Justified


10 PM EST, F/X….

AMC’s new series The Walking Dead, the latest original series from the network that gifted its viewers the masterpieces Mad Men and Breaking Bad, and the flawed but watchable Rubicon, debuted on Sunday night–fittingly–on Halloween.  The new show starring Andrew Lincoln moved slowly and cryptically.  They got to the zombies alright, but did little to explain their presence, or the world that Sheriff Grimes wakes up in, in which humans are scarce and the walking, or staggering majority, are flesh fiending undead.

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Don’t get us wrong.  We aren’t killing this show, pardon the pun.  We like a good, dark show, and we appreciate shows that take the time necessary to properly develop plotlines.  We like Lincoln as the choice for lead, and the premise, if not original, that the few humans left must have this back to the wall, edge of the world mentality to survive.  But a little more information about the nature of the zombies and the state of the world and its new world order would have been appreciated.  The dead, we have gleaned, have more than just primal instincts.  We learn as much in the opening scene when Grimes accosts a little girl, who we only learn is a zombie when she turns and reveals her decaying puss riddled face, after the Sheriff calls to her over and over, “Little girl!  Don’t be afraid!”  What we first see of her, before we get clued in, is that she bends down to retrieve a teddy bear.  So there’s more to these zombies than the mantra, “just eat flesh.”

They also seem to feature one zombie very prominently in camera shots in Atlanta, where Grimes gallops to on horseback, thinking that he’ll find life.  It’s an ironic sequence, where the Sheriff, unable to find gas for his car, tames a lonely horse by telling the horse he wouldn’t hurt him and that they could go to Atlanta together where there would be food, people, and other horses.  As soon as they arrive in the city, the walking dead smell fresh meat, seemingly led by one zombie, formally attired in a jacket and tie, and with a Frankenstein style mullet of hair.  The next thing you know, Tanto is being eaten alive by zombies while the Sheriff crawls up into an abandoned U.S. Army tank for cover, after briefly having his revolver to his head for a second.

So the army seems not to have survived the onslaught of the walking dead, but marital strife, we are glad to know, has made the cut in post apocolyptic zombie U.S.A.  This poor Sheriff, rightfully concerned about being eaten alive, also has a bitchy wife at home to worry about, who complains to him in front of his son that ‘she doesn’t know if he even cares about them.’

Obviously Sheriff Grimes has his work cut out for him in what we think will be a quality series.  That’s not to say that Community–what we know is a quality series–didn’t beat The Walking Dead to the punch last Thursday with a Halloween zombie themed episode that was more entertaining and that better explained why the Greendale campus became flesh eating monsters.  Dean Pelton (Jim Rash), one of two prominent male NBC characters that evening to dress as Lady Gaga for Halloween (Gabe, The Office…btw, respect to The Office and guest star Timothy Olyphant, Deadwood and Justified star, on his guest run as a Dunder Mifflin paper salesman), mistakenly orders a radioactive chemical thinking it’s taco meat for Greendale’s Halloween party.  Pierce (Chevy Chase), dressed for the party as Captain Kirk, gets sick and proceeds to bite Star Burns while Dr. Rich (Greg Cromer), the pottery ringer from last year’s episode “Pottery 101”, and our favorite Community hottie Annie (Alison Brie, below, who also plays Trudy Campbell on Mad Men) administer care to him.  Annie calls Star Burns (Dino Stamatapolous) Star Burns to his face, to which a panicky, infected Star Burns replies insultedly, “My name is Alex!”  Quickly thereafter, just about everyone is a zombie, and the study group, along with Dr. Rich barricade themselves into their study area as mayhem ensues.

The acerbic Jeff Winger (Joel McHale), dressed as David Beckham for Halloween (in an Italian suit holding a soccer ball), reels off a superb one-liner at his old nemesis from pottery class, Dr. Rich.  “Now would be a good time to mention,” he says “that I hate you.”  And in a stunning Community development, Senor Chang and Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) do the deed while locked in a bathroom out of reach of the zombies–gross–all while Dean Pelton’s iPOD plays Abba and a loop of the Dean’s verbal memos to self throughout the campus, making for a temporary hell on earth indeed.

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We were disappointed that 30 Rock skipped out on giving us a Halloween episode last week, considering the creative genius behind the show.  We were expecting, in the least, some very clever costumes.  We guess that since they did it live a few weeks back–twice in fact–for each coast, they didn’t have to do it for Halloween.  But at least they did it with Mad Men star Jon Hamm.

