‘Justified’ – ‘The Hammer’: Macho justice donkey wrestler

05.18.10 9 years ago 22 Comments

A review of tonight’s “Justified” coming up just as soon as i continue to be hilariously clumsy in your store…

“You made the call. You did what you had to. No regrets.” -The Hammer

The Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder we met in the pilot appear to be very different from the ones we see in “The Hammer.” Back then, Raylan was a man of supreme confidence who shot first and asked questions never, while Boyd was an amoral killer and thief. Now, Raylan is questioning his every decision and going out of his way to not kill people, while Boyd is at least claiming to be a reformed man of God – even if he still blows up things (and, unintentionally, people), he shouts “fire in the hole” more out of tradition than enthusiasm.

The question then becomes how much we’re supposed to believe in these changes, both now and in the future.

Because the series is told largely from Raylan’s point of view, we can take his transformation at face value. I’m sure he’ll get back to slapping leather sooner or later, but the events of the previous ten episodes have clearly shaken him up, and news that Boyd has killed another man (and was free to do so because Raylan felt he could get away with sleeping with Ava) has only unsettled him more. Timothy Olyphant has been superb all season at showing the unpeeling of this onion, layer by layer.

With Boyd, on the other hand, we’re deliberately left in the dark about what his true intentions are. It’s entirely possible that he means what he says and is trying to make up for his past sins (and committing new ones solely in the name of the Lord), just as it’s possible this is just as much a scam as his white supremacy act.

Either way, we’re heading for what should be an epic showdown between these two. The only question is whether either of them will have the heart to pull the trigger when that time comes.

Some other thoughts:

  • In the midst of all the Raylan/Boyd drama, we got one of our strongest standalone plots of the season, courtesy of the always-splendid Stephen Root as The Hammer. Root’s one of those guys who can give you a little bit of everything along the comedy/drama spectrum, and here he managed to play a character who was at once ridiculous (adjudicating cases wearing nothing but a robe, a Speedo and a shoulder holster) and someone who seemed real and had gravity (the speech about the case that turned him into The Hammer, his thanks to Raylan for keeping him from killing Virgil. The Hammer not only helped Raylan once again question his code, but hopefully will become yet another recurring part of the series, ala Arnie the fixer or, here, Fandy/Otis.
  • The Hammer was also very much inspired by the title character of another Elmore Leonard book: “Maximum Bob.” That book was already turned into a TV show (with Beau Bridges as Bob), which Leonard hated so much he derisively called it “Hee Haw: The Movie.”
  • And Virgil was played by Sean Bridgers, aka Johnny Burns from “Deadwood.” At this rate, it’s stopped being a coincidence and turned into a trend. Can’t decide whether I’m more excited for the inevitable Ian McShane appearance, or Garret Dillahunt’s.
  • It is it me, or is Walton Goggins’ accent much thicker here than it was in the earlier episodes?

What did everybody else think?

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