Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Justified, "Blind Spot": Don't make me a target

A review of tonight's "Justified" coming up just as soon as you think we're going to banter here...
"You think there's never going to be any consequences for this?" -Art
Raylan Givens began this series as a man in control - of his emotions, of predicting the actions of his opponents, and of winning any and every fight. As we enter the second half of this first season, his return to Kentucky, and the various headaches from his past that have come with it, now has him as a man in control of very little, save for his usual good aim and skill in a fight. He can keep it together when dealing with the amateurs and low-level thieves and killers he's faced in recent episodes, but put him in a room with Boyd Crowder as Boyd goes on about the Good Book, and all of Raylan's cool, all of his training, goes out the window, and he becomes every bit a 21st century Seth Bullock. His relationship with Ava has opened up all kinds of blind spots - to how he's risking his career, and to the dangers still posed from the Miami mob over his shooting of Tommy Bucks - and all of a sudden, Raylan looks less a superman than a mortal, fallible one.

After last week's episode tried to split its focus between a routine Raylan case and all the ongoing storylines, "Blind Spot" was devoted entirely to the various messes Raylan finds himself in, with Art, with the Crowders, and with Miami. And while I've quite enjoyed a bunch of the self-contained stories the show has done, there's no question that it's more intense, and more fun, when we're dealing with stories and characters continuing from week to week.

Walton Goggins was tremendous tonight (as was Timothy Olyphant at showing Raylan losing his cool). Goggins can go pretty broad at times, as he did in the series pilot, but ever since Boyd had his jailhouse conversion, he's been doing some really small, interesting work with the character. As Goggins plays him, you're never quite clear how much of the born-again thing is real and how much is Boyd just playing an angle. After all, Raylan told us in the pilot that Boyd was too smart to buy into the white supremacy nonsense, and was just doing it as a way to get over. It's entirely possible that's what he's doing here - that he knows it gets under Raylan's skin, and even that he knows he can survive whatever the other prisoners throw at him - but there's also a weird conviction to it. If it's all an act, would he really let things in the prison laundry go that far, not knowing his father was nearby and ready to save him?

And speaking of big, bad Bo Crowder, give a big welcome to Mr. M.C. Gainey, boys and girls. When I said a few weeks ago that the producers had to get a really imposing actor to play Bo after the off-screen build-up, Gainey (aka Tom Friendly from "Lost," among many, many bad-ass roles) was the kind of guy I had in mind.

We're very clearly pushing towards some kind of ultimate confrontation between Raylan, the Crowders and Miami in the second half, and I'm looking forward to every minute of it.

Some other thoughts:

• Better late than never, but I was glad to see Ava finally acknowledge that it's kind of a big deal, emotionally, that she killed her husband. Up until now, Ava's been temptress first, character second, and between the early scene in her bedroom and then her initiative in stopping the bad guys at the end, she seems both more like a real person and more like a good match for Raylan.

• And speaking of which, note Winona trying to mark her territory by going on and on with Ava about all the burdens of having been married to Raylan.

• Getting back to Seth Bullock, in an interesting bit of casting, the hitman from Miami was played by Ray McKinnon, who played the doomed reverend on "Deadwood" season one. Not only does he have history with Olyphant, but he and Goggins teamed up for "The Accountant," a 2001 short film that won both men an Oscar (and led to me sitting at home asking, "What on earth is Shane from 'The Shield' doing at the Academy Awards?").

What did everybody else think?

30 comments:

Rebecca said...

Totally missed the hat. All episode long.

It's a really enjoyable show. Olyphant hits it out of the park and I've not seen that much acting done by just the eyes since Saul Tigh lost one in BSG.

TimmyD said...

Love love loved it!

Who needs Lost when you have Breaking Bad and this in the same week.

One complaint, any Kentucky girl would ask "Like Wynonna the singer?" not "Like Winona the actress?".

Anonymous said...

