Warning: Major Justified spoilers lie ahead!
We're in the fifth season of Justified, and this is possibly the darkest that we've seen Raylan Givens descend. The most recent episode saw him get slugged by Art Mullen, his own Chief Marshal, for his implicitness in the death of Nicky Augustine (Mike O'Malley). He's really been walking the line of lawlessness and hiding behind his shield. On top of that, he's been a terrible father to his recently born daughter, not even going to visit her in person, instead relying on video chat with his ex-wife Winona to see the baby on camera.
It's a terribly complicated situation (of course, "complicated" is the word that people often use to describe him), made worse by the fact that Raylan seems to also live by a code of drawing a gun first and asking questions later. I think that's what we call a dichotomy, folks.
The problem is that Givens has authority issues that stem from the fact that his own father, the late and unlamented Arlo Givens (Raymond J. Barry), was a real rat bastard. He was a conniving man who would have probably sold his own son into slavery if he could have. Now, the only anchor of any kind for Givens is Mullen, who is this close to retiring. In TV or movieland, mention of retirement from the field of law enforcement is pretty much foreshadowing for possible impending and grisly death. If Mullen were to die, Givens, who is not the most tethered man to begin with, might just completely become unmoored. Add the fact that Givens has been thinking about dying in Harlan for a long time... think way back to the second season when he was at his stepmother Helen's funeral and he saw his own gravestone on the family plot of land. He's seemingly resigned to the fact that he'll "never leave Harlan alive."
The whole abuse of authority is really coming a head this season. Raylan was in a showdown with Hot Rod Dunham (Mickey Jones), a Dixie Mafia head and he said that he'd shoot him and his cronies... and then to cement his threat, he held up his Marshals Star and said, "This will make it all legal." The deputy marshal has been making his own rules for a very long time, from the first day that we met him in Miami in the first episode of the first season. Remember that? He sat across from Tommy Bucks, a drug cartel runner and a man whom Givens had given 24 hours to vacate the city, in an outdoor cafe. Obviously, Bucks had chosen to ignore that edict (and Givens made him pay... mortally) right then and there in the cafe. The Marshals office has given him as much leeway as possible, but how much rope can the man get around his neck before he actually starts gagging and choking?
Raylan hasn't been lucky at all in the love department, having seen his wife leave him not once but twice. She also called him "the angriest man I've ever seen." Add this to the fact that Ava Crowder is now engaged to his frenemy Boyd, and that another potential romantic partnerwound up being a grifter who stole a lot of his money. Now, Raylan is in a somewhat shaky relationship with a social worker named Alison Brander (Amy Smart), who has a penchant for pot and could be another case of trouble for Givens. The funny thing is that Brander is the one who summed up Givens quite well:
"You're the bravest person I know. You'd go running into a burning building to save someone. I also think you're the one setting the building on fire."
We're waiting to see how right she is.
Winter has come and the New Year will be rung in soon. That means something else is on its way: another new season of Justified. Its season premiere is on Jan. 7. What better way to tide yourself over until spring than to watch one of the best shows on television?
If you are going to be new to the show, I would suggest binge-watching on Amazon. Trust me. It's worth doing. The show has some of the best dialogue and acting that I have seen.
Where Justified really excels, beside its main core of characters, is the casting of the peripheral ones. People like Margo Martindale and Neal McDonough. Though they were the main villains, they brought such a level to their work that they were far from being cardboard cut outs like someone from, say Walker, Texas Ranger. They bring in people that you might not even associate with dramas, like Mike O'Malley and Patton Oswalt. I was stunned at the work that O'Malley put in as the sadistic hit man from his season.
The show, while already great, did something that I really liked last season: It allowed its secondary characters like Tim Gutterson (Jacob Pitts) and Rachel Brooks (Erica Tazel) to spread their wings and tell their own stories and not just appear for two minutes and snark at Timothy Olyphant's Raylan Givens. Gutterson's dialogue with Colt Rhodes (Ron Eldard) in last season's finale was a thing of beauty.
