After tonight, no more Harlan County, no more wise cracks from Tim Gutterson, and no more Raylan Givens. It’s an end of an era that should be getting more attention than it is. Continue reading Justified: Preparing For Raylan’s Ride Off Into The Sunset
My love of Justified is no secret. Raylan Givens is a near perfect TV hero and Boyd Crowder make an excellent foil to our hero. The actors (Olyphant and Goggins) share some of the best on-screen chemistry in all of television. The first 3 years of the FX show have given us some of the best action/drama this side of Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad.
So far we’ve seen US Deputy Marshall Raylan Givens kill a gun runner in Miami, reunite with his super hot ex-wife, execute most of the Bennett Clan, save Loretta McCready multiple times, square off with a Detroit Gangster, and repeatedly outdraw people. We have also seen him bury his aunt, put his Dad in prison, get his ass kicked by Coover Bennett, lose a bar fight he started, and once again get dumped by his super hot ex-wife. He sure is fun to watch. An old school badass on new-school TV, I love it.
Now with the 4th season ready to start, we’ll see him dealing with some new characters, including one of my favorite comedians – Patton Oswalt. Oswalt is playing Bob Sweeney:
[quote]”a local constable who went to high school with Raylan and has been hired by the lawman to watch Arlo’s house”[/quote]
Also joining the cast is veteran character actor Ron Eldard (Sleepers, Black Hawk Down)…[quote] TVLine has learned exclusively that ER‘s Ron Eldard is joining the FX drama’s Season 4 cast in the recurring role of Colt, a violent, dark-humored and rule-bending sergeant with the military police.
A veteran of Desert Storm, as well as the Iraq and Afghan wars, Colt jailed Boyd (Walton Goggins) several times during Boyd’s stint in Kuwait, and they became friends. [/quote]
And here are the newest trailers for the upcoming 4th season, which starts January the 8th…
Trailer: “Raise the Stakes”
I’m ready for the New Year…and Aja Evans as “Sharon Edmunds”…
Tuesday night marked the close of Justified‘s third season. And while the episode, titled ‘Slaughterhouse’, did not result in killing off as many characters as it’s title might lead you to believe, it did deliver an emotional conclusion. Going into the episode there was a lot of stuff up in the air – The explosion at Boyd’s bar, Winona’s pregnancy, Arlo’s degrading mental health, the fate of Dickie Bennett, the future of Noble’s Holler, and the shooting of State Trooper Tom Bergen. In the middle of it all, US Deputy Marshall Raylan Givens.
SPOILERS TO FOLLOW…
SUMMARY: The finale picks up after the shooting of State Trooper Bergen, which we learn was indeed fatal. This sends all the Law Enforcement into an uproar, and focuses Raylan’s rage towards the alleged shooter – Robert Quarles. As Art and the State Troopers mobilize to hunt down the man from Detroit, Raylan launches his own investigation. One that is sure to bring a lot of shit down on the heads of Limehouse, Wynn Duffy, and the Crowder gang. Anyone Raylan thinks might be able to lead him to Quarles. This results in a great scene in which Mr. Duffy is forced into an involuntary game of Russian Roulette. This scene shows Raylan displaying very little caution in the wake of his friend’s death, and clues us in to his state of mind a bit. Someone is gonna pay for the death of Tom Bergen.
After his dealing with Duffy, Givens take a much bigger risk as he marches into Noble’s Holler to to threaten Limehouse. This, as expected, does not go well. Raylan, finally after weeks of build up, takes a swing at the esteemed leader of the Holler, it does not work out as planned…
Limehouse, knowing Raylan’s death means only more trouble for the Holler, makes a deal with the Marshall to get Boyd Crowder back in prison. He informs as to where the body of one Mr. Devil is buried, and from here it seems only a clock’s tick away from seeing Boyd back in an orange jumpsuit. It would seem that someone let word slip of the murder and unmarked grave to Mr. Limehouse, and the most likely candidate for that honor is – Arlo. Raylan’s father.
