After weeks of being mentioned but not seen, we finally met Raylan’s father, Arlo, last night. As played with a sere twang by Raymond J. Barry, Arlo was as laconic and prone to fast action as his son, but with the charm of Raylan necessarily shaved off by age and experience, much of it in jail. In other words, he was a tough old buzzard.
Justified continued its winning ways by having Tim Olyphant’s U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens working two cases — staking out a house that he’s pretty sure contains a fugitive, and dealing with his dad, out of jail and ornery. We’ve heard enough references to the latter in previous episodes to know only that Raylan pretends he doesn’t care about his father, is abashed that the old man is a repeat offender, and that jail is, to Raylan’s way of thinking, the best place for Daddy to remain seen-and-not-heard-from. So an Arlo set free is both a civil and an emotional burden.
As usual with Justified, no one is completely innocent in any situation. That little weasel Perkins may run drugs and rough up Raylan’s stepmother, but stepmom Helen (Linda Gehringer) lied to Raylan about the rent Perkins was paying (she said he hadn’t; he had). True to Givens form, Arlo didn’t talk much about this situation. He just grabbed a bat and whaled away at a couple of Perkins’ big thugs in the middle of a diner. This was highly satisfying, as was the later scene in which Raylan used a bat himself.
After a few episodes in which it looked as though Justified might be more of a stand-alone, episodic drama than many of FX’s other drama series, this one revealed how deep the show can go when it comes to character. We clearly have a lot more to explore about Raylan’s cool surface demeanor and inner simmering boil, and about that graveyard with headstones of most members of the Givens family.
A couple of final observations:
• I have to admit, as charming as Joelle Carter’s Ava can be in her romantic byplay with Raylan, Natalie Zea really brings an electric crackle to every too-brief scene as Raylan’s ex Winona. More of her, please.
• It was good to see Brent Sexton — from NBC’s late. lamented Damian Lewis show Life — pop up as a cop here.