Well look at this. I have the floor in my very own Power Poll. Well I’ve been waiting to turn this out for some time now, and I can’t wait to show you the theme for this week…or did the picture give it away?
It gave it away? Well shit.
The theme for this week is the FX hit show Justified! I discovered this show on paternity leave in 2021 and have been hooked on it. Justified stars the ever un-aging Timothy Olyphant as US Marshal Raylan Givens and the ultra talented Walton Goggins as Boyd Crowder.
The show itself is based on a series of novels by Elmore Leonard. The character of Raylan Givens is written about in 4 novels by Leonard, but the show takes more inspiration from the short story “Fire in the Hole,” which has Raylan brought back to his roots in Harlan County, Kentucky.
In the series, we follow US Marshal Raylan Givens. Raylan is transferred from the Miami Marshal’s Service to the branch located in Eastern Kentucky, based out of Lexington. Raylan gets transferred to take heat off the service and to help on a few cases that involved childhood associates of his with whom he’s very familiar with. Over the course of the show, Raylan and events around him dismantle the Crowder Crime Family, the Bennett Crime Family, the Dixie Mafia, the Detroit Mob, the Markham/Hale empire and eventually his man Boyd Crowder.
The series ran for 6 seasons beginning in 2010 and ended in 2015. In 2023, there was a small revival of Justified that came out this past year entitled Justified: City Primeval. City Primeval was an 8 episode season that drew inspiration from the Leonard novel City Primeval: High Noon in Detroit. The series shows Raylan being drug up to Detroit to testify, only to end up hunting the dangerous outlaw Clement Mansell. It didn’t gather great ratings, but I liked it.
Overall, the humor, action, and characters in this show are some of the best I’ve watched on TV. It’s the best show I’ve discovered in my adulthood and to be honest I don’t know why I didn’t watch it when it came out. Without further delay, here is this week’s power poll: Justified Characters.
1 - Ohio State Buckeyes - Raylan Givens
FPV: 6 LPV: 0 High: 1 Low: 2
US Marshal Raylan Gives, portrayed by the talented Timothy Olyphant, is the main character of the series. Our first look at Raylan begins with him putting a couple holes in gangster Tommy Bucks in the middle of a Miami pool party, and that pretty well sets the stage for the show. Raylan is portrayed as head strong, savvy, sarcastic and quick witted, stubborn, but very intelligent as he helps bring down the criminals of eastern Kentucky and in particular Harlan County. His many dealings with criminal (and now escapee) Boyd Crowder are what bring the show so much character and life. From the first episode through City Primeval, we live and die by how Raylan deals with the situations he encounters and how those encounters change him as a character. My favorite Raylan moments are necessarily big duels or action scenes, but rather the humor he has and the quick one liners he delivers.
Like Raylan, Ohio State is essentially the star of the show. Just ask anyone in Columbus, they’ll agree. While having some growing pains this season, the Buckeyes are firmly in the national conversation and have met every challenge so far. We’ll see what happens against Michigan.
2 - Penn State Nittany Lions - Boyd Crowder
FPV: 0 LPV: 0 High: 2 Low: 3
Boyd Crowder, portrayed by the stellar Walton Goggins, is the antagonistic force used to bring Raylan to Kentucky and eventually he is the antagonistic force that keeps Raylan from moving back to Florida. Boyd is the last surviving member of the Crowder crime family by the end of the series. The relationship between Boyd and Raylan is complex and is perhaps the best clash between characters in an FX series ever envisioned. The back and forth from enemies to frenemies seems to come fast and hard first, as Boyd undergoes a bit of a journey from white supremacist and bank robber to preacher to coal miner and then eventually retreating back into all things drug dealing and eventually simple thief again. If there is one character other than Raylan who makes this show work, it’s Boyd Crowder. The final scene of season 6? Chef’s kiss.
Penn State slides in here at number two thanks to a last place vote for Michigan by one of our panel members. Like Boyd, Penn State is a formidable and deadly force in the B1G. And just like Boyd, they always seem to fall short no matter how many intelligent moves they make during the game.
