Sunday, April 10, 2011

Weekend TV: Justified 2.5

Boyd falls off the wagon of legality and participates in a payroll heist. Meanwhile, Raylan "kicks up a hornet's nest," as he calls it, when he investigates the cashing of a missing man's checks.

There's a lot to love about this series, from the writing to the performances, to the direction and originality of the work. But from a noir perspective, what I'm seeing now is that there are multiple archetypes of noir protagonists embedded in the series. Our main protagonist is Raylan Givens, the wounded anti-hero; the man who walks the line between light and dark, ostensibly on the side of the law, but attracted to the darkness, despite what "the words" on his badge might say (See Sam Spade, Mike Hammer). Then there's Boyd Crowder, a villain by profession and association, but not necessarily by soul. He is the bad man who realizes he is a bad man and is conflicted about how to make it right (See Victor Mature in KISS OF DEATH). Then there's the Bennett family (or the Crowders from Season 1). This dysfunctional criminal enterprise is the 21st-Century version of the back-stabbing crews of the 1950s (See THE ASPHALT JUNGLE and THE KILLING). With so much noir to go around, this series truly weaves a thick tapestry of doomed narrative. And the thing they all have in common is that they grew from a culture of criminality that pervaded their upbringing.

Hmm...So is it nature or nurture? Sociology or psychology? Or does one, perhaps, become the other...

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