In one of the concluding lines to the first episode of the new FX series, Justified, Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant), an on-the-ropes Deputy U.S. Marshal, sneaks in to his ex-wife’s house for a late-night chat. In the course of their conversation, she tells him, “Raylan, you might just be the angriest man I’ve ever known.” The line works so well because he tries so hard to hide this anger.Raylan has been re-located to his home state of Kentucky after questionably killing a drug/gun runner. We know, even if his superiors don’t, that Raylan provoked him to draw his weapon in order to “justify”shooting him. Upon returning to Kentucky, he is put on the case of a white supremacist and his cronies who terrorize the state. Coincidentally, Raylan and Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) were once friends. In the final showdown at the end of the first episode, Raylan sits across a table from Boyd, just as he did with the gun runner. Yet when Raylan fires, he just misses a kill shot, allowing Boyd to live and creating what will most likely be a season-long feud between the two.
After Deadwood‘s all to short run and with the conclusion of the first episode of Justified, I have arrived at a successful television equation: Timothy Olyphant + cowboy hat = damn good series. In fact, the similarities between Olyphant’s characters in Deadwood and Justified extend beyond the cowboy hat. Both characters repressed an almost consuming rage. Both characters have their quick-witted nemesis, although I doubt Goggin’s Boyd will ever match up to the effectiveness of Ian McShane‘s Swearengen (of course HBO’s ability to run rampant with foul language has a lot to do with that).
There are, of course, some stereotypical elements to Justified, particularly its emphasis on religious fundamentalism and its relationship to white supremacy in the South. Yet, the casting for these devils works fine…thus far. It will be interesting to see just how long the creators run with this particular story line or if new cases will emerge. Moreover, it will be worth tuning in or DVR’ing to see just why Raylan is so angry and if he will find any peace and solace through his return home.
Justified airs Tuesday nights on FX at 10 pm. Check for replays of episodes one and two throughout the week.