Justified s5 ep 4

There’s a long, wonderful scene in this week’s Justified where Raylan – tasked to find the missing Wade Messer and really not happy about it – and Tim go to see Boyd Crowder. Tim’s just there to keep both of them (but mostly Raylan) in line, so, wisely, he’s content to stand back and let Raylan and Boyd talk in their Raylan and Boyd way: threats, barbs and negotiations, all wrapped up in luxuriously long, exaggeratedly polite and joyously old-fashioned phrasing – I could listen to these two fence like that all day. Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins are clearly revelling in it too, which makes the scene even more of a delight – they don’t get to share anywhere near as many scenes together as they used to, which makes me wonder if the writers are deliberately keeping them apart so we appreciate it more when they’re together. If so, well, job done.

Anyway, lots of other stuff happened this week, with Dewey Crowe proving as useless at murder as he is at everything else, Raylan declaring all-out war on the Crowes, Boyd declaring war on Cousin Johnny and Art investigating the death of Nicky Augustine among the main events. It was all smartly plotted, wittily written and beautifully acted. But, much as I enjoyed it all, none of it could hold a candle to that Raylan and Boyd scene. Those two are terrific together. More of them, please.

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Justified s5 ep 3

Another superb ep – this season of Justified is 3 for 3 so far.

I’ve mentioned Raylan having a very particular type, and this week it turns out latest squeeze Alison has even more in common with Ava, Lindsey and Winona than I (or Raylan) previously thought.

As Alison herself points out, he does “tend to get involved with women who run afoul of the law” and it seems like “good girl” Alison may not be such a good girl after all. Which obviously just makes her more attractive to our be-hatted hero.

Although an incident at the mansion results in the reliably unflappable Rachel moving in as chaperone/back-up (depending on your point of view) and would have provided an unexpected shipping opportunity if I had my way, there’s no hope of Rachel and Raylan ever getting romantic, is there? She’s far too steady and sensible for Raylan’s incorrigible wildcard to have any interest beyond friendship in her, so there’s none of the cute/corny stuff that usually accompanies this type of “partners move in together for a mission” plot. Nope. Rachel just gets on with the job at hand, providing both back-up and counsel, even if Raylan might not always take it on board – she takes Raylan to task this week over his choices in love and in life, and he knows she’s right, but he doesn’t really care. As Loretta said last week, he’s still going to be Raylan.

Still, the mansion plot is fun, and it means Raylan gets to cross paths both with the ruthless Munro (played by the always terrific Xander Berkeley) and with the glorious Wynn Duffy again. Wynn, for his part, is busy being brilliant all over the place. I know he’s a terrible human being, but he’s a fantastic character; whether calmly conducting an interrogation by air gun, or simply sitting in his trailer being sarcastic, Jere Burns’ delivery of every line and every look is a deadpan delight.

Walton Goggins’ Boyd is also very busy this week, what with conducting investigations, giving Dewey Crowe assertiveness training and getting up close and personal with Mara Paxton. Is she working him like Alison’s working Raylan? Probably. Does Boyd know that? Almost definitely. But, like Raylan, he won’t let that put him off; I look forward to seeing how both those games play out…

Justified s5 ep 2

Another excellent ep (if not quite as glorious as last week’s) and another fine mess Boyd Crowder’s got himself into.

In addition to the usual challenges of running a medium-scale criminal organisation, his supplier problem’s getting worse, his distributors are revolting and his fiancee’s still in jail. Sure, Mrs Paxton may be on side, but that unexpected break may come at too high a price, especially now the whole Paxton situation might end up costing Ava her freedom on a more permanent basis. And especially now it looks like another, even more bloodthirsty player is moving in on Boyd’s territory – could that be the same bloodthirsty player who calls the shots in the cold open?

That’s my guess, anyway. Especially since it’s that same player who brings Loretta and a truck-load of trouble back into our favourite Marshal’s orbit this week; yes, Raylan is having the BEST time confiscating Xander Berkeley’s assets (Xander Berkeley! As if this cast could get any more awesome!) with Rachel and Tim when he’s dragged into the mess his favourite teen tearaway’s made and he’s not happy about it. But, as Loretta correctly identifies, he’s Raylan, so he’s going to get involved, he’s going to sort it out, and he’s going to do it in the coolest (and hottest, if you know what I mean) way possible.