I'm really interested in seeing where this season goes with Givens and his frenemy, Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins). Givens has gone to a really dark place, walking away while the Detroit Mob rubbed out one of their own. Crowder is also in a very bad place, having seen his dream of buying a home and living a semi-respectable life with Ava Crowder (Joelle Carter) snatched away at the very last second. This season also marks the return of Dewey "You Mean I've Got Four Kidneys?!?!" Crowder (Damon Herriman), which should send all fans of the show into paroxysms of joy. The human cockroach, Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns) -- he who has seen about five people shot around him without suffering a scratch -- will also be great to see. Burns can convey so much with just the mere arch of an eyebrow and he may be the only criminal who does not fear Givens (even after having his gun pointed right at his forehead).
On the law enforcement side,besides Gutterson and Brooks, I'm always giddy to hear what Art Mullen (Nick Searcy) has to say. I'm hoping there's also a good arc involving Mullen and his pending retirement.
I could write about 10,000 words about this show, but figure that this season might be over by the time I finish. Instead, I leave you with this: Get ready to return to Harlan, everyone.
When it comes to choosing the talent to appear as the bad guy on Justified, the casting department has nearly impeccable taste. Starting from the second season, we have had a chance to see such shining lights like Margo Martindale, Neal McDonough, Jim Beaver and even Mike O'Malley. This upcoming season, Michael Rapaport joins the cast and I'm really excited to see him on the show.
Ever since he came on to the scene in ZebraHead, I've enjoyed seeing Rapaport in any role that he plays. He'll more than hold his own in scenes with Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins. The interesting thing will be seeing a guy who is usually playing someone in an urban sort of environment be someone in a rural place like Harlan, where Olyphant's Raylan Givens has been somewhat derisively called "The Hillbilly Whisperer".
Another reason why I became giddy when I heard this was because I saw his character's name: Dale Crowe. This has GOT to herald the return of Dewey Crowe, who I sorely missed last season. Dewey's blend of naivete and meanness makes for a combination that always makes me laugh. The episode where he supposedly had his kidneys removed and his subsequent blurting out, "You mean I've got FOUR kidneys?!?!" had me supine on the sofa, laughing for longer than I thought it first merited. He's not on the IMDB page for the upcoming season, but I hope that's an oversight. Seeing Rapaport and Damon Herriman, who plays Dewey, would also be fun to watch.
Rapaport has had a consistent career, but being on this show will be a big change from doing voiceover work on Pound Puppies. He hasn't had much luck with TV shows of late, appearing on the ill-fated The Mob Doctor and Prison Break. He's always had movie roles too, but hopefully his time in Kentucky will boost his television stock even higher.
Justified's returning in 2014 and I can't wait.
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If you were counting on an intense, whirlwind episode to bring us straight into Act 2 after last week's side adventure, then you're a genius and should be doing my job. Just kidding, I have to pay rent and want to buy a new TV stand. But not only did Boyd and Raylan finally unite (unwillingly) during a fight to locate a common enemy, but Arlo received a shot to get out of prison, Colton screwed up royally by hiding Ellen May's escape from Boyd, and Shelby was revealed to have kidnapped Ellen May in an attempt to bring down Mistah Crowder. Oh, and there's also the fact that Wynn Duffy is fully back in the game, planning to use Boyd to find Drew Thompson, at which point he'll double-cross and murder him to please Johnny (we think). (Aside: All of this going off without a hitch is extremely unlikely.)
Two weeks ago we saw an FBI Agent kill himself over the information he had on the Drew Thompson/Theo Tonin ordeal, and now the powers that be have decided to hand the case over to the marshal service in the FBI's stupid stead. They've also decided that Arlo (whose facial acting was magnificent during his few scenes in this episode), should be released if can lead them to Thompson. Guess who wasn't a fan of that idea?
