Articles for Justified Season 2

Justified‘s back! Crib notes from 2.1, "The Moonshine Wars": Raylan opts to stay in Kentucky, and is trying to not to shoot anyone as his reputation‘s getting worse. Harlan County residents have their own code of conduct, as ignoble as it is, and they adhere to it, same as Raylan does. From the degrees of depravity of its denizens, we can see why Raylan left, and understand where his sense of justice comes from and why it doesn‘t match the bureau‘s. And he‘s not over Winona or Boyd.Season 2 picks up literally where the first season left off. Bodies all over the place, including Bo Crowder, leader of a meth syndicate and daddy to Boyd, Raylan‘s alternately evil/god-fearing pal. Ava‘s being led away as Art asks about "your boyfriend" and she says, "Which one?", setting up a triangle. Raylan faces yet more investigation by the department because bodies seem to fall wherever he is. But first, a piece of business: In a downpour, Raylan tracks Boyd tracking Pilar, who was the sole cartel escapee after the showdown. She‘s truckjacked on her way to the airport, where a plane to Miami awaits, but Boyd drags her to the tarmac at gunpoint, wanting revenge for daddy‘s shooting, which he wanted to do. (Ah, the twisted logic that is Justified!) Raylan pleads for Boyd to give her up to him and shoots toward Boyd, but he‘s also shooting at someone in the plane shooting at them, winging Pilar. Follow? Read more »
In Justified 2.2, "The Life Inside," we see Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) reassessing relationships with various folks -- Winona, Arlo, Gary, Tim and Boyd. Winona seems to be a restless fixture in his motel bed and his shirts, which she sleeps in -- maybe, just maybe, willing to forgive Raylan‘s many faults if he‘d only open up to her on occasion. Even hearing about his frankly horrific day is gratifying for her, so long as they share stuff.She‘s still technically married to Gary, who creeps around outside Raylan‘s motel room, telling Raylan that he‘d won Winona from Raylan once and implying he‘ll do it again. What she saw in Gary is beyond me, other than he‘s the polar opposite of Raylan. That was clearly enough. So what has changed? And a recurring question is why Ray doesn‘t rent a place (Winona points out that he makes enough), so we can only assume he‘s (sub)consciously stalling in the hopes of shacking up with his ex. Read more »
In "The I of the Storm," Raylan and Winona go on a date to see Dave Alvin‘s band at a place that happens to be off the beaten path; he thinks she doesn‘t want anyone to see them together because she‘s still married. In fact, she isn‘t even sure about divorcing Gary because she thinks she and Raylan can never be happy together. (Flawed female-related logic that seems to be one weak spot in the show.) So they quickly descend from needing one another to facing the same old failure. Plus, sniper Gutterson happens to be across the bar -- so much for secrets, thinks Raylan.His paranoia emerges when Art nods at Tim to Raylan, asking if he should be concerned. Raylan, flustered, starts stammering guiltily, thinking he‘s talking about Winona, when Art‘s just concerned about Gutterson‘s mental health after shooting a man. Gutterson does look zombified, but he‘s trained his whole life for his job, right? No doubt he‘s also peeved that Raylan‘s now overshadowing him, even in his field of expertise -- shootin‘ folks. Read more »
"For Blood or Money," while gratifying, was all over the place plot-wise, a bunch of rogue story lines that needed airing out. For once, Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) was peripheral to much of the action, which mainly involved Rachel Brooks‘ (Erica Tazel) brother-in-law, Clinton (Larenz Tate, Black Shawn! from Rescue Me). He‘s in a halfway house after serving time and clearly has some bipolar thing going on in addition to bottled rage. When his supervisor grounds him for missing a cleaning shift -- preventing him from going to his son Nick‘s 12th birthday party with a poignant, long-ago-wished-for gift -- a (fake) Furby -- he loses it, nearly bashing the guy‘s brains in with a phone. We learn that he was responsible for Rachel‘s sister‘s death, driving drunk (albeit taking his overdosed wife to the hospital). Clinton carjacks an old cohort, Flex (an aspiring magician), shooting him in his card-shuffling hand, veers from Nick‘s school to the home of Rachel‘s mom, who he disarmed and tied up (and who obviously gave Rachel her spine), and finally to a pizza place where he was to meet his son. A showdown involving the marshals, the halfway house supervisor, and a vengeful Flex ensues and Clinton‘s subdued, although Rachel shoots Flex.  Read more »
