Justified: I Couldn't Quit You!
I love Justified and had no idea who Elmore Leonard was before the show aired years ago. But by the end of the first episode of the first season, I was hooked. Come on . . . How can you resist when Winona says to Raylan, "Well, you do a good job of hiding it, and I suppose most folks don't see it, but honestly, you're the angriest man I have ever known," to the protagonist you just spend the past hour with watching being a smooth bad ass? Also, given the fact I loved Deadwood (I am still waiting on the movies or Season 4!) and have followed Timothy Olyphant's career, the show started on a pretty solid foundation.
This series moved me to pick up a couple of Leonard's books, where I read about just how many shows were inspired by his works. His books are good, but the show speaks to me on a different level that had me coming back to watch Raylan, Ava, and Boyd for six seasons. It's just great, addictive television. The dialogue between characters was better than any of the (many) blazing shoot outs.
Unfortunately it did not service the rest of its cast or the concept of diversity very well. Diversity seemed to begin and end with Rachel (played by Erica Tazel), a female African-American marshal, whose character was less developed than anyone else on the show. The one episode that springs to mind for her dealt with her dead-beat-jailbird brother in-law, and that played out like a show from the late 70s.
Or what about Limehouse, the black kingpin that lived in Noble's Holler and networked for cash? While he had a larger role in Season 3, he was used more as the looming threat of that region.
But Justified had an ability to bring new characters onto the show; each felt like they had a history and some level of gravitas about them. That element truly impressed me; that's a skill that any GM would want for their game. It's something I try to bring to my table every game, bringing life to each NPC the players meet, while never taking away from their show.
I would suggest everyone give the show a go. The first season was trying to find its footing and took a while. The second season is great and has some of the best television writing I have seen. If by halfway through the second season you are not hooked, the show is not for you.
These are the essential first season episodes you should watch (in my opinion):
Season 1: Episode 1, This episode sets the ground work for the entire show.
Season 1: Episode 9, “Hatless” , This episode is vital and focus on Raylan’s demons.
Season 1: Episode 10, “Hammer” , Boyd has had a huge transformation, and his path becomes clear.
Season 1: Episode 12, “Fathers and Sons”, Raylan has daddy issues that are nothing compared to Boyd's daddy nightmares, and they race toward a terrible conclusion.
Season 1: Episode 13, "Bulletville", Season 1 Finale and establishes where Season 2 will start.
There's a lot to praise about this show, but also a fair share of issues due to a scattered focus on the secondary cast. The only way I can sum up my feelings for the show is by quoting Raylan:
"We dug coal together."