Partly because he’s killed more men than typhoid but also because gunplay is never personal for him, being shot by Marshall Raylan Givens (Deadwood’s Timothy Olyphant) is not something you can take to heart. The defining irony of Fx’s Justified is that while it’s the most trigger-happy show on TV, it’s also the most genteel. Motherfuckers be all polite when they come to take your life.
"Raylan is marshalling in Kentucky where he grew up. He was working in Florida but that went south when he shot a dude for drawing on him ("it was…. JUSTIFIED" he tells his superiors. Way to namecheck the brand, Raylan!)"
Raylan is marshalling in Kentucky where he grew up. He was working in Florida but that went south when he shot a dude for drawing on him ("it was…. JUSTIFIED" he tells his superiors. Way to namecheck the brand, Raylan!) It wasn’t the first time. So Kentucky is a punishment and he sees it as such though you quickly learn that being back home is what he really needs.
Because Raylan is a man out of his time. He should have been born in 19th century Dakota, rounding up cattle rustlers, laying down God’s law and generally doing unto others but he’s shit out of luck on that score. He’s here and now and can’t change who he is. Florida could never work out. His 10 gallon hat may as well be a tattoo because it never leaves his head, a permanent reminder of what he is. The stoic solitude of the lone gunslinger – that is his lot.
"There’s a beautiful sense of place that grounds everything – the state of Kentucky, wild at heart and weird on top, is the main character."
That’s why fundamentally Justified is a country and western Heartbeat and this goes a long way to explaining its success. That same desire for the certainties of clip-round-the-ear policing that let Heartbeat run for 18 years drives Justified. Raylan knows all the hicks, shitheels and meth heads he arrests – he went to school with them. He knows their parents. They’ll talk all friendly even when they have their guns drawn. How’s his old mining buddy Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) doing? He’s a white supremacist bank robber who likes blowing things up. "You don’t say?" They have a good laugh about it as they shoot it out. It’s that kind of show.
It’s really about community, about staying true to what made you. You only find peace when you stop running from who you are. Olyphant is perfect – stupidly handsome and plausibly tough with flashes of steel from his Seth Bullock days that let you know he isn’t the guy to fuck with. There’s a beautiful sense of place that grounds everything – the state of Kentucky, wild at heart and weird on top, is the main character. And people matter. That’s a good show.
The verdict on Justified: Raylan’s hot ex-wife (Natalie Zea) is Justipied.
Marks out of 10: 7.5
Imagined: Tuesday 22 February 2011