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He Said, She Said Review Site
Justified: Season 1

Justified: Season 1

What She said:


Who’s the baddest Deputy U.S. Marshal in Kentucky?  Raylan Givens of course!  Talk about glamorizing a profession.  Raylan makes the world of the U.S. Marshal seem hair-raising, somewhat humorous, and action packed.  Not a day goes by that he doesn’t seem to be in some sort of peril.  But Raylan is a tricky fella who is always able to get out of tough situations, and that is what makes Justified so fun to watch. 

Let me back up and give you some background on the story here.  Raylan Givens is a Harlan, Kentucky native, but he’s been working as a Marshal down in Miami.  Unfortunately, he comes under fire for issuing a mobster with an ultimatum and then shooting him.  There’s just some bad publicity associated with that, and so he’s transferred back to Kentucky to work in the Lexington office.  There he is reunited with an old friend and his new boss Chief Deputy Art Mullen.  Art seems like the type of guy who is just trying to get through the day with as little aggravation and need for alcohol as possible.  He likes Raylan, because they go way back, but Raylan also makes his life a complete nightmare.

Justified: Season 1

You see, Raylan Givens has never encountered a rule he didn’t want to break.  He’s not about paperwork and procedure.  Instead, he’s about doing whatever it takes to bring down the bad guy, even if it means treating things a little unorthodox.  He’s also got a serious problem with women, and has a tendency to make a lot of poor decisions in that realm as well.  Relegating Raylan to desk duty would probably kill his spirit, as he’s more of a “get out there and cruise around in his government issued black sedan” type.

Coming back to Lexington and eventually Harlan is not a particularly joyous experience for Raylan.  He’s got a lot of baggage, including a father who is a lifelong criminal. He tries to sidestep any drama with daddy Arlo early on, but it doesn’t take too long before he ends up tied up with the old man.  And believe me, Arlo is a total rat.  You would think there’d be some sort of father/son bond there, but Arlo does everything for himself and is not afraid to betray anyone.  He simply cannot be trusted.

But the overarching plot of Season 1 really is about Raylan trying to bring in another well-known Harlan criminal, Boyd Crowder.  Again, Boyd and Raylan go way back, having worked together in the coal mines years ago.  But since that time the two have taken very different paths.  Raylan has sort of followed the straight path and Boyd, well Boyd is just nuts.  He’s a flat out terrorist.  The dude doesn’t just rob a bank; he pulls out a rocket launcher, yells, “Fire in the hole!,” blows out the front of the bank, and then takes the time to rob it.  He also seems to have no qualms with killing a man, if he’s in the mood.  He just kind of does whatever he wants.  And this is not shocker, as it seems the entire Crowder family is from the wrong side of the tracks.  In fact, Boyd’s brother Bowman was recently shot dead by his wife, Eva, who suffered through years of abuse at his hands.  So there’s a lot of tension within the Crowder family and toward Eva.  We’re also introduced to Boyd’s father Bo, who runs drugs through town and is sort of the patriarch of this wicked family.

Justified: Season 1

Of course, Raylan manages to get himself caught up in the middle of that as well.  As Art says, “Rule #1, don’t sleep with the witness.”  And guess what Raylan does?  It’s actually Raylan’s inability to resist Eva that leads to Boyd’s criminal charges not sticking and his eventual release back into society. 

Raylan’s return to Lexington and Harlan also means that he is reacquainted with his ex-wife, Winona.  She is working as a court reporter in Lexington and is remarried to a real estate broker.  They seem to have a wonderful life, but there’s a whole subplot involving Winona’s new husband, Gary, a large debt that he owes, and some scary people who are after him.  The bad guys are led by a particularly distrubing white collar criminal, Wynn Duffy.  So Raylan finds himself tied up in all that as well.

There truly is so much drama in Season 1 of Justified but Raylan thrives off of it.  His sarcasm and coy way of dealing with things make him a natural for handling such problems.  He’s kind of a joy to watch as he works at his craft.  Raylan is not exactly a good person—he has a temper, gets himself in the middle of things, and doesn’t have the perfect lifestyle—but he has a decent heart and he stands up for the people he cares about.  He’s a good antihero, always getting himself in trouble, but always getting himself out of it—albeit with a pretty significant body count.  In fact, Raylan shoots a lot of people and seems to get away with it.  The key is coaxing the bad guy into making a move first.  Although, there are rumors that his rash behavior down in Miami may come back to bite him.

So yeah, what did I think about Season 1 of Justified?  I loved it!  It has that dark humor that also made Breaking Bad so fun to watch.  It’s also engaging and interesting to watch.  Timothy Olyphant seems perfect for the role of Raylan, as he’s kind of sassy and has a slightly devilish grin.  He makes Raylan have this “all-knowing” presence, even if it’s clear at times that he has no idea what he’s going to do next. 

Justified: Season 1

Across the board, the acting in this show is phenomenal.  I love Nick Searcy’s depiction of Art.  He seems like a good guy who really just wants as little grief as possible.  And a true standout who cannot be overlooked is Walton Goggins as Boyd Crowder.  I’ve never heard of the dude before, although I know from research that he’s had other roles.  He’s so good as the psychologically unhinged Boyd, that I kind of believe that the actor is exactly like the character.  I mean, they must be one and the same.  Even the recurring characters are well done on this show—colleagues Tim Gutterson (Jacob Pitts) and Rachel Brooks (Erica Tazel) are always there to help Raylan clean up his mess, Dewey Crowe (Damon Herriman) gives new meaning to the words “dumb criminal,” and Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns) is the kind of calculated bad buy that is a little bone chilling.

The show benefits from being on FX, and so it’s able to be more gritty than your standard network faire.  It’s filmed like a movie, with striking cinematography and a good use of lights and darks, particularly for the outdoor scenes.  Overall, it’s well written, with plots and subplots that seem to have been given adequate thought.  In particular, I was impressed by the degree of detail given to the character dialogue.  The writers on this show worked hard to ensure that each individual has their own quirks, and that comes through well in their verbal expression.

I’m looking forward to watching Season 2, and slowly making my way through this series.  It’s one of those 13 episode season shows, and so it’s not a huge time-suck.  Plus, if you have Amazon Prime, you can watch most of the series (except for the most recent season) online for free.

It’s well worth your time, and the theme song is hella catchy!

Thumbs up.

Delivery Man

What He said:


I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like the legal system is structured in a way that it is overly protective of the rights of the bad guys. I’m not saying they shouldn’t have rights or that it should be assumed they are guilty because they are charged with a crime, but there are so many loop holes and walls that protect people who are clearly guilty, you have to wonder if the legal system is actually interested in justice. How many times have you heard the news and saw a story about someone getting off easy or all-together because of some technical legal bullshit? What kind of system can you know someone is guilty of a crime, but something can be deemed inadmissible and the case is thrown out as a result?  That makes no sense to me.

Delivery Man

U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens has recently encountered one of these types of situations. He approached a known criminal and when said criminal pulled a gun on him, Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) shot and killed him. Some critics said Raylan could have handled the situation differently. What else you are supposed to do when someone inches away from you is pointing a gun at you, I do not know, but that does not stupid these ridiculous people from casting blame his way. As a result, Raylan is reassigned to another office. This office is in his hometown Harlan County, Kentucky.  Raylan is less than enthusiastic about returning home.

One of the first things Raylan is tasked with upon his return to his hometown is dealing with the Crowder family. Raylan is assigned to protect Ava Crowder (Joelle Carter). Ava recently shot and killed her husband Bowman, who abused her for years. One night she just snapped and shot him while he ate dinner. Her case is currently pending, but in the meantime she’s a free woman. Her life is in danger because Bowman’s family is a local crime family.

Her biggest threat – at first – is Bowman’s brother Boyd (Walton Goggins). Boyd is a member of a white supremacist group that likes to rob banks. He has revenge on the mind. Now Boyd knows Raylan. They knew each other when they were younger. They were friendly, but not necessarily friends. Raylan thought he was a screw up even then. They are definitely familiar with one another though and the back-and-forth between them is quite funny. I heard a rumor that the character was only supposed to be in the first few episodes, but they thought Walton Goggins was so good, they made him a regular.

Boyd’s got himself a crew of genuine cronies. Leading the way in this department is Dewey Crowe (Damon Herriman). This guy is the definition of dumb criminal. Raylan has a lot of fun at the expense of this guy and it is really quite funny.
Johnny Crowder (David Meunier) is Boyd’s cousin and sometimes associate. Johnny deals in drugs and runs in circles that Boyd and Bowman’s father, Bo, used to run in before he was incarcerated; which is drugs. Johnny is an interesting guy because he’s without a doubt a criminal, and generally a bad guy, but he has a soft spot for Ava and does not share his cousin’s desire to see her dead.

Without giving too much away, Raylan gets the better of Boyd and Boyd is sent to prison. However, due to a technicality, he is later released. Raylan promises to see he’s put behind bars again, but Boy claims he has turned over a new leaf. He says he found Jesus in jail and is no longer a criminal. Whether he is or isn’t is teased out the rest of the season. You can never quite figure him out, which makes for good TV, until the final episode. It kept you guessing and was pretty funny too. Goggins playing the supposedly reformed Boyd is very funny.

Delivery Man

His father Bo (M.C. Gainey) is also released on a technicality. Bo plans on reclaiming his criminal empire, which crumbled while he was in prison, upon his release. He was a drug dealer and both Boyd and Johnny worked for him, but with him in jail the family business crumbled and they each did their own thing. But now that he’s out of jail, he plans to reestablish his criminal empire. He also plans on getting revenge on Ava for killing Bowman.

This is only the Crowder’s. Raylan actually deals with a lot of enemies throughout the season. The Crowder’s are the main villains and overarching storyline of the first season, but the show definitely has new threats throughout the year.
Take Wynn Duffy for example. Duffy is a crooked businessman who Raylan’s ex-wife unintentionally gets involved with when her husband makes a bad business deal with him. Raylan has an interesting relationship with his ex-wife Winona (Natalie Zea). Because of that relationship, she is able to ask him for help in dealing with her issue with Duffy.

The Crowders and Wynn Duffy are just a small sample of the cast of characters Raylan deals with over the course of the season. The Crowders are the big storyline of the first season, but the show does a pretty good job of giving you quite the variety of seedy and diverse villains during those filler episodes.

Oh yeah, and there’s Raylan’s father Arlo (Rayman J. Barry. This guy is a character. Unpredictable, entertaining, and back woodsy is how I’d describe this guy. Keep an eye on this character, because he’s amusing as hell.

It took me a while to get used to the tone of this show. I don’t know if I have the right words for it, but it was different than I expected. I think I expected something very serious and brooding like Hannibal or Breaking Bad, but this was more along the lines of Dexter; meaning it took a more sleazy, but amusing approach. Even the type of camera they use to film the show looks different than I thought. Once I got over that, I was on board. This show wasn’t as dark or serious as I expected, but it was very entertaining. It was funny, which I didn’t see coming. It also has a laid back and cool factor.

Raylan Givens is one cool dude. He’s like a small town sheriff from an old western that is transplanted to modern times. He’s an honest lawman, who wants to bust bad guys, but isn’t afraid to bend the rules when he has to. I can’t say I disagree with him when he does, because as I mentioned in the beginning, the legal system simply doesn’t work sometimes. Raylan is not afraid to institute his own breed of justice in those instances. I really like Olyphant. I think he has a great screen presence.

He’s also got a way with the ladies. From the second he walks into town, Ava is on him like flies on shit. She’s got the hots for him and has since they were teenagers. Now that he’s back in town, and she’s recently single, she puts on a full-court press. She’s an aggressive, sassy, and no-nonsense kind of gal. I enjoyed Joelle Carter’s performance as this independent – and downright stubborn at times – gal.

Nick Searcy plays Raylan’s boss, Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Art Mullen. Art and Raylan have a history. I think they know each other from the academy. Art is older than Raylan, but has adapted to the red tape and bureaucracy of a modern day law enforcement officer better than Raylan. He respects Raylan, because he’s a good cop, but is also driven nuts by Raylan’s bending of the rules. Their interactions range from Art screaming at Raylan to them sharing a drink in his office. The dynamic between these two is great.

This is a good show. It’s not quite what I expected, but that doesn’t make it bad. It’s got solid performances, entertaining characters, is funny, and has a cool factor that I can’t quite describe. I’m looking forward to check out season two.

Diagnosis: Thumbs up.

This movie review was given the He said, She said seal of approval on July 22, 2014.