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Friday, 23 of April of 2021

Category » Review

Justified – “Kin”

“You got a saw? You’re gonna need a saw.”

Justified Titlecard

NOEL: So, last week, Cory was all, “Best episode of the season.” I was sort of hesitant about that proclamation. But, Cory, if you’d like to make that statement again, I would not argue with you.

Twisty-turny procedural elements fed into the big arc about Drew Thompson. We’re closer to finding him, but only in the sense that we know he’s in Harlan, and that everyone under the sun is looking for this guy. Oh, and Ellen Mae is safe and sound. And was shocking violence and hill people. HILL PEOPLE, Y’ALL.

What say you, gents? Where do you guys want to start with this?

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Justified – “This Bird Has Flown”

“There’s money in fightin’ chickens, Raylan. You think about it…”

Justified TitlecardCORY: Gentlemen, I’m doubly happy this week. Not only is good to be back involved in our Justified chats, but it’s good to be talking about what is the best episode of the season to-date. “The Bird Has Flown” is driven by two stories with very different emotional beats, but are about some of the same things. While Raylan and Rachel attempt to track Lindsay and her husband down in what amounts to one of the show’s best procedural chases in recent memory, Ava struggles with how to handle the aimless and desperate Ellen May. Raylan and Rachel’s pursuit result in a few nice scenes for the show’s most underused character and Ava’s conflicted feelings helped Ellen May seem quite sympathetic. And most impressively, Taylor Elmore’s script gave both stories the same thematic center, with Raylan and Ava learning how to let go of people (and in Raylan’s case, money) a little easier  — even if they’re forced to learn those lessons.

What are your opening thoughts about this week’s offering?
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The Good Wife – “The Seven Day Rule”

Justified – “Truth and Consequences”

“I think a snake bit him.”

Justified TitlecardLES: It was another fun episode of Justified last night that saw a lot of characters in their elements—Raylan’s back to making “get out of town” ultimatums, Boyd’s calling out his rivals in grandstanding fashion, and Art got be alternatively supportive and patronizing of the fuck-ups who populate his office. We inched forward on the plot of Drew Thompson by learning the FBI has a vested interest in him as a material witness, a move that furthers my hope from last week that Stephen Toblowsky’s Agent Barkley will be back soon to bluster at Raylan’s antics. And the opening was probably the closest Justified has ever come to horror, as I was legitimately on edge both in the scene where Boyd tries to buy Cassie off and the follow-up where poor Jimmy is assaulted by the residents of Billy’s herpetarium. (The latter leading to some hauntingly hard to watch moments.)

However, I do think that this is the weakest episode of the season yet, for a couple of reasons. The first being that it felt like more of a place-setting episode as opposed to a dynamic one, where a lot of elements are set up that we know will pay off in the future. Johnny meets up with Wynn Duffy to discuss the possibility of betraying Boyd, but there’s no real movement and none of the moments that make Wynn such a special character to watch. There are a couple instances of Rachel showing job fatigue*, but they all are on the fringes of the action and (again) feel like giving the character something to do, rather than setting up a character arc. And of course, Lindsey runs off with Randall and Raylan’s bankroll for the closing scene, setting up an obvious showdown next week or the week after. Certainly every show needs to get the ball rolling, but this was one where I could very clearly see the strings and the “act one” trappings of events.

*How wonderful was that interaction between Rachel, Art and Raylan? “How many times has Wyatt Earp done the same thing?” “Well, he’s a lost cause.” Raylan looks offended.

My second issue is that I’m also a little concerned about one of the reveals, the fact that Drew Thompson is on the run for witnessing Theo Tonin murder a federal witness. It seems more than a little coincidental that the same man who sent Robert Quarles into Harlan last season to get him out of the way is also the same man who was tied to a body falling from the sky 30 years ago into the same county. I certainly don’t have a problem if the show wants to bring Adam Arkin back in some capacity because Adam Arkin is terrific both in front of and behind the camera, but to tie him into this case feels like a wholly inorganic way to do so. We set up in the final episodes of last season that Duffy was trying to pitch Tonin on taking over Quarles’ proposed Oxy operation, and I think it’s entirely reasonable he could take credit for Quarles’ death and become as much Detroit’s man as the Dixie Mafia’s, which would further draw Tonin into Raylan’s orbit. This reveal seems to be forcing him into the story, and—sadly—has killed some of my initial investment in the season’s mystery.


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Bunheads – “I’ll Be Your Meyer Lansky”

“They’re, like, two really hot unicorns.”

Ginny, Melanie, and Sasha tell Michelle that Godot's back in town.

“Girls, you seriously don’t want to live vicariously through me.”

Understanding every reference that flies out of the mouths of the characters on Bunheads isn’t necessary to enjoy the show, which is a relief since it would require a heady amount of homework to catch every single one. But I think it’s funny to imagine Michelle with a bowl of popcorn watching the first season of The Wire or, even better, Madame Fannie getting in deep with Breaking Bad. There’s something hilarious and awesome about needing to watch television and movies about gritty urban existence and drug-dealing empires to get all the jokes on a show about dancers and dancing on a cable channel called “family.”

The other continuous reference is one I hope that I don’t feel compelled to point out every episode, especially because it seems to upset people (something I learned when writing up the winter premiere episode of Bunheads on But you can’t have your lead character, who is already drawing comparisons to Lorelai, aim to take a business class and expect fans of both shows not to draw a comparison or two. I mean, what happens to Michelle when she does sign up for a business class is exactly what makes the difference between go-getter Lorelai and put-upon Michelle.

