The long-awaited, but inevitable return of Justified aired last night, and it was worth the anticipation. Raylan Givens probably accounts for about 37% of the total ‘swagger’ in all of television right now. The guy has got character, and he exudes a remarkable likability factor. Basically, he is so cool that I want to be his sidekick. I could make witty quips and get kidnapped, and eventually snag an unorthodoxly hot girlfriend, who doesn’t really compare to his girlfriend, but is a catch none the less on her own. She wouldn’t be “Hollywood Hot”, because she would have glasses or something, but she would be “Real life Hot” so it’d be cool.
Star Wars. Lord of the Rings. Indiana Jones. All great…for the most part. But for my money, my favorite film franchise all time is Die Hard. And as much as some people might want to rip on 2007’s Live Free of Die Hard, I loved it. The movie was throughly entertaining. Outside of Bruce Willis it also starred several of my other favorite actors – Timothy Olyphant, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kevin Smith, Maggie Q…it was awesome.
Well now, 4 years after Willis proved wrong people who said he was too old, we’re getting a 5th movie. And that movie, for the 4th time, appears to have a Director –
Justin Lin Joe Cornish Noam Murro John Moore according to Deadline.
Now, I’ve got nothing against Mr. Moore personally, but this isn’t a choice that instills me with a lot of confidence. Here are the last 4 movies he has directed: Behind Enemy Lines, Flight of the Phoenix, The Omen, Max Payne. Not the greatest run I’ve seen, and apparently I’m not alone. The average score of these four movies on IMDb is 5.75, and on Rotten Tomatoes they average about 27%. That’s…well, really bad. I saw all 4 of these. Behind Enemy Lines was mediocre, the Flight of the Phoenix remake was ok, but forgettable, The Omen remake was kinda shitty, and Max Payne was flat out terrible. This is the guy helming the newest Die Hard? Please Mr. Moore. Step you game up.
The first season of Justified far exceeded my expectations. Raylan Givens delivered on every level and the show produced not one, but two of the best characters on television today. That first season ended with one of the best finales I’ve ever seen, and somehow season has not only managed to avoid being a let down, but actually turned out better than the first.
Last night that 2nd season came to an end in a ‘full circle’ kind of way, and I loved it. There aren’t many shows on anymore that can put you on the edge of your seat, but that’s wear I sat through the whole episode. The finale picks up with Raylan talking to Art about transferring to Glenco, which is a move to make Winona happy. Boyd requests a parlay with the Bennetts, and Loretta McCready disappears from her foster home. These 3 events set up the rest of the episode.
First, we learn that Winona is prego. This explains some of why she doesn’t want Raylan in the field. So perhaps we’ll see a little Raylan in the future, though more likely I think Winona either get killed, leave Raylan, or lose the baby before that happens.
Next, during Boyd’s parlay with the Bennetts he anticipates their intentions and sets up ambushes at both Ava and Johnny’s houses. This results in the death squads sent to each location being executed by the Crowder gang. The explosion we saw in last weeks preview killed not Johnny Crowder as we expected, but the Bennett’s men instead. And the assault on Ava’s house ended almost exclusively with Bennett clan deaths.
Almost – Dickie shot Ava before escaping.
Doyle receives a call from Dickie with the news while still at the parlay. This is Boyd and Arlo’s big “F U” moment with Mags and Doyle. The Bennett assault was a failure and Boyd now has the upper hand.
Next we see Loretta has not been kidnapped, but instead commissioned a ride to Harlan for a chance at revenge on the Bennetts for the murder of her father. Raylan learns of her intentions and heads to Harlan. This is when Raylan falls victim to Dickie’s baseball bat. When Raylan recovers consciousness he finds himself strung up by his ankle in Piñata position.
This is when things looked the worst for Raylan, that is until Boyd Crowder shows up with a gun and a whole lot of bad intention. He has just seen Ava’s gunshot wound and has some swift retribution planned for Dickie Bennett. After getting Raylan cut down from the tree, Boyd allows Dickie to live at Raylan’s behest in order to help find Loretta.
Raylan takes Dickie to play ‘Human Shield’ at the Bennett’s house. When he gets there Loretta is already inside with Mags and Raylan has to deal with Doyle. Doyle seems unconcerned with the danger posed to his brother and decides he has had enough of Marshall Givens.
