I’m starting to think that the best way to approach Justified is just to think of each episode as a singular, Leonard-esque condensed crime movie. Yeah, there’s a few serialized elements so far, but Raylan and his fellow Marshals seem to take a back seat each week to the schemes of the bad guys. And as good as Timothy Olyphant is as Raylan, that’s still probably a wise move.
Think about it: in the majority of the Elmore Leonard novels you’ve read, what parts of the book were most entertaining? Your Nerd’s not-even-fucking-remotely-humble opinion is resoundingly the fucking bad guy shit. After all, Leonard’s heroes are damn near always cool criminals with a strict code or cool lawmen with a looser code, and while he knocks those characters out of the park, his bad guys are just plain more fucking fun.
And so far I’d say that this trait of Leonard’s novels also proves true of Justified. Raylan is undeniably a badass and we need him to ground the show, but when they’re depicting the criminals doing criminal shit is when the episodes have really come alive. This week we got to watch four awesome characters double-, triple- and I think maybe even quadruple- cross each other, leaving the two more interesting characters dead in the end. I was especially hoping we’d see more of Travis Travers, a weasely pot-smoking asshole with hidden reserves of nasty within him when shit counted. Of course, once he tapped into that shit, Givens put three in his chest – done and done.
But snitch Arnold Pinter (don’t judge your incredibly masculine Nerd for this knowledge, but he’s played by the dude who played Cynthia’s boyfriend on Sex and the City – we do crazy things for love, dear reader) is a good new character I’m sure we’ll see more of him. In the comments there have been concerns over whether each week the bad guys will solely be Harlan County meth addicts and racists. I think the Brooklynite Pinter brings up an interesting concept when talking to Raylan about how he ended up in eastern Kentucky. He says he fled NYC because of dangerous gangs like the Jamaicans taking over in the nineties, figuring if he relocates to a smaller market he could get more shit done with less serious consequences from the competition. I think that’s kind of like the writers saying that all-walks-of-criminal-life could be in eastern Kentucky. If this show goes into a few more seasons, we’ll probably be thankful for the extra possibilities.
This week, as far as the serialized shit on the show goes, we got to hear the back story on Wynona and Ray’s past relationship and also watch Raylan finally initiate a new one with Ava. Ray also gained (I’m hoping) a hilariously awkward Moneypenny of sorts this week in the receptionist who assures Ray that she has an apartment with no roommates or cats. And is it just me or do you feel like they’re really twisting your nips with the delayed reveal of Raylan’s father? When Ray got word that his dad had been busted for a DUI my ears perked right the fuck up – he’s gotta go help him now! – only to get pissed when Ray acted like he doesn’t care. But does he really not care or was he just trying to cut off any suspicions the chief might have about him and his family?
So what do you think, Justifans (“and so another fan forum name was forged in the interfires…”) – am I off on my mini-movie approach? Do you still think it’ll get more serialized later? Shit, do you read Leonard for the dumbass/badass bad guys the way I do or am I alone on that?