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Justified 1.01 – Fire in the Hole (pilot)

Justified Cast

Timothy Olyphant (Raylan Givens) and Joelle Carter (Ava Crowder) in FX's Justified

Grade: A

Your first question is “Tyler, the premiere of Justified was on March 16th, almost a month ago. Why are you just blogging about it now?”. Well, my first answer is that Justified is amazing and I just started this blog, so why not get people into it?

The second and much more realistic reason is that I just saw the pilot today and fell completely in love. I’ll be blogging about the ensuing episodes the next few days. Expect the same with Fringe, as I’m currently about 6 episodes behind the current episode.Justifed is the story of Raylan Givens, played by Timothy Olyphant, a no-nonsense cop that has his own sense of justice (hence, the title). After a shooting in Miami (where he believes he was, well, Justified) he’s transferred back to his home of Eastern Kentucky to basically kick some ass in this modern western.

Admittedly, Justified isn’t really my type of show. I usually loathe cop shows unless there is some sort of twist (such as Nathan Fillion). I was apprehensive about Justified because I didn’t think it had anything that would really such me in.

Boy, was I wrong.

The script was so wonderfully written and was (most importantly) subtle and concise. It trusted its audience to pick up on subtleties about the characters and their relationships with one another yet wasn’t ambiguous. Nothing was bashed over your head; instead everything was written eloquently and colloquially that it seemed so natural. I have so many questions about Raylan, but not because the show told me that I needed to have those questions. I’m genuinely interested in his life story and how he came up with his idea of justice.

The acting was also top-notch. Timothy Olyphant did a great job not coming off as a cocky badass but instead balanced his characters’ baddassery with some dignity and reserve. Joelle Carter did a fantastic job as well, recounting her husband’s abuse and his eventual murder by her hands. The scene was written so well that what could come dangerously closed to being cliched and boring straddled a fine line to find a perfect voice.

Also noteworthy was Walten Goggins who played the episode’s villain Boyd Crowder. A white supremacist, Goggins handles his role beautifully making you like him and hate him at the same time even though he has few redeeming qualities. The interactions between Olyphant and Goggins were also well written and acted, creating a level of tension that was natural even when there were no guns around.

The scenery was also fantastic. I’m a bit nervous about the show’s next episodes being filmed in California instead of rural Pennsylvania, but it’ll have to do. They captured the Bible Belt as well as any show has, flashing a “JESUS SAVES” sign at one point for just a moment. None of these characters are dumb, stereotypical hicks – even the obviously uneducated Ava is smart and resourceful.

I haven’t been this impressed by a pilot in a really long time. I’m extremely excited to see where Justified goes, and you should be too. Get on board, it’s a hell of a ride.

Justified airs Tuesdays as 10pm on FX.


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