Justified, “Long in the Tooth”: I’m gonna take back what’s mine.

With the exception of the pilot, this week’s episode of Justified was the best yet. With a grand total of four episodes having aired, that isn’t exactly saying a whole lot, but for me it shows that in only a few weeks the show seems to have hit its stride and settled into a good rhythm, presenting strong, compelling characters — both good and bad guys — and good storytelling, despite seeming to have dispensed with the more serialized aspects of the show that, from the commercials at least, looked like they would be making up a bigger part of things.

Now, the serialized vs. procedural argument is something that’s come up just about every week with this show, and from now on I’ll try not to mention it too much. But for now I will point you toward a good article by Miles McNutt over at Cultural Learnings, which makes the argument that procedural storytelling is going to be important to the show’s long-term future. Take some time and give it a read.

In “Long in the Tooth,” our intrepid hero is sent to L.A. to track down Roland Pike, a former mob accountant who’s been laying low after escaping Raylan’s custody several years before in Texas. Roland and his girlfriend/receptionist, wise to the fact that the Federales are now on their trail, head south to try and cross into Mexico. Raylan’s got to get him back into custody before his former employers do.

Justified has already done some really good work making the men Raylan is chasing just as interesting as Raylan himself. And this week they showed that the good guys or the bad guys they’re chasing aren’t necessarily the most colorful in the show. Mr. Jones, played by Clarence Williams III, provided some of the best moments of the entire episode, and in many ways has outshined the baddies we see Raylan chasing every week. I don’t know if it’s just a byproduct of having such well-written supporting characters, but the show may need to pay attention to the time it spends with each. As good as this week’s episode was, it seemed like we weren’t spending as much time with Raylan as we should have.

And speaking of Raylan, it was hinted at tonight that not everyone in the Kentucky office may be as thrilled as you might expect to be working with him. And when you think about it, it’s not that surprising. This guy shows up out of nowhere. He bows to authority and convention only when it suits him and, for the most part, gets away with it. Raylan’s forced to confront this when he’s sent to L.A. with Rachel and she’s given point on the case. From the way things played out in the episode, I don’t expect to see a big change in Raylan’s behavior, but at least he’s aware of things now. That’s good…right?

Despite the fact that this episode was so strong, I was a little disappointed to see Raylan make the trip to L.A. so early in the series. After having filmed the pilot in Pennsylvania, the rest of the season has been shot in California, and having Raylan head back to the big city was bound to happen sometime, it’s just something I hope they don’t keep finding excuses to do. With having things set in Kentucky, the show is setting a unique tone for itself, and I’d rather see that built upon. At least for right now.

Stuff I liked:

  • I guess Pike may have been a bad man, with the whole mob accountant thing and all, but you couldn’t help cheering for him while he was pulling Ferguson’s teeth out of his mouth in his car. It’s nice to see the little guy win one every now and then.
  • “You don’t seem like the kind of guy who gets flown places to do wet-work. You seem like the kind of guy this guy’s gotta put up with because you happen to know the area.”
  • “Thank you for your service to our nation.” “I lost the leg to diabetes, but you’re welcome.”


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