Justified, “Fixer”: Far be it from me to second-guess your neck hair.

After the tone set by last week’s episode — which was decidedly different from the pilot — and the jump in quality in tonight’s, I think Justified is beginning to find its own rhythm. And if that rhythm ends up being not too unlike “Fixer,” I don’t think the show would be doing too bad for itself. Tonight’s episode saw Raylan being handed one of the marshals’ “confidential” informants.

If Raylan hates Kentucky as much as Arnold Pinter does (David Eigenberg), he’s doing a real good job of hiding it. The two characters, Raylan, who’s always floating a little beneath the surface, and Pinter, who’s in your face without realizing it, stood in nice contrast to each other tonight. Obviously Raylan is a principled man, so while we see that Pinter barely holding onto his sanity, Raylan chooses instead to suffer in silence.

If “Fixer” and last week’s “Riverbrook,” are any indication, it looks like the show’s guest stars are going to be given just as much screentime as Raylan and the marshals. As long as those guest stars are as good as they were tonight, it’s fine by me. What I liked most about Pinter, Curtis and Travis Travers was that none of them came off as stereotypes. Especially with a goofy, stranger in a strange land sort of character like Pinter, they really could have screwed the pooch. But even though he definitely comes off as a little eccentric, he never felt like he was over the top, even while he’s slurping chocolate egg cremes with his laptops spread over the restaurant table. And I really enjoyed Page Kennedy, who definitely came off as the episode’s standout. You may remember Kennedy from his stint as U-Turn on Weeds.

While the bulk of the episode didn’t really do much to advance Raylan the man, we did get that one scene at the very end with finally giving in and throwing himself into Ava’s wide-stretched arms. Maybe getting shot in the chest was what finally pushed him over the edge, but Raylan seems like the kind of person who needs a reason to so blatantly fly in the face of authority like that. It’s obvious that he dispenses his own unique brand of justice, but he’s not Mel Gibson and this isn’t Lethal Weapon, so you’ve got to think there’s something else at play here.

At the beginning of tonight’s episode, we learned a little more about Raylan’s dad. He worked as both a legbreaker and a grifter, and served time for both. And I doubt it comes as a surprise that Raylan has his him to thank for his temper. Eventually the show will quit dropping hints and we’ll be able to see how father and son operate around each other.

I’ll say that Justified isn’t the show I expected it to be. If I say I mean that in a good way, then it sounds like I thought the show was going to be bad. If I say I mean that in a bad way, then it sounds like I don’t like the show now. So I’ll just say that I’m happy with how it’s shaping up. I would still like to see some storylines carried over several episodes, rather than leaving things alone to revisit later, ala Boyd and his conversion. But as a procedural the show is quickly finding its footing, and is probably more true to how Elmore Leonard originally envisioned the character, not to mention the sorts of books he writes.

Stuff I liked:

  • “I ain’t never seen a Lexington cop dressed up like the Marlboro Man.”
  • I liked the reference to Raylan Wild Bill-ing the guy down in Miami. A call-back to our dearly departed Deadwood.
  • Stuff I didn’t like. Raylan rocking the denim jacket at the end of the episode. Boo.
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