This is about the time that Loretta, inside the house opens fire on Mags, shooting her in the leg. This gunfire causes Doyle’s men outside to open fire – hitting Raylan and nearly killing Dickie as well. With Raylan on the ground, Doyle decides to end the feud once and for all. This results in Marshall/Sniper Tim Gutterson blowing a hole in the Police Chief’s forehead…
This brings the entire Marshall service rushing in at Art’s command, who is there because of Winona’s plea for him to help Raylan. The injured Givens limps into the house to find the injured Mags at the end of Loretta’s gun barrel. After Raylan is able to talk the gun out of Loretta’s hand he sits down with Mags. And full circle we’ve come as Mags pours a couple of glasses of her famous Apple Pie drink and, like with Walt McCready, the glass for the drink proves to be fatal. This time however, Mags poisons herself. News of Doyle’s death and Dickie’s arrest, couple with Coover’s death and Loretta’s attempted murder, Mags decides it’s all too much.
The episode and season end with Raylan’s hand in hers, and the Bennett’s hold on Harlan County officially released. I don’t think many people expected Dickie to be the only Bennett to survive the season, but such is life. This sets things up for the 3rd season where we are sure to see Boyd reclaim the county as his own.
I truly believe this is be the best running series on Television and I already can’t wait for season 3…
Video is also from Warming Glow…
OTHER JUSTIFIED ARTICLES:
– Justified: A Beacon of Modern Masculinity
– Justified: Cottonmouth – Harlan County’s Best of the Season
– FX Renews My Faith: 3rd Season of JUSTIFIED Ordered
– Justified: Episode 209 “Brother’s Keeper”
You have to think about the landscape of the horror genre in 1996. Several years removed from its last smash hit and fading, Horror fans wanted a reason to go to the theater. The genre was in trouble, and the most successful horror movies of the decade to that point were Silence of the Lambs, Misery, and Flatliners. All released in 1990, and none of which are traditional ‘Horror’ movies. It seemed the old school ‘slasher flick’ had been all but killed the in the late 1980s. Done in by endless sub-par sequels to movies like Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Friday the 13th. Audiences had become fed up and the box office reflected it. So when Scream came out, and grossed over $100 million, it was a big deal.
I think it’s easy to forget how big a deal it was now, 15 years removed from its release, because of what came after. Scream fell victim to the same formula that killed its predecessors: Too many mediocre (if not downright terrible) sequels and copycats. In recent years I’ve been involved in discussions where this movie will be brought up and someone will lump it in with the garbage that followed. That however, is simply not fair. Scream was a head above anything that followed through the rest of the decade. From I Know What You Did Last Summer (& it’s own sequel) to Urban Legend (& it’s terrible sequel) to Scream 2 & 3, no movie I can think of has been so copied so quickly.
Scream set a standard for a while. It wasn’t just another teenage slasher flick, it was self-aware. It was a satire of the entire genre that it unintentionally revitalized. They did everything from straight out referencing movies like Halloween and Nightmare on Elm Street by name, to talking about the director of their own movie in a fictional manner. All the while, more subtly throwing nods back to the classics. Skeet Ulrich’s character, ‘Billy Loomis’ should sound familiar to Hitchcock fans who will remember the boyfriend ‘Sam Loomis’ from Psycho. You might also remember one ‘Dr. Loomis’ in the Halloween movies. We get a cameo from The Exorcist star Linda Blair as a reporter, and Sheriff Burke was played by Joseph Whipp. Mr. Whipp doesn’t have much luck protecting kids apparently, as he was also a cop on Elm Street 12 years earlier.
This also came out at a time when it was rare to get A-List cast in a horror flick. I mean, this is what you did to start a career, not once you were established. And make no mistake, in 1996, Drew Barrymore was a bona fide A-List actress and I don’t think she gets credit enough for the success of this movie either. Scream catapulted almost the entire cast into furthering their careers. Neve Campbell and Courtney Cox were already TV stars, but this made them house hold names. Plus David Arquette, Jamie Kennedy, Matthew Lillard, and Rose McGowan all went on to have success after this.
The story was simple enough, small town high school students are being terrorized by a serial killer. He wears a mask and calls to taunt his victims on the phone. That aspect is what has been most played up in spoofs and re-imaginings. So much so that phone companies reported the orders for ‘Caller ID’ tripled after the release of the movie. As the movie progressed and we learn who the killer is (are) we are regaled by the lack of motives. Sidney (Campbell) survives and we’re actually given a pretty satisfying end to the movie. So much so that a sequel really doesn’t make sense. Of course that didn’t stop them from making one.