Sorry to break it to (or should I say, remind) the Justified team, but after last week‘s episode around Rachel, this week‘s "Cottonmouth" refocused on Raylan and Boyd got back to the show‘s heart and soul. It felt closer to Elmore Leonard‘s voice, in plot, tone and language, with Timothy Olyphant (Raylan) at his fiercest and Walton Goggins (Boyd) at his simmering best.Raylan‘s back on the McCready case, trying to locate where Loretta‘s dad went, or if he‘s in fact dead, although his checks are being cashed. Dewey, who has summoned Raylan to the penitentiary to see if he can‘t bargain some information for a reduced sentence, is abruptly dragged into the quarantine room, being told he‘d be tested for TB; however, it‘s only so Raylan could talk to him alone. Cut to a lovely, ominous shot of the back of Raylan‘s hatted head as he checks his Blackberry. There‘s something about Dewey that brings out the bully in Raylan, who repeatedly slaps Dewey‘s hands down, and he threateningly removes his hat, which often precedes some act of violence. Read more »
"Blaze of Glory," episode 6 of the second season of Justified, juxtaposed some interesting interpretations of the law. It begins with Boyd (Walton Goggins) and Ava (Joelle Carter) being questioned about the mine heist, which included guys dying and lots of missing cash. Clearly they got their stories straight, and miraculously, they‘re released, but not before a livid Art (Nick Searcy) puts one of the agents in his place for intimidating Ava. Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) isn‘t involved in the interrogation, but he‘s there to show his skepticism at the outcome, and for Boyd to express his devotion to Ava, which presumably will become romantic. So after those two are let off the hook, we see Winona (Natalie Zea) get into hot water over what seems to be a relatively minor offense. She and Raylan wait for the evidence locker to be opened so she can deposit files on some case she was working on. They banter about their relationship, which seems to be closer than ever, obvious in the way he picks some lint off her belt as she talks about settling down again and making some "little Raylans." But this would mean Raylan essentially giving up his marshal‘s position, something he‘s clearly not ready to do. They‘re interrupted, he leaves and she opens the evidence box, surprised to see it‘s full of cash, and after a brief pause, sneaks a $100 bill. What she didn‘t think of is that all of the bills have been inventoried (by Tim Gutterson, apparently, and with some resentment) and can be traced. If it is, she‘s endangering not only her own job, but Raylan‘s too. Read more »
Justified usually goes down like a shot of old Kentucky bourbon, but not so with "Save My Love," the seventh episode of season 2. More like a jar of Mags‘ not-quite-ready "apple pie." While it is full of amusing interlocking little circles of acquaintances, it feels disjointed and stubbornly stuck on a storyline involving Winona (Natalie Zea) stealing cash from evidence. Granted, the questions arising from this increasingly complicated act are character-defining, possibly even deal-breaking, when it comes to Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) and his ex. She wound up taking not just the one $100 bill we saw her clutching and surrendering in the bank robbery, but the whole box -- a couple hundred thousand. The Feds are on the trail of the key bill, discovering that it had been out of circulation for 20 years, as it had been in the evidence locker since then. Long story short, after she blurts out her confession, much of the episode hinged on Winona and Raylan trying to put the money (in Winona‘s gym bag) back, while the courthouse building is a zany hive of activity and interruptions. These blips are instigated by the other marshals routinely going about their jobs: a wary Art (Nick Searcy); the rogue Judge Reardon (the hilariously blustery Stephen Root), who wears a Speedo and a pistol under his robe; and a bomb alert.  Read more »
Just as everything seemed to be cruisin‘ along for Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) this season in Justified, in episode 8, entitled "The Spoil," suddenly he‘s faced with the decision to stay in Kentucky or leave. Winona‘s escapade with "borrowing" the couple hundred grand from evidence, and Raylan‘s part in dutifully covering it up, have Art suspicious. He tracks Raylan‘s phone (and you thought your boss was bad!) to a batting cage, where Raylan‘s taking out his frustration on some baseballs. Art doesn‘t refer to the cash thing, but Raylan can just tell Art knows. "You‘re droppin‘ your shoulder," Art points out about Raylan‘s swing, and like a pouty juvenile, Raylan answers, "No I‘m not." ‘Nuff said. And Raylan is seriously doubting his devotion to Winona, now that her greedy side has been re-exposed. Any further pursuit of wooing her back would show his own weakness. So after a fifth of bourbon, he returns to his motel room where she‘s sleeping, and says, "Art knows," implying so much in two words.Art tells Raylan he‘s been assigned to guard Carol (Rebecca Creskoff), the spokesperson for mining company Black Pike, who‘s speaking at a town meeting about the mine‘s plans for mountaintop removal. This means basically not leaving her side before, during or after the hearing. He starts the morning totally hungover and negative, so unlike the professional marshal he usually is. Boyd, now going house to house trying to sell folks the mining company‘s offer, gets stopped by the cops, one of them being the Bennett boy. They smash his taillight, saying that‘s why. That Boyd comes off as the innocent good guy says how deeply corrupted folks are in Harlan. Read more »
