I Can Justify Watching Justified

A week or so ago I wrote a summary of my thoughts on FX’s Sons of Anarchy. It’s a fine show, and one I highly recommend as you’ll gather if you read my review. I also noticed at the time that I was on a bit of an inadvertent FX kick, as in the last year or so I’ve discovered Always Sunny and Archer as well.

A lot of recommendations for my next show to watch came through in the comments, but one was repeated more than any other: Justified, continuing in the FX tradition.

I responded that I had tried the show. In fact, I’d watched three episodes of it a few months back. I had no particular critique of it, but it didn’t quite capture my interest enough to make me plow through all of it.

But hey, this is my job, and I’ll be damned if I can’t get through 12 episodes of a show in a weekend. I’ve since watched every episode of the series, am now caught up to the latest one, and am ready to share my thoughts.

I like it.

Simply put , it’s an enjoyable show. But that being said, I’m not putting it on my “must see” list that includes recent shows I’ve discovered like Archer and Spartacus. It’s well made and acted, but not particularly the kind of program that “hooks” you in.

Though with it’s endless parade of leggy blondes, it does certainly try.

It took me a while to start appreciating the series, as it just seemed like the type of procedural I usually avoid. Honestly, I didn’t think things started getting interesting until maybe the ninth or tenth episode. Until then, it just didn’t really seem like it was going anywhere.  A US Marshall is banished to his hometown for the questionable shooting of a fugitive. Each episode it seemed like some random fire would light up that he needs to put out. Judge needs protection, convict takes a hostage, etc. And these things never seemed particularly interconnected, and none of the major plotlines really intersected until the very end of the season.

All the effort devoted to the story of Raylan’s shootings being investigated seemed pointless for the duration of season one. Did anyone really think that would ever pose a threat to him at all? Yet it kept being brought up as a dark cloud over his head through the entire first season, despite there being no actual consequences from it.

That brings me to the character of Raylan Givens, played with supreme swagger by Timothy Olyphant. He’s easy to like, and a formidable gunslinger. He’s sort of a cowboy version of Jack Bauer, if he was given a sense of humor and a good night’s sleep.

Cowboy hats and warm weather are the two main reasons I wish I lived in the South.

But my problem with Raylan is that he’s almost TOO smooth. Rarely did I ever find any sort of moment where I felt any real danger for his character. You KNOW he’s going to outshoot everyone and be just fine in each and every encounter. I guess you could say the same about Bauer, Jason Bourne and James Bond, but the way those characters are played, it at least SEEMS like they could get hurt in these dangerous encounters. More often than not Raylan’s joking with his aggressors and he always, always keeps his cool. Maybe that’s his tactic, but he never really seems like he’s taking any of it seriously.

His biggest problems aren’t the guns being shoved in his face, but the women he keeps sleeping with. First it’s a witness in a case he’s working that gets the whole thing tossed out, now it’s his ex-wife. But again he has his carefree attitude toward it all, and if the man is ever stressed about anything going on in his life, you’d never know it.

I think a far more interesting character is Boyd Crowder. For the last half of the first season, I could have sworn his plotline was building toward some kind of big reveal and a scheme he had up his sleeve masked by his religious zealotry. But alas, it appears his conversion was legitimate, and he really did go vigilante on his father with no ulterior motive other than “eradicating evil.”  Now he’s lost his faith because God allowed his newformed church to be slaughtered, and his character progression is far more interesting than Raylan’s as far as I’m concerned, as Raylan has been the same since day one.

Think you need to open that flap at the end Boyd.

Season two is off to a strong start I’d say. It seems to have a clear direction, with the introduction of this new crime family (awesomely including Daniel Faraday from Lost), and hopefully we’ll see less disjointed episodes, and the season can flow a bit better. Also, what happened to Raylan’s black girl partner? Did they just write her out of the show?

So yes, I like Justified, and I’m going to keep watching it, but frankly, only because there isn’t a whole lot else on TV to watch right about now. NBC Thursday is really it, with Archer to boot, and thank God someone was smart enough to schedule Justified on a Wednesday.


  • Comfortable Madness

    FX has been cranking out some quality TV lately. The newest addition being Lights Out. Quality TV.

    P.S. Timothy Olyphant can make anything worth watching.

  • JB

    Its definitly a procedural show but its far more interesting then most of the ones out there right now. Also if you dont have some sort of man crush on Timothy Olyphant then you are probably gay. lol

  • Jeremy

    Olyphant/Goggins is my favorite acting duo since Emerson/O’Quinn.

  • matt

    while ur checking out new shows check out supernatural

  • Bud the Chud

    “Also, what happened to Raylan’s black girl partner?” She was in the first episode of the second season. and I think she has been in the background of the last few. Although I do wish the would use her character more.

  • JB

    Shes not really his partner. Shes just another Marshall that he works with occasionally. More times then not he generally does things solo but I think the sniper guy is his actual partner.

  • Andy D

    Does anyway else notice the weird way Olyphant walks? It ‘s like he is trying to walk in single file with himself.

  • XenoIrish

    Agreed on most of what’s been said. The show is good, but could be so much better. The location and character types are unique and enjoyable, but the procedural nature should go in favor of a more well crafted season long arc to hold my interest better.

    I hadn’t thought about Raylan’s character seeming so invincible before, but now that you’ve brought it up, it is glaringly obvious, and i hope he gets in over his head soon.

    Boyd’s character is amazing, and well acted. I’m glad this season seems to be split between the two.

    The other characters, Raylan’s boss Art, and his fellow sniper marshall Tim especially, are also enjoyable when there is decent interaction between them.

    One thing about the show that i really don’t like is the opening theme song, but that’s what fast forwards are for.

  • Bandit

    Being from Oklahoma I know a lot of these characters, and it is a fresh “type” to put on TV. This world is very interesting to me.

    The new season is just getting better and better. I agree Boyd is the most deep and interesting on the show. The black girl appears to be a BIG part of this coming episode (something to do with a gangbanger that killed her sibling.

    Don’t sleep on his partner Tim, it looks like they are going to give him more time on screen and better lines.

    The dialogue of this show just plain KILLS.

  • Hyde

    I am from a hick town and a lot of the stuff in that show is all too familiar; it’s kind of funny. I also love Boyd. He is probably my favorite character. I like that they are hooking him up with is ex-sister-in-law, that is sure to cause some sort of chaos.

  • Teh_Shard

    The thing you gotta keep in mind with Justified is that the show is very heavily influenced by it’s Elmore Leonard roots. Indeed, each season has played out like a Leonard novel. In Leonard’s books, there is always one or two characters playing the long game… scheming, double-dealing and maneuvering through your standard list of supporting characters and situations to one central arc that brings everything to a head. I felt the first season’s arc was wrapped up a little too quickly… but I like how they have developed Boyd’s character this season. If they are given a third season, I think the writers and actors will have settled into their characters enough to give us a really fantastic Leonard style caper.

  • *blinks* You mention Spartacus, that CGI racked piece of crap that tries to use violence and boobs to shock it into credibility, as recommended TV and leave Justified in the Also Ran pigeonhole??

    Oh….for shame…….for SHAME!!!!