3 - Michigan Wolverines - Mags Bennett
FPV: 5 LPV: 1 High: 1 Low: 14
Mags Bennett, portrayed by the amazing and talented and Michigan grad Margo Martindale, is the primary antagonistic force of season 2. Mags is the leader of the Bennett Family, a renown pot dealing organization. With her boys Coover, Doyle, and Dickie, Mags’ has a very tight grip on Harlan County and all the dealings in it. Mags starts a chain reaction in season 2 by killing Walt McCready which eventually ends in the demise of the Bennett family. Mags is a tough and stiff woman who exerts her power any way she can, and she is very successful in doing so. The locals fear her for good reason. In the season 2 finale, after the empire comes crumbling down, Mags poisons herself before she can be taken into custody and leaves a substantial inheritance to Loretta McCready, the daughter of Walt, much to the dismay of her only living son Dickie.
Ironically represented by a Michigan grad, the Michigan Wolverines end up here at number 3 thanks to some poll magic. Michigan seems to be embroiled in some sort of minor rule violation that’s really been kept under wraps. Just like Mags though, the stupidity of those executing the plans will eventually lead to the demise of the boss and to be honest, it’d be quite the way for old Harbz to go out, but that’s probably wishful thinking.
4 - Iowa Hawkeyes - Drew Thompson/Shelby Parlow
High: 4 Low: 6
Drew Thompson, portrayed by the legendary Jim Beaver, appears first in season 2 as Shelby Parlow. He’s initially as an employee at Black Pike Coal, but eventually he becomes Boyd’s pick for sheriff of Harlan. After winning the election and playing a supporting role in season 3, it’s revealed in season 4 that Parlow is in fact Drew Thompson, a wanted man who shot Theo Tonin in his eye and fled with $2 million dollars of cocaine. The dynamic between Thompson and Raylan is cordial and friendly up until the point Raylan discovers Drew’s identity, and then it becomes pretty hostile, but not hostile in the way of anger, but rather hostile in a “you’re a disappointment” way.
Iowa pops in here at number 4. I don’t have a great way to tie this together with Drew Thompson. Iowa’s offense is trash and their defense is fantastic. They got whooped by Penn State earlier this year, who may just be the 3rd best team in the East. Iowa may be the best team in the West. Let the jokes commence and thank god the divisions are ending.
5 - Rutgers Scarlett Knights - Wynn Duffy
High: 4 Low: 7
Wynn Duffy, portrayed by Jere Burns, is a Dixie Mafia member who later teams up with the Detroit mobsters and then eventually the Hale/Markham empire. Wynn is perhaps the second best through antagonist/occasionally helpful informant in the show. Initially starting off getting shot in season 1’s lone appearance, Wynn reappears in season 2 and is a mainstay through the end of the main series. Wynn’s number 1 priority is Wynn and he will stop at nothing to ensure his own survival, including killing former AUSA Simon Poole in broad daylight to prevent being found out as being a snitch. Duffy’s best interactions are with Raylan, and the two have a very unique dynamic. My favorite Duffy moment is when he and Raylan play “Harlan Roulette” in season 3. Like Boyd, Duffy survives the series but it is mentioned that his whereabouts are unknown.
The mighty ‘Gers find themselves at number 5 in our poll. Despite having lost to Ohio State, Rutgers put up a good fight and really looked respectable. Seems night and day difference from the years of Chris Ass now. Long live the Schiano eras.
Oh, what’s the tie in with Duffy and Rutgers? I have a soft spot for both of them.
6 - Illinois Fighting Illini - Chief Deputy Art Mullen
High: 4 Low: 10
Chief Deputy Art Mullen, portrayed by Nick Searcy, is the chief of the Marshal branch in Kentucky. Art acts as a guiding figure, and sometimes father figure, to Raylan. Full of witty one-liners and often tired of dealing with Raylan’s bullshit, the two share a bond that goes through its ups and downs, particularly after Raylan admits to being involved in the death of Detroit mobster Nicky Augustine (Mike O’Malley). Even despite that heavy toll on their relationship, Art ends up bailing Raylan in the series finale and wishes him well on his transfer and family life. Perhaps Art’s best moments come during the search for Drew Thompson in season 4.
Illinois slides in here at number 6. Illinois has had a season. I don’t know if it’s been good or not, but it has taken place. With 3 weeks left and 2 wins to bowl eligibility, Illinois certainly controls its own destiny. With home games against Indiana and Northwestern, it looks mighty probably the fightin’ Berts will get there. However, just like Art, Bert occasionally has to deal with incomitance in the office and just overall chaos and stupid decisions. We’ll see if they can rise to the occasion or if Illinois folds under the weight of expected wins. That Purdue loss hurts real bad right now.
