Episode Title: "The I of the Storm"
Writer: Dave Andron
Director: Peter Werner
Previously on "Justified":
U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) came to somewhat of an understanding with his nemesis, Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins). But he didn’t believe Boyd’s claims that he had changed his ways and he was unaware that Boyd was now living with his ex-sister-in-law (and Raylan’s ex-girlfriend), Ava Crowder (Joelle Carter).
At the same time, Raylan dealt with his crooked father, Arlo (Raymond J. Barry); who warned his son not to provoke the wraith of Mags Bennett (Margo Martindale) and her sons. Raylan already knew that Mags runs a large marijuana business, but the reach of her grasp is still unclear…
50 miles outside of town, Raylan and his ex-wife Winona Hawkins (Natalie Zea) take in a roadhouse concert, but they quickly leave when he sees his colleague, Tim (Jacob Pitts) there. Back in Harlan, Dewey Crowe (Jes Macallan) spots Boyd drinking at a local bar and attempts to get in on his action despite Boyd’s desire to be left alone. He mentions an upcoming bus shipment of oxycontin, but once again Boyd insists that his criminal days are behind him. The next day, the bus is hit two robbers, Elrod and Cutter, who kill Dewey’s partner and make off with the drugs.
At the Marshall’s office, Raylan’s boss deduces that he’s still seeing Winona and teases him about his relationship. He also tells Raylan about the hijacked bus that was deserted except for the body of the man Cutter and Elrod killed. Of course they immediately suspect Boyd. Meanwhile, Boyd is harassed at the mine by someone who recognizes him. Another worker named Kyle (Michael Mosley) comes to his defense, but it appears to be a ploy to get Boyd’s attention. While looking over the bus, Officer Doyle Bennett (Joseph Lyle Taylor) happily tells Raylan that Boyd’s been living with Ava.
Dewey angrily shows up at Ava’s house and accuses Boyd of sending Cutter and Elrod after the bus. Boyd denies it, and cautions Dewey against reclaiming the stolen pills himself. Some time later, Raylan shows up as well looking for Boyd and Ava tells him about Dewey’s appearance earlier. She also tells Raylan that her relationship with Boyd is platonic at best. Meanwhile, Dewey spots Raylan’s distinctive hat for sale and decides to impersonate him during his robbery of Cutter and Elrod. A young woman witnesses the robbery and reports back to Doyle.
Suddenly convinced that Raylan might be corrupt (and thus a good ally to have), Doyle starts offering to help him to move the merchandise until Raylan meets the witness who easily attests that he wasn’t the man she saw. Back at the local bar, Dewey brags about the heist and Boyd actually calls Raylan and tips him off. Raylan catches up to Dewey shortly before Cutter and Elrod show up… And they aren’t falling for the "U.S. Marshal" bit again, even with the real deal. In the ensuing gun battle, Doyle arrives and gets the drop on Cutter and Elrod… who quickly implicate his brothers.
Rather than draw more suspicion on the Bennett family’s criminal enterprises, Doyle executes both men and makes it look like they reached for their weapons on him. Later, he chews out his brothers for so casually taking on the Dixie mafia without even telling Mags. Back in town, Raylan tells Ava that Boyd had nothing to do with the robbery, but he urges her to kick him out anyway. She invites Raylan in to talk, knowing that they would likely sleep together if he did. He turns her down and so she tells him to leave.
Later, Kyle approaches Boyd at the bar with a new criminal endeavor to entice him. Boyd tries to leave, but Kyle follows him out to his truck. Finally angered to action, Boyd grabs Kyle in a headlock and drives off with him half hanging out of the truck’s driver side window before letting him get violently thrown from the vehicle. Boyd stops the truck and waits several long seconds to see if Kyle survived. Once the injured man starts to rise, Boyd drives off.
I don’t know what it’s in the water at FX, but almost every drama they produce is one of the best on TV. And "Justified" is no exception.
But the highlight of this episode was easily Dewey’s hilarious impersonation of Raylan, down to his vocal tics and swagger. The entire sequence in which Dewey tried to buy a ski mask before settling upon his Raylan disguise was also really funny. This show has an unusual sense of humor, but it really works for the tone of the series. Even Doyle’s attempt to make an illegal alliance with Raylan had some amusing overtones not just in what he said, but in Raylan’s reactions.
The Bennett family is clearly being set up as the main antagonists for the second season. And aside from Mags, Doyle is the most interesting member of the family. Judging from his appearance here, he’s at least partially corrupt and willing to aid the family business. I get the feeling that he’s still got a sense of duty for law enforcement. Sure, he killed two men to cover up his brothers’ involvement with the crime, but he was pretty pissed off from having to do that too. It also seems like Raylan thinks he’s a joke, which could be a dangerous assumption to make.
As for Boyd, it’s pretty telling that no one who knows him believe that he’s reformed. Even people who don’t know him think that! Walton Goggins brings a believable intensity to Boyd and he could probably even carry the series without Raylan. His blow up at the end of the episode demonstrated just how close to the edge Boyd really is. And for a couple of moments, I thought he might actually go back to Kyle and finish him off.
Even the love triangles on this show are entertaining. It’s clear that Raylan prefers his ex-wife, Winona. But it does seem to take him an effort to refuse Ava’s invitation. I’d also guess that Boyd has feelings for Ava himself, even if he can’t act on or acknowledge them yet. Boyd and Ava are both very damaged human beings, so I can’t imagine that anything good would come of them being together. However, I still kind of want to see that happen.
Thus far, "Justified" has been impeccably well plotted and acted. I never knew it was this good before, so it’s well worth checking out for the rest of the season.
Crave Online Rating: 8.5 out of 10.