Raylan Givens, Boyd Crowder and the most menacing hat on television returned this week, as Justified kicked off season three with a terrific premiere that established a new villain in town and a possible new residence for our hero and his pregnant ex-wife.
In our first-ever Justified Round Table, panelists Matt Richenthal, Dan Forcella and Jim Garner dissect various aspects of "The Gunfighter," including its bad guy introduction and the move Raylan made to save his own hide..
What was your favorite moment from the episode?
Matt: Raylan and Boyd's pre-fight face-to-face, no doubt. I could watch these two discuss the weather and be fascinated. Just to great actors, portraying fascinating characters, uttering quick, witty, brilliant lines of dialogue.
Jim: Raylan telling Art how he ran into Fletcher but didn't realize it. I wish I could give my boss bad news like that and get the reply "Well, did you screw up anything else today?" You can tell Art knows Raylan better than Raylan knows himself.
Dan: My favorite moment had to do with Raylan and a table cloth, but we'll get to that later on. For this question I'll go with Art telling Raylan that he was saved by the gun shot because of all the body fat he has going on. The clever jabs between these characters are some of the best part of the series.
What are your first impressions of Neal McDonough as a Justified villain?
Matt: Smarmy, cocky, dangerous. He won't slyly kill anyone via an apple sauce jar, that's for sure. He'll just shoot them in the face.
Jim: Awesomely creepy. The longer he went "all friendly" the more I knew he was the most dangerous person in the room. He promptly proved that by shooting Yvette... directly after shooting Emmitt for losing control of his territory.
Dan: He certainly has some giant shoes to fill, but he got off to a great start here. Where Mags was ruthless when she had to be, it seems Quarles is going to be ruthless just because - and I like that sort of a change up. McDonough certainly is creepy, and I can't wait to see what else he brings to Justified.
How do you feel about Raylan and Winona and their crazy baby names?
Matt: You know what I always say: when in doubt, go alliterative. Or, should I say, activate alliteration. Gabe Givens? Gunther Givens? Gaby Givens? Now we're on the right track...
Jim: I like them together. I'm probably in the minority but Winona "gets" Raylan. As for the baby names, I seriously hope someone gets them a baby name book. Felix? Jiffy Pop? Really, Raylan?!?
Dan: I enjoy the way they act together, but for some reason I can't get Raylan and Ava out of my mind. Seeing her with Boyd kind of creeps me out. Also, Jim's right, those baby names are awful. Palmolive was fantastic, what other ideas did they need?!?!
Do you call any shenanigans on Boyd ending up in prison with Dickie Bennett?
Matt: Not really. How many federal prisons are there in the area? Not sure where else Boyd would have ended up and it's hard to blame Raylan for not seeing behind his frenemy's actions. The guy is still recovering from a gun shot, remember. He's a bit slow right now.
Jim: Not at all. Boyd knew that assaulting Raylan (in his office) would be treated as a federal crime and he would get sent to the local federal jail. Given that Dickie was processed by the same office for a federal crime, it's a pretty good bet Boyd knew what he was doing. Of course, part of me hoped that Raylan had done it to keep his promise to Boyd.
Dan: Like Jim said, if getting thrown into federal prison on purpose is considered shenanigans, then yes. Otherwise, I don't think Raylan had anything to do with it. He and Boyd aren't that tight... yet.
Who had the better move: Raylan pulling the table cloth to get the gun or Ava's backswing with the cast iron skillet?
Matt: Gotta go with Raylan. Ava took me by surprise and was pretty darn bad ass, but I knew Raylan would escape that situation and it was still startling and awesome to watch!
Jim: Damn, this is a tough one. However, I'm giving the edge to Ava for the awesome smash with a 10-pound skillet. That's not something you learn in tennis class!
Dan: I have yet to see a better, more timely move than Raylan grabbing the table cloth. Without that quick thinking there is no more Justified. That's why he's the man, the myth, the cowboy hat-wearing legend.