Justified: The Complete Second Season is a slow-burn powder keg of a season that takes everything that worked in season one and cranks it up to fully establish Justified as one of the best series on television.
Although the series is carried on the cool charisma and capable of shoulders of its star Timothy Olyphant, Season Two feels much more like an ensemble series with supporting characters starting to mean more to the series. The Second Season’s new baddies bring a whole new level of criminal for Olyphant’s U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens to deal with while revealing more of the character’s past for the audience.
Based on a character created by the great Elmore Leonard from his short story “Fire in the Hole,” Justified: The Complete Second Season finds Raylan still serving in his hometown community of Harlan County, Kentucky, and still allowing his love life with ex-wife Winona Hawkins (Natalie Zea) to get him in all kinds of trouble with his boss Chief Deputy Art Mullen (Nick Searcy).
To make matters worse, Raylan gets involved in a family feud when he crosses paths with the Bennett family - Dickie (Jeremy Davies), Doyle (Joseph Lyle), Coover, (Brad William Henke) and their mother Mags (Margo Martindale). The Bennett boys aren’t fans of Raylan with Dickie carrying a grudge that goes all the way back to when they were high school kids.
Mags runs the local crime and Martindale quickly establishes that her character can be as deadly as any crime boss on television or the big screen. The fact that she can do it while giving you a soft southern smile and charming you just adds to how deadly the character is and how great Martindale's performance was in Season 2.
Raylan’s job gets more complicated with Mags and her clan as he is ordered to serve as protection for the head of a mining company who is attempting to increase the mining rights on Bennett’s mountain, but has to run through Mags to do it. Mags has the local people rallying to her cause, but might not be quite on the up and up with her reasoning for wanting to stop the mining.
As if the family feud and mining issue aren’t enough, Raylan continues to have issues with his childhood friend Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) - who is still trying to walk the straight and narrow. Boyd has even started living with Ava (Joelle Carter) and is working for the mining company.
Once again, Goggins plays the Boyd character perfectly and you are never quite sure if he is trying to stay straight or just trying really hard to convince himself and everyone else he has given up his outlaw ways.
Season Two really improves on the series, and sees the storylines open up to include more of the supporting players. There is a great storyline involving Winona, Raylan and some stolen counterfeit money. It is safe to say that women continue to be a major thorn in Raylan’s side.
The series still relies on Olyphant capable shoulders, and the actor continues to demonstrate why his Raylan character is just the definition of cool. You can still see shades of his Deadwood character in Raylan, but this season finds the actor making the new series surpass the work he did on the HBO western.
The DVD set comes with some decent special features including a look at life on the Justified set, outtakes and a look at the feuds of the show.
Without a doubt, Justified continues to be one of the best series on television and the second season is easily one of the most addictive to watch.
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