Last year, “Justified” abandoned its usual pattern of giving its good guys a primary adversary for the season in favor of a mystery story that delved deeply into its characters’ pasts, digging up lots of semi-buried issues along the way.
The new season, which premieres at 10 p.m. ET Tuesday (Jan. 7) on FX, returns to the show’s more familiar structure. But the character beats that played out last season — and in previous seasons, for that matter — linger. The result is that the Harlan, Ky., and environs of “Justified” feels like a very familiar, lived-in place — in the best possible sense.
“Justified” is still very capable of surprises, whether they’re small (the actors playing two Canadian drug distributors in the season premiere) or large: A rather important development involving Boyd (Walton Goggins) takes place in the final minutes of Tuesday’s episode. Those jolts, though, nearly always flow from things the show has previously established with its characters, and it makes watching “Justified” that much more rewarding.
The one-villain-per-season structure means that it’s easy enough for new viewers to join in and not miss too much, but long-time fans will appreciate the depth and breadth showrunner Graham Yost and the writers have given the show.
Now, a few semi-specifics on Tuesday’s season premiere, which is titled “A Murder of Crowes”:
– As the episode title implies, Dewey Crowe (Damon Herriman) plays a key role in setting this season’s plot in motion. The episode opens with the hapless Dewey taking Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) and the marshals service to court for myriad injuries and slights and winning a rather nice settlement. His newfound wealth leads to him taking over the brothel Boyd and Ava (Joelle Carter) formerly ran — and also a very funny moment of Raylan shooting Dewey’s above-ground pool.
– Raylan spends much of the episode in Florida, which he left in the series premiere. He and another marshal (guest star David Koechner) are tracking the murder of a Coast Guard officer, and Raylan runs across some of Dewey’s relatives, played by Michael Rapaport and Alicia Witt, in the Everglades. The first impression is that this branch of the Crowe family, along with an associate played by Edi Gathegi (“House”), is much more formidable than Dewey.
– Ava remains in jail, but Boyd is working double-time to get her out. Through his new business with Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns, who’s now a regular member of the cast), Boyd hopes to pay off the men who put his fiancee behind bars, which means another run-in with Lee Paxton (Sam Anderson). You’ll also meet Lee’s wife, played by Karolina Wydra.