‘Justified’ Season 4 Premiere Review

Published 1 year ago by , Updated January 10th, 2013 at 7:17 am,

Timothy Olyphant Justified S4 Justified Season 4 Premiere Review

When a show is lucky enough to have Elmore Leonard built into its DNA, skating by on the kind of effortless cool that comes with such a genetic gift might be something of a temptation. And with three seasons of critically-praised Kentucky justice already under its belt, Justified would have no trouble beginning season 4 by resting somewhat on its laurels. But a show doesn’t become as addictively watchable as this simply because the audience expects it to bring cool by the bucket load; it does so by integrating that composed charm into characters, old and new, that are as capable of driving the story as well as, if not better than, most other programs on television.

Justified is not merely a tale of one unflappable lawman doing his best to deal with the often-thorny morality that exists within the microcosm of Harlan County and how that relates to the rest of the world. And while it could certainly glide along on such things, the series is also about more than the breezy swagger of its star, Timothy Olyphant, or the infectious charm that Walton Goggins brings to his performance as the silver-tongued criminal entrepreneur, Boyd Crowder. It’s really about the many colorful characters that comprise writer Graham Yost’s version of Kentucky, and the connection they share as a result of their unique locale.

Perhaps, then, that is why Justified finds it so easy to bring new characters into fold. There is a shorthand these characters either have or they don’t, which gives the audience a quick and easy way to gauge where someone fits in the particular scheme of things. Take for instance Jody Adair, the bail-jumper Raylan spends most of the premiere chasing after at the request of a “super hot” bail bondswoman named Sharon (Aja Evans) – who he once helped with emptying a hotel mini-bar – for the low, low price of some mild flirting and a share of the money bringing Jody in will fetch.

Timothy Olyphant and Patton Oswalt in Justified S4 Hole in the Wall Justified Season 4 Premiere Review

Normally, someone like Jody would just serve to move the plot along – which he does by inadvertently getting involved with teen thieves Benny (Casey Brown) and Roz (Alexandra Kyle), after they break into Arlo’s (Raymond J. Barry) house to steal a mysterious bag hidden inside the wall – but even though he may only be around for a single episode (though the way he says “Raylan” is pretty ominous), the double-murderer still comes across like a full-fledged, multi-layered character. What’s surprising is that in addition to Benny, Roz, Jody and Sharon, ‘Hole in the Wall’ still has three major players to introduce in the form of Patton Oswalt’s semi-bumbling, but outrageously well-equipped Constable Bob; Colton Rhodes (Ron Eldard, Super 8), a former MP and deadly friend of Boyd Crowder; and the mysterious new preacher of the Holy Ghost Revival Church in Black Lick Holler, Billy St. Cyr – played by Jurassic Park and The Social Network‘s Joseph Mazzello. This says a lot about the way Justified sees its players: they may not all get equal screen time, but they all feel equally real.

Season 3 was very much about the conflict between outsiders (or carpetbaggers, as Boyd called them) and those who had always called Harlan County home. Neal McDonough’s twisted Robert Quarles learned the hard way that regardless the alliances or disputes that exist between the various hollers, there’s nothing that’ll bring folks together like an impudent outsider looking to cash in on the suffering of others – there’re plenty in Harlan capable of providing such a service already. Now there seems to be a new foil for Boyd in Harlan County, one who has quickly proven himself adept at preying on/alleviating the ills of the good and not-so-good members of the community with his Moe Syzslak-like snake handling skills, and delivery of the righteous word with the help of some cleverly mocked-up $1,000,000 bills and his larger-than-life sermonizing. Though Billy and Boyd don’t meet face-to-face, it doesn’t take long for the inimitable Mr. Crowder to figure out what’s been eating into the profits of his illegal rural enterprise.

Still, what’s great about the premiere is that there’s really no telling how these characters will ultimately fit in to the story over the coming weeks. With the success the series has had in the past, inserting a new villain into the storyline early on, it is pleasant to see that ‘Hole in the Wall’ acts almost like a one-off episode, mostly pitting Raylan against his better judgment, and slowly setting up the catalyst to this season’s storyline by having a little bit of mystery literally fall from the sky. A particularly enjoyable aspect of the fast paced episode comes in the way it eases into the question of the bag in Arlo’s house, and why, with its late-’70s ID for a man who sounds like a character out of a Thomas Pynchon novel, it is the object of so much desire, a pair of teenage crooks would contemplate killing a U.S. Marshal to keep a hold of it. And that’s nothing compared to what Arlo does to a fellow inmate who sticks his nose into some business he shouldn’t have.

Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens in Justified Hole in the Wall Justified Season 4 Premiere Review

The end of season 3 placed a spotlight on Arlo and the backwards relationship he has with his son and with Boyd Crowder. That capped off a dark and violent season with an oddly personal, somewhat tragically intimate note – the realization that Boyd sees Arlo as family while Raylan cannot. When a show is as good at bringing out the relationships between its characters as Justified is, it is welcome to take its time setting up a new storyline. Unlike the transition from the superlative season 2 to season 3, there was no need for season 4 to attempt to outdo Margo Martindale with the likes Quarles and Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson); it merely has to continue to play up that emotional intrigue that keeps these people so interesting, and the story, no matter how tightly plotted, will inevitably follow.

‘Hole in the Wall’ provides fans what they’ve come to expect from the series: A narrative that can easily handle multiple new faces, while confidently getting us up to speed on where the series regulars have been. So far, it’s not completely clear just what is going on, but the unanswered questions seem to be working. If all these intriguing additions are anything to go by, season 4 is going to an eventful one, even by Justified standards.

