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'Justified' Season 6 premiere review: Little stuff brings big payoff

Garret Dillahunt goes from playing the goofy father-grandfather

Garret Dillahunt goes from playing the goofy father-grandfather in Fox's "Raising Hope," to portraying a mysterious stranger who's buying up plots of land on FX's "Justified," returning on Jan. 20. Photo Credit: TNS

THE SHOW "Justified"

WHEN | WHERE Tuesday night at 10 on FX

WHAT IT'S ABOUT "I'm scared," said Ava Crowder (Joelle Carter) at the shank end of the fifth season. "Don't be," replied U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) -- who has one last job before relocating to Florida to be nearer his baby girl. "Everything is going to be fine." Uh-huh. Ava is out of jail on a condition -- to gather enough dirt on her ex, Boyd (Walton Goggins), so Raylan can build that RICO case against him, and be done with Harlan County forever.

Tuesday night's sixth-season opener: A bearded, mysterious stranger, Ty Walker (Garret Dillahunt, "Deadwood"), turns up with a briefcase of cash to buy the Givens place. Katherine Hale (Mary Steenburgen) muses about employer-employee problems over Champagne and pot with an old pal, Markham (Sam Elliott). Meanwhile, Raylan and Tim Gutterson (Jacob Pitts) have found a new playmate: His name is "Choo Choo."

MY SAY FX last year shared the worst possible news any hardened "Justified" fan could ever possibly hear -- the sixth season, beginning Tuesday, would be the last. But WHHYYYY? they wailed (a few, no doubt, into their Buffalo Trace -- neat, always neat.) 

Watch Tuesday's opener, "Fate's Right Hand," and the next two episodes (alas, all that were sent out for review) and any attempt at an answer will either be futile or inadequate. "Justified" remains as good as ever -- and as tautly written, acted and directed, and deeply, completely pleasurable as the fifth season, and the one before that and . . . all of the other seasons, too, now that I think of it.

A part of the formula essentially remains the same -- carpetbagger arrives in Harlan; doesn't know what he's in for! -- but so many terrific actors (now Dillahunt) have filled the role, and so many twisted, intricate stories have been woven from this thread, that you're left with the illusion that it can go on forever. It won't -- so we have to adjust to the fact that next January will be just a little bit colder.

With "Fate," as usual, the best stuff with "Justified" is often the little stuff: a stray word of dialogue, an Olyphant glance from under the shadow of that Stetson Marshall hat, Goggins' hair. Oh yes, the hair. (Fine, forget the hair. Goggins is as great as ever in the 6th.) Wonderful guest actors (Elliott) who drift in and out as effortlessly as Raylan downs that bourbon...

 A slightly different and unexpected pleasure too: "Justified" is just a little more contemplative ( a word spoken never within the confines herein..)

This series isn't exactly roaring to the finale, but feeling and thinking its way there. 

Meanwhile, other pleasures await you. That's a guarantee.

BOTTOM LINE Lovvvve it.

GRADE A

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