Battle of the Badboys, an examination of the leading men of Justified.
My Tuesday nights are book solid when I get home from work. In addition to getting my Gibbs-fix on with NCIS, it’s followed by LL Cool J on NCIS:LA, and then finally, I settle in with a shot of bourbon and my favorite vice to date: Justified.
First of all, I love Elmore Leonard. My parents had his books around growing up and I didn't have to sneak to read them. I’ll forever be grateful for their ‘we taught you to read, so make it happen’ approach to my education. Anyway, the books are hard-boiled, fast-paced, and humorous in very strange ways.
The show, Justified, follows that same path. Based on the character in Mr. Leonard’s novels Pronto and Riding The Rap, Raylan, as portrayed by the luscious Timothy Olyphant, is a lanky, sexy, angry, and dangerous man. He is also catnip for anyone who swings that way, male and female alike. Raylan isn't a typical white hat, though he does wear one to great effect, he’s a throwback to the Old West lawman, rough and ready, and not given to couth most of the time. His attempts as being genteel only serve the comedic elements of the show, truly, and he is more comfortable beating asses than kissing them. Still, watching him trade razor-sharp verbal barbs with the bad guys makes for wonderful television.
As interesting a hero as Raylan is, he wouldn't be the hero without a nemesis worthy of him. Boyd Crowder, as played by the eclectically handsome Walton Goggins, is quite possibly the complicated man on television. Period. He’s not quite good, though he has some admirable qualities to him like fierce loyalty and a somewhat skewed sense of honor; he is bad, though the good qualities make it impossible to write him off completely as a villain. He’s as smart as he is crazy, which is truly saying something, as shown in the way he can quote Asimov and John Maynard Keynes in the same sentence while he converses with a man he’s tied to a chair and attached a stick of burning dynamite. In short, he’s just riveting to watch.
The way the men relate to each other is very different that the normal TV fare, too. They aren’t friends, but they’ve been known to fight on the same side, or at least point their guns at the same people. When they’re going up against each other, they’re ruthless and disinclined to pull punches, yet, they still let the other live, a fate that numerous other former characters (including some members of each of their families) did not meet. It’s difficult to really choose a side, since both have merits and hot men, making the storylines complicated, and the viewer glad for a DVR with which to enjoy them over and over again.
The interaction of Raylan and Boyd, with each other and with the rest of the equally interesting cast, makes this a delicious addiction I will not be relinquishing any time soon, at least, until the end of the season. Then, as with last year, there’ll be the customary weeping, moaning, and gnashing of teeth. I don’t think Mr. Leonard and Mr. Yost (the show’s creator), would have it any other way.