Justified is Going For a Slow Boil

Unlike the deadbeat regulars at Harlan county's watering holes, little is wasted in FX's Justified. While last week's premiere episode spent a good chunk of time introducing us to this season's bad guys, the Bennetts were only brought up in a few scenes during Wednesday's episode. But the density of those scenes was key.

"The Life Inside" opened with Dickie (Jeremy Davies) and Coover (Brad William Henke) Bennett disposing of Loretta's dad's body, complete with lye and a deep, dark hole, following their mama's directions like good little boys. And before the credits could roll, we cut to the episode's best scene: Mags Bennett (Margo Martindale) lying through her hillbilly teeth to Loretta about her dad, promising the little girl protection and practically adopting her.

Given the information Mags knew and the information Loretta knew, the whole scene played out insanely creepily. Martindale is absolutely killing it as Mags, playing the old pot farmer like a combination between Jabba the Hutt and a snake. Her moves are slight and calculated, but there's that sense she could strike at any time. The camera tracked the pair as Mags lead innocent Loretta into her lair (with creepy broken Big Wheels and jarred cider as candy), just talking girl talk to lull her into a false sense of safety, and all we could do was stare at the screen and cringe. If we thought the sexual predator in the premiere episode was a danger to Loretta, wait 'til we see how this thing develops.

But the scene wouldn't have worked without Martindale, and I'm going to jump the gun here and start an Emmy campaign for her already. I'm sure she's a nice woman in real life, but to be able to get elicit such a reaction—even if it's just giving me the shudders—speaks to what she's able to do on camera. Great, great stuff.

I'm almost done with this article and I haven't even mentioned Raylan. Did anyone out there get the same slightly uneasy feeling when Raylan was gently caressing Winona's baby maker? After a rough gig saving a pregnant con's life from baby-snatchers, Raylan suddenly found himself thinking about having a kid? Dude, you are not ready. And Lord help young boys if your kid turns out to be a pretty little girl. How'd you like to ask Raylan for permission to keep his daughter out past 10pm?

One last thing: It will be interesting to see whether the writers will be able to make Winona's husband Gary a formidable foe for Raylan. As Gary says, Raylan can out-shoot him, out-fight him, and probably out-screw him, but Gary can out-sell Raylan. If that's the tale of the tape and money's on the line, I'll put my bread on Raylan.

It doesn't appear that Justified is in any rush to see Raylan lock horns with Mags and the Bennett boys, instead opting for a slow build before the sparks fly. But like a Kentucky country drive in the middle of Joo-Lye (that's July, for you city folk), the dirt road that will lead us there appears to have plenty of scenery to look at.


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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Hey GreyMinerva - I agree, Winona rubs me the wrong way and she is all wrong for Raylan. Hoping writers agree. If he does get back with Ava, this would be a good source of tension between Raylan and Boyd.
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Started to watch because of Oliphant in Damages. A bit on the rough side but have always enjoyed Elmore Leonard's books. I do look forward to watching and would be very disappointed if dropped like so many shows I like.
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Does it creep out anyone else how much the characters shown above look like Peter and Olivia from Fringe?



Not sure yet if I'll keep watching this show, but Martindale is definitely in the "reasons to keep watching" list.
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This is why real actors are leaving network garbage and going to cable. This role that they have created for Margo Martindale is so meaty and layered and creepy and wonderful -- on network television she would be relegated to playing roles like the one dimensional in-law on a sitcom, the nice lady neighbor on a sitcom or drama, or the crotchety co-worker -- she won't be anywhere near an Emmy ballot because she is too awesome and playing a part that is not what Hollywood envisions for women of a certain age. Go Margo! I think we've yet to see how good an actress the young girl playing "Loretta" is as well seeing as how network would NEVER have the role of an intelligent child operating alone in terrible circumstances unless it was some cheesy "message" episode or unless a it was celebrity guest starring role. Oh and don't forget about Linda Gehringer and Raymond Barry ("Helen" and "Arlo") who have been fantastic on this show since their introduction. Wow, giving veteran actors real roles not just some sterotypical "old person" role. What a concept! ("Big Love" is as good as "Justified" in this respect. This year, Grace Zabriskie is just tearing up the screen in a role that network would have devolved into some sterotypical "parent going senile" story and Mary Kay Place is just money every scene she is in.) F conventional network wisdom, cable rules! (Especially for actresses over 40.)
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No One Mentioned the Peach Popper, Raylan describes it and his partner inflicts it, pretty badass.
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Loving it. So far I think this season is more interesting than most of the last one put together.

And I liked the surprise of Boyd and Ava hooking up - they're both pretty damaged people, but they might actually be good for each other. Although I have to admit I actually prefer Raylan and Ava over Raylan and Winona - something about her just rubs me the wrong way.

Got to give it to her, though - that last scene where she makes him "open up" (for Raylan, that was quite a lot!) and be honest with her made me both like her better and gave me some hope for the two of them. :)
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Don't forget about Boyd. Even though he wasn't shown for very long, any episode with Walton in it just makes it that much better.
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show is amazing, can;t wait till wednesday
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the episode was amazing , raylan is so cool, i didn't remember the other marshall very well but he was pretty entertaining too
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It was a terrific episode, and you didn't even mention the scene with Arlo and Aunt Helen. Aside from the Mags/Loretta scene (yeah, creepy), that was probably my favorite in the whole episode. I love how those three (Arlo, Helen and Raylan) all play off each other.
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Great episode, just like last week. Loving this show.
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Great dialogue Raylan is such a complex character just when you think you know him he throws you a curve. And yeah this is been a slow burn so far Last season was a five alarm fire all the way!
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