Saturday, February 23, 2013

The World of "Justified"

The FX show "Justified" takes place in Harlan, Kentucky.  Part of Appalachia, it's an area reputed to be full of coal miners and moonshiners.  It's located in the same state where I live, but it might as well be a different world.  I live in "Northern Kentucky" which in many ways is a suburb of Cincinnati.  The Cincinnati Northern Kentucky Airport is close to where I live.  Many people who fly into the Cincinnati airport assume they are in Ohio, but they aren't. They are in Kentucky.  For many of them, that's probably the only time they ever visit Kentucky.

"Justified" is built around the character of Raylan Givens, who is a United States Marshal.  At one point in one of the episodes, when Raylan identifies himself as a U.S. Marshal, the other character says, "Do they still exist?".  Yes, they do.  The character Raylan was created by Elmore Leonard, a popular author in the United States.  These are the books that inspired the show:

U.S. Deputy Marshal Raylan Givens is played by Timothy Olyphant.  Prior to "Justified" he played Sheriff Seth Bullock in another popular FX series, "Deadwood" which took place in the Old Western United States.  This is Timothy Olyphant as Seth Bullock in "Deadwood".

This is Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens in "Justified":

Raylan is a modern day Marshal, but he looks like an old-fashioned cowboy, with his boots and his hat.    I read that Elmore Leonard wanted him to lose the hat because it looked "too western" but the actor likes the look and kept it.  I think fans of the show agree, and he has become known for his hat, both inside the world of the show and outside the world of the show. 

Elmore Leonard the author is known for his colorful characters and sharp, often humorous dialogue.  The show does a great job of reflecting this.  The characters are interesting and often complicated.  There are many "bad guys" but some of them also have an endearing side.  Take Boyd Crowder for example.  

Boyd worked alongside Raylan in the coal mines in their youth, so they go way back together.  After Raylan escaped Kentucky, Boyd stayed behind and became a white supremacist.  After blowing up a church with a black minister he went to jail.  He came out of jail a changed man and became a Bible-quoting pastor, gathering his own flock of believers.  After that he follows his father's footsteps to become a backwoods drug dealer.  When Raylan comes back to Harlan, he and Boyd strike up a complicated relationship, as old friends yet "outlaw vs. the law".  

The relationship between Raylan and Boyd is one of the highlights of the show:

One minute they are old buddies and the next minute they are threatening each other.  Walt Goggins, who plays Boyd is fascinating to watch.

There is "good Boyd":

Then there is "evil Boyd":

There are other interesting "bad guys" too: 

Wynn Duffy



Some of the good/bad characters are women.  There is Margo Martindale, who plays crime family matriarch, Mags. She won an Emmy for this role. 

Mags "adopts" 14-year old Loretta, after poisoning her father:

Raylan and Loretta

One of Mags' sons is played by Jeremy Davies, who also appeared in "Saving Private Ryan" and "Lost".  

Here he is in "Saving Private Ryan:

Here he is as Daniel Faraday, my favorite character in "Lost": 

And here he is as Dickie Bennett, in "Justified".  He won an Emmy for this role.   

As you may have noticed, Raylan Givens is a really good-looking guy.  He does have love interests in the show.  

First, there is Ava Crowder, who was married to Boyd Crowder's brother, that is until she shot him dead, supposedly in self-defense.  She and Raylan were an item in high school.  They get back together when he returns to Harlan.

When Raylan's boss finds out he's in a relationship with Ava, he tells him to "cut it out" because of her legal troubles.  Eventually, Ava lets her brother-in-law Boyd move in with her.  He needs a place to stay and she needs help paying the mortgage.  

Boyd and Ava

Eventually, Raylan ends up reuniting with his ex-wife, Winona:

Now Winona happens to be pregnant with Raylan's baby.  Some fans of the show have a "hate Winona" site.  They hate her because of the way she treats Raylan.  While he was away she cheated on him with their real estate agent, who is a real sleaze.  Then she married the sleaze.  Now she is divorcing the sleaze and wants to go back to Raylan.  She gets Raylan involved in helping the sleaze when he get into trouble with the local hoods.  She also steals money from the evidence room and makes him help her to put it back.  Winona is kind of a brat, but it seems he loves her. 

Raylan also comes back into contact with his father, Arlo.  There relationship is complicated too.  

Arlo is currently in jail, and Raylan comes to visit, but things don't go well between father and son. 

There are also the people Raylan works with, in the U.S. Marshal's office in Lexington.  Each one of them is an interesting character too, especially his boss Art, on the right.  Raylan and Art often have funny exchanges.  Art has called Rayan his "hillbilly whisperer".  I won't go into greater detail because this post is long enough already.  I just wanted to express how much I enjoy this show.  It's so well-written and the characters are so well cast.  It's in it's fourth season now.  I just discovered it during the third season.  My husband and I have obtained DVDs of the first and second season and are catching up.  I think it's one of the best things on cable. 


Pam said...

The series sounds like a winner! All the right elements and suspense.

judy in ky said...

It has a great group of actors, playing interesting, well-written characters. There aren't many shows that hold my attention as well as this one does.