‘Justified’ delivers, but ‘The Walking Dead’ disappoints

‘Justified’ delivers, but ‘The Walking Dead’ disappoints

by Kevin Smead

Spring break is a transitional period. For some, it’s a transition from saying, “I’ll do it after spring break,” to simply, “F—.” For others, it’s a transition from having some dignity to having none at all thanks to poor decisions and too many shots of the cheapest, yet most plentiful alcohol at a party. Spring break is also a transitional period for many of our favorite TV shows. Many end, many more start.

Oh, and something springy about flowers blooming and whatever.

We all know what’s important, though: TV. Here’s a quick look back at some of the best shows that just ended. Read The Daily Aztec tomorrow for a preview of shows just getting started. Be forewarned. There are spoilers below.


Looking Back

“Justified,” Season 4 (FX)


Courtesy of FX

“Justified” is like the secret handshake of awesome TV. Not a whole lot of people know about it, but there’s always an instant connection among those who do. Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) is one of the most challenging, badass characters on TV today and Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) is so lovably complicated that it’s hard to look away. For those who’ve never seen the show, “Justified” is set in rural Kentucky and follows the story of U.S. Marshal Raylan, as well as charming criminal Boyd. The fourth season of the show took viewers down a rabbit hole while chasing the fugitive Drew Thompson (Jim Beaver), hiding out as Shelby Parlow, who holds mob secrets that could potentially bring down the Detroit mafia, which is represented in the show by a host of exceptional characters.

Overall, the plot was a bit complicated and sometimes convoluted. The writers clearly had interesting ideas they wanted to toy with and never did, as evidenced by the Preacher Billy (Joseph Mazello) side story, which appeared as though it would become a main focus but petered out by the third episode. However, the season’s arc paid off in a number of ways. First, there were great character moments throughout the season and if there’s one thing “Justified” does better than any other show on TV, it’s weaving characters in and out seamlessly. The always sly and cutting Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns aka Jesse’s group leader on “Breaking Bad”) had some killer moments of dialogue with Boyd and his cousin Johnny. U.S. Marshal Tim Gutterson (Jacob Pitts, aka Cooper from “EuroTrip”) develops as a character through his conflict with another war vet, Colt, and got to show off his skills in “Decoy.”

Really, I could go on forever about these moments, but it really came down to the finale. The return of an angry Raylan was worth every episode leading up to the season’s payoff, which was phenomenal. Boyd has a new enemy, Raylan is in a dark place and while some resolution was offered with the Detroit mob, there’s still trouble in Harlan County and I can’t wait to go back. “The Walking Dead” should take a few notes on how to end a season from “Justified.” This brings me to my next show…


“The Walking Dead,” Season 3 (AMC)

Courtesy of Gene Page, AMC

Yikes. Where to begin? Mixed emotions can’t even begin to describe how I felt about the third season of this once beloved show. While I could expound on all the issues this show faced, it really all boils down to one: Andrea (Dallas Roberts).

Andrea, Andrea, Andrea.

She’s the character viewers love to hate because she’s just so poorly written. She can’t make a decision to save her life (literally) and essentially comes across as overly emotional and totally useless. This is just baffling because her comic book counterpart is such a strong, well-written female character who transforms into a sharpshooting zombie hunter. Why the show runners decided to go in this awful direction, I’ll never know. In the finale, we got a redemption for Michonne (Danai Gurira)—another character who initially suffered the same problem as Andrea—with an outright, “Sorry for sucking so much” apology to Rick that sort of felt like the producers were speaking to the audience directly.

Courtesy of Gene Page, AMC

However, to be fair, most of the season and the adaptations from the graphic novel weren’t awful, per se. I actually loved David Morrissey’s portrayal of The Governor. He was far more sympathetic and interesting than his comic book counterpart. That is up until he massacred his whole crew. Still. Morrissey’s acting was top-notch and the writing for his character made sense.

The same goes for Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus). Easily the best addition to the show, Daryl proves week in and week out that he’s an incredible asset to the team, and his relationship with his brother was one of the best storylines this season. Rewatch Merle Dixon’s death scene and tell me you didn’t cry when Daryl cried. Brilliant stuff.

I just wish this show wasn’t so frustratingly confusing in the adaptation department. These characters are written so well, it doesn’t make sense to throw major changes at the audience when they’re clearly for the worse. The strongest parts of the show are those adapted directly from the comics, such as Carl’s descent into a dark, survivalist mindset. Chandler Riggs nails this extremely difficult role and I’m intrigued to see what he will do next season.


As for now, having the finale hinge on Andrea’s death was weak and letting The Governor get away sets up some interesting scenarios, but this show has yet to prove it’s willing to capitalize on these big openings. I hope the producers don’t choose the path of trying to change things for the worse.