It is relatively easy for a main character in a TV show to be a perfectly cast well drawn and rounded character, but the best shows can claim the same in the supporting roles. There are many of them: Katey Sagal in Sons of Anarchy, Peter Dinklage (one of an ensemble rather than a supporting character) in Game of Thrones and Kelly Macdonald in Boardwalk Empire, but there are two that really stand out for me: Ruth Wilson as Alice Morgan in Luther and Walton Goggins as Boyd Crowder in Justified.
We first met Alice Morgan (Ruth Wilson) in the first episode of Luther back in 2010. Fresh back from seven month suspension, DCI John Luther (Idris Elba) returns to investigate a home invasion/double murder. After interviewing Alice, the victims daughter he soon realises that she killed them but can’t prove it. In any normal show that would be the end of it but Luther is far from a normal show. A genius, sociopath, narcissist and serial killer she should be a detestably character but is strangely alluring for both Luther and viewers of the show.
The great thing about Boyd Crowder is that he is both ambiguous and morally ambiguous. We first meet him as a white supremacist who doesn’t appear to be a racist (unless there is money in it). He reinvents himself as a preacher but appears to atheist. A reluctant war hero, he is highly intelligent and well read but most likely self taught. Every sentence he utters contains about three times more words than needed and often contains quotes from scripture and literature. On top of this he is a childhood friend of the shows main character U.S. Deputy Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant), it is often mentioned the pair dug coal together as teenagers. Originally appearing as favour to his friend, Timothy Olyphant, Boyd was shot in the first episode “Fire in the Hole”. Rumour has it that the character was supposed to die, however after a positive reception from the test audience became a recurring and main character. A career criminal and reprehensible character you just can’t help liking.
Perfectly written, but it goes deeper than that the two characters are so perfectly cast, it is quite possible that no other actor could play then half as well Ruth Wilson and Walton Goggins. If you aren’t familiar with the two shows, go back and watch them from the start, they are worth seeing on their own merits as well as for these tow great characters.