In the opening sequence of the first episode of Justified, Raylan Givens, a Deputy United States Marshall, confronts a polished, sophisticated drug dealer at a posh Miami restaurant. Givens has issued an ultimatum — get out of town or die. He pushes and goads until the dealer reaches for a pistol, draws his own, and kills the criminal. So begins the central question that drives the continuing narrative of the series: When is this kind of moral judgment, this kind of violence, this kind of “law enforcement” justified? Givens is “punished” for his action by being assigned to his home state of Kentucky, and there questions of justification multiply. They extend to matters of family, romance and political intrigue. Old ties and deep personal relationships compound the ambiguities central to the stories. These topics, too, are often circled or invaded by violence, but they are also defined by custom, history and tradition— as well as by moments of superbly subtle humor. In many ways Justified draws on all the conventions of the Western. From Raylan’s big hat to the significance of property and place, we are reminded that some regions remain “unsettled.” For merging past and present, for requiring viewers to consider old problems while being thoroughly entertained, a Peabody Award goes to Justified.
Executive producers: Graham Yost, Elmore Leonard, Michael Dinner, Carl Beverly, Sarah Timberman. Producer: Don Kurt. Director: Michael Dinner. Producer: Timothy Olyphant. Writer: Graham Yost. Cast: Timothy Olyphant, Nick Searcy, Erica Tazel, Tim Gutterson, Joelle Carter, Natalie Zea, Walton Goggins, Margo Martindale. Director of photography: Francis Kenny. Editors: Victor DuBois, Bill Johnson, Keith Henderson.