Review: ‘Justified’: On a scale from one to a sh*tload
To me there are three things that need to exist in order for an episode of ‘Justified’ to be considered good. They are 1) Raylan pointing a gun at someone while being a smart a**, 2) Boyd pontificating, and 3) someone somewhere drinking bourbon. This week’s episode had all of the above and then a few added bonuses, like Art and Tim accompanying Raylan on his search for Waldo Truth and the reappearance of everyone’s favorite criminal, Wynn Duffy (sadly, the Wynn-ebago did not make an appearance, but the season is still young).
This week the action straddled county lines (to be honest, it straddled the entire state of Kentucky considering Harlan’s actually a three hour drive from Lexington, but hey, who cares about geography on TV?) as Raylan returned to Lexington and his actual job as a US marshal and Boyd went to work gathering information on the preacher in the woods who’s managed to “save” one of his dealers and one of his whores in less than a week.
It turns out that Preacher Dude and his sister have spent a good amount of time traveling from small town to small town, setting up tents in the woods where they claim to save people from the evilness inside of them. Boyd, of course, recognizes a scam when he sees one, because he’s Boyd Crowder and he’s a professional miscreant. If ever there was someone who knew a thing or two about nefarious plots, it’s Boyd Crowder.
And also because he’s Boyd Crowder, he decides to confront Preacher Dude in front of his “congregation” and have a good old-fashioned Scripture Off. There are few things I love more than Boyd quoting scripture, particularly because Walton Goggins has the kind of presence and charisma that just demands your attention. He could stand up there reading me the Chinese take out menu and I’d be rapt. I used to think it was the hair, the ridiculousness of it that I couldn’t look away, but as time has gone on, I’ve realized he’s just that kind of actor.
In his pre-season review, Alan Sepinwall described Walton Goggins as “absurdly charismatic.” And I cannot think of a better way to put it. For years I’ve struggled with an unhealthy Goggins obsession. Friends and family are constantly confused by my attraction to the man, but I’m fairly certain if I sat them down and forced them to watch any of the scenes in which Boyd is pontificating (particularly in season one when Boyd is actually in his preacher in the woods phase), that they’d not only understand where I’m coming from, but that they’d also join my crusade to spread the word of Goggins to the farthest reaching corners of the world.
I used to think Goggins was at his best when he was paired against Tim Olyphant in scenes, but I’ve come to realize over the last couple of years that while it’s true their chemistry together makes any scene exciting, the real magic comes out when the writers put Boyd in a situation where he can sermonize. It doesn’t matter if his is an audience of one or an entire town hall meeting, he commands the attention of everyone in the room. So when Boyd challenges Preacher Dude on scripture, it’s like Sudden Death: Oration in Harlan.
Preacher Dude, played by Joe Mazzello, is pretty charismatic himself – he has to be if he’s going to enrapture his audience through his sermons (and it’s still not really clear if he’s the swindling mastermind behind the operation or his shady sister), but pitting him against the full Goggins? That was a stroke of genius on the part of the writers.
Meanwhile up in Lexington, Raylan, Art and Tim find themselves engaged in an actual Where’s Waldo search after Raylan fills them in on the bag and ID he found in Arlo’s house in the premiere. Graham Yost is clearly trying to give more screen time to both Rachel (she appeared for about a minute in the premiere) and Tim this season after pushing them to the back burner for quite some time. And while I fully support them being more involved, I think it’s important to note that their lack of screen time is directly correlated with the show’s evolution from a stand alone procedural style show into a more character driven serialized drama. I understand why they’ve been marginalized the way they have, but it’s always nice to see Tim with a gun in his hands and quipping with Raylan (“He’s stealing your bit!”)
From interviews with Yost before the season premiered, we know that the season-long mystery involving the man found dead in the cul-de-sac is as much entwined with Art’s own history as it is Arlo’s (who is absent this week after murdering the prison trustee for knowing too much). It’s the big case that got away, if you will. So once it becomes clear that the man pretending to be Waldo Truth isn’t actually Waldo Truth (he’s been parading around as the man for years so the family could continue to get his benefits), the puzzle pieces start to click together in Art’s mind and the season-long plot advances a little more.
This happens after one of my favorite scenes in recent ‘Justified’ history, in which Raylan, Tim and Art confront the Truth clan, one of the most corrupt – and stupidly corrupt, at that – families since the Crowders and the Bennetts. They’re petty criminals for the most part – not even put together could they have the brains that Mags Bennett had – but they’re a fun bunch of fools. They’re the kind of dimwitted idiots who make Devil look smart. They openly smoke pot in front of US marshals claiming they’ve “got the glaucoma real bad” and they give young children guns because they “agreed it’s time.” These are my favorite criminals on ‘Justified’ because they’re not even smart enough to realize how pathetic they actually are.
Some stray observations:
- “On a scale from one to a sh*tload, how much do you need to tell me right now?” – Art
- Winn Duffy pays a visit to Harlan this week after Boyd and his crew find one of the Dixie Mafia dealers peddling heroin in their area. What ensues is a great scene between Goggins and Jere Burns, who is so brilliant as Wynn Duffy that I want him to just set up residence in Harlan permanently. Boyd offers Duffy a partnership, which Duffy declines because he’s intelligent. “I don’t even trust the way you just now said I could trust you,” he says. And then he kills his own dealer rather than put up with anymore of Boyd’s bullshit.
- Lindsey, bar-tending manager and Raylan’s current bed fellow is married, y’all. And her husband likes to get his rocks off in backyard fights where he surprises everyone by being a secret UFC fighter or something.
- Still no Winona. And I miss her terribly. COME BACK, NATALIE ZEA!
So what did you guys think? Are you happy to see Wynn Duffy return? Were you drawn in to the Scripture Off like me?
Note: Photo courtesy of FX.