Tag Archives: Justified

Raylan confronts another toxic clan on Justified

Timothy Olpihant stars in Season 5 of 'Justified,' premiering tonight on FX.

Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Oliphant) finds himself in Florida to investigate the presumed death of a Coast Guard officer in the season premiere of ‘Justified’ on FX.

The great American author Elmore Leonard died last August at age 87, but his work lives on in Justified, the Emmy-wnning drama that starts its fifth season tonight on FX.
Based on Leonard’s novella Fire in the Hole, this rich, multi-layered series stars Timothy Oliphant as cocky Kentucky-based Deputy U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens, whose work throws him into daily contact with the kind of quirky, violent and often comical characters that Leonard himself specialized in.
Many TV critics and fans of Justified point to Season 2 of the show as the most satisfying to date, and I’m not inclined to argue. That batch of episodes found Raylan wrangling with a truly nasty mountain clan headed by a lethal matriarch named Mags Bennett (Margo Martindale of The Millers in a tremendous performance that won her an Emmy Award).
Season 5 of Justified introduces us to another, equally nasty redneck family called the Crowes, with whom Raylan becomes entangled when he is dispatched to the Florida Everglades to investigate the case of an off-duty Florida Coast Guard officer who is missing and presumed dead. His investigation leads him to an alligator farm owned by family patriarch Darryl Crowe Jr. (Michael Rapaport), a rough piece of work who puts Raylan on the trail of the man responsible for the murder – but not before Darryl learns that a Kentucky cousin of the Crowes, Dewey (Damon Herriman), recently received a sizable windfall in a settlement with the U.S. Marshals office.
Meanwhile, continuing a Season 4 storyline back in Kentucky, a cash-poor Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) is running out of options in his desperate bid to get his fiancée, Ava (Joelle Carter), out of jail, so he heads to Detroit to retrieve some missing drugs with Dixie Mafia figurehead Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns), only to find themselves in a polite conversation with the Canadian Mafia (very funny guest performances by Dave Foley and Will Sasso).
Beyond that, I really don’t want to spoil any more of the delirious delights awaiting fans in these new episodes of Justified (at least the first two – that’s all I’ve seen). Critics rave about Justified every time a new season rolls around, but it’s high time more viewers caught on to this fascinating, splendidly acted gallery of unforgettable characters.
Michael Rapaport and Alicia Witt guest star in Season 5 of 'Justified.'

Alicia Witt (right, ‘Cybill’) guest stars as the sister and legal advisor of a nasty Florida crime boss (MIchael Rapaport) in ‘Justified.’

It’s Hammer (and Sickle) Time

FX has carved out an impressive niche for itself with diverse, envelope-pushing fare ranging from hard-hitting cop show The Shield to the wildly raunchy animated spy spoof Archer and the character-driven crime drama Justified. In some ways, however, The Americans, which premieres tonight with a special 90-minute episode, may be the channel’s riskiest venture yet.
Set in 1981, shortly after President Ronald Reagan’s first term begins, the period drama explores the complex lives of Philip and Elizabeth Jennings (Matthew Rhys, Keri Russell), who live in suburban Washington, D.C., with their two children, 13-year-old Paige (Holly Turner) and Henry (Keidrich Sellati), 10. Philip and Elizabeth look like any clean-cut young couple pursuing the American dream, but the reality is far more sinister: They’re Russian spies who have spent the last several years in a KGB-arranged marriage, working for the Soviet Union.
As the story opens, Philip is beginning to have second thoughts about their double life. For one thing, Reagan’s sabre-rattling speeches have his Moscow bosses worried that the new president is one step away from declaring outright war on their country, which leads the Russians to ramp up their own covert activity stateside. For another, Philip is becoming more and more seduced by the role he has been assigned to play. His marriage to Elizabeth may have been set up by the Motherland, but their years together, especially raising their two kids, have sparked a genuine emotional bond between them. And when Philip discovers that their latest neighbor is an FBI counterintelligence agent (Noah Emmerich), he starts in earnest to consider defecting with his family.
Until they figure out a way to do that without jeopardizing their own lives, or those of their kids, Philip and Elizabeth are forced to continue their undercover dirty work for Moscow – and it can get pretty dirty indeed. Elizabeth, for example, goes all Rosa Klebb on one innocent young American, poisoning him to force his mother to plant a listening device in the home of a highly placed government official. Moreover, both of them freely engage in sex with their targets to get the information their bosses need.
In other words, The Americans asks us to identify with and root for a couple of “bad guys,” and the degree to which the show pulls that off is largely to the credit of its two stars, both superb. Rhys vividly conveys Philip’s deep ambivalence over his situation and his growing desperation to find a way out, while Russell is a revelation as this tough-as-nails KGB officer who still feels a very deep allegiance to Russia, even as she begins to realize her kids may wind up paying a heavy price if she and her husband don’t change sides.
The series judiciously employs flashbacks to give us perspective on how Elizabeth and Philip reached this crossroads, but after watching the two episodes FX provided for review, I’m still wondering about what motivated their younger selves to join the secret police in the first place. Were they coerced somehow, or did they just see these careers as a means to power and relative financial security? And now, are they considering defecting mainly out of fear and a desire to protect their comfortable American lifestyle, or are they genuinely remorseful for some of their past activities?
That ambiguity makes it hard for me to sign up for Team Elizabeth and Philip just yet, but the two stars, and the fast pace of their suspenseful show, will keep me watching over the next few weeks.