Only two weeks left until the return of Justified, and my look into season two continues with a sneak peek at episode two, “The Life Inside.” It’s a series of bad days for Raylan Givens, but it certainly makes for some great television.
Remember what I said last week about the show keeping strong continuity? The episode begins with needing to take care of loose ends from the season premiere – for the Bennett family and for Raylan, who tracks down Boyd at the site of his new venture. “Life don’t hand out too many second chances, Boyd,” he warns him. “I just hope you take advantage of yours.” The question is if Boyd’s latest realization is sincere – and even if it is, if it will keep him out of trouble. We know from season one that while he honestly did find religion, it didn’t keep him from a world of hurt. I miss having Walton Goggins on screen as much as he was last season, but it makes perfect sense; when someone has to sort themselves out, you don’t necessarily hear from them as much as you used to, and so Boyd is not with us as much as he once was. After all, he probably left season one with more baggage than anyone.
Speaking of baggage, Raylan gets another dose of trouble when he’s called to revisit none other than his father Arlo (Raymond J. Barry). The subsequent scene at the Givens home may be one of the funniest scenes ever to appear on this show, between Timothy Olyphant’s classic reactions to what Raylan endures and how it evokes memories of many, many episodes of Cops. It’s also worth noting for the fact that even his father warns him to avoid Mags Bennett. Arlo’s not the brightest bulb in the chandelier and even he doesn’t want anything to do with what might happen next.
The week’s case sees Raylan and Tim stuck with one other on what should be a routine prisoner transport, but it goes south in a hurry. It’s not at all what you’d expect when you hear that phrase. It also shines a bigger spotlight on a supporting player; like Erica Tazel the week before, Jacob Pitts gets plenty of screen time to flesh out the character of Tim and develop his rapport with Raylan. He gives an outstanding individual performance, as well as having a unique banter with Timothy Olyphant that’s all their own. Justified is always going to be a show primarily about Raylan, but the series is doing a particularly great job in season two of continuing to let his friends and associates flourish, which only helps to create an even richer world for the series. There’s also a guest appearance by Kai Lennox (The Unusuals) and a resolution that laughs in the face of one of my most hated TV cliches ever. It’s so good that I was yelling at my TV.
If that wasn’t enough drama for you, the shine starts to come off Raylan’s affair with ex-wife Winona. After all, they got divorced for a reason. You’ll be treated to a return appearance by her husband Gary (William Ragsdale). I mention this because as much as I dislike this particular subplot, I’m at least glad that it’s playing out in a realistic manner. We’ve seen so many shows where there are affairs and the spouse only appears or is mentioned when it’s convenient. That doesn’t happen here. If this storyline is going to go on, it’s not going to be a fairytale, and that’s the right way to do it.
Family drama, a complicated case, and relationship problems – it’s not a very good time to be Raylan Givens, but it certainly is amazing to watch. “The Life Inside” is even better than “The Moonshine War,” and continues to feed my belief that season two of Justified could top season one.