The Season 2 premiere of Justified spent little time reflecting on last season—we didn't even get a "Previously On" segment to refresh our memories after eight-ish months away. Instead, the show picked up right where it left off and spent a few eyeblinks wrapping up all the loose threads from the Season 1 finale. The producers' objective was clear: It's time to move on to new things.
And where we moved on to is fascinating territory. U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant), followed up on a not-so-anonymous tip about a potential sex offender and ran into the Bennetts, this season's clan of country crazy. There's Mags (Margo Martindale), the Bennett matriarch in charge of a big pot-farming business, her three sons Dickie, Coover, and Doyle (the latter of whom apparently works for the law), and newly orphaned and honorary Bennett Loretta, a fourteen-year-old who spouts wisdom and profanity like a weathered dock worker.
The Bennetts were introduced flawlessly and reminded me of what makes Justified such an enjoyable ride. Each scene is a shootout, except the players are using words (when they aren't using bullets, of course). There was an entrancing poetry and cadence about "The Moonshine Wars" that made each and every beat riveting television. More so than other shows, Justified feels more like a stage play or a book on tape that's accompanied by images than a bang-bang shoot-em-up, because there is so much emphasis on what is being said and how it's being said. It would be easy to make the Bennett family simple folk, but thanks to spiffy dialogue and well-defined characterization (they're ruthless! they're business-like! they're actually smart?), they're are showing themselves to be more than just hicks chewin' straw in their rockin' chairs. These are drug dealers who were mindin' their own business before Raylan came around and started pokin' them with a stick.
The new cast has grasped the depth of their characters in well. Martindale is quietly menacing as Mags, Brad William Henke sets a new standard for oafish idiocy as dim-witted Coover, and as Dickie Bennett, former Lost standout and personal favorite Jeremy Davies has replaced Daniel Faraday's eccentric paranoia with country-confident psychosis. I'd bet two bushels of wacky tobacky that Raylan is responsible for Dickie's limp, too. I'm already much more interested in these bad guys than I ever was in Bo Crowder.
Some may critique the premiere's speedy handling of Season 1's dangling storylines (are we done with the Miami drug lord?), but since the new story is populated with these fascinating Bennett critters, I'm feeling good about where we're going.
I'll be keeping up with the show this season, so let's try and get some interesting discussion going on here. I have a hard time selling Justified to people, so what do you say to your friends to try and get them to watch the show? What do you like about Justified?
Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom