Justified: Season One - Online Review

The battle within the Crowders and the battle between they and Raylan ends up on pretty level terms in terms of intrigue with Raylan's personal life'

For anyone who saw and paid attention to 1999's Go - a brilliant and lurid depiction of the 1990s drug and party culture - it was pretty clear that Timothy Olyphant was going to do... something. Quite what that was, considering he plays an ultra-relaxed, perma-topless, high-ish level drug dealer might not have been as clear. You could just have easily have seen him turn into full time Calvin Klein model and tabloid darling, as speak to an animated Chameleon, playing the ethereal part of The Spirit Of The West.

With Justified though, which again sees Olyphant playing a character fairly often at a loss to locate his shirt, it finally all fits exactly what he should be doing. He should be doing this.

Olyphant is perfect as Deputy US Marshall Raylan Givens, a man introduced to us carrying out the titular 'justified' murder by giving a known member of a drug cartel 24 hours to leave Miami. When he doesn't, Raylan sits down to dinner with him before promptly shooting him when the drugs lord attempts to kill Raylan first. Duly sanctioned with a forced return to his native Kentucky, and the areas around Harlan County, Raylan's boss-bothering exploits don't quite get as dramatic as that for the rest of the series, particularly seeing as his new boss is the humorously cantankerous Art (Nick Searcy), but the scene has been set for an anti-hero story with a protagonist rebellious enough to root for.

The rest of series one plays out as an odd battle between Raylan and 'reforming' neo-Nazi Boyd Crowder (a compelling Walton Goggins) and a more-intriguing-than-it-has-any-right-to-be love square between Raylan, ex-wife Winona (Natalie Zea), her current husband Gary (William Ragsdale) and the girl who always liked Raylan back in High School, Ava Crowder (Joelle Carter), none other than Boyd's sister-in-law, who happens to have just killed her husband. The battle within the Crowders and the battle between they and Raylan ends up on pretty level terms in terms of intrigue with Raylan's personal life, especially given later episodes which see him getting more closely involved to the goings on in Gary's business, as Raylan's estranged father Arlo (Raymond J. Barry) also gets prominently introduced. Quite why however, it is accepted as relatively normal that Raylan breaks into Gary and Winona's house at the beginning of the series is anyone's guess.

Like most series that go for a mixture of overall plot movement and a smattering of stand alone episodes, Justified is a show that suffers a handful of peaks and troughs. An early episode about a prison break is pretty weak and has little to contribute, ditto a very cheaply staged hostage situation, whilst Boyd becomes much more interesting when he stops being a neo-Nazi and starts being something arguably even more threatening. It's testament to Goggins that you can never quite tell how truly mad or deliberately obtuse he's being - and sometimes, how much he really wants to help Raylan - and showrunner Graham Yost isn't afraid to make him human too, something emphasised in the series' final episodes, where Justified shows that, in Crowder patriarch Bo (M.C. Gainey), it has a bit more violent bite and criminal conviction than your average toned-down cop show.

Justified is currently streaming on Netflix.

By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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