Justified Review: "Long in the Tooth"
Ask and ye shall receive!
In evaluating last week’s episode, I felt that its biggest problem – and thus the biggest problem with the show – was that the storyline and writing each week were, well, not very good. The pieces were in place – good main character, decent supporting characters and some good one-off performances by villains – the show just needed some better stories for their characters.
On “Long in the Tooth” this week, we were treated to the first interesting story to follow since the premiere.
Certainly the performance by perennial “that guy” Alan Ruck as our villain of the week, Roland Pike, was a dramatic improvement over the previous two episode’s villains. However, far more important was having an interesting and plausible story to follow.
Unlike in previous episodes when the plot was both predictable and either fairly dull (“Riverbrook”) or preposterous (“Fixer”), "Long in the Tooth" has us following the attempts of a fugitive to get into Mexico before being apprehended by US law enforcement or being killed by the mob he betrayed. While I’m not an expert on avoiding law enforcement, the mob or sneaking into Mexico, Roland’s plan of attack was both reasonable and intelligent. This has not exactly been a Justified villain staple so far.
Roland Pike’s character brought back the confident edginess that we haven’t seen since Boyd Crowder along with a fun relationship with our main character, Raylan Givens. Their conversations on the phone and when Raylan finally caught up to Roland near the Mexican border had that enjoyable sarcastic air to them that Tim Olyphant pulls off so well as Rayland and had not been able to bring out since his episode with Crowder.
Beyond the plot, the script writing was vastly improved this week, to the point where at one point I was wondering if the show changed channels or time slots (fear not, Justified still airs on FX at 10pm on Tuesday’s) because of how racy it was at times.
From the very beginning with Chief Mullen asks Raylan if having Rachel go with him to LA was going to “cock block” him (I’m not sure that’s exactly the correct use of that phrase, but we’ll let it slide for actually saying it at all) to Roland telling Raylan that he had his “dick in his hand” the quality (and vulgarity) of the dialogue was vastly improved. If you’re going to be on FX and on at 10pm, you might as well have some fun with the script other than having the characters say ass or s*** once in a while.
The show continued to have a feeling much more like its premiere than any other episode since with Raylan’s interactions with the mobsters. While we’ve seen it before, I’m still a fan of Raylan jumping into the back of the unsuspecting bad guys’ car while they’re supposed to be watching him. Eh, it might be a little cheesy, but it works for me. We get to see Raylan at his sarcastic best – talking down to criminals.
Perhaps the only part that was a bit forced was Raylan’s last interaction with the two mobsters near the Mexican border. If we must have a shootout scene in every Justified episode, I’d like to see them work it in better than how they did it this week with it on the side of the road. Raylan hadn’t even led the mobsters to Roland yet, their orders were not to kill him until he did! A scene similar to how Raylan disarmed Dewey Crowe and then slammed his nose into the steering wheel would have been much better.
Finally, Justified caps off a solid episode with a very surprising scene where Roland essentially kills himself by standing up and allowing the sniper to get a clear shot on him. Both Ruck and the plot did a good job of getting across how Roland wished he could settle down to a simple dentist practice, but his life was forever changed by his work with mob and he’d never be able to stop running.
Surprising to see him killed on the show as he was – previous pseudo-bad guys had been allowed to live – but moments like that make a show more interesting because they become less predictable. A good move for Justified and a surprise the show needed.
Tell us what you think. Was this the best episode since the premiere? Which character was better, Boyd Crowder or Roland Pike? Do you wish some of these villains would play longer roles on the show? Check out our collection of Justified quotes now!