JUSTIFIED Season 2 Premiere Review

Justified Season 2

Photo Credit : FX

The beauty of “Justified” is how well it balances its season-long story arc with the “criminal of the moment” story in each episode.

shawnabenson1   By : SHAWNA BENSON

At the end of season one, Federal Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant, “Deadwood”) had his worlds collide, as he not only confronted Bo Crowder, but members of the drug cartel from Miami with whom Raylan had dealings prior to returning to Kentucky.  If you haven’t watched the first season, it’s a little difficult to jump into the story with this episode – there’s a lot of back story from the previous season that is thrown around and not a lot of context for the information.  Raylan has just come out of a gunfight with Bo Crowder, which was interrupted by the Miami drug cartel hunting Raylan for killing one of their leaders back at the beginning of season one.

The beauty of “Justified” is how well it balances its season-long story arc with the “criminal of the moment” story in each episode.   In the premiere, Raylan follows up on a tip that a sex offender is harassing a young girl in Harlan County.  In their search for the suspect, they discover that he has been employed by a local crime family which Raylan has dealt with in the past.  Boyd Crowder (Walter Goggins, “The Shield”) has gone on the run since he seeks retribution for the drug cartel killing his father Bo (Boyd had hoped to kill him at the end of season one).

Justified Season 2

Photo Credit : FX

This season we’re introduced to the Bennetts, a family known for their vast marijuana field and the three dangerous Bennett sons.  The matriarch, Mags Bennett (Margo Martindale) makes a strong moonshine called “Apple Pie” and runs the family farm, with little local interference, since her eldest son Doyle appears to hold a position of authority in the town.

Jeremy Davies (“Lost”) is Dickey Bennett, Doyle’s brother.  He appears to be the smartest of the three Bennetts, but also the most unpredictable.  He knows Raylan well enough to order his brother to stop waving around a gun and putting on a threatening stance to intimidate Raylan, but Dickey also shows he is not to be underestimated, such as when he forces a rival neighbor to put his foot in a bear trap and shoots the man in the leg.

“Justified” is darkly funny at times and Olyphant has an easy swagger that makes Raylan such an appealing character.  Modeled on westerns of the past, but set in the present, “Justified” marries the best elements of crime shows with the rich, interesting characters which populate Elmore Leonard’s world.  Raylan is the kind of guy men and women love – he’s a little trigger happy and he may feel justice is best served by him, rather than anyone else.

In comparison with the previous season, there is no drop off in the quality of the show.  Where it could have folded with the resolution of the Bo Crowder story arc and Raylan’s troubles with the Miami cartel, instead the show has doubled down, introducing us to a new crime family and keeping Boyd Crowder as a wild card for Raylan to contain as he continues his exploits in Kentucky.

“Justified” is a show for people who love good drama with a dose of humor served up in a smart and sexy package, which just happens to wear the best Stetson on television.

“Justified” returns to FX on Wednesday February 9 at 10 PM ET.