Justified “The Gunfighter” Review

Justified returns after having one of the best series of television ever. Yes, Margo Martindale is gone and yes, there is a gaping hole of awesomeness with her departure, and yes there is anxiety over whether or not the show can possibly live up to its amazing second season.

It’s impossible to say whether or not the show has succeeded based on the quality of one episode, but while Mags Bennett is dearly departed, the world of Rayland Givens’ Kentucky is as rich and dense with fascinating characters and some of the most delightfully rich, poetic writing on television. Seriously, the dialogue on this show is like bathing your ears in honey and BBQ sauce while a beautiful puppy massages them with his soft paws.

The show has built a world that is cool and wonderful and even when little happens, it hardly matters because it’s just a delight to watch. The directing is up there with Breaking Bad for the best directed show on television.

The show opens up sending Boyd to jail after assualting Raylan. From prison (where I’m assuming we’ll see some…interactions…between Boyd and Dickie) he delivers his orders through Ava, who has fast become one of the best developments from the second season thanks to her new relationship with Boyd. It also leads to one of the best moments of an episode filled with great moments as she smacks the Devil across the face with a frying pan for threatening to disobey Boyd’s orders just because she delivered them.

The best part of this episode was how it managed to introduce not one, but two brilliant bad guys. We have Robert Quarles played by Neal McDonough, a ruthless, cunning businessman from Detroit and Fletcher Nix, played by Desmond Harrington, who has a bit of a No Country For Old Men Anton Chigurh vibe going on, with his “countdown from ten and reach for the gun” thing fairly reminiscent of Chigurh’s coin flip thing. The show made sure to give both baddies significant introductions, and I think they succeeded extremely well-the pizza boy scene was particularly memorable. One of the other best moments was Raylan and Fletcher’s confrontation. Justified is a very smart show, and they do smart things, like Raylan pulling the tablecloth down as Fletcher reaches for the screwdriver, a device which differentiates him from Chigurh in many ways: unlike Chigurh, he’ll cheat the odds.

There’s no way they can replace Mags Bennett: that’s a villain that’ll go down in television history as one of the greatest characters of all time. The show is instead concentrating on moving on. They’re not going to replace her, so the show is moving on organically, and with the big power vaccum left by Mags in the East Kentucky area.

Overall, this is a solid return for one of the best shows on television. I cannot wait for next week’s episode.