In fact the movie became watered down by not 1, but 2 sequels. A watchable, but not good sequel in Scream 2, and then the abortion of a movie that was Scream 3. The second movie followed Sidney (Campbell) and Randy (Kennedy) off to college where the movie was once again packed with a good cast and similar formula. In this fictional universe there is a movie based on a book by Gale Weathers (Cox) about Sidney and the events from the original film. This movie with-in a movie is called Stab. Stab inspires a copycat killer to start stalking Sidney and recreating kills from the original killer.
This one has a cast that including Jerry O’Connell, Rebecca Gayheart, Jada Pinkett (Smith), Omar Epps, Heather Graham, and ‘Charlie’ from The Mighty Ducks. It also featured Buffy herself – Sarah Michelle Gellar, and future Arrested Development star Portia de Rossi. But the best parts of the cast were the 2 actors who weren’t yet widely known. First Liev Schreiber, who reprised his role (of about 10 seconds) from the first movie as Cotton Weary, and most importantly, my favorite actor on television – from Justified
Raylan Givens Timothy Olyphant.
In the 3rd movie we were heavy on cameos and big names, like on substance. At the time I did enjoy the presence of Jenny McCarthy and the cameos Carrie Fisher and by Jay and Silent Bob, but I don’t remember enjoying much else. Scream 3 was so bad it not only killed the franchise for the next decade, but the whole genre for a couple of years. After the ware-out provided by all the copies, it wasn’t till the Japanese Horror Invasion started in 2002 with The Ring that the genre felt fresh again.
That quickly faded however, and they went back to the well. This time with a gluttony of remakes. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (& horrible sequel), The Amityville Horror, Friday the 13th, The Last House on the Left, The Hills Have Eyes, Nightmare on Elm Street, and an entire franchise reboot of Halloween.
Now, here we are in 2011, just a few days from the release of Scream 4. The first chapter of the franchise in over a decade, and just as before we’re not short on names. From Sookie to the Cheerleader to Annie Edison, this looks to be full of beautiful women in precarious situations. The most important one of course being my Uber-Crush: Kristen Bell.
I can’t really predict any true level of quality here, but I will say I’m expecting it to be better than the 3rd one was. As long as they’ve worked on it for, they must have learned something from the 3rd movie.
Have a look:
Well I can already say that I hate these new ‘movie geek’ kids. Lame ripoff of my favorite character in the series Randy. They just seem to convoluted to be likable, but I guess we’ll find out Friday.
Anyhow, I’m going to see this opening night because of my attachment to the franchise. I’ll be doing so in hopes it’s not terrible, because I’ve already committed to seeing it a 2nd time with my Secret Agent/G-Man buddy Dave. We watched all the other ones together back in High School, so it only seems fitting that we do this one as well.
Regular readers to the site should already know, my favorite show on Television is Justified. They should know, not because I’ve said it multiple times (even though I have: Justified: A Beacon of Modern Masculinity & Justified: Cottonmouth – Harlan County’s Best of the Season just to site a few), but because it simply embodies the opposite of everything I regularly point out as being wrong with TV.
And last night was no different. For those paying attention to the show they already knew going in last night we’d get to see the Bennett Clan’s ‘Everyone is Invited’ picnic. We knew Mags had something up her sleeve, but we just didn’t know what. We also knew going in that Carol Johnson, the representative of the mining company, who was under Raylan’s protection, had plans to buy out the Bennett land, and mine the mountain.
The episode kicks off with Mags and Loretta, doing what appears to be some ‘Mother-Daughter’ bonding. Mags is gifting Loretta a family heirloom, an antique hairclip when Coover busts in the room. Mags explodes at him about not knocking and proceeds to kick him out.
He doesn’t leave right away though, he stands outside the closed door long enough to hear his mother cruelly badmouth him to her apparent new favorite kid.
Coover is obviously jealous of the attention Loretta is receiving from his mother, as if she is part of the family now.
Shortly after this Boyd and Ava show up to the shin-dig, and are clearly not welcome. Local Police Chief (and Mags’ eldest child) Doyle Bennett threatens to remove them forcibly if they don’t leave, but Boyd persuades him to arrange a sit-down with Mags. At this point we still aren’t sure what Boyd’s endgame is, only that it involves Raylan’s father, and what seems to be the betrayal of his current employer – Black Pine Mines.