Now as Raylan is tearing apart Harlan County looking for Quarles, the man himself decides to kidnap Vic Mackey’s wife and her 2 sons. He then contacts Detroit and learns that it’ll cost him $500,000 to return home. At this time he contacts the man hunting him and adds Marshall Givens to his group of prisoners. You see, Quarles knows the only place he can get the money he needs, is from Limehouse. He sees Raylan as the insurance he needs to exit the Holler afterward. Here’s the thing though, we soon learn the ol’ crazy Quarles was in fact NOT the man who shot Trooper Bergen, and that Johnny Crowder, the very man who pointed the finger at Quarles to begin with, was a liar. Despite the new found truth about the Trooper however, things still do not end well for Mr. Quarles.
As Quarles lies on the ground, bleeding out, he drops a bomb on Raylan. Tom Bergen was shot by none other than Arlo Givens. During the interview with Arlo two major events occur. First he covers for Boyd and cops to the murder of Devil. This lets Boyd off the hook and out of custody. Secondly he reveals he didn’t know who the Trooper was, only that it was a man with a hat, pointing a gun at Boyd. In one swift moment Arlo delivers a crushing blow to Raylan, while freeing Boyd and reuniting him with Eva.
REVIEW: A man with a gun and a hat – like Raylan. It’s at this point that we see an already strenuous Father-Son relationship get even more strained as we learn that Arlo made a choice. Boyd over Raylan. Father of the year or what? The end of the episode features a voice over by Raylan as he tells the story to Winona, and in essence what will undoubtedly be his own son.
While Season 3 was no where near as good as Season 2, Justified remains one of the best shows on television and consistently one of the safest bets to spend an hour of your time. The whole cast is superb and I especially enjoyed Jere Burns as Wynn Duffy, as he often steals near every scene he is in. I’d give the finale a 5/5 and the season overall a 4/5.
As for next year…
Likely Season 4 will reduce Johnny Corwder, Limehouse, and Dickie Bennett to a subplot as there are already rumors of Jeff Goldblum and Eric Stonestreet being brought in as new villains next year.
This comes from The AV Club:
The hat-smoke has barely cleared from last night’s Justified finale, but already showunner Graham Yost is looking ahead to the next wave of character actors he can bring in to drive Timothy Olyphant into a terse, squinting rage. In an interview with The Wrap, Yost says he’s currently trying to coordinate schedules with the Modern Family production team to get Eric Stonestreet down to Kentucky, a casting choice prompted because, as Yost says, “He’s a Kansas boy, and he’d like to play a bad guy”—particularly a bad guy on a show where the bad guys get do most of the fun stuff while racking up Emmy nominations. Also on Yost’s wish list: His former Raines collaborator Jeff Goldblum (who could definitely make up for that show by playing a Justified villain), displaced Luck star Jason Gedrick, and “anyone from Boomtown, anyone from Band Of Brothers, anyone from The Pacific,” as the show apparently looks to branch out beyond mining the former cast of Deadwood. This is despite the fact that they still haven’t brought in Ian McShane yet, and we’re probably just going to keep muddying Justified casting reports by bringing that up until it happens.
Personally, I loved Raines and I really enjoy both Stonestreet and Goldblum so I hope Yost can snag them both. I also suspect that we’ve not seen the last of Theo Tonin and his Motor City based syndicate.
The long-awaited, but inevitable return of Justified aired last night, and it was worth the anticipation. Raylan Givens probably accounts for about 37% of the total ‘swagger’ in all of television right now. The guy has got character, and he exudes a remarkable likability factor. Basically, he is so cool that I want to be his sidekick. I could make witty quips and get kidnapped, and eventually snag an unorthodoxly hot girlfriend, who doesn’t really compare to his girlfriend, but is a catch none the less on her own. She wouldn’t be “Hollywood Hot”, because she would have glasses or something, but she would be “Real life Hot” so it’d be cool.
Tim Allen, Michigan native and admitted Lions fan has a new show coming out. It was listed among the successes being picked up by ABC for the upcoming season and will be called Last Man Standing. I bring this up though not because Allen grew up in Metro Detroit, or cause I enjoyed Home Improvement as a kid, but because of the show’s description. This is from EW:
Tim Allen’s return to primetime is a go: ABC ordered a new comedy that will star the Home Improvement star as a traditional manly-man in a progressive world. The laugher also will feature Nancy Travis, who will play Allen’s “smart and loving wife who doesn’t miss much.” Hector Elizondo will serve as Allen’s boss Ed.