Oh yes.

Y’all know I love Raylan. And I thoroughly enjoyed this ep. I do have one quibble, though. Another season, another feisty blonde to romance – Alison the social worker seems fab, their chemistry is crackling away, and I could easily get on board that ship, but, so far, we’ve had Winona, Ava, Lindsey/Lynsey/Lindsay….. has the man *ever* dated a brunette? I mean, a girl could get a complex.

Justified s5 ep 1

What a cracking start to the season.

Art lends a mildly disgruntled – but slightly mellowed? Or is that wishful thinking on my part? – Raylan to Marshals on the trail of the fantastically-named Elvis Machado and the Florida Crowes. (Not a tribute band, FYI.) In a bid to short-circuit matters, Raylan points out that “we got a perfectly good Crowe right here in Kentucky,” but, as we find out during an utterly hilarious scene, the newly-rich Dewey either can’t or won’t help, so off our hero heads to sunny Miami to catch some crooks (in more ways than one) and avoid seeing his ex-wife and baby daughter because that hat ain’t big enough for all the Manly Man Feelings he’d have to deal with if he saw them in person.

On the other side of the law, meanwhile, Boyd and the majestically-eyebrowed Wynn Duffy head to Detroit after a dope deal goes sour, and find themselves in the middle of a trade disagreement between their suppliers and their suppliers – I think? – that I’m not sure I entirely understand, but somehow manages to be both grim, gory and blackly funny at the same time.

And that’s Justified for you. Reviews suggest that season five may not be as good as the others, and, on the one hand, it’s easy to see from this first episode how things could go wrong: Darryl Crowe could easily outstay his welcome, Wendy Crowe could annoy me by getting the better of Raylan like Lynsay/Lynsey/Lindsay the bartender did in season four, and whatever is going on with Boyd and the Canadians could get wearisome. So, yeah, it’s easy to see how things could go wrong. But it’d also be churlish to worry about that now, when everything in “A Murder of Crowes” is so marvellously, gloriously right. From the opening court scene to the final seconds, this is Justified at something close to its wonderful best; unapologetically smart, wickedly funny and completely, thoroughly engrossing. The writing is amongst the sharpest on tv, and Walton Goggins as the grandiloquent, ruthless Boyd and Jere Burns as the magificently deadpan Wynn Duffy are absolutely terrific, of course. But my heart belongs to Timothy Olyphant’s weary, laconic, coiled-spring of a Marshal Givens. Swoon. Great to have you back, Raylan. Great to have you all back.

Public Service Announcement 45 of 2015: Justified, Orphan Black

After being dropped by Five USA and spending a couple of years in the exclusive wilderness of “Sky Go box sets,” season five of unpopcult favourite Justified finally makes it to actual UK television on Friday (25th) night at 10pm on Spike (another one of the Five stable for those keeping track). The sixth and final season has already finished in the US, obviously, but late is better than never and I love me some Raylan Givens so I’ll be tuning in and doing weekly reviews as soon as I can.

Speaking of wilderness, meanwhile, in “perhaps the most bizarre scheduling decision in history” as described entirely accurately by our very own Jed, BBC3 has finally got round to showing season three of Orphan Black, starting on Sept 27th. On one view, three months after it finished in the U.S. isn’t anywhere near the longest delay we’ve seen, but showing it in daily double bills starting at 2.10AM on a Sunday morning (and then continuing with equally mad but slightly different times each morning thereafter) is actually crazy. Season three is arguably weaker than the previous two and its US ratings lower, but either show it at a halfway sensible time or don’t show it at all. This madness suggests that either BBC3 schedulers are lunatics or they’ve given up entirely on people watching on TV pending their proposed move online. The fact that all of OB season three is going to be available on iPlayer as of tonight lends credence to the latter theory, but why anyone would think experimenting with a tiny niche show like OB in this way would work is beyond me: it’s not going to teach the masses to watch online, since the masses don’t actually watch it. Which brings me back to lunacy being the most likely explanation. I hate double bills, I hate early mornings and I hate daily showings of anything so well done BBC3. I won’t be doing regular reviews this time around but I’ll maybe just do a wrap-up at season’s end.

