It’s back! One of last season’s best new shows begins its second season right where it left off … literally, since the first scene of this season plays off of the last scene from last season.
I noticed two things in particular about Justified and why I think it works. Well, there’s the obvious … Timothy Olyphant rules, Walton Goggins rules, the entire cast rules, the writing is terrific. But two other things got my attention.
The first was the way Justified presents the Kentucky community where Raylan Givens grew up. It’s not as easy as it looks, creating a believable community. What usually happens is, there’ll be the lead and co-lead, and then each week some person you’ve never seen before will show up, the stars will act like we’ve all known good old Joe since way back, Joe’s story will be told, and we’ll never see Joe again. There are no Joes in Justified. When we meet someone for the first time, time is taken to create a believable relationship between the new character and the ones we already know. In a small community like the one in Justified, everyone knows pretty much everyone else, and that adds a depth that works very well.
The other thing I thought about was the “standalone vs. arc” storyline controversy, if one exists. You get people who like standalone episodes, because they don’t require any prior knowledge, an especially good idea for a season opener where you might have some new viewers. Many of us, though, like the continuing arcs. I thought this episode did well for both kinds of viewers. Yes, it was a standalone … it will probably take a few episodes to get to this season’s arc … but as Raylan worked the case, he met up with various people from his community, some of whom I imagine will be part of the arc when it arrives. So even as the Case of the Day was being addressed, you got a feel for something wider, something that will still be there in Episode Two and Episode Six and Episode Ten.
I’ve given up hoping that I can convince folks to watch shows like this in “real time.” No one wants to watch a series on FX or any other network now. So here’s my advice: watch Season One. I’m sure it’s on Netflix or DVD or something. You’re used to being a season behind, so that won’t matter. And Justified is a really good series. You should watch it.