“A traditional manly-man in a progressive world” That is what peaked my interest. As I’ve talked about before, there is a shortage of real modern day men left on television. We are for the most part given one of two men. First, a man who is portrayed as a buffoon, shown to be on the same intellectual level of his kids, and cowers before his all-knowing wife. Perfect example would be Phil Dunphy (Ty Burrell) on Modern Family.
Secondly we get a man who is such an elite bad-ass that he is completely shut off from the world around and therefore becomes unrelatable. Best example here may be Jack Bauer. Now don’t get me wrong, 24 is one of my favorite shows of all time, and I love Modern Family. But can you imagine grabbing a beer with Jack? What would you talk about? Sports? Movies? Terrorist Attacks? Perhaps how inept his daughter is? And what about Phil? Could you look at Phil and not lose respect for him entirely once you saw how easily he is pushed around by his own kids?
Those are the 2 archetypes we are most commonly given now, but they aren’t the only ones. A 3rd type, and one that is appearing more often, is the old-school, fatherly caveman. Sticking with Modern Family you could look at Ed O’Neill‘s ‘Jay Pritchett’, but an even better even better example Zeke Braverman (Craig T. Nelson) on Parenthood. Here are the guys that remind me of my dad. They have an old school ideal, but it is almost always displayed in negative light. Their way is considered ‘archaic’ and the world has changed around them. All the problems of the next generation are heaped on them as they get blamed for any shortcomings since.
There is at least one show though that has a lead who is a somewhat believable beacon of modern masculinity – and that show is Justified. The main character, Raylan Givens is a lawman, but unlike Jack Bauer he is not some unstoppable killing machine, he actually loses fights more that once. Unlike Phil Dunphy however, he commands respect for not only his actions, but his character as well. He has the old school attitude of a Zeke Braverman, but without the constant crutch of being always questioned and looked down upon. Raylan Givens is like a modern-day Will Kane and he is ever the rarity.
It’s funny to think that when I was a kid, watching Roseanne, and seeing John Goodman‘s ‘Dan Conner’ character, that I was watching a dying breed. This was a TV Dad who actually lost his shit and yelled at his kids sometimes. He liked football, played poker, and worked on his motorcycle. He was a good father and a good man, but did it all without paying the cost of giving up what made him a man. He was a relatable everyman and even that is something not often seen anymore.
So that brings us back to Tim Allen. As masculinity is so often looked down upon now in a public eye, where people want you to talk about your feelings and get in touch with your feminine side, it’ll be interesting to see the direction this show takes. And I think in private, most woman would still prefer overly masculine man to an overly sensitive one, that just not how it’s perceived in modern media. So where will ABC will take this new show. It’s a comedy obviously, but will they allow Allen to buck back against progressive society, or will he simply be made the butt of every joke as the television medium once again tries to tell us men need to evolve?
The first season of Justified far exceeded my expectations. Raylan Givens delivered on every level and the show produced not one, but two of the best characters on television today. That first season ended with one of the best finales I’ve ever seen, and somehow season has not only managed to avoid being a let down, but actually turned out better than the first.
Last night that 2nd season came to an end in a ‘full circle’ kind of way, and I loved it. There aren’t many shows on anymore that can put you on the edge of your seat, but that’s wear I sat through the whole episode. The finale picks up with Raylan talking to Art about transferring to Glenco, which is a move to make Winona happy. Boyd requests a parlay with the Bennetts, and Loretta McCready disappears from her foster home. These 3 events set up the rest of the episode.
First, we learn that Winona is prego. This explains some of why she doesn’t want Raylan in the field. So perhaps we’ll see a little Raylan in the future, though more likely I think Winona either get killed, leave Raylan, or lose the baby before that happens.
Next, during Boyd’s parlay with the Bennetts he anticipates their intentions and sets up ambushes at both Ava and Johnny’s houses. This results in the death squads sent to each location being executed by the Crowder gang. The explosion we saw in last weeks preview killed not Johnny Crowder as we expected, but the Bennett’s men instead. And the assault on Ava’s house ended almost exclusively with Bennett clan deaths.
Almost – Dickie shot Ava before escaping.
Doyle receives a call from Dickie with the news while still at the parlay. This is Boyd and Arlo’s big “F U” moment with Mags and Doyle. The Bennett assault was a failure and Boyd now has the upper hand.
