If you’ve seen the promo spot for tonight’s Justified, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s one of those episodes where someone close to the hero is imperiled and the incensed hero gets revenge for the affront.
You’d also be wrong.
Yes, Winona (Natalie Zea) does get herself into some trouble, and she goes to Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) to get her out of it. Those of you who are in dislike with Winona – myself included – will probably just be even more so with this episode, in which she’s not too smart. If there’s one good thing I can say about Winona, it’s that at least she recognizes that she’s made a huge mistake, and doesn’t try to justify her behavior. I’ll give her credit for that. Yet I still found myself wanting to smack her upside the head multiple times. Not only does she make a bad decision, she has a conversation with Raylan early on that proves why men get so frustrated with their significant others at times. I certainly remain frustrated with her.
Having said that, the episode is actually not as much about her as you might think. It opens with the aftereffects of the failed robbery from last week’s episode, namely Boyd (Walton Goggins) and Ava (Joelle Carter) under examination by the ATF. The lead ATF agent continues to prove the theory that on a show about any type of law enforcement, all the other agencies are usually composed of jerks. Therefore, it’s kind of appropriate that he’s played by Conor O’Farrell, who’s really good at that (see: CSI, Without A Trace). The situation isn’t exactly resolved, but it doesn’t need to be. If it was, we’d be denied more of Boyd, who at one point actually puts Raylan in his place. We all know that doesn’t happen every day.
You’ll also be treated to a little Rachel (Erica Tazel) and Tim (Jacob Pitts), who aren’t here much this episode but I continue to love them more anyway. Plus, Tim gets to walk around with a sniper rifle, and you all know my feelings about characters with sniper rifles. Always fun to see that happen.
But here’s the best part of tonight’s episode: Art Mullen. A whole lot of Art Mullen. Justified has never let us forget that the Chief Deputy is a lot more than that guy who sits behind a desk and expresses his disapproval over Raylan’s latest crazy doings, and this week, he’s a huge part of the story. Nick Searcy gives, far and away, the best performance of the week as it’s Art who gets to be in the thick of the action. Once again, it’s nice to see that while the show is primarily about Raylan, he doesn’t have to be the one and only hero all the time. Art can be pretty cool in his own right, and this week, it’s his turn to have some fun.
And though Raylan may defend his ex-wife’s honor – in a way that is perfectly appropriate for Justified, without the theatrics that many shows would resort to – this episode really isn’t about Winona at all. To me, at least, it’s a story about the people that slip our minds, who aren’t usually in the spotlight, and what that means to them. In a way, it’s almost drawing attention to how many other shows have these young, attractive heroes and then create these other boss/confidant/pick your term characters that they leave to languish on the sidelines. With “Blaze of Glory,” Justified is letting everyone be a part of the story, reminding us that no one ever stops being relevant.
So it’s appropriate that this episode is pretty much nothing like its previews – because the story that it tells is a story nothing like what we’d commonly see on television.
With that in mind, I’ll happily sit here and be wrong.
You can catch “Blaze of Glory” for yourself tonight night at 10 PM ET/PT on FX.