Starring: Timothy Olyphant, Natalie Zea, Joelle Carter, Walton Goggins, Nick Searcy, Raymond J. Barry, Jeremy Davies, Jacob Pitts, Erica Tazel, Jere Burns, Mykelti Williamson, Neal McDonough.
Running Time: 519 Minutes
Special Features Nine cast and crew commentaries. Three Featurettes. Deleted Scenes. Outtakes.
JUSTIFIED was a breath of fresh air when it first arrived on FX (and FiveUSA) in 2010, and was certainly not your average American cop procedural series, seen and copied countless times on various networks. Based on acclaimed author Elmore Leonard’s short story ‘Fire In The Hole‘, JUSTIFIED centres on cult character US Marshall Raylan Givens (Olyphant), who is forced to relocate to his ‘hick’ hometown of Harlan County after casually shooting dead a notorious mobster in Florida. Raylan comes to realise (not that he expected anything less) that little has changed since he left: the same childhood faces are causing chaos; that ‘backward’ mentality is still rife throughout the townsfolk, and his estranged father (Barry) is as much a problem as his nemesis, Boyd Crowder (Goggins) and his meth-cooking clan. The truth is, Raylan has never really changed either. His bitterness is only masked by his loveable, laid-back attitude and ‘that’ magnificent stetson.
While the first season was an impressive kick-start, JUSTIFIED really came into its own in season two with Olyphant as good as he’s ever been. The complex family dynamic was explored in great depth, not just in Raylan’s case, but a number of the memorable supporting cast and newcomers such as Davies’ wounded, weasel-like Dickie Bennett; their lawless lifestyles leaving the cocksure, charismatic lawman with plenty of headaches. Yet Raylan treats their crimes as par-for-the-course, knowing he could have been one of them following a turbulent childhood – the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree as they say. Still, he never takes any ‘shit’, and nothing he does can ever be described as clichéd, despite the Kentucky (fried) setting.
While this latest season has a hard act to follow, JUSTIFIED SEASON 3 is again, just as outstanding as its predecessor and digs deeper into Raylan’s ‘friend or foe’ relationship with Crowder, who’s still claiming he’s found God (although his devious actions suggest otherwise). Not that Raylan ever buys it… or even cares. It’s to the shows credit they keep the duo apart for the majority of the time, which, whenever together, oozes tension and sizzles as much as the iconic coffee shop sequence between De Niro and Pacino in HEAT. The two have always had (a twisted) mutual respect, yet, neither would be willing to admit that. Mainly because Raylan’s father, Arlo, is in cahoots with the career criminal and the fact they seem to bump heads with the same ‘lowlife’s’, namely the Bennett’s.
The main threat to both, this time around, comes from Neal McDonough’s hulking mob enforcer Robert Quarles, who teams up with Raylan’s forever-familiar ‘pain in the arse’, Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns). McDonough is superb as a foreboding, physical presence and is just as equal in running his ruthless schemes. He also has a number of skeletons hiding in the cupboard (or should that be bathroom) and isn’t afraid to cross his own boss who’s running things from Motor City, Detriot. However, one such plot development becomes personal, leading him on a head-on collision with Raylan and Boyd, by involving the lovely ladies in their lives (Zea and Carter). Not forgetting a mysterious man known as Limehouse (Williamson), who appears to be pulling the strings (and hangs over the show like a Cajan Grim Reaper) to whichever side favours him at any given time.
Showrunner and the man responsible for adapting Leonard’s work, Graham Yost, deserves immense credit for continuing the rich, biting tone and script work of Leonard’s stories throughout each season. One of the few adaptations the legendary author truly approves of. Olyphant, much like his formidable performance as Seth Bullock in DEADWOOD, is remarkable as the lead, again, the undercurrent of humour is what gives the show a lot of heart. It’s aided further by one of the finest supporting casts working in television. There are plenty of surprises in store as well as a few welcome returns, and with McDonough as the ‘albino bastard’, chief villain, he’s finally given enough to work with in fleshing out a well rounded brute that brings a jaw-dropping conclusion. Wiping the memory of his wasted role in The Rock’s dire WALKING TALL remake.
Season three may not be able to top the previous season but it certainly matches it every step of the way. A must have addition for fans of the show, Olyphant and Leonard’s best-selling novels. There is not one weak link in this chain.
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