After six seasons, FX’s Justified came to a perfect close this week. Though buckets of blood bathed the episodes leading up to the finale, the last hour was all about quiet, hard-won farewells. Viewers said goodbye to so many memorable characters. Timothy Olyphant’s Raylan Givens, the gunslinger who, despite his white hat and noble intentions, was never quite the good guy he hoped to be. Joelle Carter’s Ava Crowder, the fierce survivor who struggled to look out for #1 and damn the consequences. Walton Goggins’ Boyd Crowder, the charismatic black hat to Raylan’s white and the other side to his coin. Tim, Rachel, Art, Wynn, Loretta…this season’s Big Bad, Sam Elliott’s Markham. Justified was a veritable community of personalities, almost impossible to leave — just like Harlan County itself, constantly drawing its residents back into damnation.
So, it’s fitting that the end of the series showed its principal characters each finding their peace in a fitting way, outside the quicksand that was their hometown. I winced, I held my breath, and then I laughed, because there was no way a show that is so character-driven, so well written and acted, would do its core trio wrong. So many shows ultimately service the plot, go for stunts and big finishes. Not so here. Here was a love letter to what Elmore Leonard created and what fans like me tuned in for.
It’s fascinating to look back at how I felt after the first season finale…how conflicted yet compelled.
Originally posted in a filtered LiveJournal entry on Jun 16, 2010.
Just a Good Ol’ Boy, Never Meanin’ No Harm
Can I talk about “Justified”? And, specifically, how *in love with it I am*? The writing is pitch-perfect, the acting is brilliant. I love the way it’s filmed. Timothy Olyphant has never looked better, and when he and the guy who plays Boyd talk, sometimes I just shut my eyes and listen, because their accents remind me of all the quasi-southern boys I grew up around and I get so homesick for my childhood it’s like an ache.
But there’s also a real…weirdness…for me and I how I relate to these characters. Particularly Boyd. He’s incredibly complex and charismatic, and I would venture to say that we don’t necessarily know *who* the “real” Boyd is, because he’s so adept at taking on a role. HowEVER, putting that fan-wanking aside, the guy is, canonically, a violent white supremacist, a murderer. Finding Boyd compelling should go against my very nature. It reminds me of “Schindler’s List”, and how Ralph Fiennes was just so damn brilliant. His character was utterly loathsome, and yet you couldn’t look away, because what he was doing with the role was so hypnotic.
I hate that I like Boyd. I hate that he makes me laugh and that I felt for him in “Bulletville.” I hate that I want to read Boyd/Raylan slash…and write some. Characters like him, and even like modern cowboy Raylan to some extent, should be a total “no fly zone” for me, because of the racial and social politics involved. But a really good actor and a really good script, they *should* pull you in this way, and I guess that’s why I have so much admiration for “Justified”: because it makes me relate to characters who probably wouldn’t relate to *me*.
That admiration remained true to the very last. Despite a few missteps over the course of six seasons (like most of season five), my faith in this series was, well, Justified.