Next we see Loretta has not been kidnapped, but instead commissioned a ride to Harlan for a chance at revenge on the Bennetts for the murder of her father. Raylan learns of her intentions and heads to Harlan. This is when Raylan falls victim to Dickie’s baseball bat. When Raylan recovers consciousness he finds himself strung up by his ankle in Piñata position.
This is when things looked the worst for Raylan, that is until Boyd Crowder shows up with a gun and a whole lot of bad intention. He has just seen Ava’s gunshot wound and has some swift retribution planned for Dickie Bennett. After getting Raylan cut down from the tree, Boyd allows Dickie to live at Raylan’s behest in order to help find Loretta.
Raylan takes Dickie to play ‘Human Shield’ at the Bennett’s house. When he gets there Loretta is already inside with Mags and Raylan has to deal with Doyle. Doyle seems unconcerned with the danger posed to his brother and decides he has had enough of Marshall Givens.
This is about the time that Loretta, inside the house opens fire on Mags, shooting her in the leg. This gunfire causes Doyle’s men outside to open fire – hitting Raylan and nearly killing Dickie as well. With Raylan on the ground, Doyle decides to end the feud once and for all. This results in Marshall/Sniper Tim Gutterson blowing a hole in the Police Chief’s forehead…
This brings the entire Marshall service rushing in at Art’s command, who is there because of Winona’s plea for him to help Raylan. The injured Givens limps into the house to find the injured Mags at the end of Loretta’s gun barrel. After Raylan is able to talk the gun out of Loretta’s hand he sits down with Mags. And full circle we’ve come as Mags pours a couple of glasses of her famous Apple Pie drink and, like with Walt McCready, the glass for the drink proves to be fatal. This time however, Mags poisons herself. News of Doyle’s death and Dickie’s arrest, couple with Coover’s death and Loretta’s attempted murder, Mags decides it’s all too much.
The episode and season end with Raylan’s hand in hers, and the Bennett’s hold on Harlan County officially released. I don’t think many people expected Dickie to be the only Bennett to survive the season, but such is life. This sets things up for the 3rd season where we are sure to see Boyd reclaim the county as his own.
I truly believe this is be the best running series on Television and I already can’t wait for season 3…
Video is also from Warming Glow…
OTHER JUSTIFIED ARTICLES:
– Justified: A Beacon of Modern Masculinity
– Justified: Cottonmouth – Harlan County’s Best of the Season
– FX Renews My Faith: 3rd Season of JUSTIFIED Ordered
– Justified: Episode 209 “Brother’s Keeper”
Regular readers to the site should already know, my favorite show on Television is Justified. They should know, not because I’ve said it multiple times (even though I have: Justified: A Beacon of Modern Masculinity & Justified: Cottonmouth – Harlan County’s Best of the Season just to site a few), but because it simply embodies the opposite of everything I regularly point out as being wrong with TV.
And last night was no different. For those paying attention to the show they already knew going in last night we’d get to see the Bennett Clan’s ‘Everyone is Invited’ picnic. We knew Mags had something up her sleeve, but we just didn’t know what. We also knew going in that Carol Johnson, the representative of the mining company, who was under Raylan’s protection, had plans to buy out the Bennett land, and mine the mountain.
The episode kicks off with Mags and Loretta, doing what appears to be some ‘Mother-Daughter’ bonding. Mags is gifting Loretta a family heirloom, an antique hairclip when Coover busts in the room. Mags explodes at him about not knocking and proceeds to kick him out.
He doesn’t leave right away though, he stands outside the closed door long enough to hear his mother cruelly badmouth him to her apparent new favorite kid.
Coover is obviously jealous of the attention Loretta is receiving from his mother, as if she is part of the family now.
Shortly after this Boyd and Ava show up to the shin-dig, and are clearly not welcome. Local Police Chief (and Mags’ eldest child) Doyle Bennett threatens to remove them forcibly if they don’t leave, but Boyd persuades him to arrange a sit-down with Mags. At this point we still aren’t sure what Boyd’s endgame is, only that it involves Raylan’s father, and what seems to be the betrayal of his current employer – Black Pine Mines.
This is when Raylan and Ms. Johnson arrive. Carol goes to have her final discussion with Mags, only to find Boyd is also present. Carol is under the impression that Boyd has secured Arlo Givens land for her, when in reality, Boyd secured if for himself. Mags then looks at Black Pine’s offer and demands it be tripled. She also wants a stake in the company as she reveals to Ms. Johnson, with the land now owned by Boyd and the Bennetts, Black Pine cannot build the road they would need to transport the coal. Black Pine agrees to her terms and she sells out the county she’d been so adamant in defending.