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Crack (http://crackbillionair.com, www.crackbillionair.com)

U.S. Marshal Raylen Givens (Timothy Olyphant, above), always at least one step ahead of the crims, has had his gun holstered for many weeks.  This was not so in season one’s final episode, “Bulletville” (s1, e13), when Raylen killed at least 5, and shot at least 6.  Still, he would need help from an unlikely source: childhood friend and adult enemy, reformed rocket launching bank robber, Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), who has played Raylen’s foil since the Marshal’s return to Kentucky.

Boyd, who began the episode by showing up at his sister-in-law, Ava Crowder’s door, apologizing to her for his past sins down the barrel of her shot gun, and told Ava he wanted to atone.  She told him he could start the process by never encountering her again.  Next we see Boyd, he’s in a car with his cousin, Johnny Crowder (David Meunier), who he had agreed to steal a truckload of ephedrine for, so that the 2 could make waves in Harlan’s methamphetamine market, which Boyd had blown open, literally, by using his rocket launcher on a meth lab that he said was poisoning the community.  Only Boyd was lying to his cousin, and also blew up the truck full of ephedrine to prevent the manufacture of meth in Harlan.  When his cousin asks him where the truck is, Boyd essentially tells him it’s up in flames.  Boyd’s cousin is even more angry when he learns that Boyd didn’t kill the drivers and sends him away asking if Boyd knows how much trouble he’s caused.  Boyd, who found God in prison, responds in biblical terms, telling Johnny that he’s “ready to reap the whirlwind.”

But when Boyd’s father, the whirlwind and resident crime lord of Harlan, Bo Crowder (M.C. Gainey) arrives at Boyd’s jesus camp out in the woods, he aims a gun at his son, and then says he can’t hurt his own son.  So he asks Johnny to “hurt my son.”  Johnny beats Boyd (below) very badly, and then Bo tells Boyd he is exiled, and that his flock will be turned over to the authorities and will go back to jail on parole violations.  But when Boyd returns to the camp, he finds all his men are executed, and in his moment of despair, asks the lord for a sign.

Meanwhile, at the Marshal’s office, Raylen learns of the blown up ephedrine shipment, quickly judges Boyd to be responsible, and then is told by Chief Art (Nick Searcy) that he has to keep his father, Arlo Givens (Raymond J. Barry), safe for a day.  Arlo has become an informant, and the ephedrine shipment has complicated and perhaps compromised a meeting for later in the day with Bo Crowder, that Arlo has agreed to wear a wire to.  Raylen runs into his ex, Winona (Natalie Zea), who also works in that building and who he has recently slept with, and she tells him she wants to talk and that her husband Gary (William Ragsdale) has moved out. 

 Since the meeting between Bo and Arlo is postponed, and with nowhere else to take him, Raylen brings his dad to his hotel room and leaves him there.  Bo Crowder, fresh from executing Boyd’s men in the woods, shows up to talk to Arlo, and tells him that things would be right between them if Arlo helped deliver Raylen to Bo.  Bo Crowder needs to turn Raylen over to the Miami cartel whose shipment of ephedrine was destroyed by his son.  The cartel lusts for Raylen’s blood because he killed one of theirs, Tommy Bucks–the killing that prompted Raylen’s transfer to Kentucky. 

Raylen, who started the season at odds with his father over long standing issues, seemed to soften toward the old man when he learned of the danger he and his step mom were in because Arlo, a career criminal, had handled collections for Bo while he was incarcerated, but had no money to turn over once Bo showed up to collect.  When Raylen returns to the hotel room, his instincts tell him something’s wrong, and when Arlo turns the gun Bo provided him with on Raylen, Raylen’s already got his own gun trained on Arlo.  “When did you know?” Arlo asks.  “I think I always knew.” says Raylen, who then shoots his father in the shoulder.  When Bo’s people hear the shot, they think it’s safe to move on Raylen, who is lying in wait, and kills them both.

