Debra Mullins

Day 9 of the 31 Days of Books Giveaway – We’re talking Justified!

Congratulations to Kitty Bucholtz, who won yesterday’s drawing! I’ll be emailing Kitty to arrange delivery of her choice of book.

I thought I’d change up the pace. We’ve been talking books, but I want to switch to TV for a minute. Specifically the FX program, Justified.

For those who’ve never seen it, Justified is a show based on a short story by Elmore Leonard called Fire In The Hole. Leonard was directly involved in the creation of the TV series based on his characters, and the world lost a great talent when he died back in August 2013. (Guess we got back to books after all, huh?)

The hero of the show is U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, who is a throwback to the lawmen of the Old West, right down to the hat. He’s played to sexy, swaggering perfection by actor Timothy Olyphant. But Raylan isn’t perfect. The running gag in the first several episodes is that he keeps shooting people. The shootings are justified (wink, wink), but the frequency is still causing the Marshal service a bit of a headache. Raylan is smart and unafraid when dealing with the bad guys. It’s only his personal life where he becomes challenged.

Raylan comes from rural Kentucky, a place called Harlan County. He’s managed to escape to Miami, but at the end of the first episode, the Marshals assign him back to his home state as punishment, which is the worst thing that could happen to Raylan…but the best thing that could happen to the show. Raylan has history with the people in Harlan County. Everyone has known him his entire life, which adds a whole different level to his interactions with them in his role as U.S. Marshal. To add insult to injury, Raylan’s father Arlo is a well-known petty crook, and the two men do not see eye-to-eye on anything.

I have an ongoing debate on Twitter with authors Teresa Medeiros and Kierstan Krum as to which one of us can claim Raylan as her TV husband. <G>

Raylan’s nemesis is Boyd Crowder, a guy from a family of known criminals there in the ‘hollow.’ His family and Raylan’s go way back; in fact Raylan and Boyd even worked the mines together as young men. Performing such a dangerous job, they frequently had to watch each others’ backs in order to stay alive, and that relationship plays into their interactions years later whenever they’re on opposite sides of the law.

Boyd Crowder is a fascinating character, and Walton Goggins, who plays him, manages to finesse every nuance he can. Like Raylan, Boyd knows everyone in the area and is even related to some of them. Boyd Crowder is almost always the smartest man in the room, and you never know what he’s going to do. There are times he’s out to kill Raylan and other times when he teams up with him to defeat a common foe. Boyd never does anything without a darned good reason. And his romance with Ava, his brother’s widow, is touching and relatable. You find yourself cheering for Boyd to succeed, even though he’s supposed to be the bad guy.

That’s what makes Justified so compelling. Fantastic characters, great writing, wonderful actors. If you haven’t seen it, the first four seasons are out there for rental, purchase or streaming, and Season 5 just started on FX on Tuesday.

Whether you’ve seen it or not, feel free to join in the discussion. Those who comment get entered in today’s drawing for a free paperback title from my backlist!