Justified, “Riverbrook”: You understand how I see your people?

You may have felt a little letdown by Justified’s second episode, which lacked a lot of the flavor and punch of last week’s pilot. Still, it looks like the show is shaping up to be one of the better hours on television right now, regardless of how serialized or procedural it turns out to be.

Every show takes a few episodes before it finally settles into its groove and decides what kind of show it’s going to be, and right now we’re seeing Justified go through its own paces. In the beginning of “Riverbrook,” we saw Raylan picking up Dewey Crowe at the Lexington Federal Detention Center, as well as taking some time to visit Boyd Crowder, who’s still in recovery after last week’s pilot. Boyd feeds him a line about being reborn in the eyes of the Lord and set on a new path, and it’s all thanks to Raylan shooting him in the chest. Whether he’s sincere or not — and I’m guessing he’s not (maybe I should be a cop!) — the show is definitely setting something up that will pay off further on down the road.

Most of tonight’s episode was spent with Raylan chasing down Cooper, who’s searching for some stashed loot he got off a robbery ten years before. Overall, I thought this was a mixed bag. Now, the writers aren’t directly adapting any of Elmore Leonard’s work, so they’re left to develop Raylan’s voice and character, not to mention the tone of the entire show, on their own. So far, I think they’ve done well creating something in the same league as Leonard’s work, if not something that’s exceeded it. They’ll still need to watch themselves to make sure what they create doesn’t turn into a cheap parody, as well as be able to stand on its own, apart from what Leonard’s written. There’s that scene in the convenience store, before Cooper locks Raylan in the back. Raylan makes a joke about Cooper’s cohort, who’s just been run out of the store. “How can you tell there’s a bad drummer at your door? Knock speeds up.” I thought it was a funny beat, if a little out of place. But when Raylan made another joke at the motel that night with Ava, I have to say I groaned a little. I hope the show doesn’t sacrifice any of Raylan’s badassery by making him the one who’s always got a funny joke in his pocket. It won’t, but still, these are the things I think about.

I didn’t mind that the episode spent so much time with Cooper, his ex-stripper ex-wife, or her not-first-cousin Dupree. This is another example of the writers (more specifically Graham Yost, who’s penned the first two episodes) being able to imitate Leonard’s style. I thought the bad guys were able to hold their side of the episode. They weren’t able to hold it the way Olyphant holds his own scenes, but really, is anyone expecting them too? That may be something the show has to work on in the future. I think that in the end, the serialized portions of Justified are going to be much more interesting than the procedural portions, so the bad-guys-of-the-week are probably going to have to step up their game.

I had read Alan Sepinwall’s review, in which he said that of the first four episodes he’s seen, “Riverbrook” was the weakest. But even though there was a noticeable dip in quality, I thought tonight’s episode held up pretty well. The promo for next week’s episode looks even better than tonight’s, so we’ll see where it all takes us.

Stuff I liked:

  • “Put it like this, if you was in the first grade and you bit somebody every week, they’d start to think of you as a biter.”
  • I like the going-through-the-motions dance Raylan and Ava are going through with each other. “I can’t sleep with you.” I wonder how long that’s going to last.
  • I’m looking forward to seeing more of Jacob Pitts, who plays Tim Gutterson. I want to see the sniper in Afghanistan angle explored more.
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One response to “Justified, “Riverbrook”: You understand how I see your people?

  1. I liked sniper-guy too. I thought Pitts’ description of the bank driver (candidate for “Mensa”) was hilarious, and I think “Riverbrook” was one of my favorite episodes because Pitt (as well as the trio of bumbling burglars) were hilarious!

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