Justified returns Wednesday to FX with another heaping helping of deep-fried drama. Picking up mere moments after Season 1's finale — which saw U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) let his childhood friend-turned-church-bombing loose cannon Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) chase after an assassin who had just killed Boyd's father — the show wastes no time pitting Raylan against The Bennetts, a new clan of nemeses. But while Raylan carefully navigates the briar patch of bad blood that has existed between the Bennetts and the Givenses for generations, he also has to sort out his increasingly complicated sex life. (And, yeah, he'll occasionally fire that sidearm of his.) If you didn't watch the first season, here's why you need to get on board:
Check out photos of the Justified cast
1. Two words: Elmore Leonard. The prolific 83-year-old novelist created Raylan Givens, and his short story, "Fire in the Hole," inspired the series. But inspiration goes both ways, as the series has now spurred Leonard to write a new novel (titled, simply, Raylan), pieces of which will be sprinkled throughout the story line in Season 2. Executive producer Graham Yost wears Leonard's approval as a badge of honor. "It's not only very complimentary, but it gives us ideas and places to go," he says. "We've got a starting point, a scene, a character that we can put up on the board and use that to be the beginnings of the framework."
2. Family feud. The Bennetts, known as the biggest pot-growers in Kentucky, pretty much rule Harlan County. When Raylan investigates a pedophile in the Bennetts' employ, he stirs up a Hatfields-and-McCoys rivalry that has existed for years. But that doesn't mean they won't play nice at first. "There's that affability. They don't see Raylan as a threat in the beginning," Yost says. "People are still polite and it's not personal until it gets personal. That's when it gets really dark and twisted."
Justified first look: Margo Martindale is Raylan's new nemesis
3. One bad mama. Heading up the dark and twisted portion of that equation is Mags Bennett, the matriarch. Margo Martindale's casting in truly inspired. While her sons Doyle (Joseph Lyle Taylor), Dickie (Lost's Jeremy Davies) and Coover (Brad Willliam Henke) handle the marijuana business, she runs a convenience store and keeps tabs on everyone in her small town. She prefers to handle spats with townsfolk personally rather than bringing the law into her neck of the woods. Oh, and her apple pie-flavored moonshine is to die for.
4. Two more words: Boyd Crowder. Although this is Raylan's story, it's harder than ever to take your eyes of Walton Goggins' electrifying performance as Boyd Crowder, a former hellraiser trying to stick to the straight and narrow. There's just one problem: No matter how hard he tries, nobody's buying it, least of all Raylan. "Boyd is on this journey of self-discovery and he's looking for one thing: to be absolutely numb," Goggins says. "But people won't leave him alone." He will find one friendly soul, however, and it could grow into an unexpected romance. "What Boyd may very well wind up believing in is love," Goggins says.
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5. Love bites. Relationship status is also going to be a problem for Raylan. His ex-wife Winona (Natalie Zea) will continue to find her way back into Raylan's bed, much to the chagrin of Winona's currently estranged husband Gary (William Ragsdale). Meanwhile, Raylan has to mend fences with Ava (Joelle Carter), whose heart he broke when he rekindled things with Winona. But Ava has taken in a new boarder and has perhaps moved on as well. So, what is that, a love pentagon? We were never very good at geometry.
Justified premieres Wednesday at 10/9c on FX.