Justified: Pilot and Riverbrook

We don’t review just anything on television – it’s either got to be good (Burn Notice) or bad but insanely popular (Lost, booyah!).  After taking in two episodes of Justified, adding it to our review list was a no brainer.

Episode: Pilot (Season 1, Episode 1)

Synopsis: Modern day gunslinging US Marshall comes through on a threat and, justifiably, guns down a bad guy.  To avoid the Miami heat, he’s sent off to his old homestate of Kentucky, where his first days on the job result in him hunting down an old friend.

Review: A great start to what promises to be a great series.  The show opens with Raylan immediately proving three things: He’s a modern day cowboy, He’s a badass, and He respects the gun.  There are a few more things we can tell about him from the opening, including his willingness to draw down and his lethal speed with a pistol.

The success of any show often rests upon the lead and Timothy Olyphant is a favorite of ours – with good reason.  He’s a commanding presence even though his US Marshall character is cool as ice water throughout.  I’m sure Givens stuck out like a sore thumb in Miami, so it’s probably for the best to move him back to Kentucky.  There are a ton of characters that can be created in that environment and we get to see some interesting ones right off the bat.  Notably the bunch of kinda goofy supremacists, ex-Ranger sniper Tim Gutterson, and the strangely charming Boyd Crowder portrayed by the always excellent Walton Goggins.  Add in a couple of attractive love interests in an ex-wife and a trigger-happy towngirl and you’ve got the makings of quite the cast of characters.

What I really like about this episode is the respect given to firearms.  Too many shows treat guns as mere tools and don’t provide any respect or cater any care into how they’re portrayed.  The show runners, and the characters themselves, have a great deal of respect for their weapons and use them with great authority.  Much like a great western, the gun must be a character and here, it is.

A great first episode that sets up the series perfectly.

Episode: Riverbrook (Season 1, Episode 2)

Synopsis: U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens is on the trail of an escaped convict, who is in turn chasing down a whole lot of hidden loot.  Into the mix are the convict’s ex-wife and her second-cousin boyfriend, both of whom wouldn’t mind getting their hands on the cash.

Review: The second episode of any series is just as important as the first.  The premiere sets the tone but the second sets it in stone.  Or completely blows it and the show goes off in a strange direction.  This particular episode shows how Justified will exist as a series.  It’s not about a single plotline running through the entire existence, but rather now Givens is in Kentucky and will be doing all sorts of Marshal duties – prisoner transport, chasing down felons, and all sorts of good stuff.

This particular episode was enjoyable, in part thanks to good guest casting and the continuing respect for the gun.  Once more firearms are central to the story and the art of the draw is talked about more.  This truly is a modern western and as such has secured my eyes for the rest of the season.

Olyphant crafts a likable and smooth character in Raylan and his complex, flirty relationship with Joelle is fun and interesting.  Clearly Givens is a lawman in the old West sense in that he’s not exactly playing by the rules the whole time.  This episode also had a good bit of comedy spread throughout, which is pleasant, though unlike a show like say, Burn Notice, they’re not afraid to let the good guys, and the bad guys, actually shoot people.  A good follow up episode.

Are you watching Justified?  Thoughts?

Robert Fure is many things: horror expert, ruggedly handsome man of the world, witty prose composer, and writer of his own biography page. Beneath the bravado is a scared little boy, ready to grow into an awesome man and make lies about a scared little boy inside of him. Wait a minute...

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