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"Kill the Messenger"
Season 5, Episode 6
Kill the Messenger.jpg
Air date February 11, 2014
Written by Ingrid Escajeda
Directed by Don Kurt
U.S. Viewers 2.33 million
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"Kill the Messenger" is the sixth episode of the fifth season, and the 58th episode in the series overall. It was written by Ingrid Escajeda and directed by Don Kurt. It first aired on February 11, 2014.



An attack on Alison sends Raylan to Harlan in search of payback, while Boyd scrambles to arrange protection for Ava.


Art Mullen is drinking alone at a blue-hazed near-empty stripper bar, rubbing his forehead in thought as a slow Country lament plays on the jukebox, and the clicking of billiard balls is heard in the background. His troublesome Deputy Raylan Givens walks in out of the rain and says "Art" by way of greeting. Art stands unsteadily. The two men look at one another before Art hauls off and slugs Raylan with a right hand to the eye. Raylan staggers back and nearly goes down as Art starts to say something, thinks better of it then makes his way toward the door, trying to shake the hurt out of his hand. Raylan picks up his hat and follows out the door.

At Kentucky State Women's Prison, Ava is being led to the showers, and after which she is given a full cavity search by female Corrections Officer Barbour before being taken to a cell in the solitary section.

Early the next morning, Boyd visits a plus-size old prison buddy, Gunnar Swift, one of the Aryan brothers he once ran with. They greet one another warmly. Gunnar asks Boyd if it's true he allowed black people into his "church" he once ran in the woods. But Boyd is more interested in Gunnar's family. One of his sisters, Gretchen, is "up in Pine Point." Boyd wants him to have Gretchen look out for Ava while she's incarcerated, and with the exchange of a chunk of "money for commissary," the deal is struck.

Alison comes to a surprisingly upscale Crowe residence for her scheduled home visit with Kendal. She is met by a snarling Chelsea. Daryl invites her in, but by policy, Alison cannot enter any premises where there's a dog on the loose. He hollers for Danny to get Chelsea under control. When he takes the dog outside to exercise, she enters and meets with Kendal and Wendy while Daryl stands quietly by. In conversation, Wendy makes note of Alison's relationship with "that marshal." Alison starts with the "what makes you think..." line of deflection but Wendy will have none of it, and impudently allows how Raylan's "easy to look at, but he's the type who'll break your heart."

After completing her home visit, when Alison exits the boorish Danny, roughhousing with Chelsea, taunts her and tries to intimidate her by following to her car, leering and barking all the way. It works to an extent, but she tries not to show it as she gets to her car and drives off. Alone on the highway, she lights up a joint when a big 4X4 GMC rushes up and rear-ends her. She loses control and spins off the road and down a small hill. She exits the vehicle groggily and sees Danny standing on the side of the road, making barking sounds at her, giggling and whooping like the lunatic he has shown himself to be before he turns and drives off.

At the Marshals' HQ, Art sits at the head of a conference table with Raylan and fellow Deputy Marshals Tim and Rachel who is finishing up a report on the Theo Tonin situation, noting that he is refusing to talk, and won't even give the doctors his blood type. When she finishes, Tim makes a point of bringing up Raylan's damaged left eye since no one will talk about it. "What'd'you do, slip in Art's shower?" Tim asks as Raylan smiles ruefully. "Remember, 'cause that's how Art hurt his hand." Raylan cuts the discussion off, addressing Art: "That bullet-counting thing?" "What?" Art replies, "the inventory?" Raylan nods and volunteers, "I'll do it." Art reflects a moment, then responds with what for him is exaggerated formality, "Why thank you, Raylan. I appreciate that." Rachel jumps in, "I'll help. You said they wanted that ASAP, right?"

As Rachel and Raylan head to the elevator and banter about volunteering for such a task, the doors open and Alison exits. "Before you say anything..." she starts to speak then notices Raylan's eye. "What the hell happened to your face?" But Raylan notices her damaged face, and says, "You first."

