Watch Justified, FX’s great, slightly weird new quasi-Western based on an Elmore Leonard character. I watched the first three episodes for this review for The Atlantic, and it’s seriously pretty great:
Justified, FX’s sly, potentially delightful Western drama based on an Elmore Leonard character—which premieres tonight at 10pm—is a show about a great many things: Nazi prison gangs, the brotherhood of coal miners, misplaced loot, terrible jokes about Baptists, business plans for sex shops, drug cartels, coyotes who sneak people back into Mexico and misapplied dentistry. Perhaps most importantly, though, it’s a story about a man and his hat.
That hat, an ostentatious white Stetson, is the means by which Raylan Givens, a U.S. Marshal played with sexy nerve by Timothy Olyphant, enters the show’s first episode, on his way to kill a man. The initial shot of the back of his overdressed head pulls back to reveal palm trees and then a perfect Miami pool, the environs from which Givens will quickly exile himself by dispatching three bullets in the chest of a gun-runner who once killed one of Givens’ comrades. Because the other man pulled his gun first, Givens will insist that the shooting was “justified,” a word he softens towards the end when he uses it, and he uses it frequently. Of course, Givens ends up shooting an old friend shortly after his transfer, leading his new boss to caution, “If you was in the first grade and you bit someone every week, they’d start to think of you as a biter.”
I’d definitely urge folks to stick with the show, even if you don’t love the first episode about redneck Nazis. The show is a lot less predictable than it initially seems, but it takes an episode-by-episode comparison to make that clear.