Based on a character created by Elmore Leonard from his short story “Fire in the Hole,” Justified is one of those rare television series that just keeps getting better with each season.
Now on DVD and Blu-ray, The Complete Third Season builds from a terrific second season story arc, and finds U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) balancing his personal life and the duties that come with his badge.
With the demise of Mags Bennett (the incredible Margo Martindale), the third season finds the criminal side of Harlan County, Kentucky, suffering a bit of a power vacuum and looking like it is ripe for takeover by the deadly and unhinged syndicate hitter Robert Quarles (a chilling Neal McDonough).
In addition to dodging bullets, Raylan continues to deal with his personal issues concerning his ex-wife/current girlfriend/baby momma Winona Hawkins (Natalie Zea).
The two are giving it another try, but Winona wants Raylan to hang up his gun and become an instructor – something he is actually willing to do, but seems like an impossibility due to his ability to find trouble at all the wrong times.
Raylan’s dedication to the badge and tendencies to have shootouts in his hotel room, leads to the couple having even more trouble and Raylan moving into a bar.
Although the series is carried on the cool charisma and capable of shoulders of its star Timothy Olyphant, Season Three expands on some of the supporting characters giving the other Marshals plenty of work of their own and giving Raylan’s boss Chief Deputy Art Mullen (Nick Searcy) plenty of screen time to yell at Raylan.
The season sees Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) embracing his criminal roots and wanting to carve out a piece of Harlan County for himself – which puts him at odds with Quarles and once again allies him with Raylan.
Boyd also puts aside his differences with Dickie Bennet (Jeremy Davies) after discovering that Mags left a large sum of money with new bad guy Ellstin Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson) and Dickie is the key to Boyd getting his hands on the cash.
Limehouse is every bit as deadly as Mags, but lacks some of her subtleness. He has history Raylan and Boyd, but wouldn’t think twice about putting them in the ground.
He also refuses to give up Mags’ money despite Dickie’s insistence that it now belongs to him. The Limehouse character is a great addition to a show already filled with incredible characters.
Williamson plays the character to the hilt, but does very little on screen. He is able to let the audience know how deadly the character is with a simple threat or slow methodical look. It is a perfect performance which gives the show a character the audience isn’t sure Raylan can beat.
While he fails to bring the same menace that Marindale brought to the screen, McDonough is a good adversary for Raylan, and makes the most of the character. He isn’t very likeable and the actor keeps you guessing just what the character will do next. As the storyline moves on into the season, Quarles seems to unravel and McDonough plays the descent to the hilt.
The storyline keeps the same kind of pace established in the first season, and gives all the actors times to let their characters develop – which in turn just makes the audience more hooked on the series.
It takes a bit to get into the story and there are a few distractions along the way, but nothing that will ruin the show or make it feel like it has “jumped the shark.”
On Blu-ray, the set features an exclusive conversation with Olyphant and Goggins along with nine commentaries. Other bonus features include deleted scenes, outtakes, and a look at the making of the season. Fans can also enjoy a look at the sets and stunts in the show.
In its third season, Justified continues not to feel formulaic (even at the expense of Raylan) and shows no signs of getting old. Olyphant owns this character, and the show rests on his capable shoulders.
It would be easy to make the series strictly about Raylan, but the writers makes sure it continues to feel like a true ensemble series and that every character matters. Like past seasons, it ends with you just wanting more and counting the days until the new season starts.
Visit the DVD database for more information.