A quick review of tonight's "Justified" coming up just as soon as you identify your hair clip...

"You getting out of Kentucky?" -Winona
"I already tried that." -Raylan


Since Vic Mackey turned up, a few things have typified FX's best dramas in my mind: kick-ass performances, gutsy storytelling, content that pushes the outer edge of the envelope and really, really, ridiculously long "Previously, on..." sequences.

In a way, it's that last one that most makes me feel like I'm watching an FX show, because they tend to burn through so much plot in a season that viewers often need an immersion course to catch up. Tonight's "Justified" opened with a previously sequence that ran so long I believe I could have changed my car's oil before it was through, detailing all the ins and outs of Raylan's problems with the Crowders, Ava, Winona and his father.

Clearly, Graham Yost and company are no longer squeamish about this serialization thing.

Where previous episodes at least put in a token standalone story like Raylan Givens: Landscape Architect,  "Veterans" recognized that Raylan's dealing with too many crises now to bother with the other stuff. (Which isn't to say the other stuff hasn't been good, as evidenced by last week's terrific story with Stephen Root as a Speedo-wearing, gun-toting judge.) So we get a lot of concentrated Raylan-Boyd time, and another tension-laden father-son moment 'twixt Raylan and Arlo, and Raylan asking Winona to look after a drunk and bitter Ava, and Bo wandering around plotting and scheming and prepping trouble for everyone.

Big trouble coming in the final two episodes, I'm sure. Can't wait.

Since I got to this episode fairly late in the day and want to get the review up by the time it finishes airing, let's make like Raylan himself and go straight to the bullets:

  • This is Raylan's show, but both Art and Tim got some nice little moments here: Art the devout Christian getting upset over what he sees as Boyd's phony hypocrisy, and Tim showing up drunk to help Raylan and Art get into the VFW hall. On the other hand, it feels like ages since we've seen Rachel, and even longer (probably going back to the Alan Ruck episode) since she got anything vaguely interesting to do.
  • Perhaps I'm a sucker, but at this point I'm on the side of Boyd being sincere; even the rocket launcher, I assume, is going to be used to take down another criminal scourge (possibly Bo himself). Then again, I liked Raylan's suggestion that Boyd may be lying to himself here. But we may be heading for a situation where Raylan has to team up with two of them men he most hates in the world (Arlo and Boyd) in order to eliminate a more pressing threat in the other Crowders.
  • Poor, stupid, self-gratifying Dewey Crow. Always good for a laugh or 12 - and an opportunity for Raylan to introduce me to the "polishing the German helmet" euphemism.
  • God, Olyphant and Raymond Barry are good together. Just so full of loathing for each other, and not wanting to let the other get to him. I'd say Raylan won that round at the VFW by inspiring Arlo to strike him, and then retorting with a suggestion to "use your words."

What did everybody else think?