Public Service Announcement 42 of 2014: Forever, The Blacklist, Justified

New ABC drama Forever starts tonight in the UK. It stars Ioan Gruffudd as Dr Henry Morgan, a New York medical examiner who has a secret – he’s actually immortal!!!1! Yes, it’s Undead Body of Proof. In fairness, the premise offers at least the possibility of good silly fun, but the show opened in America to a critical reception which was largely unenthusiastic, while generally not being actually hostile. Equally, ratings haven’t been dreadful, but as yet are nowhere near a level which would guarantee renewal. CJ’s seen the first episode, and thinks it’s more for me; I haven’t seen it and won’t be bothering. But if anyone does, or has, let me know if I’m making a mistake (Sky 1, 9pm).

With that out of the way, though, let’s get the bunting out for the return of one of the best new shows of the 2013/14 season: The Blacklist is back. A killer concept, a well-paced backstory, and a scenery-chewing yet occasionally subtle central performance from James Spader; it’s everything a network procedural drama should be. My only hope for season 2 is that members of the supporting cast manage to emerge from Red Reddington’s shadow; but, hell, I don’t care too much if they don’t, because The Blacklist isn’t broke and doesn’t need fixing. As with season 1, weekly reviews (tomorrow, Sky Living, 9pm).

And there’s a sort-of return for Unpopcult favourite Justified, without a UK broadcaster for the moment, but as of the start of October season 5 is available on demand through Sky something-or-other. Without looking too closely, the better to avoid spoilers, I kind of got the impression that this season wasn’t quite as rapturously received as previous ones.

Might be as well to get the stuff lingering on your hard drive watched or deleted, though, because there’s much more around the corner: Homeland, Gotham, Sleepy Hollow, The Knick, How To Get Away With Murder, and Hawaii Five-0 are just some of the shows hitting UK screens over the next couple of weeks.

Justified s4 ep 13

Do or die time in Harlan: in two distinct but overlapping storylines bringing to a climax weeks of jeopardy and derring-do, Raylan and Boyd each risked everything to eliminate the threat to their loved ones, and gave us an absolutely magnificent end to an absolutely magnificent season in the process.

For anyone labouring under the misapprehension that Justified is just a guy acting cool while shooting folk, “Ghosts” was a perfect illustration of why it’s much, much more than that. While there’s no denying the eye-popping exhilaration of the shoot-out at Winona’s or Raylan’s shrugged “I’m suspended” as he walked away from the Sammy Tonin solution (which sounds like a blues band), the real power in this episode came from a series of majestic one-on-one confrontations between characters at their most vulnerable and therefore most dangerous: Raylan and Boyd at Jonny’s, Raylan and Boyd in the car, Raylan and Nicky Augustine in the other car. Each was more electrifying than the last, with dialogue as sharp and polished as a very expensive diamond, and performances to match.

In all honesty, I’d actually quite like Ava to go to jail, so I didn’t care whether Boyd’s scheme to get rid of Delroy’s body worked or not, but that strand was still fantastically plotted and Walton Goggins’s performance as everything went to hell was as fantastic as ever – perhaps even more so in that moment when Wynn Duffy returned to offer him something else to keep him warm at night instead. Raylan’s story was perfect in every way though, and that final visual of the wonderful Timothy Olyphant sitting in that hellish garden, contemplating those gravestones, to the sound of “You’ll never leave Harlan alive” was as quietly devastating a moment as I’ve seen all year. Justified isn’t just a guy acting cool while shooting folk; it’s a community of complex, flawed and compelling characters, all unable to escape their pasts, no matter how much they might try. At its best – and this episode was one of its best – it’s mesmerising and marvellous and if you haven’t seen the first four seasons yet, you should. For me, season 5 can’t come fast enough.