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2011’s Most Memorable Episodes: Justified “Brother’s Keeper” 

Photo Credit: FX

It was a bit difficult to decide which episode to pick as my favorite from Justified‘s stellar sophomore season. I decided to go with “Brother’s Keeper” for a number of reasons: Carol Johnson’s sizzling chemistry with Raylan; Boyd’s true return to form; Loretta finally discovering what happened to her father; and Mags’ double whammy of a loss. 

Photo Credit: FX

Margo Martindale‘s Mags Bennett

We all know the story that Mags Bennett was originally concieved as a male character. I don’t know how or why the gender change happened but casting Margo Martindale was an inspired choice. In this episode we get to see a full range of emotions from her. She’s joyful and maternal with Loretta; disappointed and later devastated about Coover; cold, condescending, and businesslike with Carol Johnson; inconsolable about Loretta, and tolerant then quietly furious with Raylan. Even Mags can’t control everything, no matter how hard she tries.

Photo Credit: FX

Walton Goggins‘ Boyd Crowder

Not only did I like seeing Ava and Boyd couple up, but I actually loved seeing Boyd return to form. It was weird for him to be on the straight and narrow. It’s against everything he is. And he’s so much more fun when he’s being bad. He made a powerful ally when he decided to double cross Carol Johnson for Mags Bennett. And more than anything I like see Raylan and Boyd at odds. It makes for tense, interesting, and unpredictable encounters. And the joy he shows when he takes Ava to the dance floor after the Black Pike deal is done? Loved it.

Photo Credit: FX

Rebecca Creskoff‘s Carol Johnson

I heard her commitment to Hung cut down what was supposed to be a 5 episode arc. I would have loved to see Carol Johnson stir it up even more in season two. Her chemistry with Raylan was electric. Her relationship with first Mags and then Boyd was deliciously adversarial. Here was a another strong woman is a season filled with them.

Photo Credit: FX
Photo Credit: FX

Jeremy Davies‘ Dickie Bennett and Brad William Henke‘s Coover Bennett

Although they often came across as screwups, these brothers could quickly turn deadly. Never truly appreciated by their mama, they could always count on each other. When Mags insulted Coover behind his back to Loretta, I felt his pain. I knew he’d go and do something stupid. And watching Dickie try to assert himself as Mags’ heir apparent was both pathetic and delusional. I have to admit enjoying it every time Raylan cuts him down to size.

Photo Credit: FX

Kaitlyn Dever‘s Loretta McCready

This is a star in the making. I’m disappointed she’s on Last Man Standing, especially after showing such incredible emotional range in this role. I loved her older-than-her years portrayal of a girl who was just trying to get by. Both Mags and Raylan had a powerful need to protect her and it was gratifying to see her turn to Raylan when she really needed help.

Photo Credit: FX

Timothy Olyphant‘s Raylan Givens

I will never get tired of seeing Raylan stick to his guns, both literally and figuartively. He gives Mags the respect she deserves, but lets her know when she’s gone too far. Although he’s with Winona, he can’t help feeling an attraction to Carol Johnson. I can’t be mad at him because after what Winona pulled earlier in the season I’m not that pleased with her. I was genuinely worried Raylan would get seriously injured in his tussle with Coover. I’m glad Loretta came to his rescue because Coover was definitely winning that fight. But most of all I like Raylan’s laid back, easy confidence even in the face of danger.

Some great lines from the episode: 

“I used to tell people I dropped him on his head as a baby. The truth is, I got no excuse.”

“I had a cousin next county over called him Heinz.” “Heinz?” “Yeah, like the steak sauce. Claimed he knew 57 dance steps that no one had ever done before.”

“Sit your bony ass down and listen to my counter offer while there’s still pieces of you big enough to find.”

Season 3 of Justified premieres Tuesday, January 17th at 10/9c.

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