Justified, “The Lord of War and Thunder”: I almost got that pecker with a knife!

We knew it was coming. This week’s episode of Justified finally introduced us to Raylan’s dad, Arlo Givens. And thanks to actor Raymond J. Barry, the reunion was every bit as satisfying as we had hoped it would be, when it could have been so, so disappointing. All we can say is, after seeing how Arlo treats his son, well, Raylan’s a real champ for keeping his cool.

I guess with these types of stories, you’re always waiting for things to resolve themselves in the end. Now that Raylan is back in Kentucky, maybe he’ll learn to live with his dad, forgive him for all the shit he pulled in the past. And maybe Arlo will realize the error of his ways and work at being the dad he always should have been. Maybe they’ll both find the time to go get some rootbeer floats, talk things out. But no, we’re getting none of that, at least not anytime soon. And with the chemistry these two actors have with each other, putting their relationship on a slow burn will much more satisfying to watch. It’s obvious that Arlo is a pretty unrepentant guy, so any sudden change of heart in regards to his son is going to be asking for too much.

This is really one of the best performances we’ve seen out of Olyphant in the show so far. Raylan is obviously an angry, but he’s always seemed to have found constructive outlets for that anger. That is to say, he blasts bad guys who get up in his bidness. But it seemed like he was keeping even that side of himself in check this week. I think it may be an unconscious reflex for him. Raylan sees his father as something he absolutely does not want to become. While Arlo is a semi-criminal and has spent time in jail, Raylan became a U.S. marshal. So whenever Raylan finds himself with his dad, he keeps an even tighter leash on his darker side. In the end, it’s a whole lot of fun to watch.

Tonight, we also saw a little more of Raylan’s ongoing relationship with Ava. I thought it was a little out of character for him to seek her out last week only to tell her this week, “We CAN’T do this.” I guess I understand why they can’t have a relationship, but at the same time I don’t really buy them giving into to their BASE SEXUAL DESIRES and doing it anyway. She’s beautiful and obviously crazy about him. He’s a good lookin’ man and once shot a man just to watch him die. I say go with God. We also saw Ava in a short scene with Winona, Raylan’s ex-wife, while she was being questioned by the U.S. Attorney. I had kind of forgotten about her Winona, and am wondering how big a role she’s supposed to play in the show. Natalie Zea is a good actress and there’s chemistry in the few scenes she’s had so far with Olyphant, but if she only shows up every three or four episodes in a 13-episode season, it might be tough advancing her story.

This week’s baddy, who you may have recognized as Livingston Dell from the Ocean’s movies, wasn’t as engaging as the characters we’ve seen in previous episodes. I don’t think he was ever intended to be, as everything in the episode was meant to play second fiddle to Arlo and his relationship with Raylan. It’s understandable but at the same time a little disappointing. Eddie Jemison is a great comedic actor, and it was a shame to see some of that talent wasted.

Although Justified has definitely proven itself as a case-of-the-week show, it was nice to see it switch track and give us a deeper look into Raylan’s backstory. Hopefully the show will be able to strike a good balance between these sorts of stories in the future.

Stuff I liked:

  • Arlo’s got the family’s burial plots just off the side of the house.
  • Speaking of that U.S. Attorney scene, if you’re smarter than I am, and I’m betting you are (but then again, you’re spending your time reading my blog), you’ll know that the actor playing David Vazquez IS NOT Sam Rockwell. I lost a bet to my wife over that one.
  • “I almost got that pecker with a knife!” We don’t hear the word “pecker” enough these days. Is there anyone I can talk to about that?

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