Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Justified Season 2 Review

Cowboys are not invincible. There are many times when a certain Marshal taunts death and barely dodges the bullet, often literally. Justified Season 2 ramps up the action and intense scenes that weren't too common place in season 1, although Justified Season 1 did a good job on both accounts as well. Season 1 was pretty good but the writers and directors definitely improved upon many aspects of the show in Season 2. Side characters often get a spotlight and many of them are pretty good actors/actresses. Justified is a "cop" show on FX with Timothy Olpyhant as the main character, Raylan Givens, who is a US Marshal down in the good old south. The first season of the show did pretty well and Season 2 just ended this last Wednesday, May 4th. If you haven't watched Season 2, or all of it, you probably shouldn't read on due to spoilers.

Spoiler Warning!

Season 2, thank you for continuing exactly where you left. The first episode solves the problems for Raylan Givens with his old enemies down in Florida. This episode also introduced us to all of the important characters of the season: Loretta McCready, Kaitlyn Denver, and all of the Benetts, played by Jeremy Davies, Joseph Lyle Taylor, Brad William Henke and Margo Martindale. It also dealt with Boyd, played by Walton Goggins, escaping from the hospital, and Raylan's ex-wife Winona, played by Natalie Zea.

I really like how they took Raylan's relationship with his boss Art, Nick Searcy, this season. They put their relationship into difficult situations, like Raylan putting it all on the line for Winona and Art figuring it out but not firing Raylan. Their relationship becomes tense but they never really directly talk about it and they both still hold a sense of respect for each other that stops them from doing so. It get's to the point by the end of the season where Raylan doesn't know whether or not Art will let him transfer to work at Glenco, the shooting school/range that Raylan used to work at, and teach shooting again. Their interactions throughout this season are really enjoyable though. They did a great job making you feel the tension and wanting them to just say what stays unsaid.

Givens versus Bennetts
This is a ongoing feud throughout the season; a feud starting from before Raylan was even born, but it didn't help that he mangled Dickies, Jeremy Davies, leg. There are up's and downs all seasons between Raylan and the Benett's but everytime it look's like the feud might be subsiding it crops back up again, often violently, but not always directed at Raylan. Of course the many altercations between Raylan and Coover Benett, Brad William Henke, are a main point of tension for the large part of the season. It only ends when Coover is killed by Raylan when he is trying to save Loretta from imminent death. That is it ends thanks to Raylan's step mother, Helen Givens, making a pact with the head of the Benetts, Mags Benett. The feud explodes again only at the end, once again with Raylan trying to save Loretta. I really like how they made his character willing to cooperate with the Benetts. It added to Raylan's character. It showed how he doesn't want to fight, yet he always ends up in fights. He would rather everything be peacefully resolved, unfortunately for him that rarely happens.

The Resurrection of Boyd

I don't care for it. I do enjoy how apt Boyd Crowder, Walton Goggins, is at being a criminal, but I enjoyed watching him try to become someone that Raylan wouldn't hate. Boyd certainly tries pretty hard to not be a criminal, but in the end he cannot resist his calling. At the beginning of Season 2, and the end of Season 1, we watch Raylan and Boyd work together in order to save each other and Ava, Joelle Carter.It was pretty enjoyable to see Boyd and Raylan working side by side, both of whom are competent gunmen. I was a bit angry when Boyd turned back to his criminal ways near the end of the Season. It made me even more upset when he got together with Ava, which just seemed cliched to me. They lived together most of the season holding some kind of respect and trust for each other, but they have to break all that and make it a typical romantic relationship. Although, they have done interesting things with their relationship.

Some of my least favorite moments this season involve Winona, Natalie Zea. It is not due to acting though; it involves plot. I, among many other viewers, got pretty tired of Winona getting into fights with Raylan. On top of the fights there were many scenes that made the viewer want to look down on Winona as a character. In specific, the whole situation with Winona and the stolen money. If you don't recall, Winona stole some of the money from the evidence locker because she thought no one would miss it and she needed the money. This is what essentially got Raylan into troubled waters with his boss Art. It did create some interesting and enjoyable scenes as a result of that plot choice, but for the most part it made me dislike Winona's character. I did really enjoy Natalie Zea and Timothy Olyphants acting with each other. They both were pretty convincing when it came to their relationship and their concerns for each other. Especially at the end of the season when Winona goes to Art to get help for Raylan; her acting there was quite excellent.

For the most part this season upped the ante on Season 1 in terms of action and big scenes. Big scenes like Boyd's ambush on the Benett's "ambush". That was certainly one of my favorite scenes. During that same episode there was also the tense, quick, violent and realistic moment with Raylan, Dickie and Doyle. The moment where Raylan damn near lost his life and Doyle was pegged by a sniper, probably the Marshal Tim Gutterson, right in the forehead. Just like season one there was plenty of comedic moments as well in this season that added to the overall enjoyment of the show. One of my favorite moments was during the bank robbery when Raylan confronts the cocky bank robber and pretty much laughs in the guys face when he threatens Raylan with "dynamite" strapped to his chest. I also cannot forget the fantastic moment when Raylan tells Gary Hawkins, William Ragsdale, that he wouldn't care if he got murdered and then the look on Gary's face. There were also plenty of sad moments during this season, the murder of Helen Givens, Mag's suicide, or the murder of the Loretta's father. In the end it was a really good season, but it could of been better. If you haven't watched the show at all I really recommend it, although you would have just read through a whole ton of spoilers. This is not your average law show, it is much better. The acting is almost always superb and I cannot wait to see what they make of the next season.

Violent Score: 8.5
Written By Sean Cargle
All photos copyright of FX


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