TV review: “Justified” still a dead shot

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From the January 2, 2014 edition

Throughout four seasons “Justified” proved it’s one of the best on television. Outside of Season 2, “Justified” hasn’t been perfect, but it’s close — and always one of the most entertaining and well-written series on television. The first two episodes of Season 5 only continue that trend.

It’s been a few months since the end of last season and some things have changed. Some things stay the same. Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) is a father to a baby girl, but he still thrives tracking down fugitives (and occasionally shooting them).

Boyd (Walton Goggins) has clearly changed the most, becoming more desperate. He’s still reeling from Ava (Joelle Carter) being indicted for murder and sent to prison. His new partnership with Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns) and the Detroit mob has run into problems, which means a road trip is in order.

Also leaving Harlan for the premiere episode, Raylan heads to Florida and deals with the Crowe family. Raylan has a fun little dalliance with Dewey (Damon Herriman) early in the episode and his dealings with Crowe kin Darryl (Michael Rapaport) and Wendy (Alicia Witt) are more foreboding than fierce. Still, the Florida Crowes joining cousin Dewey in Harlan can’t be good.

While Raylan is still the center, and gets another entertaining episode in the second that brings back some familiar characters, it’s Boyd who offers the real substance so far.

Trouble with his Detroit connection coupled with Ava’s absence has Boyd clearly unhinged. It’s rare to see Boyd not being two steps ahead of his adversaries, but he’s so desperate to get Ava out of prison, he’s not seeing the forest for the trees.

This warped version of Boyd has given Goggins some great material to work with and he’s straight killing it. (Plus, there’s lots of Boyd-Wynn interaction!) It’s also where my one quibble comes in: Boyd makes some uncharacteristic mistakes that would be understandable due to the pressure he’s under, but seem more out of service to the plot.

Regardless the tiny complaint, “Justified” is still at the top of its game. Showrunner Graham Yost has set up a number of tangled plots for characters new and old, and the dialog is still of the finest quality.

Photo courtesy FX