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'Justified' Season 2, Episode 1 (Season Premiere) Recap

by Piet Levy, posted Feb 10th 2011 5:55AM
'Justified' S02/E01['Justified' - 'The Moonshine War']

"It's good to see you Dickey."
"You too Raylan. You too. You and your hat."

Dickey, you ain't the only one happy to see Raylan Givens, or the U.S. marshal's cowboy hat. I've been anxiously awaiting the season two start of 'Justified' for many a month now, eager to put on my special 'Justified' cowboy hat (a gift from my grandpappy), which has been collecting dust in my closet ever since Season 1 wrapped up last spring.

But the hat is back on, and so is one of the cleverest, most enjoyable shows on TV, which introduced a few colorful new characters.

Fans may recall we last saw the no-nonsense Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) survive a shoot-out thanks to some nice shootin' from his frenemy Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins). Boyd's Daddy wasn't so lucky. Raylan was eager to take Boyd into custody for some wrongdoing, but as a sign of thanks, he let Boyd drive off in pursuit of retribution.

Season 2 picked up soon after, with Boyd tracking the gunman, and Givens tracking Boyd. Boyd headed to the hospital after another shoot-out (Boyd and Raylan, always getting into trouble), but Raylan was able to scoop up the gunman and take her to the home of the Miami mob boss from Season 1 who wanted Raylan dead. The men sat down to negotiate a truce, which Raylan, in his usual manner, didn't have much patience for. "You give me your word in 10 seconds or I shoot you in the head." At least Raylan called time-out when his cell phone went off.

After Raylan's old boss from the Miami bureau of the U.S. Marshals showed up, Raylan and the Miami crime lord struck a deal to let bygones be bygones. And Raylan, who was forced to transfer to Kentucky at the start of Season 1 for being a bit trigger happy, was actually offered his old job back. Thing is, he doesn't seem all that interested in returning to Miami. Seems Harlan County, Raylan's old stomping grounds, has become home. (No doubt because he's still bumping boots with his ex-wife Winona, played by Natalie Zea.)

Wouldn't you know when Raylan returns home, eager to finally bring Boyd into custody, that he slipped away in the night? Oh that Boyd! But 'Justified' ain't done with him yet. At the very end of the episode, we got a glimpse of him doing what he loves to do best -- blowing something up.

But it doesn't look like 'Justified' will strictly be a Boyd-Raylan face-off once again. Not long after settling back into his work at the top of the episode, Raylan started to get reacquainted with another no-good Kentucky crime family he knows, the Bennetts, who have employed a sex offender he's tracking named Jimmy Earl Dean. ("Three first names. Triple winner right off the bat," Raylan quipped.) Raylan tracked Jimmy down to a gas station, and just when we were expecting to see yet another shoot-out, Raylan, realizing how much trouble his "shoot first, ask questions later" style has caused him, opted for another option -- he just sprayed Jimmy with gasoline and threatened to shoot him. So Jimmy gave himself up. Compared to some of the other bad guys Raylan's tussled with, he got off easy.

Jimmy seemed like a nasty guy, particularly when he confronted the 14-year-old girl Loretta (Kaitlyn Dever); leave it to writers of 'Justified,' lead by Graham Yost and inspired by Givens' creator, author Elmore Leonard, to make even a minor character robust. But Jimmy was small time; it's the pot-growing, no-good Bennett family who posed a real threat. Well, maybe not the slow-witted Coover Bennett, played by 'Lost' alum Brad William Henke, who we first saw smoking pot and asking through the pot smoke, "Does anyone want some cheese?"

But Dickey Bennett (played by another 'Lost' alum, Jeremy Davies), now he's something fierce. When Dickey confronted Loretta's dad, who was growing marijuana on the Bennetts' turf, Dickey didn't just punch him around or shoot him in the leg. Well, he did shoot him in the leg. But he also made the guy put his own foot in a bear trap. Seriously, a bear trap. That's just mean.

And if that wasn't punishment enough, by episode's end, Dickey Bennett and his Ma Mags (Margo Martindale, from 'Dexter' and 'The Riches,' excellent as always) poisoned the poor guy, tricking him to drink some bad moonshine during an alleged peace offering. "It's too late now Walt," Mags said as the man slowly, loudly, painfully died. "Oh, this is the bad part. But it doesn't last long. ... All the troubles of your hard life, it's all gone now." Just when it couldn't get much creepier, Mags claimed she'd take custody of Loretta. And with that, Mags and Dickey have become just as intriguing as Boyd and Raylan.

It's characters like them, brought to life by great actors (Olyphant especially) and dynamic dialogue, that make this show so good. Yes indeed Raylan, it's good to have you back. You and your hat.

'Justified' airs Wednesdays, 10PM ET, on FX.

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What a great return to form for Justified. I remember being a little skeptical back before season one started because it seemed some of Elmore's stuff just isn't adapted well, and as a rule TV adaptions of things are usually not good (I'm looking at you, The Stand) but the first episode I was blown away, and it just got better from there. AS a DISH customer/employee I'm able to enjoy Raylan's gunslinging in awesome HD. If you haven't seen him blast a bad guy in 1080i you haven't seen Justified.

February 11 2011 at 9:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is truly one of the best shows on television...With SOA, Lights Out, Justified and several other shows...FX will definitely be a main stream channel before long...I am sorry they "euthanized" Terriers...Another exceptional show imo...One could only hope they bring that back...But...Justified is a definite "fix" waiting for SOA to return...Fell in love with Olyphant on Deadwood...How could you not? He is nice on the eyes and a exceptional actor...Love seeing the "Losties" find there way into another exceptional show...I am now thanking the digital Gods for DVR and anxiously awaiting Ep.2 of Justified...Thanks FX...and all the people who put Justified together...Go Team!!!!

February 10 2011 at 1:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I had been counting down the days until that hat came back, and last night didn't disappoint. I just love that show. Last season we saw a bunch of Deadwood alums, will this season be the season of Losties?

"Fire in the hole!!!"

February 10 2011 at 9:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What a badass show. Glad it's finally back.

February 10 2011 at 7:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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