The gun porn, unnecessary (yet appreciated) female nudity, excellent writing, and fine acting by Ace of Spades HQ fan Nick Searcy all combine to make Justified one of my favorite shows. This season is off to good start… and yet its new bad guys leave me cold. (Please observe your official spoiler warning.)

Some background: while the show centers around Raylan Givens and his perpetual antagonist, Boyd Crowder, there’s always another major bad guy that serves as the backdrop against which their dramas play out. FX’s promos have been featuring Raylan being swarmed by crows, so the Crowe family’s newly arrived Florida branch, relatives of local comic relief Dewey Crowe, looks like this season’s Big Bad.

Yet I find them uncompelling. A bunch of violent dullards, one Crowe brother killed someone in this season’s first episode for making fun of his stutter. In this week’s episode, another Crowe killed the Haitian (who had the makings of a great villain) over an insult, hooting as he blasted buckshot into the man’s back like an extra from Idiocracy. Meanwhile Daryl, the Crowe patriarch, decides to mix it up with Boyd–the county’s crime lord–for supposedly getting too much from idiot cousin Dewey in the sale of a whore house. I get that this is supposed to show each Crowe is proud to a fault, but after so many needlessly poor decisions, you start to wonder if mama Crowe was putting lead paint chips in the boys’ bottles growing up.

I don’t mind coarse–Justified has had lots of those villains. But the combination of coarse and stupid? I get enough of that when I read my decayed hometown’s local news: one bit of trash shoots another because, well, why the hell not? Rinse, repeat.

I have no doubt the Crowes will raise all kinds of havoc in Harlan County. I have no doubt the writing and acting will continue to be crisp. But I doubt I’ll enjoy it as much as in seasons past. Violent and dumb in Kentucky hills reminds me too much of its asphalt analog.

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