JUSTIFIED #13: “Bulletville”

The first season of FX’s excellent new series JUSTIFIED gunned its way to one hell of an ending last week, posing new questions and teasing new directions between every shot fired.

And though I’ll never get tired of watching U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) zing bullets into bad guys who’ve got it coming, the show’s greatest strengths continue to be its characters and the things they say, which always make the writer in me extremely jealous.

If you’re new to the show or haven’t seen the finale yet, you should stop reading right now, because I’m going to talk about everything up to and including the ending.

Extreme spoilers in 10 …

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Bo Crowder (M.C. Gainey) is probably dead, and that’s definitely good. But what did you think about the season-long arc of his son, Boyd (Walton Goggins), who claims to have found Jesus even though he still loves to bazooka things?

For most of the season, I thought Boyd was faking it, just as I’m pretty sure he was faking white supremacy in the pilot. After all, Boyd’s a sneaky soul, and Raylan has already suggested that Boyd would do, say, and pretend to be anything if he thought it would get him a leg up on the criminal competition. And Boyd certainly seemed to be living up to the accusation, though the sheer awesomeness that Goggins injected into each of Boyd’s biblical monologues was enough to make you believe he was a believer.

In the finale, it seems that not even Boyd himself knows how full of shit he really is, and I love that. And just as Boyd has repeatedly expressed his hopes that his newfound salvation would rub off on Raylan, I think we have to assume that a surprising amount of Raylan has rubbed off on Boyd. In other words, I think it’s possible that the “right” in his righteousness might actually be sincere.

Other topics of discussion, observation, and curiosity:

1. What kind of story is Raylan going to come up with to explain how Boyd got away — because Raylan allowed him to — at the end? And what kind of new dynamic will that create between Raylan and Boyd next season? Boyd has been set up to be Raylan’s archenemy, but after the finale, they’re seeming more and more like brothers every day. The cartel in Miami probably just bumped Boyd up to number two on their Most Wanted list behind Raylan. And Raylan’s got enough heat on himself from the Marshal service already after shooting Tommy Bucks in Miami and half the human-sized varmints in Harlan County (and a couple of gun thugs in Los Angeles, too), so I’ll be curious to see what his status is when the show returns next season.

2. After Winona (Natalie Zea) gave Raylan that sweet, sincere explanation of why she chose her new husband, Gary, over him in the episode “Hatless” (which featured outstanding supporting work from Jere Burns, who’s also been amazing on Breaking Bad this season), I found it a little surprising that she showed up at Raylan’s motel room for a good, old-fashioned Kentucky hammering in “Fathers and Sons” a couple of weeks ago. Their awkward courthouse scene in “Bulletville” was played with plenty of unspoken heat by Zea and Olyphant, and I’m almost surprised we didn’t see more of them together in the episode. That’s why I think the season premiere, by default, can only begin with Raylan and Winona in bed together. As if he needs any more complications right now.

3. Timothy Olyphant’s facial expressions and body language are the stuff great actors are made of. With Raylan being a man of relatively few words, especially when he’s surrounded by so many characters like his daddy Arlo (Raymond Barry Jr.) and Boyd who get to give such great speeches, some viewers might be tempted to think that Olyphant isn’t doing a lot. But watch him. He’s terrific.

4. If I had to choose between Winona and Ava (Joelle Carter), I have no idea what I’d do. But Raylan had better figure it out, because that’s bound to be an issue in season two.

5. Raylan shooting Arlo in the arm was awesome.

6. Raylan shooting not one but both of the thugs who came to collect him from the motel room was awesome.

7. Raylan’s ninja-like disarmament/shooting of Bo’s henchman while simultaneously kicking Bo’s gun out of his hand was awesome.

8. Raylan’s under-the-window brain-spattering of the bad guy trying to sneak into the house was awesome.

9. I loved the toy gun sound Raylan made as he let Boyd get away.

10. Even though Ava seemed disgusted by Boyd at the end, I can’t help but wonder if the writers aren’t considering pushing those two together next season.

All in all, an absolutely excellent first season bristling with memorable characters, kills, and dialogue. This can’t come back soon enough.

One comment

  1. Jennifer says:

    Love this show! I totally agree that Timothy Olyphant says more with his face and body than any monolouge. I can’t wait to see what this show has in store for the next season!! Great review John :)

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