Monday, April 21, 2014

Raylan

The most recent season of my favorite series ended the week before last. Justified benefits from fine dialog writing, great casting and, as R.J. Moeller recognizes here, more moral complexity than typical television fare:
The best television show you’re not currently watching is FX’s modern homage to the American wild west, Justified. Set in the hills of eastern Kentucky, and starring the coolest lawman since Gary Cooper – Timothy Olyphant as Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens – Justified is just the right mix of interesting writing, compelling performances and layered morality tale that keeps a loyal audience coming back for more after five seasons.

Based on characters created by the late author Elmore Leonard, Justified goes deeper with, and thinks smarter about, both its protagonists and villains. .... Deputy Marshal Givens, for example, grew up playing baseball and digging coal in the mines with his arch nemesis, the smooth-talking crime boss Boyd Crowder (played masterfully by Walton Goggins). ....

But it isn’t Raylan’s relationship with the enemy alone that plays out in captivating, dramatic ways. His gruff, lovable boss, Art Mullen (portrayed by the inimitable Nick Searcy), cares deeply for Raylan but has limits to what he will let the cowboy do in the name of “justice.” ....

It is this – the willingness and skill to tell a long-form story where moral choices have real-to-life consequences – that, in my mind, distinguishes Justified....

We all know that there are things we do in life that change us – for better or worse. Movies and television shows typically only show the immediate or most drastic effect of the character’s decision. But Justified takes us two or three steps down the moral path. We can find forgiveness and comfort for the things we’ve done, but something like shooting a man to death – whether legal or not – will stick with you. It has to. And it can’t always be solved in a story by showing the shooter chugging Jim Beam in a dimly lit room. .... [more]
Nick Searcy's Art Mullen also happens to be one of the more believably written and acted Christian characters on television.