Justified, "Long in the Tooth": the guy in the hat

Quick Take: Justified, "Long in the Tooth"
"I just want to know one thing: who the hell orders ceviche off a taco truck?" – Roland Pike

justified raylen givins

Review: Quick Take: Justified, "Long in the Tooth"
(S0104) Raylen Givens (Timothy Olyphant), an old school lawman with a code marooned in modern times, has something of a past. While we've learned that he can be quick with a trigger in more ways than one (he would say that it's justified, of course), he also once allowed a prisoner to escape simply because he trusted his word that he wouldn't run (this happened while Raylen went and got himself a Elmore Leonard-esque ice cream cone).  

That man, Roland Pike (Alan Ruck, of Spin City and Ferris Bueller fame) has resurfaced. When we first meet Pike, he's a dentist in Los Angeles who, when pushed over the line by a rude patient, tears two crowns out of his mouth with a pair of pliers (at syringe-point) to "take back what's his" as the guy has refused to pay. Was it justified, to pull from the show's name, because the patient was a true and Grade A a-hole?

This not-so-little incident prompts Pike and his girlfriend/receptionist to run – from both the law and from the mob, whom Pike stole a bunch of money from years earlier. It also makes the national news, which brings Raylen and fellow marshal Rachel (Erica Tazel) out to LA on the hunt. Speaking of Givin's past, the gangster types who are once again chasing Pike "make" Givins as the U.S. marshal who gunned down Tommy Bucks in Miami (an incident we saw during the first scene of the series).

I love the dialogue of the gangsters sitting in the car, watching Givins and other feds across the street:

  • Gangster #1: "You see that guy in the hat?"
  • Gangster #2: "The tall one?"
  • Gangster #1: "The one in the hat."

    Another amazing exchange, later during their tail on Givins, Gangster #1 gets off the phone with The Boss:

  • Gangster #1: "We stay on him till he takes us to Rolly, then we clip 'em both."
  • Gangster #2, referring to the call: "He mention me?"

    After a somewhat flat outing last week, Justified has once again captured a quirky, unique, and often funny (the old veteran played by Clarence Williams III, with a "colorful tongue" who bargains with Pike to get the car he's dumping, was especially hilarious) spirit that make it one of the more worthwhile shows currently on television that you can spend your time with.

    There was a great and delicate balance of comedy and drama this week as well, and nice layering of character development for Givins to make us want to know more about this mysterious man's background and motivations. I particularly liked the scene where he calmly and earnestly explained to the father of one of Pike's patients (who had tried to hook Pike and his girl up with a coyote to smuggle the fugitives into Mexico) that he felt an obligation to Pike. That obligation wasn't to throw him in the slammer or kill him as you might expect, but to protect him from the gangsters who would surely kill him and the girl once they tracked him down. You believe Givins/Olyphant in this scene, and while he may be the "angriest man" his ex-wife has ever met, there's a lot more going on underneath the surface as well.

    I absolutely love the daylights out of the scene with the gangsters speculating about the "Man, I don't even have an opinion… BLAM!" scene in Pulp Fiction, when Raylen pops into the backseat for a little "bargaining" scene (Raylen's bargains are invariably the same: leave now, or you're dead the next time I see you). Hilarious scene through and through.

    That transitions shortly after into a classical / classic standoff with the very same bad guys under the high desert sun. Once again, Givins offers his bargain up, and once again the bad guys make a choice most unwise. It will be interesting to get to a place where Givins is compromised while making such a bargain in the future, or has reason to doubt his lightning sharp decision-making, timing, and aim. But for now, our man with a code and a cowboy hat is riding high.

    Pike, in the end, finds redemption of sorts in dying to protect his girl (by a Mexican sniper's bullet, not by Raylen's hand), though I wasn't quite sure if that was an absolutely necessary move. I'd personally feel pretty safe with a marshal like Raylen around, you know?

    Other thoughts on "Long in the Tooth":

  • "I just want to know one thing: who the hell order ceviche off a taco truck?" – Roland Pike
  • I enjoyed the easy and often funny interplay between Raylen and Pike. Alan Ruck did a pretty fine job for a one episode role. It's too bad that his character won't be around (literally) for Raylen to parlay with.

    Video: Justified, "Long in the Tooth"
    Show creator Graham Yost talks about the Timothy Olyphant and Elmore Leonard pairing that makes Justified tick:

    Recap: Justified, "Long in the Tooth"
    Raylan and The Mob compete to capture a fugitive racing to the Mexican border.

    From Around the Web: Justified, "Long in the Tooth"

  • IGNJustified shows their criminals as people, some more evil than others, and gives them the deserved air-time to portray that. What would stink is if they had the ambition to do that and then didn't give themselves enough time each episode. The show would probably sour for a few people. 
  • TV Fanatic: Roland Pike’s character brought back the confident edginess that we haven’t seen since Boyd Crowder along with a fun relationship with our main character, Raylan Givens.  Their conversations on the phone and when Raylan finally caught up to Roland near the Mexican border had that enjoyable sarcastic air to them that Tim Olyphant pulls off so well as Rayland and had not been able to bring out since his episode with Crowder.
  • TV with Alan Sepinwall: "Long in the Tooth" had that nice mastery of tones that typifies Leonard (and his literary descendants), with the ability to mix both comic violence like Rolly repossessing the d-bag's fillings with much darker violence like Rolly and Mindy with the coyote, and to mix self-aware pop culture discussion like the hitmen debating "Pulp Fiction"(*) with more iconic uses of pop culture imagery like Raylan's Wild West gunfight with the two hitmen on a lonely desert road. 
  • By Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader"

    About the author

    Eric is the publisher and revered leader of TV Geek Army… at least in his own mind. TV Geek Army is a place for serious TV reviews and news for serious fans of great television. Contact: eric-[at]-tvgeekarmy.com 

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