Table of contents

Justified I.12-13

The cowboy’s private life

Raylan involves himself with two women. Ava is as straightforward as they come, or at least forward. She loved Raylan, he left town, she married the son of the biggest criminal around. Maybe he was strong & handsome… Raylan’s father was in contention, too. Once she had enough of that scoundrel, she sent him to judgment. Now Raylan’s back, so is love, & life in that neck of the woods is wine, death & law notwithstanding.

Winnona was Raylan’s wife. She abandoned him for a real estate dude. He seems safe. She dresses professional middle class. Raylan left town, but is back. She needs his help & him, too. But she also wants happiness, so she’s hedging her bets. Unsurprisingly, she understands the connection between adultery & discretion. A beautiful man & a beautiful life might not make for happiness. Otherwise, why would all these cops be so sarcastic?

It would seem Raylan is not all killer. Aside from the charms of women, he is not blind to the importance of family & that something less harsh than law should control his great anger. His humor is a provocation to the laws – but it is only speeches. Something further is needed to show him his humanity. One wonders what comes of cities who cannot persuade men to become lawful. How about offering something good to mellow justice?

Raylan’s family of criminals is something to behold. Anyone who thinks courage is a virtue should be shamed into a cure by the spectacle. There is a way of life outside the laws & people who would rather be criminals than whatever else is on offer. Partly, they know their worth because they break the laws or oppose them. But other criminal families are far more enterprising & suggest the contradiction between the good & the just.

Raylan has to mind a lot of these people’s private lives. What does he think about how criminal families defy liberalism? Jail cannot separate or contain them. They can corrupt political institutions. They make it impossible for others to act like citizens. What does law mean if law means law-enforcement? Why does liberalism create people who can only be ruled by fear if liberalism precludes rule by fear?

It would seem that the time has come to compromise between justice & liberalism. A sheriff who is unfortunately compelled to murder Raylan, given the marshal’s strange dedication to justice, shows the way: He has destroyed criminals, taken over their business, & has arranged criminal life such that the local civilians suffer far less than they had before. This of course is going in the direction of Oriental despotism. Both misery & prosperity seem to lead to despotism.