It took me two tries to get through the first season of Justified. I don’t mean that be a knock against the show, it just took a bit to get moving. While there were a few lulls, there was enough to keep me entertained. Specifically, Raylan Givens.
Pilot episodes for shows are hard to nail. The premise of the show must be explained along with giving people a reason to return. Justified opened with guns blazing (zing!). The first scene with Raylan not only set the tone for the show, but perfectly characterized him as well. All within three minutes. The episode continued to compel as it introduced more characters like Walton Goggins’ Boyd Crowder.
I don’t think the writers knew what they had on their hands with Goggins. Pilots are a tricky thing as they’re often produced well in advance the normal production schedule. Once the pilot was shot, they most assuredly had a few scripts completed. Seeing how well Goggins was received, they changed a few elements, having him come back more later in the season. It was a little obvious and hurt the pacing somewhat as the overall season arc couldn’t really begin until later.
This is probably why I had a hard time getting through it at first. I quit after the third episode because the show seemed to take a ‘baddy of the week’ vibe that I didn’t really care for. Hearing the crazy amount of awesome that lay waiting for me in later seasons, I returned, powering through. Sometime around episode seven or eight, the show picked up, with the season arc materializing.
I think the biggest problem for this season was the writers and showrunner trying to determine the direction. Once they set a course, things picked up immensely. That doesn’t make this a bad show at all, nor does it make it a great one either. With so many great shows to watch, it’s hard to justify (I’m on a roll) watching this. Timothy Olyphant is perfectly cast as Raylan. Goggins was fun on the Shield and just as entertaining here while Joelle Carter is great as Ava. It seems like they built a great car with no idea where to travel.
Overall, this season was a solid B. Not bad, but nothing making me want to return. The season finale was captivating, particularly during the shoot out. I loved how it ended, with things not quite resolved, but not enough to make a cliffhanger. Olyphant and Goggins have fantastic chemistry, though I wish they had more time together this season. Again, consistent, but when compared to others, it wasn’t worth the time. Only so many hours in a day. If it wasn’t for the promise of what was to come, I wouldn’t continue with the show. But then again, I wouldn’t have finished this season either.
What did you think of the first season? Were you turned off or tuned in? Comment below.
Puns, I got ’em.