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Justified: The Hammer

Ava: "Didn't the district attorney order you to stay the hell away from Boyd?"
Raylan: "Yeah. It was more of a suggestion."

Such serious topics. Why was this one so much fun?

Obviously, one big reason was Judge Mike "The Hammer" Reardon. He was just a hoot and a half, from the red Speedo and handgun under his black robe to the scads of strippers he just couldn't stay away from. This is what Justified does so well -- creating colorful, memorable, realistic characters and matching them to the perfect actor (in this case, Stephen Root). They even gave the Judge a backstory that explained why he handed down those maximum sentences. He certainly liked Raylan's rep as a shooter. I think he was disappointed that Raylan didn't party with him. He was certainly disappointed that Raylan didn't kill Virgil. At least at first.

I think the theme of this episode was the letter of the law. The Hammer was all about handing out the maximum sentences, while it was Virgil's wife and son who suffered because of it. At the other extreme, Boyd told his "flock" that the stick didn't work, but the carrot did. But the carrot didn't work with Boyd, did it? The confidential informant in the trailer could testify to that, if he were still alive.

Boyd has created an outdoor church camp in the woods. Of course, we still don't know if Boyd is sincere about his conversion. He was preaching when Raylan showed up, but he knew Raylan was coming. Did he blow up the meth trailer because meth is wrong, or because his daddy Bo was out of jail and wanted his business back? When Boyd realized that a man had died in the trailer, was he upset? Did his face twitch just a bit? A confidential informant is dead now because of Boyd, and Boyd is out of jail because of Raylan. Raylan does feel at fault. And that's why he's not seeing Ava any more.

(Okay, wait a minute. Johnny asked Boyd why he hadn't visited Bo. So maybe Boyd did have a conversion. But he's still robbing people and blowing shit up, which I think we can all agree is bad, and not generally what the devout tend to do.)

Raylan, of course, doesn't believe that Boyd is sincere. That prayer he gave before Boyd's "congregation" was absolutely hilarious, and Timothy Olyphant delivered it so beautifully. In fact, let me close with it. It's much better reading than anything I could write.
"Dear Lord, before we eat this meal, we ask forgiveness for our sins. Especially Boyd, who blew up a black church with a rocket launcher, and afterwards he shot his associate Jared Hale in the back of the head out on Tate's Creek Bridge. Let the image of Jared's brain matter on that windshield not dampen our appetites, but may the knowledge of Boyd's past sins help guide these men. May this food provide them with all the nourishment they need. But if it does not, may they find comfort in knowing that the United States Marshal Service is offering fifty thousand dollars to any individual providing information that will put Boyd back in prison. Cash or check, we can make it out to them, or to Jesus, whoever they want. In your name, we pray. Amen."

Bits and pieces:

-- Loved the opener with the woman, the judge, and the snake venom.

-- Speaking of the letter of the law, Raylan refused to push Pastor Fandi a.k.a Otis into identifying Boyd when he hadn't actually seen him.

-- Raylan asked Judge Reardon about speaking to someone about Ava's probation and getting out of Kentucky.

-- Raylan still has marks on his face from the beating he took in the previous episode.

-- Johnny Crowder returned, and even he couldn't tell if Boyd was lying about his conversion. That suggests Boyd is keeping it pretty close to the vest.

-- I've noticed that there's a mention of something really horrible in every episode that adds a bit of realism. This time it was stubbing cigarette butts out on McKendrie's arms. I'm probably going to try to forget this stuff instead of recording it, by the way.

-- Stephen Root (Judge "Hammer") has been in pretty much everything, including a recurring role in True Blood. But he hasn't been in Deadwood. Although he feels like he should have been.


Boyd: "What if I was to say to you that you use methamphetamine again, I'll shoot you in the head?"
Bobby Joe: (confused) "I wouldn't use again?"

Boyd: "Flock, if you will excuse me for a moment. Let's take a walk."
Raylan: "Flock?"

Boyd: "In your dark imagining, Raylan, what is it that you think I'm up to?"
Raylan: "Given the talent pool you've got here, I assume you're gonna do what you always done. Steal money and blow shit up."
Boyd: "We will not be robbing banks."
Raylan: "Could you be any more vague?"
And Raylan was right, wasn't he?

Art: "Last night, Judge Michael Reardon, who we know affectionately as Mike the Hammer, was bitten by a poisonous snake about six inches from... home plate."
Loved Art's diagram of the location of the snake bite.

Boyd: "Now, you know what the problem with redneck Russian roulette is, don't you?"
Mickey: "What's that?"
Boyd: "Well, you get so distracted, you can't hear nothing."

Boyd: "What it became... well, as they say, it didn't happen in a day."
Johnny: "So you're building Rome? Well, I don't think this property is zoned for that."

Johnny: "Mickey called your daddy, asked if he sent you. Said you threatened to blow up his shit."
Boyd: "Well, that's not true. I asked him to shut down his poison factory, and merely made an observation about its combustibility."

Raylan: "What is your name?"
Bunny: "Bunny Higgins."
Raylan: "I would have guessed 'Terrence' or 'Wesley'."

Judge: "Thanks."
Raylan: "For what?"
Judge: "If you hadn't stopped me, I would have killed him."

I really loved this one. Three out of four snakes in bed,

Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.


  1. I'm acquainted with a man who comes from a long line of Southern Baptist preachers. I don't know if it's in the blood or just a result of honest livin', but he can make the stupidest story into the most amusing, just with excellent delivery.

    The writers on the show let both Boyd and Raylan do that, too. Raylan's prayer was wonderful, and I'm glad you've recorded it for posterity, Billie. Boyd's extended Rome example was awesome, too. He was in completely control of that conversation, right down to the "primo" (Italian for "cousin") he threw in.

  2. I really liked this one, too. Something about the way Raylan and Boyd nip at each other and everyone else. But I especially liked, amidst all the humor, the parallel stories of the guilt the lawmen feel when the guys they let off the hook/let slip away subsequently do something even more horrible. A nice gravitas at the center of it all.

    Stephen Root may not have been on Deadwood, but his attacker, Virgil was. Sean Bridgers played Johnny, from Al's crew. And after we just got Dan Dority a few episodes ago. And Reverend Smith a few episodes before that! Fun, fun, fun!

  3. Yeah, I'm finally finishing up Season 1, just in time for Season 2 to come out on DVD in a couple days. I don't know if I'll get through all of S2 before S3 premieres, but I plan to start saving it on my DVR.

    I'm really enjoying the end of Season 1. I should have just stuck with it when I started playing catch up last January!

  4. Another excellent outing. Raylan's 'prayer' was one of the funniest moments ever in this show. Boyd's face was a study!

    One question. When Raylan was talking to Ava, he told her that Judge Reardon was going to talk to the other judge in Harlan about releasing her from Kentucky. But, I thought Reardon had said that he would not "piss in another man's sandbox." Was there another conversation with the judge that I missed or did Raylan lie to Ava? If so, why?


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