At Audrey's bar, Danny Crowe tending, Daryl leaves a message on Jean Baptiste's phone: "I'm a little concerned. Call me back, man." He hangs up and asks Danny, "You sure you ain't heard from him?" Daryl presses his brother who first suggests that he's keeping busy with the whores, then "there's a lot of hillbillies around here... maybe he's swinging from a tree." Daryl's not buying any of it. When Kendal enters doing his bar-back duties, Daryl starts questioning him, but Kendal isn't talking. Daryl instinctively knows there's something he's not being told, and persists. Finally, Danny improvises a story that Jean Baptiste had been talking smack about Daryl behind his back about how dissatisfied he was in Harlan and wanted to go back to Florida. Daryl is skeptical and looks to Kendal for confirmation. The youngest brother, aware that Danny is looking menacingly in his direction, backs up the fiction.

Just then a dissatisfied patron becomes unruly with one of the whores, and Daryl commands Danny to "go on and deal with that, man!" He moves from behind the bar toward the disturbance.

Rachel and Raylan finally get on that elevator and she tells him that she's going down to Harlan with him rather than "count bullets," and watch him kick Danny Crowe's ass. Raylan resignedly agrees, "Fine. You can drive." Dewey is about to sell his $1,000 above-ground pool to Edwin for $800 when the prospective buyer notices the patching job Dewey had attempted after Raylan had shot up the pool. When the revised offer is only $20, Dewey flies into a rage and shouting, "I ain't giving up on my dream," violently chases the man away. Just then Danny exits the rear of Audrey's with the now unconscious unruly patron over his shoulder and deposits him in the the bed of a pickup truck. He notices an uncommonly pensive Dewey and asks his cousin what's on his mind. Dewey's quietly steamed that his less-than-ambitious life plan has come asunder, and suggests that he and Danny kidnap Boyd for that six-figure paycheck which has eluded the Crowes since they arrived in Harlan. And the ancillary effect for Dewey is that it would get his cousins out of town. Danny thinks Dewey's a "genius."

In the penitentiary, Ava confers with her attorney Billy Geist, who tells her that he is having her "released into gen pop, Boyd's lined-up someone to watch your back." Ava naively wonders why that's necessary, and Billy spells out the facts of prison life to her, then explains that the jail guard who set her up has "gone to ground somewhere," but that they're looking for him. He notes that the security cameras for her section of the county jail were shut down the night of her alleged assault. He passes her a note: "I'm sorry I'm not there. Everything will be alright. You are safe. Stay strong. All my love, Boyd." She reads it and slips it back to Geist. Despairingly, she asks, "Can you help me?" He nods firmly and reassuringly.

Danny and Dewey enter Johnny's bar and find Carl but no Boyd. There is a tense confrontation when Carl won't disclose Boyd's whereabouts. Dewy pulls his little pistol. Unphased, Carl asks "You get that out of a cereal box?" Violence ensues as Carl skill-butts Danny and gives a good account of himself in the two-on-one fight before Danny ends it with the butt end of his sheath knife to the back of his head. "Now we go to Plan 'B,'" Danny says. "We see how much Boyd's gonna pay for his guy."

In a hotel room somewhere, Duffy (with Mike), Boyd (with Jimmy Tolan) and Ethan Picker meet with heroin traffickers Alberto Ruiz and Yoon, a smooth Korean gangster who is as erudite as Boyd. The financial parameters of their business dealings are negotiated and a deal is struck.

In the prison, Officer Barbour informs Ava that she is moving to gen pop, a crowded wing with bunk beds where Ava meets her lower bunkmate, Nikki, who lays out some basic ground rules.

Elsewhere, an aghast Wendy is learning about Dewey's and Danny's current criminal enterprise when the Marshals' SUV is spotted pulling up in front of the house. As the two men prepare for an armed confrontation, Wendy springs into action and meets Raylan and Rachel in the front yard to learn they are looking for Danny for running Alison off the road the previous night. She adroitly convinces the Deputy Marshals that they have no probable cause to violate the Fourth Amendment and enter the house, inside the front door of which await Dewey with his pistol and Danny with his knife. Raylan and Rachel set off to find the landlord, Mike.

Ava makes her first foray into the prison yard where her long blonde "white girls hair" gets a great deal of unwelcome attention from the black inmates. She is approached by a white inmate, Penny, who advises her to neither deny or confirm shanking a guard at her last institution. They are approached by a group of black inmates led by Patrice and Nichelle, both of whom comment about Ava's "white girl." Penny's advice was timely since their assumption is that Ava is the girl who's been transferred in because "You the one who shiv'd that hack, huh?" Ava stays quiet. After several moments of uncomfortable conversation, the black delegation notices the approach of the Aryan women and turn away.