Then Raylen receives a call from who he believes is Ava, but it’s Bo on the other end, who we saw take Ava captive (below) and gut shot Johnny on Ava’s porch.  Bo tells Johnny it’s because Johnny went behind his back with Boyd on that ephedrine shipment, and leaves him to die in Ava’s bushes, content that the law will believe she had killed another bothersome Crowder–making his move to send a bunch of Boyd’s cousins to squat at her house while she was temporarily in hiding a few weeks back all the more ingenius.  Bo tells Raylen to start driving to Bulletville, and to come alone.

It’s then that we see Boyd stumble in to Raylen’s room.  “What are you doing here?”  Raylen asks.  But Boyd doesn’t know.  Raylen catches him up on their respective fathers’ latest deeds, and Boyd tells Raylen that his daddy has a cabin in Bulletville and that he knows it well.  They drive down to Bulletville together, discuss God, and Raylen figures out that Boyd has been telling the truth about finding God.

When this first season of Justified began, good television fans were probably happy that the show’s creators, Graham Yost and Elmore Leonard, had given us one good dynamic character in Raylen Givens.  But upon watching the entire season, we have been treated to two more: Winona, Raylen’s complex ex who was so sure a month ago that she loved her new marriage, but who was slipping off her wedding ring last week for a tumble with Raylen at his hotel, and Boyd, who has gone from Raylen’s childhood friend to outlaw bank robber, to man of God/vigilante and Raylen’s again friend–probably his only one–a feeling we find is mutual in the end.

And that’s why Raylen didn’t shoot him when he defied his order to stop pursuing the female cartel member who killed his father, even though Boyd had gone there to help Raylen, and to kill his father himself.  “I didn’t kill you when I had the chance”, said Bo to Boyd who held a gun on him, right before the cartel picked him off.  But Boyd told his father right before Bo got shot that there was more than one way to kill a man, and that his father had killed his spirit.

 A dispirited Boyd, or a Boyd Crowder replenished by some other ideology, will make for a compelling storyline next season for Walton Goggins, who plays Boyd Crowder to a tee.  Winona and Raylen may be on a path to reconciliation, making for another compelling storyline for next season.  It seems that Ava (Joelle Carter) will be back in Harlan, and probably still carrying a torch for Raylen, along with the cartel, and perhaps our favorite Assistant U.S. District Attorney, David Vasquez, played by Rick Gomez (Priest, The Life and Times of Tim), who has a slew of new Raylen Givens’ justified homicides to investigate.

But at least that nasty Crowder family is out of business and Raylen and his father know in absolute terms, where they stand with one another.

–Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

In Tuesday night’s Justified entitled “Fathers and Sons”, starring Timothy Olyphant as straight shooting US Marshal Raylen Givens, complex family relationships have further  threatened the Marshal’s tenuous work life, private life, and well, life in general.  Between Raylen and his ex-wfe Winona, Raylen and his dad Arlo (Raymond J. Barry), and Raylen’s foil, newly anointed man of the cloth, Boyd Crowder and his dad, Bo (M.C. Gainey), who is Harlan’s resident crime lord, and Bo and Ava, his daughter in law and sometimes Raylen’s lover who killed Bowmann, Bo’s abusive wife beating son, our favorite Marshal may have too much to handle with next week’s season finale almost upon us.

When we last left Ava Crowder (Joelle Carter), she was unconscious and handcuffed, and Raylen was passing her off to Winona (Natalie Zea, Hung), who he knew could keep her safe.  While Raylen may not be in love with Ava, a sore point for her, who has been acting like the jilted lover, Raylen obviously cares about her.  He pulled strings with a federal judge Mike Reardon, who he was charged to keep safe, played by Stephen Root (News Radio, Office Space, True Blood), to get the terms of her parole amended so that she could leave Kentucky.  That would be safest for Ava, whose band of criminal inlaws is poised for revenge, after Ava killed her husband, Bowmann Crowder, who frankly, had it coming.  But the simple and stubborn Ava has not aceded to the Marshal’s Office mandate that her and Raylen can’t be sexually involved with her criminal matter ongoing, and has continually reproached Raylen’s efforts to relocate her for her own safety as unrequited love.

Winona and Ava (above).  When Ava wakes up in Winona’s house, and hears Winona on the phone with Raylen, the antennas go up, and for a minute, the audience gears up for a possible cat fight.

Ava: “Yall seem pretty civil for divorced people.”

Winona: “It’s kinda hard staying married to Raylen.”

