FX's "Justified" reinvents the Western just as much as it lingers on its most cherished tropes.

FX's "Justified" reinvents the Western just as much as it lingers on its most cherished tropes.

On the surface, main character Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) is an old-school gunslinger who'll settle all disputes using his quick draw. But underneath lies a cunning detective who sees all the angles like an expert grifter.

Last season featured Raylan - a U.S. marshal who had to relocate from Miami back to his Kentucky home after he (justifiably?) gunned down a Miami drug dealer - dispatching all comers.

Whether it was vengeance-minded hit men from Miami or his childhood-friend-turned-criminal Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), Raylan always came out on top by using his wits or his trigger finger.

So "Justified" - loosely based on Elmore Leonard's short "Fire in the Hole" - has bullets flying around and bad guys gettin' dead, but Raylan's life is more complicated than that.

By returning home, he's faced with his unfinished past. There's an ex-wife, Winona Hawkins (Natalie Zea), and schoolyard sweetheart, Ava Crowder (Joelle Carter). There's an estranged criminal father, and Raylan's old chum and most skillful adversary (or sometimes ally) Boyd.

Season 2 picks up immediately after last season's epic gun fight that left Boyd's father Bo dead and Raylan and Boyd's relationship still in doubt.

The bigger story is that without Bo there's a power void among Kentucky's criminals, and they all want the top spot. Mags Bennett (a superb Margo Martindale) and her clan of pot farmers are making the biggest push. What's worse is that her son Dickie (Jeremy Davies) still nurses a grudge over an injury Raylan inflicted years ago.

Early episodes pair stand-alone stories with serialized arcs (the Bennetts' maneuvers, Raylan's various predicaments and whatever the hell Boyd is scheming) in a way that's second to none. These various plots will surely weave together in an ambitious, violent crescendo much like last season.