After Raylan and Ms. Johnson leave, Loretta is called over to help Coover load some kegs into the truck, as he has only one capable hand now.
This is when Loretta notices Coover’s watch, or rather, her daddy’s watch. She is noticeably frightened enough that Coover comments on it. It is now obvious that he only put the watch on to let her know he killed her dad. She heads back up to the house to remove the dress Mags gave her and switch back into her old clothes. This is her letting the audience in on the fact she now knows that her father is dead, as she attempts to distance herself from the Bennetts. But she wants her father’s watch back.
Loretta shows up at Dickie and Coover’s house sometime later. She brought Coover a gift – a joint laced with formaldehyde. Coover seemingly passes out and Loretta begins to search the house for the watch. She first finds Dickie passed out face down on the ground. She then uncovers the watch and calls in her ‘Knight in shinning armor‘ for help.
This is when Coover enters the room and Dickie wakes up. Enraged she tried to drug him Coover attacks Loretta and little Dickie unsuccessfully tries to stop him.
Dickie’s attempt however does give Loretta time to escape out the front. Coover chases her down in the truck as Raylan, after doing a cell phone trace, arrives to find Dickie unconscious on the floor. Coover takes Loretta to the same mine shaft where her father’s body has been decomposing for some time. Raylan engages Coover again, and is losing again. Loretta picks up Raylan’s dropped gun and gets Coover’s attention long enough for Raylan to reach his backup piece and end Coover.
Upon hearing the news Mags shows up at the mine to see her son’s body being removed and learns that Loretta has been taken into protective custody. In an attempt to persuade Raylan to let her talk to Loretta, she starts to cry. Raylan is not moved, and upon seeing his unwillingness to budge, she abandons the plea and exits. That a Cold-Hearted woman.
While this episode may have, apparently wrapped up both the ‘Loretta’ and the ‘Black Pine’ story lines, Raylan’s killing of Coover is sure to elicit a swift response from the Bennett clan, meaning the last 4 episodes to come should hold a war in the making.
I think we’re due for a crescendo.
Even though Terriers got canceled after only one season, and now Light’s Out has suffered the same fate. Both shows were well done and original – so their fate was sealed early on. But just as it seems like good shows can’t survive in the wasteland of Reality TV, CBS Programming, and MTV – FX delivers us some great news: Raylan Givens will be justified for another 13 episodes. Fresh off the announcement they had won a Peabody, Justified was renewed for a 3rd season.
For those who have seen the show, it is probably no surprise that a 3rd season is impending, but in today’s television landscape, nothing original is ever guaranteed to last.
It’s moments like this where I realize that there are still some good decision makers left in the television world. And as much as I hate Terriers and Light’s Out not getting a chance to have 2nd seasons, I do give credit to FX, not only for trying something new and original, but also airing all of season 1 of both shows. On a network station, with the ratings it had, Terriers surely would not have seen all 13 episodes aired.
So thank you FX, thank you for bringing us more Harlan County Adventures!
Good news is also on the horizon for Archer fans, stay tuned!
Regular readers of the site should already know my feelings on season 1 of the FX show Justified. I loved it. It was well written, excellently acted, and entertaining as hell. And it closed up with maybe the best season finale of any show since Dexter‘s fourth season. So far, through 4 episodes of it’s 2nd season we’ve seen a lot of new characters introduced, and what seems to be a promising new story arc. And while it’s been really good, it’s not been great. That is until the 5th episode aired on Wednesday night. This episode, titled Cottonmouth, is one of the single best mid-season episodes of any show I’ve ever seen. While premiers and finales are known for packing in a lot major events to kick off, or wrap up a story, here we see no less than 5 major plays made that will have effect on the rest of the season.
1. Arrested Development
Raylan visits Dewey Crowe in prison, at Crowe’s behest. Dewey is worried about getting shived and offers up a trade to Raylan – Info on the Bennetts for early release into a Half-Way-House. The scene opens with an absolutely awesome shot of Raylan sitting in the dark, the screen cap below does it no justice.
