Justified: The Moonshine War

Justified Season 2 Episode 1: The Moonshine War

JustifiedOK 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)

JustifiedAccording 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)


13 thoughts on “Justified: The Moonshine War

  1. This was a great follow-up to the finale last season. I loved the scene with the rat, the gas pump.

    Look forward to a great season. This is one of the few shows that both my wife and I like a lot and look forward to.

  2. Just watched it. The writing is just so good in this show, it’s hard to believe. Dickie is seriously awesome. My favorite scene was when Raylan was talking to Dickie and Coover comes out and gets all pissed off.

    Coover: He’s threatening us!

    Dickie: No he isn’t.

    Coover: He’s got a gun under his jacket!

    Dickie: And you’ve got one in your hand fer Christ’s sakes.

  3. Best show on TV right now. Thoroughly enjoy every single character. It was good to see the return of Lost’s Daniel Faraday.

    Did everyone catch the trailer to FX’s new series, Wilfred?

  4. Question for the Justified fans: I’m really tempted to get into this show. Haven’t seen a minute yet, but considering renting the first season and diving right in.

    One question: Can someone rate the content for me? That is, would you recommend it for a person that is reasonably comfortable with the content on your standard network show (with things like 24 and Lost torture scenes pushing the outward limits)? Or are we talking about levels of sex, violence and profanity that push it towards more typical FX levels?

  5. They say S— a moderate amount but not excessively IMO. In the first season I can only remember two sex scenes both of which were along the lines of standard network shows. The violence isn’t anything that would bother you. Mostly gun fights. I can’t think of any torture scenes or anything that was over the top bloody or gratuitous.

    I honestly think this is a common problem for FX shows. After “The Shield” and “Nip/Tuck” I think a lot of people expected the same type of edgy content and that’s hurt their later shows like Damages and now Justified.

  6. I don’t think the episodes are streaming online for free yet, although you can buy them on iTunes. I expect that both FX and Hulu will have them for free as the season progresses.

    My recollection of the sex/violence content is that it has plenty of both but nothing explicit. In other words, it’s nothing you don’t see on the normal network shows for the most part. Except that Nalalie Zea is just a lot hotter than anything on any network show.

  7. My favorite thing about this show is how their is so much tension between what the people are saying vs. what they mean. The conversation over a cup of moonshine at the end of the season premier is a fantastic example. This is what places it above the other cop shows out there.

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