Top row, left to right: Timothy Olyphant, Joelle Carter, Walton Goggins
Bottom row, left to right: Erica Tazel, Nick Searcy, Natalie Zea
The series has without a doubt been, above all, a Timothy Olyphant showcase. After "Deadwood" and "Damages," Olyphant is by this time a well-known commodity, at least among cable viewers. But he had no trouble establishing a new identity as Raylan Givens on "Justified," and his performance alone makes that show worth watching.
But what's been interesting about the first six episodes of the series is that the supporting cast has been overshadowed by great guest performances. Walton Goggins ("The Shield"), David Eigenberg ("Sex and the City") and Alan Ruck ("Spin City") are among those who have crackled in a way that series regulars Nick Searcy, Erica Tazel, Joelle Carter, Natalie Zea and Jacob Pitts haven't matched.
Some are further ahead of the game than others: As Eva, Givens' paramour of the moment, Carter has offered a sultry presence, and as ex-wife Winona, Zea got a final scene with Olyphant that showed true chemistry. Searcy seems perfectly cast as Givens' boss, though that relationship hasn't gotten very deep.
But though it's coming at a fairly slow rate, there seems to be a progression toward making the cast more integral to "Justified" and less like bystanders. That mirrors the development of the series from what has been, to my surprise at least, mostly a procedural, into something with more of an ongoing spine.