As discussed in our review of last summer's finale of Justified, I loved the ambiguous growth of both Boyd Crowder and the relationship between Boyd and Raylan Givens throughout the first season.
Was I then upset that Boyd was missing from about 90% of this second season premiere? Not at all.
The writers eloquently gave us a taste of that ever so fantastic Raylan/Boyd dynamic, and then sidelined it to introduce what I assume will be the main crux of season two: The Bennetts.
Unlike its FX relative Sons of Anarchy, which inadequately spent its entire season dealing with the aftermath of the previous season's finale, "The Moonshine War" allowed the audience to become engaged with a new set of problems for Raylan, while setting Boyd's vengeance on the back-burner.For better or worse, this second season of Justified has started out eerily similar to the first. Raylan had a problem with the Miami mobsters last year, so he went back home to Kentucky, where he ran into a family of criminals that were causing trouble in Harlan. I'm not saying this is a bad device to use in starting your season, it's just that I've seen it before. If season three starts in the same fashion, I will be extremely worried.
After one episode, the Bennetts have proven to be extremely interesting/ There is already Emmy talk for Margo Martindale as Mags Bennett, the matriarch of the reefer growing crime family of Harlan. I can see why.
She portrays the combination of a loving mother figure and a ruthless, murdering crime boss with such ease. To watch Mags treat both little Loretta and Raylan with such kindness one minute... and then to cruelly kill Loretta's dad Walt over a jug of hard apple cider the next, truly had me in awe.
While I don't see Mags and Raylan having the ability to come together as friends in the end, as I do with Raylan and Boyd, the whole thing should force Raylan to take a step back at times. And that grey area in gauging the seriousness of an enemy is something that made the first season so interesting.
Yes, Mags has three sons, but Doyle and Coover did not prove to be that interesting. I can see Doyle's role as a police officer coming into play down the road, and Coover's complete idiocy should work as comic relief at times, but it was brother Dickie that got me most excited.
Jeremy Davies gives off quite the care free aura of bad guy. Much like Heath Ledger's Joker from The Dark Knight, Dickie has that "I like to do bad things simply because they are bad things" vibe to him. When he shot Walt in the leg at the drop of a hat, and then made him stick his leg in a bear trap, I knew we might have something with this character.
As intriguing as the Bennetts are, we are still most interested in the plight of our protagonist, and this week Raylan was willing to do just about anything to get out of the bureaucratic nonsense he was dealing with at the office after what went down in Bulletville. So when Deputy Rachel Brooks asked him to help her on a case, he just on the opportunity.
While the Bennetts were introduced as the long-term baddies of the season, this week's short-term problem was that perv with three first names, Jimmy Earl Dean. If this first episode is any indication of how things will go this season, I'd say that Justified is going to be fantastic at getting a good mix of long and short run stories, making them work with each other to create great hour after great hour.
Timothy Olyphant certainly shined throughout. We had Raylan pretending that he was stealing gas, and then dousing J.E.D. with gasoline, and then getting him to give up his weapon, and finally saving Loretta. Great stuff all around.
Finally, to end the premiere, we were witness to two acts that should whet one's appetite for the future. First, Raylan gets with Winona again, much to the dismay of "Rava" fans (See what I did there? That's Raylan and Ava). Secondly, and most importantly, Boyd shows up again. He's blowing stuff up and repeating "Fire in the hole. Fire in the hole."
That gets me excited for episode two.
Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.