Ava may have bought Winona’s non answer, but after she flees the scene at her own house where some Crowder family cronies are holed up, she drives to Raylen’s hotel, just as Winona was leaving.  What was Winoa doing there, you ask?  The same Winona who seemed to emphatically slam the door shut on Raylen’s affections a few weeks ago when Raylen saved her ex-husband from the Dixie Mafia?  Well, she didn’t say much, but actions speak louder than words.  Winona dropped her wedding ring on the table, kissed Raylen, and then, sexy time.

A closeup of Winona (above), after she had dressed and was shamefully sliding her wedding ring back on. 

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With all of the developments in Raylen’s love life, we are yet to discuss the full scope of the Crowder family’s criminal reach, which has caused Raylen to interact with his own father Arlo, who used to collect for Bo Crowder while he was away, and who Raylen has a contentious relationship with.  Bo has come looking for money from Arlo, who doesn’t have it, putting Arlo in jeopardy and driving him to deal with the Marshals, who are putting a case together against Bo and his various criminal enterprises.  And did we mention that a Mexican crime lord who promises Bo a large shipment of ephedrine, a base material for the production of methamphetamine, also establishes with Bo a $2M bounty on Raylen’s head, who has killed a close associate of his, Tommy Bucks, in Miami–the shooting that has gotten Raylen jettisoned back to a Kentucky Marshal gig.

Bo, delighted by his son Boyd’s demolition of a trailer park meth lab, had the surviving meth makers murdered because they were witnesses to his son’s crime, and because they represented competiton in the crystal meth trade.  Bo turns up at Boyd’s Jesus camp in the woods with a thick envelope full of cash, assuming that Boyd had blown the meth lab up as a favor to his dad.  But Boyd tries to refuse the money, claiming from the Bible that he shall take no gift because that would perverteth the words of the righteous.  Bo leaves the money on a rock, and we assume that Boyd decides to take it.

Boyd, since being released from prison, has promised not to fall back on his old profession of robbing banks, and is clinging to the Jesus shtick he picked up in jail.  He claims he blew the meth lab up because it was poisoning the community, and as a guest preacher at a local church, he describes his repentant nature to the congregation while advocating the need to “strike out against evil”, as he preached right at his father Bo, who had come down too hear his son’s sermon.

Outside the church, Bo tells Boyd he is perilously close to an ill fate, and that he has pushed Bo quite far with is God stance.  Boyd, a well played villain by actor Walter Goggins, tells his father that he will destroy his own father if he tries to bring meth into the community.  While the Crowders have their disputes, Ava Crowder pays Raylen’s dad a visit and asks Raylen’s stepmom for a gun because she is afraid of the Crowders.  After a heart to heart, Raylen’s stepmom sends her off with a sawed off shotgun, which she takes over to Bo’s hangout, and reminds him that she’s already killed one Crowder man, and would he like to make it 2?  But Bo and Ava are at an impasse, because like Raylen, he wants her out of Kentucky, but she is dead set against leaving.

Raylen goes down to the VA to check on his father, who happens to be locked inside the VA’s bar as a hostage to a disillusioned soldier, who is playing with a live grenade, refusing his deployment order to rejoin the war.  Arlo, the calm customer, tells him a story about his days in Vietnam that gets him to put down the grenade, but when asked about the story by Raylen, he tells him he made it up.  A good bit of foreshadowing, as Arlo then tells Raylen that he’ll consent to wear a wire to collect evidence against Bo Crowder.  But Arlo goes to his meet with Bo with a pad in hand, and writes to Bo to “play along”, offering to be Bo’s double agent, and expecting to play both sides–the criminals and the Marshals.

In the end we see Boyd blow up an 18 wheeler–the one headed to Harlan with Bo’s ephedrine, true to his word that he will not allow poison to enter the community.  But is Boyd, who still obviously has a thing for blowing things up with rocket launchers, set on becoming a true prophet or on replacing his father as the head of the Harlan underworld under the pretense of doing God’s work?

The family dynamics that Justified has introduced has ramped up the intensity for what is sure to be an explosive finale, with Raylen’s gun staying holstered way too long.  Next week, expect Raylen to unholster his gun, but don’t be surprised if season one’s finale does more to cloud than clear up Raylen’s complex relationship with his beautiful ex Winona, and the investigation into his shootings led by Assistant US Attorney David Vasquez, played by our favorite character from The Life and Times of Tim, the voice of the priest, Rick Gomez.

–Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

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