Creating a good show, or a good movie or anything good for that matter is not always about creating something new.
A lot of people blame the TV/Movie industry for rehashing old material over and over again, but what they fail to see is that sometimes rehashing of old material can actually be quite good, if done properly.
For example – Justified which once again seeks to blur the line between a man of law and the law itself, to make you see the bad guy as first a guy, then to make you think about his motives.
This is not new to TV, As far back as the 80’s where I remember as a young boy watching a show titled Wise Guy in which an undercover agent goes in deep with the Mafia, and gradually begins to doubt the good and bad, wrongs and rights of the job, This was continued and elevated to much greater heights in The Shield in which the line between what good and bad cops do was not blurred but totally washed away.
In Justified however we’re met with something that seeks to take that line just a tad further – here, the line is no longer about what our “hero” will or will not do, we’re also shown our “villain” taking the same path from the other side in his own sinister and bizarre way.
In both cases, that of our hero – Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant – in his slickest performance yet) and his “evil” counterpart Boyd Crowder (The vastly underrated, he better be nominated for something – Walton Goggins) the characters we saw early in the season are nowhere near the ones we saw at the end of it.
For those that did not exactly follow, here’s where we met everyone in Justified: Raylan Givens is a U.S marshal in Miami where he hounded a mobster and gave him 24 hours to leave town before he would put a few rounds in him, said mobster (coolest mob nickname ever BTW – Tommy Bucks) does not take kindly to this and a shootout ensues, Rayland’s bosses, not too pleased about the outcome decide to banish him to a backwards U.S Marshal’s office in Kentucky, where he just happens to be from.
The entire first season was driven by Rayland’s re-introduction into the neck of the woods he so desperately wanted to leave, his mixing again with old friends, now turned criminals (the crowders and all their lackeys), Old loves (both his ex wife and the high school darling that everybody loved are now in his life once again), and family (a father which he cannot stand and wants to put behind bars) all make his life complicated, but, and here’s where things get interesting, he manages to screw up his own life just fine without any kind of assistance, he sleeps with an accused murderer/suspect in an ongoing investigation, tries to put his father back behind bars, causes his ex to leave her current husband, gets people in more trouble than he helps them out of, manages to get the locals mad at him, gets in bar fights on his days off, and this is before we mentioned him being under investigation for the shooting that landed him in Kentucky to begin with, so yes, he is the hero of the show, but how much of a hero is he really?
Opposite him we have Boyd Crowder which starts off as your average redneck white pride supporting, black hating, and church blowing, wanna-be Nazi. But as the season went on, we found Boyd slowly changing into something entirely different – he began seeing himself as a messiah of sorts, guarding his beloved town against his own father which sought to bring in drugs and other bad things into the community that Boyd now wanted to be a part of, if not lead in a way.
In the beginning we were lead to think that Boyd’s messiah speak was either serious delusions, or a very poor attempt to cover up his crimes with religious talk, however, we learned that his change appeared to be genuine, and that he has indeed left his “wicked” ways behind.
Which begs the question: which is better? The hero that does everything wrong, quite possibly just because he is unhappy with his place in life, and seeks to destroy all personal relationships he has left in one way or another just to make a clean exit, or the criminal who sounds maniacal, goes to jail, blows up RV’s and trucks, but all in the name of god and the good of his hometown?
I will not reveal how the season ended, I will just say that the second season, in my mind at least, would be better served going much deeper into that part of what divides our main characters: is being in Harlan, KY, good for me or bad? And if we’re going to get existential – am I really good or bad?
Hope you enjoyed this week’s review of Justified, next week I’ll review the 2009/10 version of 80’s cult hit – V.
In the meanwhile I’ll leave you with what I hope will be a regular addition to these reviews – The funniest line of the week…
This week’s line, from The Good Guys – Gemini: “You know how bad the economy is? Customers are sleeping with their wives again…Their wives!!!”