In "Brother‘s Keeper," Loretta (the awesome young Kaitlyn Dever) has clearly emerged as the symbolic innocent soul of Harlan whose fate could go north or south depending on the Appalachian breeze. Sitting on her right shoulder is Raylan (Timothy Olyphant), essentially her figurative and real lifeline to the world outside the insular snake‘s den of Harlan, and someone who escaped, at least once. On her left shoulder is Mags (Margo Martindale), who‘s developed a bizarre and skewed attachment to the girl, who has filled a hole that Mags‘ three Steinbeckian sons can‘t. And perversely, Mags killed Loretta‘s father, which the girl still doesn‘t know.In preparation for the big party, Mags is fixing Loretta‘s hair and telling her how pretty she looks in her new pink dress. As if on cue, the brute Coover barges in and leers at her, and we‘re once more terrified for her safety, and again when the girl is sent to help him (with his still-smashed fingers) unload some kegs. The party -- complete with boot stompin‘, BBQ and banjos, plus a Glee-like tune by Mags -- is a good excuse to gather all of Justified‘s main characters, now wheeling, dealing and plotting grandly with and against one another. Black Pike‘s impending mountaintop expansion has brought Carol to present Mags with an ultimatum, which she promptly -- and successfully -- asks to be tripled, among other concessions (but not before Carol capriciously gives what feels like a farewell kiss to Raylan, still her bodyguard) Read more »
Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) has officially become a more interesting character than Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant). I‘m surprised to write this, because Raylan/Olyphant is such a great character/actor combo, but the producers of Justified have made Boyd/Goggins an even more intriguing character, making Raylan seem boring at times. Sure, he‘s a lawman, so it‘s understandable ... but it‘s particularly when Raylan mentally eases himself back into re-settling with Winona (in Glynco, Georgia, where he‘d presumably return to firearms training) that his character arc flatlines. Sure he‘s full of contradictions, which is what makes him so fascinating, but they‘re subtle and, by now, fairly predictable. We want him to be happy, but we also want to see the wild side of him, at odds with domestic bliss.On the other hand, Boyd is designed to embody the biggest contrasts imaginable, from white supremacist to religious missionary to mercenary hitman to corporate shill. And the more wicked he is, the more lovable he is. Much of it has to do with Goggins‘ sheer brilliance and lunacy -- his crazy porcupine hair fighting for attention with his dazzlingly white choppers. He‘s decided that he can‘t fight his penchant for crime, and coupled with an offer from Mags that he can‘t refuse, he bids goodbye to Ava, who once told him he could only live with her if he walked the straight and narrow. And yet, once he‘s gone, she pines for him. More on this later... Read more »
On Justified this week, Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) finds Kentucky wrapping its tentacles ever more tightly around his neck, but he sees hope amid the madness. For example, Winona still loves him despite his faults, and Mags (Margo Martindale) seems to have genuinely changed her vengeful attitude toward Raylan. In the Marshal‘s office, Raylan‘s being debriefed after some guys tried to kill him and Winona (Natalie Zea). Gary storms in, accusing Raylan of trying to get her killed. Art has to stop the fists from flying, sending Rachel (Erica Tazel) to watch over Winona, whose side Gary suddenly won‘t leave. Tim is assigned to babysit Raylan, who tells Gutterson what he plans on doing that he shouldn‘t be doing, before doing it and making a fool of him. Another way to ostracize his sniper coworker (as Tim, Jacob Pitts does his best Johnny Cash impression -- drawl, hair, black outfit and all). And Tim admits to Raylan that he can‘t tell Art or else he‘ll seem incompetent himself. Read more »
