By Ken Tucker
Updated March 24, 2010 at 04:04 PM EDT
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For those unfamiliar with the laconic tone of Elmore Leonard’s storytelling, last night’s second episode of Justified served as a primer. The hour began with a quiet scene: Timothy Olyphant’s Rayland Givens visiting the hospital bedside of the man he shot last week, Walton Goggins’ Boyd Crowder. Boyd told our U.S. Marshal hero that, while recovering form the wound, he’s rediscovered his faith and has been “born again.” We’ll see how long that lasts.

At some point during the hour, Raylan and his colleague Tim Gutterson (Jacob Pitts), a sharpshooter whom we learned trained in the Afghan war, were advancing upon a house containing hostages and guns. Raylan was of a mind to plan strategy.

“You got a story for our Dupree?” he asked Tim about the man inside with a gun.

Fingering his rifle, Tim said, “Yeah: If he moves, I shoot him.”

“That’s a good story,” said Raylan.

Another victory for Elmore Leonard-style narrative: low-key but tense, funny only up to the point where Tim had to put a bullet in Dupree.

How wonderful it was that Justified scored big ratings for its premiere last week, because the series is only going to get better, readers. We’re going to learn a little more about Raylan’s law-enforcement colleagues, and we’ll piece together bits of Raylan’s past and why he is, as his ex said last week, an angry man behind his cool demeanor.

In the meantime, only Justified could use Raylan’s big white cowboy hat as the unifying theme of the hour. Where it went, how it vanished and reappeared where it belongs, took us through an hour of laconic storytelling and the most clenched wit on TV.

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