Something horrible happened to me this weekend. Truly horrible. I lost two of the most important men in my life: Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder. I’m obviously talking about the TV show Justified.
Justified was a cop drama—sort of. It was an FX gem about bad boy US Marshall Raylan Givens and his ongoing battle with his hometown of Harlan, Kentucky, and the villains therein. It ran for six seasons, based on a short story by Elmore Leonard, “Fire in the Hole.”
Jake and I were in love with the program immediately (and not only because Timothy Olyphant is exceptionally gorgeous and wears really tight pants).
The hero, Raylan Givens, was not a good man. He killed people with a smirk and tip of his exceptionally beautiful cowboy hat. He was the damn king of one-liners. Think Dirty Harry mixed with just about any Sam Elliot Wild West character (minus the enormous moustache).
His nemesis for all six seasons was Boyd Crowder—a childhood friend of Raylan’s, with whom he once “dug coal.” Crowder (played by Walton Goggins) was the odious villain you loved. His monologues were precise and brilliant. When he shot a man right through the eyeball, we cheered, which should probably be disconcerting but wasn’t, because Boyd was just that charismatic.
Justified was riddled with award-worthy dialogue and bad guys you almost rooted for. The Raylan / Boyd relationship was as strong of that as Spock and Captain Kirk, although begrudgingly so, for both men involved. Usually, in our house, an episode would end with hysterical laughter, applause, or total horror at the most recent plot twist.
During this final season, season six, I had to pull the reins on my husband because he would constantly want to watch “just one more,” but I knew, in the back of my head, that eventually “one more” would be the series finale—and I wasn’t ready.
The emotions involved here were a lot like those I stumbled over when the final Harry Potter movie was released and I realized … there was no more Harry Potter. Now, there is no more Raylan Givens or Boyd Crowder, and Jake and I just aren’t coping.
Justified’s final season was immaculate. All plot lines were tied up in pretty (bloody) bows, and Sam Elliot even played the big, bad villain! Talk about full circle, considering Olyphant admits to having ripped off Elliot’s mannerisms from the start.
Jake and I continually argued over who was going to end up dead, and we were wrong, of course, because that’s what good writing is: it keeps you guessing. But as the final scene unfolded, I was wholly unprepared for the copious tears. The credits rolled, Jake looked at me, and I just kept crying. Although Jake isn’t a crier, the next morning, he admitted he felt like he was grieving something. We were. I mean, shit, we named our dog Raylan Givens Bauer!
I don’t know that Olyphant or Goggins will ever be better. These were career-defining roles, both men perfect in their places. Our only option, as fans, is to re-watch the entire series, but still, it’s not the same, because we already know the one-liners and surprise action scenes. We know what becomes of Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder, and we can’t go back in time, forget, or start over.
Justified was a show of unbelievable brilliance and deep, dirty character development. Mostly, it was a story of two men who were too similar for their own good—one, on the side of the law; the other, not so much. What I loved so much about Raylan and Boyd: they both could have been criminals, and they both could have been good men. I wasn’t sure which way it would go until those final credits rolled.
Jake has been reading obsessively about the show to fill the aching void in his chest, and apparently during that final scene of season six, all the actors’ tears were real. The cast, the crew—everyone just fell apart because Justified was over. That’s what good entertainment does: it makes you want to sit down and have a drink with the lead characters and shoot that whiskey until the end of time.
Well, the end is now, and as I lavish attention on little Raylan Givens Bauer, I hope he feels the weight of his name, the responsibility to carry on the legacy of one of TV’s best characters. If only I can get him to wear the cowboy hat.
One last look at Raylan and Boyd at their best together: