I just finished watching the last two episodes of Season 1. This is some kind of crazy show.
I guess I better preface my opinions by saying I haven’t been a member of the audience during the much touted “golden age of cable television” that’s been going on for the last decade or so. I never cared about “The Sopranos” and I didn’t care about “Madmen” although I watched a few episodes a while back. Likewise, I started watching the “Breaking Bad” episode where he is burning his money on the barbecue and then throws it into the swimming pool. All I saw was Hal from “Malcom in the Middle” in his underwear making funny noises that weren’t particularly funny.
So maybe I’m not up on what’s current in TV Land. Take that as given.
This is some kind of crazy show. Apparently, Kentucky is located in the Twilight Zone where endless criminal activity and gun play is completely routine. Timothy Olyphant’s character (Raylan Givens) is literally submerged in family, friends and strangers who all seem to be at each other’s throats twenty-four, seven. Over the course of those two episodes at least sixteen people were shot dead. And this is ignoring beatdowns, kidnappings, arson, non-lethal shootings, and even shoulder mounted rocket attacks. And the cast of characters are almost exclusively highly conflicted and dangerous individuals. Perhaps the only exception (and it’s a little early for me to be sure of this) is Ray’s boss, Art Mullen, the Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal (played by Nick Searcy). He is, of course, surrounded by the insane happenings but so far seems to be operating as a sane law enforcement agent trying to manage his team and stay within the law. But I’m sure in the course of the show’s six-year run he must crack.
Season One documents Ray’s return to Kentucky. And the circumstances highlight Ray’s already unorthodox perspective on law enforcement. He has a code of behavior that allows him to supersede normal legal protocol when he determines that someone isn’t just a normal criminal. In other words, if someone has figured out how to game the system to commit acts that Ray cannot allow to occur he is determined to use extra-legal activities to curtail them. He takes the law into his own hands. That’s the premise of the show. In his mind, he’s justified. I guess we’ll find out if the world confirms this or changes his mind.
So as of the end of season 1 I am enthusiastically a fan of the show. As I said the character are conflicted and most of them are not good people by any definition of the word. But several of them have been shown to be interesting. Of special importance seems to be Boyd Crowder, played by Walton Goggins. Boyd’s criminal family is the focus of much of season one’s action. Boyd is both a career criminal and Ray’s boyhood friend. They worked together in the Kentucky coal mines. And it seems apparent they are meant to be two sides of a coin throw.
The show maintains a very active pace with rarely a dull moment. Ray’s romantic life is, so far, the least interesting part of the show but perhaps with additional insight into the motivations and back story of the main women in his life we’ll get a better understanding of why we should care which of them is his leading lady. Of course, that is assuming any of them lives long enough to develop a domestic back story.
And as a point of information on the female reaction to Justified, Camera Girl (or more formally, Mrs. Photog) is also enthusiastically a fan of the show. But she is more blood thirsty than I and less philosophical. So that makes it less surprising to me. Stay tuned and I will update this as I view the succeeding seasons in the coming weeks.