A strange thing happened as I scrolled through the list of 2010-11 Emmy nominations — I did not unleash one profanity-laced tirade. I actually nodded in agreement a few times, especially when I noticed the nominations for four “Justified” cast members.
“Justified,” which follows itchy-fingered U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) as he dispenses justice in his native Kentucky, should have received a nomination in the drama series category, too. I’ll try to look on the bright side, though. At least the acting nominations give the show some exposure. Perhaps people who aren’t familiar with it will say, “This ‘Justified’ show was nominated, it must be good.”
That flawed logic notwithstanding, the show is excellent and the second season outshone the first. Not that “Justified” is perfect. It presents a skewered vision of Kentucky geography. Watch an episode and you’ll believe you can hop in a car in Lexington and be heading into Harlan in 15 minutes.
Or you’ll think the murder rate in eastern Kentucky rivals that of Medellin, Colombia, circa 1986. In nearly every episode, one drug dealer robs another and lots of people end up dead. And nobody considers such carnage out of the ordinary.
These embellishments only add to my enjoyment of “Justified.” The only issue that made me ponder composing an angry missive to FX is the way they pronounce “mine.”
No one in eastern Kentucky says, “Daddy works at the mine.”
We say, “Daddy works at the mines.”
But everybody on “Justified” says stuff like, “Boyd’s working his shift at the mine,” which makes me grit my teeth and pound my fists.
Otherwise, I love the show and am happy the actors don’t try to mimic our accents. Actually, Margo Martindale (Mags Bennett), did a pretty good job accent-wise and I was especially impressed by the way she said, “Luh-rett-uh.”
Martindale earned a well-deserved nomination for supporting actress in a drama series for her role as matriarch of the drug-dealing Bennett clan. I couldn’t help myself, I liked Mags. Sure, she killed a man with her “apple pie” and pounded her son, Coover’s, hand with a hammer, but Coover had it coming.
Mags wasn’t all bad. She treated Aunt Helen and Raylan with respect. And it’s a testament to Martindale’s talents that she created a human being in what could have been a scheming monster. Her haunted, sometimes gentle, loving face showed she cared for her sons and “Luh-rett-uh” – in her own way. It also showed she was disgusted by some of her actions, but ole Mags was a survivor.
Mags wasn’t much of a mother, though. It’s not that I liked her son, Dickie, but thanks to the way Mags treated him, I felt sorry for the worthless piece of murdering crap. Jeremy Davies, who limped his way to a nomination for guest actor in a drama series, deserves most of the credit for eliciting my sympathy. Dickie killed one of the show’s best – as in good – characters, but my heart ached when he begged for his mama’s help. Dickie just wanted love — and more of the family’s drug-dealing enterprise.
That’s part of the beauty of “Justified” — you begin to feel for the show’s so-called villains and none more so than Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins).
Boyd was a hate-spewing neo-Nazi in season one. After Raylan shot him, he underwent a religious conversion and began a mission to rid Harlan of drugs. But Boyd’s father literally murdered his entire flock and the season ended with Boyd broken and vowing revenge on the drug dealer who murdered his father.
As season two commenced, Boyd was working at the mines and living with his brother’s widow, Ava, who’s not nearly as annoying when she’s not stalking Raylan. By season’s end, Boyd had realized he couldn’t change his nature and had returned to his criminal ways.
This angst has given Goggins, who finally received an Emmy nomination for supporting actor in a drama series after being woefully ignored for his amazing work on “The Shield,” opportunities to play menacing and regretful. He does both well. He also has sizzling chemistry with Olyphant. They’re the show’s hottest couple.
With all these bad guys populating the “Justified” landscape, the good guy with many questionable shootings is sometimes overshadowed, so it’s nice to see Olyphant receive Emmy love in the form of a lead actor in a drama series nomination.
At first, it might seem as if Raylan is just a cowboy hat and a sexy grin. But Olyphant is as good as any of the show’s baddies. Any scene with Raylan confronting his no-count dad is money because we’ll see layers of Raylan’s personality including angry, annoyed and witty. I also like Raylan when he’s in full-on vengeful mode. When he went to Harlan near season’s end to track down a killer and to bury a loved one, he carried with him a poignant, seething determination.
And a big gun.