Ava says "Thank you" to the red-headed, heavily inked leader who introduces dismisses Penny and introduces herself as Gretchen Swift. "Boyd paid my brother Gunnar to see you looked after," she says, then viciously slugs Ava. As two others of that clique hold Ava's arms, Gretchen continues beating her, saying, "Your man is a race traitor, the only thing I hate more than these black bitches. Say, you do have nice hair." As Ava is held down, one of Gretchen's friends starts stripping off some of those long blonde tresses with a small-ended tool.

Boyd and Jimmy turn up at the bar and are hunting for Carl when Geist calls, alerting Boyd to the attack on Ava by Gunnar's sister. He thinks about this latest development for a moment then sends Jimmy on an errand.

At the Harlan hardware store, Kendal is making change for an elderly local woman when Raylan and Rachel enter looking for the proprietor. Daryl steps out of the back with a skill saw and after some less-than-light banter with Raylan, leads the Deputy Marshal into the back work shed and the presence of Hardware Mike who greets Raylan warmly. When Raylan questions him about his tenants, he explains that "the nicest girl showed up at my door — red head — had a little brother with her, the one working out at the counter. Claimed she had no money and living out of a car. Couldn't call myself a Christian if I didn't try to help." When Raylan asks about the presence of Daryl, Dan,ny and the dog, Mike allows as how "they just kinda showed up." Over Daryl's protestations, Raylan instructs Mike to tell them that they can't live in his house anymore. "Cabin, too?" Mike wants to know, revealing the presence of a hunting cabin "that was part of the deal." O ho!

In the backroom at Johnny's bar, Boyd sits pensively. Jimmy returns with the intel that "Gunnar's holed up with about a half-dozen of his Hitler-humpers," apparently waiting for Boyd's arrival. Jimmy reaffirms his allegiance to Boyd, but notes that it's risky for the two of them to take on that many men. Boyd does some more thinking as Jimmy attempts "one more time to raise Carl."

In the backyard of Hardware Mike's hunting cabin, Dewey and Danny are chopping wood when Carl's cellphone in Dewey's pocket sounds. It's Jimmy wanting to know where Carl has been. The Crowe cousin attempts to respond but the cellular service is so unstable, Jimmy can't even make out whom he's talking to. As Dewey wanders around the yard searching for a spot with a stronger signal, Jimmy tosses his phone to Boyd, but the reception is so bad that no meaningful information is exchanged and Boyd hangs up, still thinking it was Carl on the other end of the line.

For his part, Dewey continues to curse the useless connection when the marshals' SUV pulls into the yard. Dewey spots them first and scrams. Raylan looks around and taps on the window pane, as within a trussed-up Carl tells Danny that they have company. Warning Carl to keep silent, Danny withdraws his knife and opens the door a crack to see what the Deputy Marshal wants. There is a brief exchange before Danny steps out to take on Raylan. He is quickly subdued with a police baton wielded by Rachel who had strategically positioned herself unseen against the wall of the cabin. The Deputy Marshals move Danny back inside the cabin as he yells for Chelsea to attack. Raylan secures the door to the room occupied by the dog, and makes it known that if anything goes wrong, the first one to get a bullet will be Chelsea. Danny orders her to be quiet.

Suspecting that the battered and bloodied man duct-taped in the chair is a kidnapping victim, Carl, as quick a thinker as he is good with his fists, ad-libs a scenario that he's there as part of an S&M game in which he "forgot the safe word." Everyone else is dubious, but Danny suddenly sees the wisdom of playing along. "Yeah, we... have... some things in common." Raylan sees through the ruse but has no choice but to let matters go.

Back at their aborted rental house, Daryl rages while Wendy lays out the reality of their situation. "The house is gone, Danny's probably on his way to jail as we speak, let's just cut our losses now before that Marshal grabs Kendal again. Kentucky is over for us!" They continue to argue with Dewey sitting silently by when Danny enters. He explains, as best he can, how things went down at the hunting cabin. Daryl gets on his case for causing trouble with Boyd by snatching up Carl and for running the social worker off the road the previous night. "Oh, here we go, you gonna blame it on me?" he says, in full-on denial. The argument, with Wendy adding her voice, gets even louder when Boyd, flanked by Jimmy and Carl with guns drawn, walks in. "I come in peace," he says, and jerking a thumb in Carl's direction, adds, "Him, not so much." Carl, his pistol aimed straight at Danny's head, gives a little smile and blows him a kiss."