I didnt check and see who directed this episode but the close up's that were used throughout the episode became a little distracting in my mind. I understand changing camera focus to emphasize a point, but because it hasn't ever been a big part of the show and then suddenly employed so frequently it really stuck out. But besides the little technical problems this show has at times it is thoroughly enjoyable. I like it better than the other FX show Sons of Anarchy

toonsterwu said...

Great show. It's really hitting it's stride. I was worried at first that it would be a strict procedural, but they are nicely blending in storylines and character development. I think Elmore would be proud (I know he has his name tagged, but iirc, he's more of a bystander now).

This is a bad-ass show. Sorry bout the language, but that's the only way I can think to put it. Olyphant is knocking it out of the park, and Ava's Joelle Carter was, as Alan noted, a much more intriguing character. I loved the interplay between Zea and Carter - the two female leads hadn't done much together, but have such a big linkage.

Seeing MC Gainey come on in the end was awesome. You knew it was coming (after all ... they aren't going to kill Walton after having had a chance to earlier). Sure feels like Boyd's playing an angle, but I may be reading too much into the end.

They've set up this wide network of Crowders that they honestly could have this show be Raylan and a new Crowder each week and I wouldn't be all that disappointed.

A lot of interesting stuff coming together, and it's quite exciting. Wonder what happens with ... crap, Winona's husband's name is slipping me ... the realty dealings they mentioned last week.

A bit disappointed they made the sheriff go down this road (actor is slipping me). Liked him in Life (with Damian). That said, heck of an episode tonight.

Anonymous said...

Liked the story, but something seemed off with the way they filmed this one. The light coming from the gunfire in the bedroom seemed off (and how are we supposed to believe that anyone could miss two people lying in bed at short range with a sawed off shotgun?). Also, the camera had some pretty odd zoom-ins in the prison scene between Raylan and Crowder. This led to the final close ups of the Bible which I couldn't tell if they were symbolic of something, or just more random camerawork.

Zach said...

Again, thoroughly enjoyed this episode. What Im enjoying bout the show is the suddenness to the characters deaths.

My only point of contention. After last weeks column, I had my eyes peeled for the fake looking cgi during the driving sequences. This ep wasn't as bad as the last one, but some work still needs to be done in that aspect

Adam said...

Spoon reference, Alan?

DonBoy said...

Anon @12:41, my impression is that because Raylan heard the footsteps, he and Ava were already rolled out of bed when the shots were fired. But I haven't rewatched to check.

also: this is the third time out of the 6 or 7 episodes so far where the seemingly-tougher bad guy gets shot by the more comical one at around the 40-minute mark.

Anonymous said...

Alan,
You forgot to mention the sly nod to Elmore Leonard. The hitman kept talking about his "10 Rules" and how he'd write a book. Leonard is known for his 10 rules of writing. A nice homage.

Anonymous said...

The conversation Winona had with Ava seemed like just another fwd in a chain e-mail. "A wife of a LEO, you know? Always facing the doors at restaurants; that's our life!"

JanieJones said...

I thought last night's episode was good.
I really enjoyed the interaction between Zea and Carter.
Olyphant is fabulous, I do not want to part with Raylan at the end of the hour.
Walt Goggins-my original thought was he playing the born again tag. I'm still not clear as to whether it's a manipulation or truth.

I've been enjoying the show since it started. However, plots are coming together making the show even more enjoyable.

Excellent television on right now. I feel spoiled.

LDP said...

I'm enjoying this show a lot, but as someone who's been to Harlan, I can say this with confidence: they don't make 'em like Ava down there.

Trilby said...

And what about the Best Theme Song Ever?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xy09F1cUIrA

Rapping and county pickin'!

Anonymous said...

Because I skimmed the comments before I watched the episode, but avoided the review, I focused on the camera work and the eyes. I thought it the camera work was great in the jail house scene. We don't know Boyd's stance. Hence, the focus on the eyes is to allow us to judge if he's a liar or a man of conviction. Based on what his daddy had to say Boyd's working at a bigger plan (presumably to take down Raylan).

