In discussing the Season 5 premiere of “Justified” before it aired Tuesday night (Jan. 7), I used the words “lived-in” and “familiar” to describe it. Depending on how you read them, those might not be the most flattering terms to describe a TV show in its fifth year.
Parts of “Justified” have always felt familiar, built as it is on the foundation of westerns and cop shows. What really stands out in the premiere, though, is how the show has succeeded in creating a world where Raylan Givens, Boyd Crowder and most everyone else we spend time with is surrounded by their past. Old associations, acquaintances and grudges are next to impossible to shake. There’s now an almost physical feeling of the past hanging over them.
It’s what’s driving Boyd in his new heroin business with Wynn Duffy — he needs fast money to help get Ava out of prison, only to see his old-boys-network nemesis Lee Paxton change the rules again. To his extreme detriment, Lee can’t see Boyd as anything other than a poor boy from the holler, and when he insults Ava one too many times, Boyd beats him nearly to death. Lee’s trophy wife, Mara (Karolina Wydra), though, seems to recognize Boyd for the driven man he is and wisely appeals to his practical side.
Boyd’s story — including a trip to Detroit to deal with a distribution problem — is the more high-energy one in the premiere, while Raylan is uncharacteristically laid-back on a trip to his old territory in Florida to investigate the death of a Coast Guard officer. There he runs into Darryl (Michael Rapaport) and Wendy Crowe (Alicia Witt), cousins of the ineffectual but newly moneyed (thanks to a lawsuit settlement) Dewey. They’re involved in a bunch of illegal things, but Raylan doesn’t seem to care all that much about what doesn’t directly affect his case. That’s likely to change very soon, once the cousins get word of Dewey’s financial status and decide to head north.
The other details of Raylan’s case seem almost beside the point (at least for now; see above re: the past hanging around). The Crowes are headed to Harlan, and it’s not likely to be a happy family reunion for Dewey or an easy time for Raylan.
- Part of what made the premiere feel so history-laden was the sheer number of actors making return appearances, in addition to the ones mentioned above: Natalie Zea‘s Winona has a brief scene video-chatting with the baby and Raylan. Wade Messer (James Le Gros) is out of prison and working the bar at Audrey’s. Max Perlich makes a final appearance as Sammy Tonin before being shot dead by his lieutenant, Picker (John Kapelos). Rick Gomez and Matt Craven reprise their roles. That is one fleshed-out and deep roster of actors.
- Dewey Crowe with money behaves just about exactly as you’d expect him to, yes?
- Turns out when Wynn leaves his Winnebago, he’s rather handy with a gun. Who knew?
- Here’s hoping “Justified” didn’t hire Dave Foley and Will Sasso just to make cameos as Canadian drug distributors. Their brief scene with Boyd seemed filled with potential.
What did you think of the “Justified” season premiere?