Doing the Right Thing: Raylan Givens from Justified

I know…you’re wondering what took me so long 🙂

I watched the first season of Justified in a week, and found Raylan Givens, the Deputy US Marshall, compelling (and not just because he’s played by handsome Timothy Olyphant). Raised by a criminal father, he’s chosen the side of justice.

He’s smooth-talking, soft-spoken and reasonable. His approach to a situation is usually measured, thought through, whether it’s facing a gun-runner who killed a man in front of him, his old coal-digging partner who’s now a white supremacist, his ex-wife or his father.

He can’t turn his back on someone who needs his help, be it his ex-wife’s new husband, the girl who had a crush on him forever, or even a fugitive who got away from him once before. He tries to talk his way through situations, building a rapport with the criminals, but he’s also a quick draw. He warns them that if he’s going to draw, he’ll put them down. Too bad they don’t believe him.

He appears fearless as he walks into dangerous situations, like to the white supremacist church or the drug dealer’s apartment. My husband, who enjoys the show as well (Raylan’s a man’s man. I think my dad would like this show too) says instead that he’s like a knight confident in his ability.

Elmore Leonard created the character in some of his short stories, and Justified is based on “Fire in the Hole,” where Raylan has to go back to Kentucky, where he was raised—from the place he escaped. We see Raylan as conflicted and confident, but ready to do what’s right in the name of justice.


11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Natalie J. Damschroder
    Mar 10, 2011 @ 07:46:07

    Another one I haven’t watched yet. I set it to record last season, knowing my husband would like it (and he does) but never got around to watching myself. I’ll bump that one up the queue, too! 🙂 I love a fearless man.


  2. Norah Wilson
    Mar 10, 2011 @ 10:11:21

    Mary, you hit my favorite subject these days – Justified. I too inhaled the first season in about a week and a half, and am completely addicted. Raylan makes a fine hero, for all the reasons you state. But I love that there’s a lot more beneath that measured, reasonable facade than you might think. What was that line? He says he doesn’t think of himself as an angry man, and his ex-wife, astonished, says, “Raylan, you’re the angriest man I know.” Given his childhood how could he not harbor anger? But the fact that he can and does control that emotion speaks to his strength and makes him even more a hero, IMO.
    BTW, I’ve already won earlier (love my swag!), so no need to enter my name in your contest.


  3. Toni Anderson
    Mar 10, 2011 @ 11:31:16

    When is it on, Mary? It looks good 🙂


  4. Paula Graves
    Mar 10, 2011 @ 19:20:52

    Toni, it comes on Wednesday’s at 10 pm Eastern time on FX network. Definitely not for the kiddies, either, but if you can put the children to bed early, it’s a great show for adults.

    I’m getting more and more attached to Boyd Crowder, who’s a pretty bad guy for most of Season 1. But he’s struggling to not be a bad guy in Season 2, though he can’t seem to catch a break, and nobody is inclined to believe he can turn over a new leaf.

    Definitely a show worth watching.


  5. Paula Graves
    Mar 10, 2011 @ 19:21:31

    Ah, fooey, apostrophe typo! Wednesdays, of course, not Wednesday’s. 🙂


  6. Jen B.
    Mar 10, 2011 @ 20:47:56

    One my new little indulgences! I think saying Raylan does the right thing depends on how you define the right thing. Still love him!


    • mjfredrick
      Mar 10, 2011 @ 20:52:53

      I see your point, Jen, but I think he’s pretty determined not to do anything that’ll make him seem like his father. Father/son relationships fascinate me, this one as much as most.


  7. annalisa mck.
    Mar 10, 2011 @ 20:51:23

    I’ve never watched Justified, but it sounds like a good series. I will have to try to watch it next week. Is season one out on dvd?


  8. Susan Gourley
    Mar 11, 2011 @ 20:12:23

    I love Raylan! He’s my new TV crush. And the other characters on that show are interesting, especially Boyd. For someone like me who grew up loving westerns, this contemporary hero really hits all my favorite fantasies of a great guy. Love the hat too.


    • mjfredrick
      Mar 11, 2011 @ 20:13:52

      Susan, I’m with you–Raylan’s my new crush. I’ve been watching other Tim Olyphant stuff and I think he’s just perfect as Raylan. I’m even reading Riding the Rap by Elmore Leonard, featuring Raylan.


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