The title of the season premiere of Justified is clearly a call to the Game of Thrones series. It makes sense with death only a few minutes away.
Justified makes no mistake on the premiere that the show is about two sides of the same coin in Boyd Crowder and Raylan Givens. Their stories are separated, showing different sides of the law while progressing them in such a way that gives you the kind of feeling that these stories will eventually come together. Justified from the first episode on has made it clear that where one is, the other isn’t far behind.
Raylan begins his story in Kentucky, having to answer to all of the beatings he gave to the particularly pathetic Dewey Crowe. Crowe is a fun character but makes me miss the entertainment of Dickey Bennett. This ends up having to encounter the extended family of the Crowe’s in Daryl Jr., Dilly, Danny and tramp stamp sporting sister Wendy.
I get a very good vibe watching Michael Rappaport playing out of his element of a white guy from the north and instead playing a white guy from the south. I say that as a compliment. Rappaport has a great ability playing natural characters. It feels like the show wanted to bring back a Mags Bennett vibe by having a character with intelligence to go with a low income image. Halfway through the episode Daryl Crowe Jr. has to make a high stakes decision, and the look in his eyes show compassion without having to express regret.
The trip to Detroit may have been one of the most bizarre in Justified history. With fourteen flights of stairs, gasoline, a man with a chainsaw cutting up a Canadian and Sammy Tonin getting shot point blank with his viscera covering Wynn Duffy, it’s pretty easy to see you are in a whole different world. The show actually uses the Matrix colour scheme of green to help signify the fact you’re outside of the reality of the south (Matrix used blues, Justified uses yellows). Will Sasso and Dave Foley play criminal Canadians and begin it with silly banter about Tim Hortons before bringing the script straight: they prefer organized crime, and the Detroit criminals have gone insane. It’s a great place where the story begins to splinter for Crowder’s story. What started as a fun trip to Detroit ends much darker for Boyd. He may leave with a bit of ear missing but he certainly doesn’t leave others in the same situation.
The strength of Justified episodes comes not in twists but in developments. It’s one of the best shows on television because you can feel the characters develop, unraveling minute by minute, smashing against one another and seeing what’s left in the wake. There was a particularly high volume of characters introduced with more expected to come, but just as important was the re-introduction of familiar faces. If I could take anything away from the episode and wonder how it shakes out later, it’s through the two lies told in the end. One lie was called out, the other left for the viewer to think about. What was the common ground of the lies? Family. Justified is never too far from its roots, even away from Harlan County.