‘Justified’: The Perks of Being a Givens

Published 6 months ago by

Timothy Olyphant and Steve Wood Harris in Justified Season 5 Episode 2 Justified: The Perks of Being a Givens

[This is a review of Justified season 5, episode 2. There will be SPOILERS.]

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As Justified has documented quite well over the years, there’re many perks to being U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (not the least of which is getting to look exactly like Timothy Olyphant, which, no doubt, has to make life a little easier) that help to balance out some of the less pleasant aspects of being a lawman in a place like the fictionalized Harlan County.

For one thing, he’s always ready with the right thing to say, and when the situation isn’t going to be made better with a jaunty comeback or persuasive threat, Raylan’s proven he can handle himself without having to say a word. And – as he mentions to Hot Rod Dunham (Mickey Jones) during ‘The Kids Aren’t All Right’ – his badge makes it all legal.

Now, this verges on questionable behavior, as the whole point of being a marshal isn’t necessarily to threaten to kill Tennessee drug dealers making ill-advised business arrangements with a couple of Kentucky teens, but it certainly can be part of the job. Is it a perk?

Well, that’s tough to say (after all, he does mention the paperwork that comes with using his firearm when confronting Jay and Roscoe, played by real-life brothers Steve and Wood Harris), but pretty much everyone can agree that living in a criminal’s house, drinking his wine, and driving his Mercedes (with its exquisitely expensive stereo) would be considered a definite perk. Not only is the palatial home – complete with its own bowling alley – of Detroit moneyman Charles Monroe (Xander Berkeley) a far cry better than the tiny cramped space above a college bar, but it also does a great job of annoying the hell out of said criminal. All in all, it sort of sounds like a win-win for Raylan.

But, perhaps not surprisingly, being Raylan Givens is more than a series of perks or entertaining run-ins with criminals, cops, and women like Amy Smart’s social worker, Alison. At this point in the series’ run (which will now be its penultimate season), it is pretty clear Raylan has some deep-seated issues when it comes to the notion of family, or even those he feels he has a responsibility to – which, on one hand, apparently extends to Loretta McCready (Kaitlyn Dever), as the words “me and mine” come up when Raylan works to square things between Hot Rod and the young pot dealer. On the other hand, Raylan’s been avoiding his ex-wife and their newborn daughter, despite being a stone’s throw from them last episode.

Xander Berkeley and Timothy Olyphant in Justified Season 5 Episode 2 Justified: The Perks of Being a Givens

For an episode that has nearly as much going on as the season premiere, ‘The Kids Aren’t All Right’ also manages to wiggle in a few ideas about how the responsibilities of family are never too far away. And while the parallels between Raylan and Boyd’s storylines involving enigmatic women further confusing already complicated situations wound up being a nice way for the two of them to thematically share some screen time, it was the idea of Raylan shacking up in Monroe’s house that resonated the most. While he admits there are some “red flags” with his past, he tells Alison that “doesn’t mean I’m not capable of change.”

Right now, living in luxury of Monroe’s house, it certainly looks like Raylan’s capable of some change, just not in the direction he needs to be going. The comfort and stability of Monroe’s house is temporary and, to a certain degree, we can see that Raylan knows it as well – that he’s just jumping further away from the reality of his life as a way to avoid the messiness of it all.

Knowing he’s going to have to face up to being a father – which means coming to terms with the memory of his own father – may not be Raylan’s ideal situation, but so far, it makes for some fairly compelling television.

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Justified continues next Wednesday with ‘Good Intentions’ @10pm on FX.

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9 Comments

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  1. Avon Barksdale on Justified, good times.

  2. In last night’s airing of Episode 5.2, Raylan shared a first-person memory of Arlo selling mining machinery to Columbian droog lords with the Memphis pot mastermind.

    However, way back in the Season 1 pilot episode, Raylan told Boyd he had no knowledge of that activity by Arlo and that it must have happened AFTER Raylan left home.

    Did the writers botch this character detail?

    OR

    Was Raylan lying to Boyd?

    OR

    Was Raylan lying to the Memphis pot kingpin?

    • I think Raylan likes to tell Arlo stories that are a bit exaggerated as we learned in Season Four when Arlo’s killer told him he had the story about the dog wrong.

    • The writers did not botch the detail; Raylan lied to Boyd so that he, not Boyd, controlled the direction of the conversation; Raylan was not lying to the Memphis pot kingpin, he used the story to illustrate his point. However, Rayland does lie occasionally. During season 1 he lies to Ava about changing the legal status of her probation which disallows leaving Kentucky i.e., Raylan lies to Ava about what Judge Reardon tells him regarding Ava’s terms of probation. Why?
      1. Raylan wants to know Ava’s mindset.
      2. Raylan needs to know if the request was worth asking – already having been told by Art to not “to piss in another man’s sandbox”.
      3. Raylan believes Ava’s safety depends on her leaving Kentucky.
      4. Raylan is upset with Ava’s weight gain because Elmore specifically wrote that he likes womens’ butts small – it’ a white thing.

      • Tim Olyphant would choose #4 because it fits his definition of “cool”.

  3. A lot happened in this episode, A lot. The most interesting and most important though is Art asking about Sammy Tonin and what will eventually be Nicky Augustine.
    I don’t think Art suspects or thinks Raylan did anything wrong yet but I think this is the storyline that will be the most crucial for this season and most likely the next, the shows final season.

    On a side note, over the past 4 seasons Justified has joined The West Wing as one of my favorite series based solely on the dialog alone.
    Even episodes that are only so-so from a plot standpoint will feature some of the coolest and funniest one-liners.
    Only on Justified can a Hitler joke be so hilarious. ;)

  4. Leave it to Raylan Givens to be outnumbered and still get the best of Hot Rod and company without having to pull. Great, powerful scene. Also liked Dewey’s reaction after finding out about his kin making his way into Harlan territory; can’t help but feel that by season’s end ‘ol Dewey will be backing Raylan in putting a stop to, as he more or less put it in the season opener, “those bad news Florida Crowes.”

  5. Great episode
    These are usually good but this review was not a review it summarized the episode I mean there was literally no talk of the deeper meanings within this episode (which there were a lot of) the until the end. I dont pay attention to who writes the reviews but these justified ones have become very lazy while the walking dead reviews dissect every minor detail and justified gives you much more symbolism and deeper subplot, I dont know if two different people do these reviews but its still a lazy review whether that’s true or not.

    • There’s definitely some truth to that, although I’m not blaming the screenrants here. With Justified all the characters and dialogue sit in the right place so there’s no desperate search for bright spots. The whole series is one whereas TWD would be a complete mess would it not be for its (rightfully attractive) zombie scenario.

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