No Common Villain: Why Boyd Crowder from ‘Justified’ Breaks the Mold


Every drama needs to have a villain. It’s what creates friction for the protagonist. Some of the shows make the antagonist so horrible that they might as well be wearing a mustache that they twirl at every opportunity (see every single person Chuck Norris went up against in Walker, Texas Ranger). Justified‘s Boyd Crowder is no common villain. In fact, he might be the best one on TV or at least in the Top 5.

Walton Goggins is a force of nature when portraying Crowder. People take one look at him and dismiss as him as a country bumpkin, but there’s a seething intellect burning behind those eyes. Crowder speaks eloquently and is prone to quoting from the most esoteric works. Not bad for a man who spent a good portion of his life working in a mine (that’s how he knows Deputy Marshal Raylan Givens, the show’s protagonist; they worked in the same mine). But for all Crowder’s veneer of civility, there is a coldness to him, one where he will kill whoever stands in his way, with the same amount of thought given to squashing a bug. He can be laughing and smiling one minute and then be training his gun on you, his eyes dead.

The relationship between Crowder and Givens is partly what makes this show so fascinating. The two men are clearly on the opposite sides of the law, but hold each other in some regard, since both have come to each other’s rescue more than once during the show’s run. It’s going to be fascinating to see what happens in the next season, with Crowder having a chance at a somewhat normal life ripped out from under his feet.

I’m no stranger to Goggins’ work, having seen his turn next to Michael Chiklis on The Shield. In fact, one thing I lament is that there would never be a crossover on Breaking Bad. I’d be very curious to see what Crowder would think of Heisenberg.

Funny thing was, Crowder was supposed to die as he did in the short story, “Fire In The Hole,” that inspired Justified. I’m glad that the showrunners decided against that.