7 - Minnesota Golden Gophers - Robert Quarles
High: 5 Low: 8
Robert Quarles, portrayed by the iconic Neal McDonough, is the adopted and banished son Detroit Mobster Theo Tonin. After his banishment, he goes to the Dixie Mafia in an attempt to gain good favor with Theo and return home. Robert is a loose cannon and suffers from an extensive history of abuse by his father, who Theo helped him kill early in life. This history of abuse leads into several odd, WTF scenes in season 3 and after the failed election of Tillman Napier, Quarles’s life spirals. He develops a substance abuse, hatred of Raylan, and eventually get’s killed (presumably) by Errol after Limehouse chops off his hand. Quarles portrays a Neal McDonough character perfectly with charm, quick wittedness, and the ability to go psycho very quickly.
Minnesota slots in at number 7 due to a technicality (alphabetical). Minnesota comes into this week in a real do or die situation. Much like Quarles, Minnesota is desperate and staring down the barrel of losing it all. With games against Ohio State and Wisconsin looming, Minnesota needs to win this weekend against Purdue to get to that elusive 6 win bowl. Lose? PJ might just lose his hand. We’ll see how it goes.
8 - Wisconsin Badgers - Tim Gutterson
High: 6 Low: 12
Marshal Tim Gutterson, portrayed by Jacob Pitts, is a fellow US Marshal in the Lexington branch. Tim is a former Army Ranger sniper and is often the one who ends up chasing down Raylan to help on whatever crazy he has going on. Tim is a quick witted guy who often calls Raylan out on his bullshit but usually helps cover for him. Tim is often shown to be great under pressure and high intensity situations. My favorite moments with Tim are the multiple times in the series he shows up to troll Raylan. Also, I was rooting for him and Cassie St. Cyr in season 4, but oh well.
Wisconsin somehow slides in here at number 8. Wiscy and Tim don’t share a lot in common. Tim is awesome, and the Wisconsin offense is not. Tim is a great shot with a sniper, Wisconsin doesn’t have a functional QB that can hit an open running back in the flat on 4th and 2. Here’s hoping they can get their pieces back and get into West contention.
9 - Nebraska Cornhuskers - Chief Deputy Rachel Brooks
High: 8 Low: 12
Rachel Brooks, portrayed by Erica Tazel, is first a US Marshal like Raylan and Tim, but eventually moves into being the Chief after Art gets shot in season 5. Spoiler. At first, it appeared the writers were going to attempt and romantically involve Rachel and Raylan, which I would have enjoyed, but alas they did not. Rachel is often the voice of reason between Raylan and Tim and acts much more as a “by the book” law enforcement officer than her co-workers. Still, Rachel is fantastic in all her screen time and has no fear of anyone she meets. Her moments with Limehouse are particularly entertaining to me.
Here at number 9 is Nebraska. Like Rachel, 1st year Nebraska coach Matt Rhule seems to be doing things by the book. From my perspective (looking at box scores every few weeks), Nebraska seems to be in a better position now than in the previous few years. Rhule has a big job on his plate and with a win this weekend against a suddenly impotent Maryland team, Nebraska can get back to a bowl for the first time in a while. Here’s rooting for you guys!
10 - Indiana Hoosiers - Loretta McCready
High: 8 Low: 13
Loretta McCready, portrayed by Kaitlyn Denver, appears infrequently throughout the show but is most notably shown in seasons 2 and season 6. Loretta is initially kidnapped by an employee of the Bennett family and saved by Raylan, who develops a strong bond with Loretta over the show. Loretta is adopted by Mags when her dad Walt “disappears” and is later discovered dead. Mags desperately wants a relationship with her and even after the events of season 2 unfold, leaves her a sizable fortune of upwards of $4 million dollars much to the dismay of Dickie. Loretta winds up in foster care until the events of season 6, where she reappears to butt heads with Avery Markham during the season. Loretta is a hilariously dry person and even in the face of danger, really doesn’t show much fear. She’s also a very intelligent pot dealer.
Look at who climbed out of the cellar for a week! Indiana slides in here at number 13. Btw, this doesn’t count as writing about Indiana football for the football gods. With 3 games left and 3 wins from bowl eligibility, Indiana is still mathematically alive. After a good but not particularly impressive showing against Wisconsin, Indiana has to go on the road and win. We’ll see if that happens.