Great episode. It's come some distance since the first episode. Any word on a second season?

JWIII

Anonymous said...

Because I skimmed the comments before I watched the episode, but avoided the review, I focused on the camera work and the eyes. I thought it the camera work was great in the jail house scene. We don't know Boyd's stance. Hence, the focus on the eyes is to allow us to judge if he's a liar or a man of conviction. Based on what his daddy had to say Boyd's working at a bigger plan (presumably to take down Raylan).

Great episode. It's come some distance since the first episode. Any word on a second season?

JWIII

Christy said...

Enjoy the show. I'm having this odd reaction of expecting Ava to be Kim Dickens. I'm still vaguely surprised every episode when we first get a clear shot of Carter and it's not Dickens. Crazy, huh?

chris said...

Too bad this is probably the last we see of Louis CK as the town sheriff. I thought he did a bang up job.

Good catch of the Reverend as the hitman. Ray McKinnon did a fine job on this episode.

Anna said...

After this episode I have officially moved from really liking this show to loving it.

Timothy Olymphant - Amazing!!

Walton Goggins - Awesome - definitely got the tone right this ep (a bit toned done from the pilot)

Eva/Winona - great tension/subplot

And Mr Friendly!!

I think that only way it could have been improved would be more shirtless Raylan like last week...
YUM!

Anonymous said...

as was Timothy Olyphant at showing Raylan using his cool

I think its meant to be losing instead of using, or am I just reading it wrong?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Typo. Thanks.

jeffrey said...

@ chris - the sheriff is actually played by brent sexton, not louis ck: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0786641/

however, louis ck was great as the cop on parks and rec.

Anonymous said...
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jeffrey said...

@ anon 5:51 - no chance that you're 'that guy' now is there?

Jeff W. said...

Tom Friendly... this show's nailing the casting. I keep watching to see who's going to show up next.

Anonymous said...

When Raylan sits there being preached at by Boyd and the camera focus on eyes, I did not get it but reading the comments helps. But that scene...when Raylan just snaps and comes over the table and tries to choke Boyd...reactions to Boyd but also that he can't truly protect Ava...and he is frustrated. Again Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins are just so mesmerizing in any scenes they do. I think Boyd has ulterior motives but at moments I think maybe not. This show is such a joy to watch...each week gets better than the last....sadly we only get 13 hours........please let us have a season 2 and 3 and 4....

Anonymous said...

Crowder family tree question....

Bo Crowder- Father, in jail
Boyd Crowder- son, in jail
Johnny Crowder- son, bar owner

What was the name of the Crowder who Ava was married to and killed?

Thanks in advance...

Alan Sepinwall said...

Bowman Crowder.

alex s. said...

I liked the episode (and where the series seems to be headed), but I felt like there was a missing scene somewhere that justified the jump from Raylan trusting the Sheriff and knowing the Sheriff was behind the plot to kill him. Boyd Crowder didn't seem to have more than a suspicion (and it doesn't seem he was interested in telling Raylan everything he knew). It seemed significant that Winona saw Eva telling a suspicious story and then going off with the Sheriff, so maybe there was a conversation there. (I don't feel like the show has to spell out every little detail, but I think there's been a problem with Raylan making the jumps in the past.)

I didn't mind the close-ups on the actors in the prison scenes, but I didn't understand all the close-ups on the Bible. I half expected Boyd to pull a weapon or something out of the spine as much as they were showing it. (As it was, it pulled the attention a little too far from the actors to the director for me.)

chris said...

Jeff - I was just joking about Louis CK being the sheriff.

;)

Dan Jardine said...

If the Deadwood reunions are gonna continue, I hope the producers pitch some woo Brad Dourif's way. He'd be a natural on this show. Town doctor, mayhaps?