At least her and Fannie’s idea for what to do with their land wasn’t to create an inn.

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Justified – “Where’s Waldo?”

“I thought we were a circle.”

Justified TitlecardThis week on the Justified roundtable, it’s more on the bag in the wall as season-long mystery and a case-of-the-week instigator, whether or not Raylan could cut it as a exotic dancer, and how much we all love Art. Seriously. Art’s the best.

LES: Well, it’s the second week of Justified, and what a week it’s been. Raylan, Arlo and Tim went on the trail of the Waldo Truth ID and crossed paths with a true white trash family, in a move that led to Raylan having to disarm a 13-year-old boy. Raylan learned that his bartending friend-with-benefits Lindsey not only has an ex-husband, but one who’s a bare-knuckle fighter capable of taking down two men without breaking a sweat. Ellen May fled the confines of Audrey’s for the Last Chance Salvation church, leading to a fantastic preach-off between Boyd and Billy. And we saw the return of some wonderfully familiar Justified faces, as Sheriff Shelby tried to draw the boundaries of his relationship with Boyd and Wynn Duffy showed up in Harlan, no longer overshadowed by Quarles and able to give free reign to his own sadistic impulses. (The latter gave us the episode’s best line: “But I don’t even trust the way you just now said I could trust you.”) Read more »

The Good Wife – “Je Ne Sais What?”

“This guy’s obsessed with Rambo. Does anyone even watch that anymore?”

The Good Wife Title Card s3I say things and they happen.

Last week, I said that L/G needed to hand off Eli to another lawyer, preferably Elsbeth, to handle the DOJ investigation happening, and whamo! I should ask for other things to happen. Tell me what to ask for you in the comments, otherwise I’ll use my powers for evil (like asking for David Lee to only appear in Gilbert & Sullivan garb).

After a lot of booms (see what I did there?) in the previous episode, “Je Ne Sais What?” is a much lighter episode, and we’re all the better for it, really. There’s plenty of (easy) humor, and a bit of advancement on the political campaign, making it just the right sort of episode before we enter the back half of the season. Read more »

Bunheads – “Channing Tatum is a Fine Actor”

“I am all knowing. I am Michelle.”

Boo, Sasha, Melanie, and Ginny watch Cosette dance out of her mind.

These are four mad girls in tights.

Lingering from the January 2013 issue of Glamour and Zooey Deschanel’s cover issue interview is a quote about how being “feminine” and being a “feminist” aren’t mutually exclusive. Her words: “I want to be a f–king feminist and wear a f–king Peter Pan collar. So f–king what?” Speaking as a person with no personal vagina, I tend to agree. A woman should not be questioned on her dedication to the empowerment of females because she identifies with things that could subjectively be categorized under the heading, “Things that Subjugate Women.” Not that I think anything with a Peter Pan collar has the capacity for any kind of violence, physical or cultural.

The quote has been scrutinized a few times for its denouncement of anyone that would assume she is hurting the cause by making herself her own vision of pretty. To me, the only thing that really stuck out was the “Peter Pan collar.” Fine, whatever, she’s standing up for her right to not have her whims examined by the Fundamentalist-Feminist Thought Police but — a Peter Pan collar? I had to look that up because it just sounds so — it sounds like something that Zooey Deschanel should wear, if in name only. And, after looking at what that is, I was so right.

Her persona (so lastingly coined by FOX as “adorkable”) is comprised of these kinds of dalliances and affectations, something that’s both put on display and lampooned by her show. I never like to assume anything about celebrities since there’s generally, even behind the most honest and down-to-earth-seeming ones, a grand machine dedicated solely to producing a public image, but she projects everything that is twee and hipster and quirky. Big glasses. Exclusively in dresses from another era. Most likely a very active knitting circle. Wait, is my nanna a hipster?

What I’m saying is that she’s a beacon of quirkiness, both a lightning rod and a broadcaster (from HelloGiggles). Even though the movement would hate her since she’s the mainstream of something that’s supposed to be alternative, there is no questioning her authority and reign.

But Bunheads tried to take it from her this week.

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Elementary – “M.”

“I am not an average man.”

Based on last week’s preview, I expected “M.” to deal directly with the infamous Moriarty. And, based on the preview, I expected the character to be played by Vinnie Jones.

Wrong again.

Well, technically I wasn’t wrong, per se, more like 50/50. I just didn’t see all the steps that led to my conclusion finally being correct. I pulled a Sherlock and deduced based off what I knew instead of all the evidence there was and came to an erroneous, but not useless, conclusion.

I had assumed – as I’m sure others did – that the M of the episode title was Moriarty. Instead, M was a stepping stone to Moriarty.

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Justified – “Hole in the Wall”

Justified TitlecardInstead of regular reviews for Justified, Cory Barker from TV Surveillance and This Was Television suggested doing a Justified roundtable, similiar to what he had done with Les Chappell and Andy Daglas during Mad Men, and I get to be included this time (though Andy is too busy to join in this week)! We’ll host the roundtable here at Monsters, so check back each week for thoughts on the latest episode from the fourth season of Justified.

Up first is the premiere of season four, “Hole in the Wall.” Raylan becomes a bounty hunter to make some quick cash (even though it’s against Kentucky law for him to do so), Boyd and Ava deal with the pains of growing a criminal enterprise but an old friend has arrived to help, and Rachel just sits at her desk. BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT RACHEL DOES APPARENTLY.

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