Once Raylan is back at the office, Arlo Givens shows up to return some of the money he stole, in hopes of having Raylan remove his ankle bracelet. The suspicions of Trooper Bergen about the missing Walt McCready‘s (murdered in the first episode by the Bennetts) government checks getting cashed, trigger Raylan to question Arlo about check cashing and gets a name – the now deceased Bowman Crowder. Raylan then proceeds to lock up his father. Now
2. The Dick Tase
The second event, and the one that has elicited an entire post over at Warming Glow, happens when Raylan goes to look into the check-cashing scheme in Harlan. The Crowder lead of course takes him to Boyd, who is not alone. Boyd is in distress, but chooses not to seek Raylan’s help, but instead gives him a name and sends him on his way. Raylan follows Boyd’s info to a man Winston Banks. Mr. Banks, who runs a religious ATV tour called “The Church of the Two-Stroke Jesus”, pulls a taser on Raylan once confronted. While being attacked however, Raylan manages to turn the attackers taser back on him…in the crotch.
This event leads Raylan and Trooper Bergen to believe that Walt is dead, most likely at the hands of the Bennetts, who are now in custody of Walt’s daughter Loretta. Combined with what Dewey told him, all signs point to the Bennetts being responsible for more than just slinging herb…
3. Always Be Cool
The third, and most exciting of these events revolve around everyone’s favorite Ex-Con, Boyd Crowder. This is where we see Boyd, being strong armed into robbing the coal mine, prove himself craftier than the average crook. Kyle and his cronies are determined to make Boyd part of their plan.
Upon learning that they expect him to kill Shelby, (Jim Beaver – Just one of many DEADWOOD alum to appear on the show) the manager at the mine, and suspecting they mean to end him as well, Boyd uses his cell to call the house, escaping the room to answer the phone. Boyd leaves the cell open and on the chair, bugging the room and hearing his suspicions confirmed as the others discuss their plans to end Boyd as well.
It’s around this time that Raylan pulls up to question Boyd about the Check-Cashing his brother used to do. Raylan immediately recognizes the ill-intent of Boyd’s guests and basically extends an offer of help. Boyd declines, passing up an opportunity to end the whole situation there. He has instead decided to rely and his own plan to sabotage the battery of the radio detonator they plan to use for the job, thus ensuring it doesn’t happen. When his cohorts though decide to move forward as planned anyhow, with out the battery, Boyd must quickly devise a new escape.
Once at the mine, as planned they break into the manager’s office, empty the safe, and grab the explosives. Boyd however loads some of the explosives into the cash bag. Once he takes Shelby into the mine, Kyle pulls his double cross and attempts to detonate the explosives. Which are in the money bag. Which is in his truck 5 feet away. In his attempt to kill Boyd and Shelby, Kyle instead blows up himself and his crew.
Well played Boyd.
Once home Boyd gives Ava $20k he kept from the holdup so she can fight off the bank from taking the house for a while. She is now an accessory to his crimes.
4. A Mother’s Love
While Boyd is explaining to Ava what went down at the mine, Dickie and Coover Bennett pay a visit to Winston Bank’s ATV warehouse to collect money owed them. Dickie then notices Marshall Raylan Givens sitting in the dark. Having now confirmed Raylan’s suspicion, they take off and empty-handed. Come morning over, they’re dirty Police Chief brother Doyle drops by their place with the family patriarch and mother: Mags Bennett. What transpires is something the likes of which haven’t been seen in Misery. Mags, enraged to find out that Coover and Dickie have been cashing Walt’s checks and raising the attention of the authorities, decides to teach a lesson to her dumber sons. Coover must now bear the brunt of his mother’s scorn.
Wow. Coover already blames Raylan for all his problems since he is an idiot, so I’m sure he’ll blame Raylan for this too. Oh, a mother’s love…
5. Lortetta’s Knight in Shining Armor
Little Loretta McCready. Heir to the vast nothing-ness left by her father, now taken in by the very people who murdered him. Earlier saved by Raylan when he whisked her out of the trunk of a child molester, she now is surviving how she see fit and doing what her Daddy taught her – Selling weed. Raylan, now convinced that the Bennetts did in fact murder her father, but with no proof as of yet, visits Loretta and to her delivers a cell phone. With the phone, this promise:
[quote]”I kicked a hornet’s nest last night. And things may start to happen, and I need you to know, if you find yourself in trouble of any kind, you can call me. I will drop whatever I am doing and I will come for you.”[/quote]
BOOM! If that isn’t a promise of some Epic Fricking Heroics playing out, then I don’t know what is. This season is really picking up now and I can’t wait for Wednesday.