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So Raylan had 24 hours to find Drew Thompson before Arlo got his turn, but since this is Justified, he wasn't the only one on the case. FBI Agent Barkley (Stephen Tobolowsky) was revealed to be a traitorous bastard working with the Detroit mafia, who sent one of Tonin's top henchmen — Nickelodeon GUTS alum Mike O'Malley, natch — to have a polite conversation with Barkley on why, as an FBI honcho, he had let the fact that Thompson was still alive slip through his fingers for decades. Just kidding! He shot him in the head, and hired Wynn Duffy — the guy you hire whenever you want anything illegal done, ever — to find Thompson, via his redneck friends like one Boyd Crowder.
Raylan got his first clue on Thompson's whereabouts from an unlikely source: the troubled, slutty teenage girl from the premiere. Patton Oswalt made a brief but very welcome return as Constable Bob Sweeney, who had picked up said girl for doing… something illegal, who knows. Whatever it was, she offered him a blow job to get out of it, which he DID NOT ACCEPT, thank you very much. (Was it integrity, or her cheap orthodontic work that held him back? Let's discuss, kiddos.) She led Raylan to her stepdad, who had been using her to do his Drew Thompson huntin' bidding. Stepdad, who was chained to his house due to a police-activated police anklet, led Raylan to something called "The Hill People."
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A little bit of exposition on The Hill People: they have accomplished the nearly impossible feat of being the trashiest people ever featured on this show. We know nothing about them, other than the fact that they live in shacks on a hill and kill visitors with shotguns. They also seem to enjoy never washing their hair ever, but they aren't big on dentistry. Oh, and one of them is related to Raylan. I mean, of course.
Anywho, when Raylan headed up the hill to find Thompson — who was taken there back in the day with all of his cocaine — he did not receive the warmest welcome. Drew had been hidden by Arlo and Bo Crowder in exchange for said cocaine back in the day, but he wasn't there now — only a tied up Boyd, who had found the same information slightly before Raylan, via Wynn Duffy/Mike O'Malley's very full pockets. Both men were nearly killed, until Raylan's Hill connections and smooth tongue got him off the hook. He even saved Boyd and got another lead on Thompson — who was somewhere in Harlan county — but then he cuffed Boyd to a tree, so. No love lost there.
So Boyd reported the info they'd received back to Duffy, and demanded half of the heroin trade in Harlan. Movin' on up! Johnny, of course, was disturbed to hear this, but Wynn promised the OTHER Crowder that he'd dispose of Boyd once he located Thompson — if, of course, he got there before Raylan. TBD.
Unfortunately for Boyd, Duffy may not be his biggest problem: as it turns out, it was Shelby who kidnapped Ellen May, in an attempt to garner incriminating information (the murder of Delroy being the number one option on the table) on Boyd and his criminal enterprise. Colton spent the whole episode lying to his boss/friend, running around town trying to find Ellen May before Boyd or Ava could find out, but his search led him absolutely nowhere. Colton seems like a loose cannon, so wherever this is going cannot be good.
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Oh, and did I mention that Winona came back? No, I did not — because her return was so ridiculously uneventful that I don't know why they included it at all. Here's how it went down: Raylan shows up early to sonogram. Winona enters lobby, lets Raylan feel kicking baby. Cute. Winona asks why Raylan did not respond to her text about the changed appointment time. He did not, meaning Raylan was actually way LATE to sonogram, as he did not know about changed appointment time. Raylan did not stay for sonogram, and instead headed straight to work. Great guest spot, Natalie Zea. Collect that paycheck and run back to your big fancy Fox show, K?
The episode ended with Raylan returning to stepdaddy's house to ask why he sent him on a death hunt to the Hill People. The first thing he saw was the green light beeping from the ankle bracelet… strange. How'd he get that off? Well, either he sawed off his own foot, or someone did it for him.
So, there you have it! Act 2 starts with a bang. Raylan needs Drew Thompson for baby-daddy money, and so Arlo the cop-killer won't go free. Boyd needs Drew Thompson for heroin business. The Detroit mafia needs Drew Thompson so that they can murder him. Colton needs Ellen May so Boyd won't kill him. Shelby needs Ellen May to nail Boyd, since he sort of hates him. And Winona needs something else to do.
Follow Shaunna on Twitter @HWShaunna
[PHOTO CREDIT: Prashant Gupta/FX]
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The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.