In my continuing “therapy through TV”, I completed watching Season 1 of the FX Network series Justified that originally aired in the spring of 2010. It stars Timothy Olyphant of Deadwood fame as a deputy US Marshal in Kentucky. The writing and acting is top-notch. The first episode was perfectly done to draw the viewer into the story and build rapport with the characters. It was also the episode that showed the most location and traveling shots of the various locations. The other episodes were primarily studio-shot so actually I miss that feel of the pilot episode. In the first season, we meet Officer Raylan Givens (Olyphant) as he guns down a guy in Miami in broad daylight that we surmise is connected to the mob. Due to the controversial nature of the execution, he is “punished” by being pulled back to Kentucky – which as it turns out is where he is from and where the series plays out for the remaining episodes – between the “big city” of Lexington and the backwater towns such as Raylan’s own Harlan.
After this interesting pilot episode, the next few shows deal primarily with criminals of mean origin and yet whose crimes are not all that heinous (motivated by going broke, desperation, unrequited love…) rather than pure evil. The one exception is the outstanding character of Raylan’s childhood friend, Boyd Crowder, who starts from a KKK / Nazi overlord that blows up churches and banks, gets converted to Christianity in prison, and then becomes a lone vigilante by the end of the season. The Crowder family it turns out – like Raylan’s own father Arlo – runs the local mafia in drug manufacture and trafficking, prostitution, etc. The hunting of the Crowders by Raylan provides a consistent backdrop to many of the episodes leading up to the explosive conclusion in E13. It is also interesting that coming from this part of Kentucky, Raylan knows just about everybody which throws his colleagues – particularly the black lady officer on his team – off-guard sometimes. The plot really gets rolling again around Episode 5 or 6 when the bad guys are much more evil than before and where the final drama is pieced together and the protagonists are drawn sharper that before. And as previously mentioned, the finale was really good. It is left in a bit of suspense actually which is resolved in S02E01.
An interesting parallel here is that Olyphant’s character in Deadwood, Seth Bullock, was a Marshall when he first got to Deadwood that had a bit of a temper and he does become sheriff of the frontier town. As Raylan Givens, he is again a Marshall. And, like Seth, Raylan is not very lucky in his choice of women either. Both men are loners essentially with Raylan being quite the 19th century frontiersman – I don’t know if this was by design but the personalities of the two characters are pretty similar.
Next up: Weeds S04 and a book review of Isaacson’s Ben Franklin biography…