Timothy Olyphant and Patton Oswalt in Justified Hole in the Wall Justified Season 4 Premiere Review

Various other items:

  • Sometimes seeing a stand-up comedian cast in what is ostensibly a drama can have the Richard Pryor in Superman III effect, wherein the opposing aspects of the funnyman and the drama of the narrative struggle at times. Thankfully, that doesn’t seem to be the case with Patton Oswalt as Constable Bob. Here, Oswalt is his typically funny self, with plenty of gags to go along with it. But there’s also something tragic and sullen about his character that is sillier, but not entirely unlike his role in Young Adult. Bob has an anger and desperation about him that will hopefully yield some interesting storylines
  • As usual, Boyd has several great lines, and Goggins’ delivery remains spot on – especially after Colton misunderstands an order to “deal” with a newly saved Oxy dealer who’d intended to give Boyd’s drug money to the church.

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Justified continues next Tuesday with ‘Where’s Waldo?’ @10pm on FX. You can check out a preview of next week’s episode below:

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16 Comments

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  1. The. Best. Show. On. Television. Today.

  2. I’m all in with the mystery of the license already. This should provide a much different story this season in that it will be a race between the law and criminals to acquire whatever is involved with this mystery. Rayland Givens is one of the coolest characters to appear on television and Boyd Crowder’s justifications for his actions provide some of the truly great television acting that people come to expect from this show. The main reason I am so excitied for this season is that the production team gave zero indication as to what this season will be about which is quite rare nowadays. Tonight validated why I consider this the best show on TV.

  3. Best show on tv, bar none!
    I still have questions about last season though.
    Assuming, though I’m loathe to do so, Quarles is actually dead, what’s going on with Limehouse now? What about Adamn Arkin’s character? And Jere Burns? Will any/all of them be back?
    I would really love to see more with Limehouse. What a fantastic character and with Givens family history too.
    God, I love this show!

    • Limehouse is supposed to be back later on in the season, and Jere Burns will definitely be back soon.

  4. Never heard of this show until I saw this article. Looks promising, I think I’ll give it a try.

    • Be warned….. It is very addictive.

    • I’ve seen many commercials of it (esp since the UFC moved to FX)… but wanted to start from the beginning.

      So glad I did… always wondered how a modern western would be and here it is.

  5. Walton Goggins is absolutely fantastic as Boyd Crowder.
    Over the summer I watched the whole series of The Shield and I got used to his character Shane on that show but within 5 seconds of seeing him as Boyd again I was all in…
    Like others have said Justified is the “coolest” show on TV. All the characters feel real and fleshed out and the one liners are classic.

  6. Timothy Olyphant is fantastic on this show and everything else he has been in. I love him, would watch him on anything. I am glad they are not focusing on the bad guys I would much rather have more Raylan. I hope they keep it that way!

  7. This was a good premiere for people who already watched this show but only decent for newcomers. Still though this is a better and more entertaining show than both breaking bad and walking dead. I try to tell people how much better this show is but AMC promotes those shows much better than FX does Justified.

  8. This show has really gone down hill. The first Season was so good. This is not the Shield, or a Kentucky version of it, this was Wyatt Earp in the modern days. Now it is just a typical criminal show. So sad, it was the best show on TV, now it is like everything else, bad language, blood and skin. I liked Raylan better when he was a stand up guy.

    • @Jeff:

      How is Raylan still not a “stand-up guy”? Just because he’s earning some bounty hunter money on the side? Nothing wrong with that… esp since it’s supposed to be for his arriving kid.

      I was just surprised he moved on from Winona… or I guess Lindsey the Bartender is just a placeholder?

    • I agree that the content has gained some edge since season one, with the exception of language; that was there from the beginning. To me, this is a show with no true hero; even the man in the hat has a dark side. For me, the most enthralling thing about Raylan’s character is watching him play footsie with the invisible moral line that a man in his position can cross. That’s really what Season 4 was about; how far Raylan would go to solve the Waldo Truth-Drew Thompson mystery and also to protect his own (Winona and the baby). Boyd, the other anti-hero, has been on the other side of the line for years, but trying to gain the ability to at least present the illusion that he is on the right side of it. Ironically, when season four ends, Raylan has returned to his roots, the place he swore he’d never embrace again, and is at peace, while an emotionally devastated Boyd is standing in the ruins of the appearance of legitimacy that he wanted to obtain for Ava and himself. There simply is not a better show on TV. Sons of Anarchy runs a close, close second but it doesn’t have Raylan Givens, so it can’t top Justified.

  9. This show is worth watching for the writing and character alone. Yeah its no Shield, but since finishing the shield I haven’t found another show that is. And I include the Wire, Sopranos, etc in that list. Maybe Breaking Bad is the only other show I enjoyed as much as the shield.

    I dont know how anyone can say its gone downhill, its just got better and better. There was a slow period in Season 1 and in season 2 I think, but apart from that its been solid. ‘After all what is our product but a modern day wine, albeit in pill form’.

    Also this show has books attached, ive read one or two and they are euqually as good.

  10. Best show ever. Great season premiere and they way the introduce the new character/big bad was awesome. I think Justified and Person Of Interest are the only show that have more than one big bad for every arc/story plot featured during the season.

  11. I love justified i think its awesome i really like Robert he was great but no better than mags beenet i loved ole mags id do anything to b on the show i live in Kentucky haha

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