Justified, “Veterans”

I don’t have a whole lot to say about this week’s Justified, but some quick thoughts are behind the jump if you’re interested. Actually, I come here not to necessarily talk about “Veterans,” but one important part of the series’ formula that really shines bright for me: family.

As “Veterans” definitely hammered home, Raylan and his father Arlo aren’t going to be getting along anytime soon. We saw the conflict in their relationship earlier in the season, but the scenes in this episode really depicted a relationship that’s marked by years of distrust and anger that’s now kind of replaced by a sheen of loathing.

But that’s not the only dysfunctional father-son relationship on the program, as Boyd and Bo don’t seem to be anywhere near the same page, even with both of them out of jail (although it’s understandable, considering Boyd isn’t on the same wavelength as anyone). Though their relationship isn’t as messed up as the one between Raylan and Arlo, the tension and opportunity to explore the varying degrees of criminality is there.

Hell, the connections between all four of them go way back and much deeper than we’ve even seen thus far. Surely there will be more in the closing episodes of this season and into next about how the lifestyles of these fathers have affected the choices the sons have made. As it stands now, the sons are on the side of good (or at least possibly pretending to be in Boyd’s case) and antagonistic towards the decisions their fathers have made.

And it doesn’t stop there. Nearly all the main characters on the series have some sort of relation to another, whether by blood, marriage or whatever. Eva used to be a Crowder, a family that seems to have cousins, brothers and all sorts of members all over the area. And obviously we know Winona’s connection to Raylan.

For me, that’s the best part about the series. There’s a sense that everyone knows everyone and all about their dirty secrets. The community creates an atmosphere of sleaze and distrust, but also features a smidgen of honor among the crooked and villainous. Harlan, Kentucky and its surrounding areas really are a community, and the series nails the small-town aspects of the story. Some characters use it to manipulate their own circumstances, while Raylan was ready to suffocate when the story began this season. Interestingly, he seems to be falling victim to the things that drag us all down when we return home. It’s so easy to hate where you’re from and never want to go back, but once you do, it is shocking how quickly you get roped in to the drama, the relationships you didn’t want to pursue anymore, etc. For me, it’s drama from high school. For Raylan, it’s kind of the same, only with a lot more violence, drugs and debauchery.

I’m not sure how you folks feel about this development in the series, but I am loving it. The series has quickly evolved from the procedural it was early on to something much more accessible. We all have to go home at some point, and Justified is proving that it usually sucks.

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