I’ve certainly spent a lot of time the last couple of years talking about the loss of masculinity in American pop culture. In a time where we are inundated with pop singers and Disney kids primed as tomorrow’s only action stars, it makes it hard not to look back at yesteryear and wonder what happened.
From the likes Justin Bieber and Zac Effron to actors like Tobey MacGuire, American pop culture seems to have forgotten what masculinity is. There is plenty of talk about how women are objectified by the media as skinny and sexy, and how that makes girls feel bad. Well how about boys now with nothing but the hairless, well manicured excuses for men that Disney is pimping out? There is a definite difference between the action stars of yesteryear and those the studio execs deem acceptable today.
In recent years there is a new social standard that has emerged. A sort of cookie cutter prototype that is present today in the entertainment industry. I understand that the film industry is a business, and pretty boys sell tickets, but is it too much to ask for one guy? One ‘Man’s Man’ that our generation could cling to like my Dad did with Clint Eastwood, or like my Grandfather with John Wayne? Sure, as a kid I had Stallone and Schwarzenegger, but Arnold hasn’t done a good movie since True Lies. And even at their peak, they were never identifiable as an everyman. None of our action stars are anymore. From Jason Statham to The Rock to Jet Li, they’re all famous for taking off their shirts and fighting 30 guys at once. The closest thing we’ve had is Bruce Willis in the original Die Hard, which is arguably the best action movie of all time. But Die Hard is over 25 years old, and Willis is pushing 60 years old.
I mean, you never saw guys like Steve McQueen with a personal trainer that waxed his chest and oiled up his abs…
Last year for Bam Kapow I wrote about how I thought Timothy Olyphant would’ve made a good Captain America if he were just a few years younger. That was right after Justified had premiered, and the first episode delivered exactly what I had been looking for. Here was the exact type of character that I had felt was missing from TV and movies. A well-mannered, principle driven, hard ass. Slams his whiskey, tells the truth, and looks a man in the eye before he shoots him.
It’s so popular now, when you have a badass character, for him to be morally corrupt like The Shield’s Vic Mackey. Or for him to be deeply flawed so he can see the error of his way, and then be forced to ‘Open Up’ about his feelings like Hank on Breaking Bad.
Well Justified started strong, and was absent of those things, but the premiere was quickly followed up with a few cookie-cutter type of episodes. I was scared it was about to turn into just another police procedural. Well the first season really picked up the slack after that. Marshall Raylan Givens is TV’s most genuine badass, but with a real old-school feel about him. And it’s not the cowboy hat. It’s the fact that he tips said hat in the presence of a lady. It’s that he has an immense faith in his ability on the quick draw, but that he isn’t cocky, just confident. It just feels like you could cut him out of the TV and paste him into an old Dirty Harry movie and he would have been a perfect partner for Callahan, if he weren’t the better shot anyway.
Reminiscent of Elliot Gould’s turn as Phillip Marlowe (a character made famous by Humphrey Bogart 30 years earlier) in The Long Goodbye, Givens is out-of-place almost. Gould’s Marlowe was seemingly stuck in the 1940’s while the world around him had evolved. Raylan Givens is similar in both behavior and ideals, and while more intimidating than Marlowe the similarities are pretty evident.
It’s funny to look at a character like this as being a fresh breath of air, seeing as he seems so classic, but that’s how rare it is now that I find myself here celebrating what used to be common place. A character who works off a logical, common sense based set of principles, and isn’t hog tied by an inability to conform to social norms. Marshall Givens has given me hope that not all is lost for tomorrow.
Now obviously Rayan isn’t the only thing that makes Justified work, in fact almost as important is his relationship with Boyd Crowder, his foil. Like the Batman and Joker, or Felix Unger and Oscar Madison, the characters simply work better together than alone.
Between Justified and Deadwood, (not to mention Live Free or Die Hard) Timothy Olyphant has given us the closest thing we have to a Gary Cooper/Lee Marvin/Charles Bronson type. He must seem archaic to kids today, something they just aren’t familiar with anymore. I just hope he can keep it up, and maybe Hollywood will start to pay attention.
Images: FX, HBO, Disney