11 - Maryland Terrapins - Ava Crowder
High: 8 Low: 13
Ava Crowder, portrayed by Joelle Carter, is the sister-in-law of and eventually fiancée of Boyd Crowder. The first time we meet Ava, she had just shot her husband (Boyd’s brother) Bowman after years of abuse. From here, Ava goes through a love affair with Raylan before being spurned for Winona and eventually ending up as a part of Boyd’s criminal enterprise and successful criminal in her own right. After ending up in jail for season 5 (the only section of the show that I recommend you skip), Ava eventually becomes a CI for Raylan and the Marshal service before flipping on them, taking millions of dollars in cash, and disappearing after the conclusion of the manhunt for Boyd. I won’t spoil the last, little special scene with Ava that we have in the season 6 (or series if you prefer) finale.
Here at number 11, behind a team they beat by 27, sits Maryland. Much like Ava, Maryland has hit hard times. 4 straight losses including a loss to a floundering Illinois squad and a loss to a captain-less Northwestern squad. Only time will tell if Maryland can escape the death spiral, but with actually challenging games remaining, it’s possible this once B1G East hopeful could miss bowl season entirely.
12 - Northwestern Wildcats - Winona Hawkins
LPV: 5 High: 3 Low: 14
Winona Hawkins, portrayed by Natalie Zea, is a court reporter and ex-wife of Raylan. Having changed her name and married, and later divorced deceased real estate broker Gary Hawkins, Winona is a frequent love interest in the early seasons of Justified. What I particularly appreciate is that there aren’t really any times Winona is used as a damsel in distress, but rather she’s just been brought into bad and dangerous situations that eventually cause her to “nope” out of a true relationship with Raylan. Despite this, she is a presence even when clearly not the main squeeze and her involvement in Justified Season 6 and City Primeval’s finale shows how strong her bond with Raylan as a parent really is.
Northwestern checks in at number 12. Much like Winona, NW is fading into the background. They’re doing much better than anyone thought they’d do, but it’s still just uninteresting. Sitting at 4-5 with 3 competitive games left, Northwestern is in position to get to 6 wins. Can they do it? Who knows, and better yet, who cares?
13 - Michigan State Spartans - Arlo Givens
High: 9 Low: 13
Arlo Givens, portrayed by Raymond J. Barry, is the father of Raylan and member of the Crowder Crime Family. Arlo begins to suffer cognitive failure after the death of his second wife, Raylan’s Aunt, Helen. Arlo and Raylan butt heads and never make peace. Arlo even attempts to send his son to his certain death in season 1 and is thought to have attempted to kill Raylan in season 3 only to end up killing trooper Tom Bergen. Arlo is killed in prison by former sheriff Hunter Mosely in order to hide the identity of Drew Thompson in season 4. Arlo’s last words to Raylan were “kiss my ass.”
Michigan State checks in here at number 13. I’m very surprised at how Sparty has managed to hang tough this season. They’ve really fought and given the entire shitshow that unfolded earlier this season, they never did quit. They’re getting mathematically eliminated from bowl contention this week so we’ll see how they show up in Bloomington.
14 - Purdue Boilermakers - Dewey Crowe
LPV: 5 High: 10 Low: 14
Dewey Crowe, portrayed by Damon Herriman, is a dull, dimwitted buffoon of a criminal in Harlan County. Often the butt of the joke, Dewey is slow to catch on to most things and is a large annoyance usually to those who have to deal with him. Raylan breaks his nose at least 3 times in the series just because. Eventually, Dewey’s ineptitude gets him shot by Boyd early in season 6, which the show actually frames more of a “putting down my faithful dog” than an outright murder or betrayal, which is fascinating to me. Dewey’s best moments are in season 5 when he incompetently tries to help his cousins establish a criminal empire in Harlan.
The bumbling Purdue Boilermakers check in here at number 14. Like Dewey, Purdue’s season has been just a disaster. The fanbase has moved on to basketball season and the Boilers seem destined for a 2 or 3 win season. Not the ideal start for Ryan Walters, but considering the shelves were bare, perhaps not unforeseen.
What do you think of this poll? Did you watch and love Justified? Did you hate it? Commence discussion below.
Have you seen Justified?
This poll is closed
No, but it’s on the list