Kudos, Justified, for doing in "Reckoning" what I didn‘t think you had the guts to do -- offing Helen, the one person who truly understood Raylan and all his complexities (Winona included), and who gave him his ticket out of Harlan years ago. Her death -- revealed in a gorgeous opening slo-mo montage of Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) visiting the crime scene -- forces Raylan and Arlo into the same claustrophobic grieving space where they‘re both in pain, but just can‘t eat their pride and console one another.Arlo (Raymond J. Barry) blames Raylan, believing his murder of Coover spurred Dickie‘s to kill Helen as retribution, when it was really Dickie seeking revenge after identifying Arlo in the Boyd-led pot heist. Raylan, as he conceivably always has, takes crazy Arlo‘s venom, as he‘s yet unaware of this. Read more »
Pour yourself some apple pie, this is gonna be a long one! Season 2 of Justified, which ended in a bang with the dense, action-packed "Bloody Harlan," was a pretty great sophomore season. It had more of an overall arc of interwoven storylines and relationships than last year‘s, which felt more procedural in nature. And while it‘s partly why we love the show, Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) tempered his trigger happiness, proving people can change.First off, Winona‘s pregnant! She and Raylan have had fewer romantic scenes than Boyd and Ava lately. It‘s been on and off, and she perpetually seems like she‘s got one foot out the door. But she tells him in his motel room‘s bathroom, pushing them together intimately and showing how much he loves her. But his job still defines him, which is clear when he ponders what he‘d do if an annoyed Art doesn‘t recommend him for promotion back to Glynco as a firearms instructor. "I could sell ice cream ... I like ice cream," he muses, an Elmore-ism that has finally surfaced lately. He also can drive the hell out of a Lincoln (while talking on his phone) so how bout a chauffeur? Read more »
The Emmys often get a bad rap for nominating the same shows and actors over and over again, but this year, the Drama field is wide open. In the five major categories, 10 of the 30 nominees from last year aren‘t even eligible thanks to the end of Lost and extended hiatuses for Breaking Bad and Damages. To put that in perspective, the comedy side only has four nominees from last year who aren‘t eligible.  Read more »
The 2011 Emmy nominations were announced today, and as expected, last year‘s big winners, Mad Men and Modern Family, are the most nominated drama and comedy with 19 and 17 nominations, respectively. However, the nominees this year include a number of very pleasant surprises and big totals for HBO‘s freshman dramas Boardwalk Empire (18 nominations) and Game of Thrones (13 nominations).  Read more »
Some of the smaller Emmy categories are usually my favorites, and this year, the races for Guest Actor and Actress are filled with some superb performances. Glee scored three nominations for its guest actresses, including a surprising but deserving one for Dot-Marie Jones as Coach Beiste. And Saturday Night Live also dominated with three hosts scoring nominations.  Read more »
This year, despite some glaring oversights, the Emmy Awards got a lot of stuff right. They welcomed plenty of new shows like Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire and The Big C while also including returning favorites ignored in previous years like Friday Night Lights, Justified and Parks and Recreation.  Read more »
Ignore the super-sweet title. Forget the sound-bite descriptions about a doctor who learns the meaning of life from a dead woman. Don‘t recall the many overly-sweet ghosts of pop culture.None of that has anything to do with A Gifted Man. Because none of that does justice to this complicated, smart and thoroughly lovely drama. Read more »
And they‘re actually pretty good.Like everybody who spends way too much time watching or thinking about television, I am continuously irritated by most major TV awards. When the same, arguably-inferior shows get nominated year after year, irritation is hard to avoid. But sometimes an award listing gets it right. This year‘s nominations for the Critics Choice Television Awards get it very right. Read more »
The biggest night in TV is here, the 2011 Emmy Awards! Will Modern Family and Mad Men win the top awards once again, or will newcomers like Boardwalk Empire and Parks and Recreation dethrone them? And how will Jane Lynch serve as host?  Read more »
I‘m very proud to be a member of the Television Critic Association, especially on days like today, when the nominations for the organization‘s 27th annual TCA Awards are announced.Television critics often look beyond the traditional shows you might see in other awards to honor the programs and actors who truly represent the best TV has to offer. This year‘s nominations are led by FX‘s Justified, HBO‘s Game of Thrones and NBC‘s Parks and Recreation, but there are also nominations for strong underdog shows like Community, Louie, Terriers.  Read more »

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