by Kay B. Day
“Tell me about your God, Raylan.”
Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) asks that question of US Marshall Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) at a pivotal moment in the finale of the remarkable FX series ‘Justified.’
TV isn’t a source I turn to very often for entertainment, but ‘Justified’ proves quality programming is possible, especially if you have a writer like Elmore Leonard involved. Leonard has a long, fertile history of remarkable works, with his fiction used as the basis for films like ‘Get Shorty,’ ‘Out of Sight’ and the classic ‘Jackie Brown.’ He’s won a number of prestigious awards.
‘Justified’ is based on Leonard’s novella ‘Fire in the Hole.’
The finale to the FX series capped off a season that took the character of Raylan Givens from the sizzling streets of Miami to the small town of Harlan, Kentucky.
Some fans questioned the impact of losing the series' big bad guy Bo Crowder (M. C. Gainey), but for me, the interaction between Raylan and Boyd makes up the most intriguing duo in contemporary TV.
Boyd, Bo’s son, experienced a religious conversion after a brush with violent death, and watching Goggins play this hillbilly character who manages to talk with a great amount of intellectual depth is pure joy. Goggins does the character with the same finesse he applied to his character in the series ‘The Shield,’ and few actors come close to the edge he can put on a character. Goggins isn’t just an actor; he’s an artist.
Raylan is the man in many a female’s daydream—tough yet sensitive, bad boy/good boy, dedicated protector of those he loves and some he doesn’t. Raylan is just handsome enough to make you want to look at him but not so handsome that his looks overshadow his acting (George Clooney comes to mind—he plays the same character in every movie regardless of plot and there’s no getting past his looks.)
Olyphant is so far inside Raylan’s head you forget he’s acting.
Some characters from another favorite classic ‘Deadwood’, the series featuring Olyphant as Seth Bullock, are also scattered throughout ‘Justified.
When I watched the first episode just to please my husband, I realized this would be a series that would succeed and my husband was only too glad to remind me that once again, he was right about something.
This series has it all—clashes between fathers and sons, wives and husbands, lawmen and bad men. One minute you feel like you’re wandering around in a Greek tragedy, and another minute you feel like you’re watching a modern day adaptation of Shakespearean dimensions.
When Boyd asks Raylan to tell him about his God, Raylan hesitates before he describes God as having a long white beard, sitting on a heavenly throne.
What Raylan describes comes closer to Zeus than to Jesus Christ. And verbal exchanges like that really get a viewer thinking.
An added plus—a big one—is the music. The theme song, ‘Long Hard Times to Come’ blends bluegrass and rap and pulls it off. Kudos to Gangstagrass. Brad Paisely’s ‘The Deep Dark Woods’ is also featured as are numerous other fine compositions.
It's also relevant to point out the authenticity of all the characters' Southern accents, because many productions blow it completely when it comes to that.
For me, programs like ‘Justified’ redeem the pathetic quality of TV programming that plagues the small screen today and tends to cause people like me to refrain from watching. Season 2 of this phenomenon can’t come soon enough for this viewer who once more will publicly admit her husband was right again. Well, he was right about ‘Justified’ anyway.