This is when Raylan and Ms. Johnson arrive. Carol goes to have her final discussion with Mags, only to find Boyd is also present. Carol is under the impression that Boyd has secured Arlo Givens land for her, when in reality, Boyd secured if for himself. Mags then looks at Black Pine’s offer and demands it be tripled. She also wants a stake in the company as she reveals to Ms. Johnson, with the land now owned by Boyd and the Bennetts, Black Pine cannot build the road they would need to transport the coal. Black Pine agrees to her terms and she sells out the county she’d been so adamant in defending.
After Raylan and Ms. Johnson leave, Loretta is called over to help Coover load some kegs into the truck, as he has only one capable hand now.
This is when Loretta notices Coover’s watch, or rather, her daddy’s watch. She is noticeably frightened enough that Coover comments on it. It is now obvious that he only put the watch on to let her know he killed her dad. She heads back up to the house to remove the dress Mags gave her and switch back into her old clothes. This is her letting the audience in on the fact she now knows that her father is dead, as she attempts to distance herself from the Bennetts. But she wants her father’s watch back.
Loretta shows up at Dickie and Coover’s house sometime later. She brought Coover a gift – a joint laced with formaldehyde. Coover seemingly passes out and Loretta begins to search the house for the watch. She first finds Dickie passed out face down on the ground. She then uncovers the watch and calls in her ‘Knight in shinning armor‘ for help.
This is when Coover enters the room and Dickie wakes up. Enraged she tried to drug him Coover attacks Loretta and little Dickie unsuccessfully tries to stop him.
Dickie’s attempt however does give Loretta time to escape out the front. Coover chases her down in the truck as Raylan, after doing a cell phone trace, arrives to find Dickie unconscious on the floor. Coover takes Loretta to the same mine shaft where her father’s body has been decomposing for some time. Raylan engages Coover again, and is losing again. Loretta picks up Raylan’s dropped gun and gets Coover’s attention long enough for Raylan to reach his backup piece and end Coover.
Upon hearing the news Mags shows up at the mine to see her son’s body being removed and learns that Loretta has been taken into protective custody. In an attempt to persuade Raylan to let her talk to Loretta, she starts to cry. Raylan is not moved, and upon seeing his unwillingness to budge, she abandons the plea and exits. That a Cold-Hearted woman.
While this episode may have, apparently wrapped up both the ‘Loretta’ and the ‘Black Pine’ story lines, Raylan’s killing of Coover is sure to elicit a swift response from the Bennett clan, meaning the last 4 episodes to come should hold a war in the making.
I think we’re due for a crescendo.
Even though Terriers got canceled after only one season, and now Light’s Out has suffered the same fate. Both shows were well done and original – so their fate was sealed early on. But just as it seems like good shows can’t survive in the wasteland of Reality TV, CBS Programming, and MTV – FX delivers us some great news: Raylan Givens will be justified for another 13 episodes. Fresh off the announcement they had won a Peabody, Justified was renewed for a 3rd season.
For those who have seen the show, it is probably no surprise that a 3rd season is impending, but in today’s television landscape, nothing original is ever guaranteed to last.
Regular readers of the site should already know my feelings on season 1 of the FX show Justified. I loved it. It was well written, excellently acted, and entertaining as hell. And it closed up with maybe the best season finale of any show since Dexter‘s fourth season. So far, through 4 episodes of it’s 2nd season we’ve seen a lot of new characters introduced, and what seems to be a promising new story arc. And while it’s been really good, it’s not been great. That is until the 5th episode aired on Wednesday night. This episode, titled Cottonmouth, is one of the single best mid-season episodes of any show I’ve ever seen. While premiers and finales are known for packing in a lot major events to kick off, or wrap up a story, here we see no less than 5 major plays made that will have effect on the rest of the season.
1. Arrested Development
Raylan visits Dewey Crowe in prison, at Crowe’s behest. Dewey is worried about getting shived and offers up a trade to Raylan – Info on the Bennetts for early release into a Half-Way-House. The scene opens with an absolutely awesome shot of Raylan sitting in the dark, the screen cap below does it no justice.
