A review of tonight's "Justified" coming up just as soon as I have the ceviche...
As I've said before, FX sent episodes 1, 2 and 4 out for review while last week's "Fixer" was held due to post-production issues. So since I loved the pilot (which had the Elmore Leonard story to borrow from) and didn't love the second episode, "Long in the Tooth" served as a kind of tie-breaker, and the episode that convinced me that Graham Yost and company can make an Elmore Leonard show even without specific Elmore Leonard source material to lean on.
"Long in the Tooth" had that nice mastery of tones that typifies Leonard (and his literary descendants), with the ability to mix both comic violence like Rolly repossessing the d-bag's fillings with much darker violence like Rolly and Mindy with the coyote, and to mix self-aware pop culture discussion like the hitmen debating "Pulp Fiction"(*) with more iconic uses of pop culture imagery like Raylan's Wild West gunfight with the two hitmen on a lonely desert road.
(*) The reference to the scene where Vincent Vega accidentally shoots Marvin in the face was an amusingly reflexive moment. Leonard characters often talk about pop culture (in part because it gives Leonard an excuse to say what characters look like without using the kind of descriptive language he hates), and that's one of the traits huge Leonard fan Quentin Tarantino incorporated into his own writing, even before Tarantino directly adapted Leonard with "Jackie Brown."
It had my favorite guest performance/character to date with Alan Ruck(**) as Rolly. In "Riverbrook," I got frustrated whenever we cut away from Raylan and back to the bank robber and his motley crew; here, Ruck was as much fun to watch as Tim Olyphant. And Clarence Williams III (who played one of the bad guys in the film version of Leonard's "52 Pick-Up") was amusingly cranky - and racist and sexist and unapologetically offensive in just about every way - as the guy who swapped cars with Rolly.
(**) And even though it's been nearly 25 years since "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," as soon as Rolly sacrificed himself to the sniper's bullet, I said to myself, "He's not dying; he just can't think of anything good to do."
"Long in the Tooth" wasn't perfect. The episode introduced the idea of Raylan having to sit back and let Rachel take lead, then abruptly dropped it halfway through so Raylan could be solo and have his duel in the sun. Raylan having to suppress his innate Raylan-ness for the sake of a higher-ranking, equally competent Marshal actually sounds like a fun idea (albeit the sort of thing that probably plays better as a change-of-pace episode for season two or three), but you either follow through with it and give it a payoff, or you don't do it.
But it was still quite a lot of fun, extremely compelling and hopefully a signpost towards more good things to come.
What did everybody else think?