Justified Season 2 Episode 1: The Moonshine War
OK this was just plain great. It demonstrated some fantastic writing as well as the unexpected flourishes that put this show over the top in terms of quality. I won’t go over the plot. You either saw it or you didn’t. If you didn’t go over to the FX website and watch it streaming. So spoilers ahoy: let’s get on to the discussion.
My favorite parts. The aftermath of all his shootings involving endless questioning and paperwork. The dialog at the end at the gas station where Raylan just sprays the suspect with gas and convinces him that any shot would send it up in flames. Vetran actress Margo Martindale playing her stereotyped “momma” role yet having a brutal hard center behind it. (Remember her from the first few seasons of Dexter?) If anything the villains this season look to be superior even to last season’s. Lost’s impossibly thin physicist joins the mix as Dickie Bennett as well.
I’m frankly surprised they can be this consistently good. I’ve not read all of Elmore Leonard’s novels and short stories by any stretch. However a goodly number of last season’s episodes were either adaptations of his stories or highly inspired by them. Can they keep it up? I wasn’t sure but this premier (not to mention the many hilarious one off trailers) sure indicate they can. (My favorite: the copying of Clint Eastwood’s famous line from Dirty Harry for an ad in the Super Bowl)
According to the LA Times over 3.5 million viewers tuned in for the premier. That’s up 42% over last season but down 17% to last season’s premier. I don’t know how this counts the various rebroadcasts through the night – my friend didn’t see it until 1 in the morning, for instance. I also don’t know how DVR viewership was counted. (Interesting note, 2/3rds of the audience is male. Not that surprising I guess.)
The episode ends showing last season’s nemesis who turned out to be a friend, Boyd, working back in the coal mines. I think it clear that Raylan won’t leave good enough alone and this may cause problems with the local drug cartell whose son’s is the local sheriff.
They did a funny wrapup of Raylan’s mafia problems. But is the hit against him truly called off? We’ll see. (This included an inspired and hilarious scene of the local Florida Marshal head telling the drug dealer to go outside by the pool to talk so they wouldn’t be heard by DEA bugs)
What’s so great about Justified is how deep even minor characters are. Elmore Leonard once said that the difference between good adaptations of his stories and bad ones is that good ones play the characters straight. That is the humor comes out of the dead seriousness of even the minor characters. And those characters always hint at a depth which puts them at odds with the typical cardboard cutouts that characterize most television.
All in all a premier that if anything exceeded expectations. And folks, that’s pretty rare for TV.
(Sorry for the delay folks, I could have sworn I posted it this morning with MarsEdit)