Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"Justified" recap: You gotta have art...and then burn it

Know I haven't really been keeping up on my "Justified" recaps, but I wanted to write a blurb on last night's episode, "The Collection," because I really liked it, and am becoming more affectionate about this series with each episode. Spoilers after the break.

This week's episode saw the return of Walton Goggins as Boyd Crowder and, though the show's been getting along just fine without him, it was great to have him back. In those brief scenes between Goggins and Timothy Olyphant's Raylan Givens, this already fine show travels to another level. Whether or not you buy Boyd's spiritual rebirth (Raylan himself seems highly skeptical), there's an undeniable bond between these two men. And the two actors face of so well against each other that the screen practically crackles when they're together.
However, the non-Boyd parts of this episode were pretty good, too, thanks mainly to what is becoming one of this show's great strengths -- the ability to efficiently use a guest cast. Many shows can cast good actors in guest roles, and give them nothing to do (remember in season one of "Damages" when Donal Logue showed up to play Tom's friend and got, like, one line?). But, on "Justified," at least one guest actor per episode is given a chance to shine.
This week, it was the wonderful, underrated Robert Picardo, recognizable from his work on, oh, nearly every series imaginable (however, I still remember him as Kevin Arnold's gym teacher, Coach Cutlip on "The Wonder Years"). Picardo gave a nice texture to the seemingly creepy and opportunistic art dealer, so that the ultimate reveal about his "collection" of Hitler paintings was both surprising and believable.
There were also several other recognizable guest stars this episode, including Tony "Buster" Hale as a crooked art seller and Brett Cullen as the conflicted killer.
Yet -- and this is another tricky move -- none of the guest actors stole focus away from Olyphant. As Raylan, he has the rare gift of sharing the screen with the other actors, while also dominating it. In his two big face-offs here -- with Cullen's character and with his ex's creepy new spouse -- he's powerful and in control, without raising his voice or doing much more than talking and staring.
And his bemused look when learning the fate of the art dealer's Hitler collection was just priceless.
Also some fine work here by Nick Searcy, who continues to be an appealing presence as Raylan's boss. And the show's dialogue is still an excellent, crackling imitation of Elmore Leonard's prose. My favorite line came when Raylan compared Picardo's character to someone he knew who made replicas of airplane crashes: "People are entitled to have a hobby. And I'm entitled to think those people are creepy."

1 comment:

Bill Scurry said...

The budget department went hog-wild on casting, that's for sure. Let's not forget Peter Jason, Deadwood's Conn Stapleton, in the mix as the mark. While I didn't love the plot (as Alan Sepinwall said, it's merely another variation on double-crossing thieves) the execution was crackling with humor and intelligence.