January 24, 2012

Episode Review: JUSTIFIED, "Cut Ties"

The challenge that a lot of television dramas have to contend with is striking the balance between telling an over-arching, serialized story and more stand-alone episodes that can be more accessible to casual viewers. When Justified started, it took more of a procedural approach, but it became stronger when it shifted gears and focused on season long stories. While this show excels at serialized storytelling, it still needs stand-alones, like "Cut Ties" from time to time.

Marshal Bill Nichols was a member of the Witness Protection program, and he was in charge of overseeing three assets in the Eastern Kentucky region until he was found murdered. It was up to Chief Deputy Art Mullen, Raylan Givens and the rest of the Marshals to figure out who was responsible for Nichols' death. The case was so important that Assistant Director Karen Goodall also joined in on the search. As Raylan and Goodall went to question a Boston wise guy by the name of Little Joe about what he knew, Art and Marshal Rachel Brooks visited some of Nichols witnesses. As it turned out, Art was watching over Terry Powe, the man who tortured and killed Nichols for information on the rest of his WITSEC clients so he could sell them out and be square with Little Joe, and he decided to dish out some old school U.S. Marshal justice. Unfortunately, they were too late to stop Powe from telling some gangster thugs where a witness was located, but thankfully Rachel was there to save the day.

While Raylan and his fellow Marshals were smoking out Terry Powe, Boyd Crowder continued on his mission to get his revenge on Dickie Bennett. When an attempted shiving was interrupted by a well-timed visit from Raylan, who informed Boyd that he overreacted to their fight and was going to get him released from prison, Boyd had to scrambled to get to Dickie before he was cut lose. Coincidentally, Dickie somehow got himself put into isolation, but Crowder was able to buy off a guard and also get himself put into solitary before the day was done. The guard let Boyd into Dickie's cell, so he could get information on where all of the Bennett money was being held. When Crowder was let go the next day, he was not too enthusiastic about the information he got from Dickie, and he told Ava that Mags' fortune was being watched over by a shady character known as Limehouse.

Like I mentioned before, I understand why a show like Justified needs to use stand-alone episodes every once in a while, but I still believe that it's far superior when it focuses on telling a story that spans multiple installments. That being said, I thought that "Cut Ties" was a solid effort. Not only did it have an entertaining one-off plot, but it also built the world around Raylan. We got to learn more about Art, by far the MVP of the episode, as well as more hints about some of the bigger players that we'll be seeing throughout the rest of the season (Limehouse).

Now, not everything about "Cut Ties" was episodic in nature. Boyd's story continued to expand on his need to get back at the Bennetts for shooting Ava, while also making him a major player in the Harlan crime world. Oddly enough, this element was a minor letdown in my opinion, not because it wasn't interesting, but because I was surprised that they didn't take full advantage of having Boyd in prison. Logically, I understand why they sprung him so early, you can't have one of your main characters be limited by bars, but I thought his moments with Dickie came and went too quickly. More than likely, Boyd's not done with Dickie, but I was just expecting more from their time together in prison.

Other Odds and Ends:
  • Why don't they just live in Winona's old house? Too many memories?
  • It's cool that Carla Gugino reprised her role as Karen Sisco. So what if she had a new last name?
  • I'd totally watch a prequel about Art's early days as a young Marshal.
  • So, it looks like there's a history between Raylan and Karen. How convenient?
  • Am I the only who thinks these new bad guys are a little too over the top? I dunno, Limehouse's speech about dogs and lye felt like he was laying it on thick.
  • Raylan: "What do you make of a man who divorces a woman, then gets her pregnant, then wonders if maybe they should move in together?"
    Boyd: "Well, now Raylan you're talking to a man who's sleeping with his dead brother's widow and murderess, so if you're looking for someone to cast stones at you on this matter, I think picked the wrong sinner."
  • "Mostly I'm just scared."
  • Ava: "Will you tell me what happened to your face?"
    Boyd: "I didn't play well with others."
One of the aspects that I love most about Justified is the universe that the show has established. While "Cut Ties" did not progress the long range story in any monumental ways, it was successful at expanding everything that surrounds Raylan which is just as important as telling an on-going narrative, and I'm excited to see where things go from here.


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