Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Due process? What's that?

So Justified is over. The show has been an integral part of my family hang-out time for five years now, but it's gone.


I really enjoyed the first season, and this final season is much better than the intervening years have been, but I'm still not sure that I can call it a good show. Part of the major appeal in the early seasons was that it didn't focus too much on a single epic conflict but had a nice battle-of-the-week conflict going from time to time that brought in great character actors and let the mains display more of their personality. That format was largely abandoned by the third season and everything came down to Raylan, Boyd, and Ava. Screw that - I wanted more Tim, Rachel, and Art. The Crowes popped up and nastied around for a season, and that was fun, but watching Raylan and Boyd butt heads got to be a little boring for me without the long, tall, lawman occasionally leaving town to chase down a mob accountant or seize a crime scene for the Marshal Service (not that I think civil asset forfeiture is a good thing, but I'm not going to deny that it's a compelling plot device).

I guess I got bothered because as the seasons passed and characters around Raylan kept accusing him of corruption and behavior unbefitting an officer of the law, and those accusations kept ringing more true to me instead of standing out as unjust libel. Raylan broke into an evidence locker - I don't care that it was to put money back, he shouldn't have broken in. Raylan took his criminal coaldigging buddy to an OK Corral style shootout to kill Boyd's dad. Raylan completely mishandled Ava as a CI and he never should have been working the Crowder case in the first place because he WAS too involved with it - with Ava, with Boyd, and with Harlan as a whole. Justified is a very watchable and entertaining TV show about an old-west style lawman in the modern world; unfortunately that means that Justified is a very watchable and entertaining TV show about someone who doesn't give shit one for due process and that's kind of scary. Raylan IS corrupt. He hides his crimes behind a badge and even if he isn't personally, directly making money off them he sure is using those rule-bending habits to make his life easier. Even the last episode of the last season ends with Raylan concealing his knowledge that an escaped felon is at large and could be apprehended. It's fucking fantastic that Ava appears to have turned over a new leaf, but that doesn't mean he should let her go free; or has he forgotten that she's killed a bunch of people, been a pimp, a thief, and drug dealer? Sure, maybe Ava will never kill again - but then maybe Ava will run into Ellen May and decide to finish her assassination plot to keep the information about her whereabouts from getting out.

So, yeah. The show is over. And it's a lot of fun. But I'm deeply troubled about how much fun it is to watch a man get away with murder just because he's got a fucking badge.

By the way: A note on the title of the show. If you or I, Jo(e) average citizen, said to another person "you have 24 hours to get out of town" then showed up to that person's residence with a gun and threatened them they would ABSOLUTELY (at least in Florida, where the scene was set) have a right to stand their ground and defend themselves but you or I would NOT have the right to threaten them, threaten them some more, and essentially force them into a gunfight. The force of the law would be all on the other person's side, the person who you or I would have harassed and threatened. So Raylan's "Justified" killing was NOT justifiable self-defense, it was premeditated murder against someone who was legitimately defending himself from a corrupt police official. Even terrible people have rights, even drug dealers and murderers, and using a badge to deny someone's rights is a lot of what's currently wrong with the world.

     - Alli

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