Justified – TV’s Version of Extra Cool

May 12, 2010 by Tom Jones

Based on Elmore Leonard’s short story “Fire in the Hole”, Justified was created by Graham Yost and stars Timothy Olyphant as a man of unnecessary words, but a man of impeccable action–typically in the form of dry wit and a quick draw.

After the season’s debut opening few minutes, we watch Deputy Raylan Givens, as played by Timothy Olyphant, coolly and calmly try and reason with an unnamed Mafia figure at the top of a Miami hotel to leave town within 24 hours, expectantly ending in a terse exchange between the two where Olyphant’s character, Givens, quick draws the classic "bad guy" and kills him.

Hence the legend, the series, the character, the title, and the show are fused into a classic good guy – bad guy electrifying dose of fun, danger, and our fondness for the ultra-cool Olyphant’s, Givens–who has a nose for situations which "ain’t right," combined with his serious gun shooting abilities–quickly earn him a transfer out of Miami, to where he grew up in Kentucky.

As the series unwinds, Givens meets up with many characters from his past–mostly unsavory. The dramatic thrust of the show stems from the comparably audacious fugitive of the week, as the show provides three villains for Raylan to chase down. Shield star Walton Goggins, is both funny and reliably creepy in his role as rocket launcher-wielding neo-Nazi, Boyd. 

As Raylen and Boyd have a history together, the show partly revolves around Boyd, his crew, his equally repulsive and violent father, and his wife as the love interest of both. Meanwhile, as Olyphant’s, Raylan Givens own father is also a felon and grafter, we’re in for a wild and choppy ride into Raylan’s darker past–yet it’s his terse and not-one-unnecessary word that he’ll utter, that  makes  him both compelling and cool at the same time.

That someone usually ends up dead at the end of his gun, although always  "Justified," we come to see that  Olyphant’s  character has the makings of the bonafide superstar.  Although, the U.S. Marshall Olyphant is a man of few unnecessary words, his world is full of complicated relationships–his ex-wife, his girlfriend who is Boyd’s ex-wife, his con father, and his big city experience exemplified and hyper-tuned to his new surroundings as a trigger-happy U.S. marshal in small-town Kentucky. 

We intuitively know that at some point, the show is about vengeance and redemption, there will never be rest for the weary, as Olyphant’s Givens has too many enemies and the show has too many bad guys who are foolishly  eager to either test Olyphant’s,  Givens god given shooting skills, or they belatedly come to learn that they’re no match for the shrewd, emotionally intelligent, street smart Deputy Raylan Givens brand of justice.

The rise of Olyphant as an actor has lately been swift and unexpected–and if Justified is an example of his ultra-hipper than hip attitude, it won’t be long before we see him on the large screen as a leading man. Although he was the lead in the film, Hitman, and his bad-guy role in the Bruce Willis series, Live Free or Die Hard, we can expect a new dimension and complexity from the ever growing talent of Olyphant’s portrayal of complex and unpredictable characters.

The series co-stars Nick Searcy as Givens longtime friend and boss “Chief Deputy Art Mullen”; Jacob Pitts as “Deputy Marshal Tim Gutterson”; Erica Tazel as “Deputy Marshal Rachel Brooks”; Joelle Carter as “Ava Crowder,” Boyd’s sister-in-law; and Natalie Zea as Raylan’s ex-wife “Winona Hawkins.” Walton Goggins guest stars as “Boyd Crowder,” who worked with Raylan in the coal mines as teenagers and has now chosen a criminal path.

As they say, hold on, smile, and enjoy the Ride! Justified is all that and more.

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