"What you want?" Daryl demands. "I just figured it's time we had a chat," Boyd replies, gently pushing Carl's pistol down, "try to de-escalate." He proposes that they can be of help to one another, and offers them a job. "What's the job?" Wendy and Daryl respond in perfect unison.

The door to Gunnar's garage opens and in walks Boyd. Surrounded by skinheads, Boyd tells Gunnar that he's there for a refund since Gretchen failed to hold up her end of the deal. "You always had a pair of balls on you, Boyd," the muscular racist tells him. "But walking in here all alone? Hell, you couldn't take me one-on-one. You gonna take on one-on-six?" Boyd emits a sharp whistle and doors open as Danny and Dewey, pistols raised enter from the rear while Carl, Jimmy, and Daryl follow in behind Boyd. They are armed as well. As Boyd introduces his "new friend, Daryl Crowe Jr., to Gunnar, Daryl proceeds to deliver a vicious beating to the man, repeatedly punching him in the face even after he goes down as Danny shouts encouragement until Boyd finally calls him off. Stepping to the fallen skinhead and placing a shotgun muzzle to his bloody face, he instructs Gunnar to contact his sister and tell her that "if anything else happens to my woman — if she cuts herself shaving — I'm gonna take it out on you a hundredfold." A determined Boyd turns and leaves, saying "Now, Carl, get my goddamn money!"

Late at night in the prison wing, a pensive Ava slips down out of her bunk and quietly awakens Nikki. "I'm going to need your razor," Ava tells her, the one she somehow knows Nikki has hidden in her mattress. Nikki warns her against going after Gretchen, but Ava says she only need it for a moment. They strike a deal: Ava gives Nikki her commissary privileges for a month; Nikki lends Ava her contraband razor. She takes it and silently goes into the bathroom, stands before a mirror and starts hacking off the rest of her long hair and trying to even out what was done in the yard.

After numerous failed attempts, Boyd finally connects with "Hot Rod" Dunham to discuss their business arrangement, the smuggling of the heroin and the killing of Johnny. In the course of their brief conversation, Dunham covertly manages to tip Boyd off with a Dickie Bennett anecdote that not all is right on his end. Boyd flawlessly receives the distress message, hangs up and discloses the essence of the message to Jimmy and Carl.

On the way back to Lexington, Raylan and Rachel have a light conversation about the day's events before things get serious. "I came with you in case you opened up a crack and wanted to talk about how bad you could've messed up that Art has a swollen fist and you've got a black eye." Raylan bobs and weaves a bit and refers to her as "the office kiss-ass." She calls him a "son of a bitch." After a quiet moment, he drops the facade and says he thinks the world of her and would trust her with his life, but he's not going to talk about him and Art. She intuitively surmises the reason why: "'Cause if you did, it would drag the whole office into a shitstorm of Biblical proportions, isn't that right."

Later, Raylan's having a drink with Alison at her place, and she's giving him a hard time about going after Danny Crowe on her account. It finally comes around to Alison telling that he's "an old-fashioned hero," adding, "I can tell you're a man who would run into a burning building without blinking an eye. The thing is, I think you're the one setting the fire." BINGO!

Daryl and Wendy are counting the cash proceeds of their dealing with Boyd on the dining room table when Boyd quietly enters the room. Wendy is not all that surprised to see him and leaves the room when Boyd indicates that he has another outside-the-law business proposition to discuss with her brother. When it's just the two men, Boyd tells Daryl he wants him to help kill his cousin Johnny.

- Created by Dean Speir for IMDb


First Appearances[]

  1. Penny Cole - A friendly inmate at the Kentucky State Women's Prison who befriends Ava Crowder and gives her advice on how to survive in prison.
  2. Gunnar Swift - A white supremacist and former buddy of Boyd Crowder whom Boyd pays off to have his sister, Gretchen, protect Ava in prison.
  3. Yoon - An associate of Ethan Picker and representative of the Mexican heroin trade who meets with Boyd Crowder and Wynn Duffy.
  4. Gretchen Swift - Gunnar's sister who is paid off by Boyd to protect Ava in prison, but instead jumps Ava since she despises Boyd for being a "race traitor."


No deaths.



Starring cast

Guest stars



External Links[]