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As the ex-wife of U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant), Natalie Zea's Winona Hawkins never quite fit into the world of Justified, FX's lauded modern Western based on the works of legendary crime writer Elmore Leonard. She wasn't a marshal like Rachel (Erica Tazel). She wasn't a morally compromised anti-heroine like Ava (Joelle Carter) eventually came to be. She wasn't even from the town of Harlan or its general vicinity. Winona was an outsider by all counts, brought into the narrative solely as a love interest for Raylan.
It wouldn't have been terribly surprising, then, if Winona — who was divorced from Raylan at the start of the series but who found herself drawn back into his life fairly quickly — had played a thankless role in the series, mattering only for how she reacted to the show's attractive, quick-witted gunslinging hero. Wives and girlfriends in stories like the one at the heart of Justified are sadly often relegated to nothing more than nagging hens who exist to remind the swaggering hero and his audience of the dangers of the job, to beg him to put down his weapon. And yes, there were certainly times when Winona filled that role; she voiced her concerns about Raylan's life and revealed her fears about never knowing if he was going to come home at night, since he frequently found himself in dangerous situations and took great pride in his abilities with a firearm. But Winona's role also meant she had an intimate and clear understanding of who Raylan was beyond his badge. And it was their complicated relationship that gave her a strength very few characters in the world of Justified possessed: Winona could surprise Raylan and knock him back on his heels, and she had the mental and emotional strength to stand...
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