough to make the sixth and final season? The thing is, the show seemed to take far too long to reach these meatier points — and this is a problem unique to Season 5.

Over the course of this past set of episodes, the powers that be have taken way too long to set these integral pieces in motion, devoting all their time to foreplay. This obsessive pacing nearly felt like FX was producing a network show with the benefit of many more episodes (and the detriment of inevitable filler ones). But there's no room for fluff in a season that has 13 episodes. That's a maxim that Graham Yost and the others have heeded in the past, but there were signs that they were beginning to wander some in the fourth season. They meandered a touch too long with the Drew Thompson saga, unfortunately rangling the great Jim Beaver's into the mess.

Now, Raylan, who has never had the strongest compass in or outside of work, is drifting even further from the center of the story. He's not seeing his newborn child in Florida and he's making more and more questionable decisions every episode. It seemed to finally come to roost in the form of those bullets that lodged their way in the body of Mullen, the closest thing he has to a father.

As such, the season finale has a lot to tidy up, a few questions to answer, and a few characters (like Tim Gutterson and Rachel Brooks) to tribute properly in light of a short-changing this past year. Let's hope that Season 6 takes a lesson from Ellstin Limehouse, and cleavers off the extraneous bits that bogged down these past several weeks.

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