Once Raylan is back at the office, Arlo Givens shows up to return some of the money he stole, in hopes of having Raylan remove his ankle bracelet. The suspicions of Trooper Bergen about the missing Walt McCready‘s (murdered in the first episode by the Bennetts) government checks getting cashed, trigger Raylan to question Arlo about check cashing and gets a name – the now deceased Bowman Crowder. Raylan then proceeds to lock up his father. Now
2. The Dick Tase
The second event, and the one that has elicited an entire post over at Warming Glow, happens when Raylan goes to look into the check-cashing scheme in Harlan. The Crowder lead of course takes him to Boyd, who is not alone. Boyd is in distress, but chooses not to seek Raylan’s help, but instead gives him a name and sends him on his way. Raylan follows Boyd’s info to a man Winston Banks. Mr. Banks, who runs a religious ATV tour called “The Church of the Two-Stroke Jesus”, pulls a taser on Raylan once confronted. While being attacked however, Raylan manages to turn the attackers taser back on him…in the crotch.
This event leads Raylan and Trooper Bergen to believe that Walt is dead, most likely at the hands of the Bennetts, who are now in custody of Walt’s daughter Loretta. Combined with what Dewey told him, all signs point to the Bennetts being responsible for more than just slinging herb…
3. Always Be Cool
The third, and most exciting of these events revolve around everyone’s favorite Ex-Con, Boyd Crowder. This is where we see Boyd, being strong armed into robbing the coal mine, prove himself craftier than the average crook. Kyle and his cronies are determined to make Boyd part of their plan.
Upon learning that they expect him to kill Shelby, (Jim Beaver – Just one of many DEADWOOD alum to appear on the show) the manager at the mine, and suspecting they mean to end him as well, Boyd uses his cell to call the house, escaping the room to answer the phone. Boyd leaves the cell open and on the chair, bugging the room and hearing his suspicions confirmed as the others discuss their plans to end Boyd as well.
It’s around this time that Raylan pulls up to question Boyd about the Check-Cashing his brother used to do. Raylan immediately recognizes the ill-intent of Boyd’s guests and basically extends an offer of help. Boyd declines, passing up an opportunity to end the whole situation there. He has instead decided to rely and his own plan to sabotage the battery of the radio detonator they plan to use for the job, thus ensuring it doesn’t happen. When his cohorts though decide to move forward as planned anyhow, with out the battery, Boyd must quickly devise a new escape.
Once at the mine, as planned they break into the manager’s office, empty the safe, and grab the explosives. Boyd however loads some of the explosives into the cash bag. Once he takes Shelby into the mine, Kyle pulls his double cross and attempts to detonate the explosives. Which are in the money bag. Which is in his truck 5 feet away. In his attempt to kill Boyd and Shelby, Kyle instead blows up himself and his crew.
Well played Boyd.
Once home Boyd gives Ava $20k he kept from the holdup so she can fight off the bank from taking the house for a while. She is now an accessory to his crimes.
4. A Mother’s Love
While Boyd is explaining to Ava what went down at the mine, Dickie and Coover Bennett pay a visit to Winston Bank’s ATV warehouse to collect money owed them. Dickie then notices Marshall Raylan Givens sitting in the dark. Having now confirmed Raylan’s suspicion, they take off and empty-handed. Come morning over, they’re dirty Police Chief brother Doyle drops by their place with the family patriarch and mother: Mags Bennett. What transpires is something the likes of which haven’t been seen in Misery. Mags, enraged to find out that Coover and Dickie have been cashing Walt’s checks and raising the attention of the authorities, decides to teach a lesson to her dumber sons. Coover must now bear the brunt of his mother’s scorn.
Wow. Coover already blames Raylan for all his problems since he is an idiot, so I’m sure he’ll blame Raylan for this too. Oh, a mother’s love…
5. Lortetta’s Knight in Shining Armor
Little Loretta McCready. Heir to the vast nothing-ness left by her father, now taken in by the very people who murdered him. Earlier saved by Raylan when he whisked her out of the trunk of a child molester, she now is surviving how she see fit and doing what her Daddy taught her – Selling weed. Raylan, now convinced that the Bennetts did in fact murder her father, but with no proof as of yet, visits Loretta and to her delivers a cell phone. With the phone, this promise:
[quote]”I kicked a hornet’s nest last night. And things may start to happen, and I need you to know, if you find yourself in trouble of any kind, you can call me. I will drop whatever I am doing and I will come for you.”[/quote]
BOOM! If that isn’t a promise of some Epic Fricking Heroics playing out, then I don’t know what is. This season is really picking up now and I can’t wait for Wednesday.
I’ve certainly spent a lot of time the last couple of years talking about the loss of masculinity in American pop culture. In a time where we are inundated with pop singers and Disney kids primed as tomorrow’s only action stars, it makes it hard not to look back at yesteryear and wonder what happened.