April 6, 2011


Justified: Talking to Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins: FX’s hit western/crime drama has reached new heights in its second season. Allen Barra talks to co-stars Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins about their on-screen partnership.

Justified, which was honored with a Peabody award last week, is stirring the kind of word-of-mouth excitement among its followers associated with the first years of The Sopranos and Mad Men—FX has already announced it has renewed it for a third season. Justified’s creator, Graham Yost, is, like Leonard, one of the show’s producers, and has co-written, with Leonard, 21 of the series’ 26 scripts, but the show has no single auteur, unless it’s Olyphant himself. A generous actor and superb reactor, his scenes with each of the show’s many characters set the tone and pace of each episode. They include his sly and tolerant boss Art (Nick Searcy), his irascible father Arlo (Raymond J. Barry), whose own illegal activities have earned him an ankle bracelet, and, most recently, Mags Bennett (Margot Martindale) as the jolly and monstrous methadone matriarch.

Justified’s wild cards are its female leads, Raylan’s ex-wife Winona (Natalie Zea), who divorced him because “I couldn’t stand waiting for the phone call” and Ava (Joelle Carter), who tells him “I’ve had a crush on you since I was twelve years old.” Winona has left her shifty second husband, Gary, who makes real estate deals with gangsters; Ava was married to the abusive son of Bo Crowder, a local drug boss, until she divorced him with a shotgun. No helpless heroines, these two; they load guns with the same facility they fry up a chicken. Fans of the show have been taking bets as to which woman Raylan will wind up with.

But the relationship that gives off the most heat is between Raylan and Walton Goggins’ Boyd Crowder, Bo’s surviving son. In an early episode, Raylan tells Art that he and Boyd “weren’t what you call buddies, but you work a deep mine together, and you learn to look out for each other.”

Raylan’s and Boyd’s lives seemed to be similar track through high school, then, as Boyd said in last week’s episode, The Spoil: “At 19 I went to Kuwait, and Raylan went to college and the marshals service.”

When he confronts Boyd one-on-one, Raylan seems to be looking into the abyss, and lately the abyss is looking back. Boyd, an ex-con who blew up a black church with a rocket launcher, has a swastika tattooed on his arm. Raylan asks him what he has against Jews. A bemused Boyd replies, “The truth is, I’m not really sure I’ve ever met a Jewish person.”

Boyd is the doppelganger Raylan can’t escape. “Would you shoot me?” Boyd asks him with a grin. A poker-faced Raylan tells him, “You make me pull, I’ll put you down.” And if the relationship weren’t complicated enough, in the final episode of last season, it was Boyd who saved Raylan from the hit men sent by the Miami mob. (“Sounds like a love story to me,” says one female character, after Raylan tells her of his past with Boyd.)

The bonus being that while many a show has been ruined by the culmination of the will-they-or-won't-they moment, there is no such tension here. Their love is pure.

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Posted by at April 6, 2011 5:57 AM

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