Episode Title: "The Life Inside"
Writer: Benjamin Cavell
Director: Jon Avnet
Previously on "Justified":
U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) returned to Harlan, Kentucky and he was ordered to capture James Earl Dean (Billy Miller), a dangerous sexual predator. Dean made several attempts to harass a fourteen year old girl named Loretta McCready (Kaitlyn Dever), but her father, Walt McCready regretted informing the police when it became clear that Dean worked for Mags Bennett (Margo Martindale) and her sons in their illegal marijuana business. Raylan’s visit to Mags was friendly on the surface, but he tried to reassure her that he was only after Dean.
With the wraith of Mags and the law after him, Dean kidnapped Loretta and tried to drive out of town with her. Raylan caught up with the man at a gas station and successfully saved the girl without killing Dean either. Back home, Mags and her son Dickie (Jeremy Davis) poisoned Walt for going to the cops and Mags promised the dying man that she would raise his daughter. As for Raylan, he ended up back in bed with his ex-wife, Winona Hawkins (Natalie Zea). And Raylan’s old nemesis Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) resurfaced as miner.
Picking up almost immediately after last week’s episode, we see Mags’ sons dump Walt’s body. The next day, Mags tells Loretta that they had to spirit Walt out of town for a few weeks until the heat dies down. It’s ambiguous if Loretta believes her or not, but she doesn’t question her. Meanwhile, Raylan finds Boyd working at the mine and invites him out for a drink. But it’s more of a pissing match between them as Boyd insists that he’s reformed and Raylan doesn’t believe him. But he’s soon called away to deal with his father, Arlo (Raymond J. Barry), who has apparently broken the terms of his house arrest.
Raylan settles things between Arlo and his aunt Helen as best that he can and they both warn him against going after Mags. The next day, Raylan wakes up to discover Winona going through his closet in an attempt to understand him better. She asks him point blank if he intends to stay in Harlan and he indicates that he had the chance to leave but didn’t. They bicker, but end up going to work together where they encounter Gary, her husband. Gary asks Raylan to get together with him and trade stories about how Winona rejected them both, but Raylan doesn’t take the bait.
Soon after, Raylan and Tim (Jacob Pitts) are assigned to handle the prisoner transport of a pregnant woman named Jamie (Sarah Jones) to her obstetrician appointment. Once there, Raylan notices a suspicious man in the waiting room named Jess Timmons (David Sullivan), who tries to convince them he’s meeting his wife there. Despite his alarm, Jess’ partner arrives with a gun and holds both marshals at bay as they free Jamie and handcuff Raylan and Tim. Back at the Marshal’s office, Raylan and his associates realize that someone must have leaked the appointment from inside the prison.
They quickly identify Jess from his thumbprint on the handcuffs. They bring in Jamie’s husband, A.J., but he didn’t even know she was pregnant. With A.J. eliminated as a suspect, they then assume that one of the prison guards impregnated her. Meanwhile, Jamie slowly realizes that Jess intends to kill her (over the objections of his partner) and she tries to sneak away. But she’s so far along in her pregnancy that she doesn’t even make it a few steps before Jess recaptures her. On the other side of town, Raylan and Tim confront a prison guard, Glen Cosgrove (Kai Lennox) in front of his wife, Gayle (Christie Lynn Smith); who browbeats him into cooperating.
Before Jess can force a cesarean section on Jamie, his partner secretly helps free her before he attacks Jess with a scalpel. But Jess gets the upper hand and murders his friend. When Raylan and Tim arrive, he threatens to shoot the baby. Instead, Tim shoots Jess in the head before he even gets another shot off. Back at the police station, Gayle goes to see Raylan and asks his advice about adopting Jamie’s child through legitimate channels. And because she seems honest and sincere, he agrees to help her.
Later, we see that Boyd is staying with his ex-sister-in-law, Ava Crowder (Joelle Carter), who treats his bar fight wounds but warns him not to let it happen again. Gary also confronts Raylan and warns him that he was able to steal Winona from him before. Finally, Raylan finds some solace with Winona, who insists that he tell her about the ugly details of saving Jamie’s life. She says that she can handle anything he tells her, she just can’t handle his silence. And with that, he tells her that Gary’s on to them.
This is only the second full episode of "Justified" that I’ve ever seen. And so far, it’s striking me more as an anthology series than anything else. Yes, Raylan is the main character and the seeds are clearly being planted for the season long story arc. But the standalone elements of this episode belong to Jamie and the people who wanted her baby, dead or alive. It’s a good story too. I admire the pluck it takes for a pregnant woman to jump out of a window and attempt to climb down a rope to save herself and her child. This season, I’ve seen a lot shows that can’t seem to write good female roles (like "Human Target") and series that can’t seem to create compelling characters at all (like "V"), so it’s refreshing that even the one-shot roles on "Justified" are well-rounded.
The most interesting moments in the story came from the conflict between Jess and his partner, who turned out to have real morals and actually lost his life trying to save Jamie and her baby. The resolution of the standoff between the Marshals and Jess was also really well done. How many times does the second lead (or sidekick) usually get to take the shot and save the day? That’s two times in a row now that Raylan has basically not fired a shot in the final confrontation. It was also intriguing that he wasn’t blowing smoke up Jess’ ass. Everything he told him about Tim being an expert shooter was completely true.
I’ve read that Tim and Raylan had a tense relationship in the first season, but I didn’t really see any sign of that here. There’s kind of an easy chemistry between them and I didn’t sense much conflict. It was also pretty funny when their boss chewed them out for losing Jamie and Raylan admitted that they got played.
For the ongoing subplots, we saw Mags take Loretta under her wing. What I find intriguing there is that it’s not clear if Loretta sees through Mags’ bulls*** story about her father being sent out of town. Given how intelligent we know that girl is from last week’s episode, I suspect that she knows that her dad is dead. If she’s sharp enough to know that and hide her initial reaction from Mags, then she’s going to be real player in this drama going forward. It’s also funny that Raylan’s family is so dead set against him taking on Mags and her boys. Of course, that’s exactly what’s going to happen later this season. It’s inevitable.
"Justified" definitely has its own sense of rhythm and pacing compared to other TV series, including the other shows on FX. Others might find it to be a little slow, but I’m enjoying it and it seems to fit the tone of a modern day western. Frankly, it would be nice if we had more shows like "Justified" on television.
Crave Online Rating: 8.5 out of 10.