Ok. It’s very simple. I love Justifed. From the minute I knew that Timothy Olyphant (Damages, Deadwood) was to play the Deputy U.S. Marshall Raylen Givens and that Graham Yost (Boomtown) was producing I was expectant and the pilot delivered. The final line in the pilot from Raylen’s ex-wife, Winona ( “that you’re the angriest man I know” was one of the best ending lines of any pilot I’ve ever seen. . . and that incidentially would number in the hundreds.
Even though I’ve been traveling and spending time with family, I was actually sitting on the couch on Tuesday to catch the first season finale. And it too delivered, although I wanted more about Raylen and Winona…(Natalie Zea) but I take comfort in that the show will be back for a second season and I can wait with much anticipation I might add. The showdown between Boyd (the amazing Walton Goggins) ..was necessary of course but it’s those characters and subplots that draw me in every time. Olyphant, Walton and the show, the showrunner, etc. all deserve Emmy noms.
I’m sure I’m not alone in finding Olyphant sexy as hell and his performance here equals that of Deadwood. It helps that the material started with Elmore Leonard’s short story “Fire in the Hole,” but Yost and his other writer/producers have done a great job of keeping the tone alive, and keeping Raylen mysterious, yes angry, but vulnerable and complex…who like many of us can make a mess of things even when our hearts are seemingly in the right place.
Credit goes to FX programming execs, too, because they allow writers to develop characters who people don’t always have to like or understand but are compelling and struggle with the issues that wake many of us up in the middle of the night. When Raylen asks Winona, why him (her current husband) and not me…that resonates for anyone who longs for someone, or those of us who believes you truly may have one or two great loves of your life. What is it that brings people together and why do the same traits that attract us often repel us in the end, or become the downfall of a heated, passionate relationship?
Delving into Raylen’s tormented relationship with his dad is also first rate as anyone from a family with a heavy dose of dysfunction can relate to…you can love someone and not like them very much at all. The ties that bind can be freeing or constraining or both at the same time, but Raylen had to return to the source of his frustrations and frictions to deal with them, or at least I’m pretty sure that’s what Leonard and Yost had in mind.
While I’m ready for True Blood, Entourage and Hung to begin on HBO, and the returns of The Closer on TNT…Justified has truly been one of my top viewing pleasures and I have watched episodes not once but twice on a regular basis.
Can Raylen sustain a relationship, can you ever really go home again, can you wrong rights and right wrongs or resolve the major barries between you and your parents? I don’t know…I struggle with some of those same issues…and wrote extensively about methamphetamine’s underbelly in rural communities, due to what’s going on in my small hometown in Missouri, in my original televison pilot, Manitou Pass. A side note, I was told it was too dark…but then Breaking Bad debuted years later…and Justified.
While the other cases Raylan works on the show have been interesting, nothing matches his time spent with Boyd, Winona, his father and Ava (Joelle Carter). Gripping, potent, it stirs up my blood and both Raylen’s anger and my hours spent watching the show are ultimately well within reason (especially for someone who is passionate about television) and justified!