Justified: Season 3
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In the nonstop, gunslinging third season of the highly acclaimed hit series, Deputy US Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) must wield his brand of renegade justice against modern crime like never before. Surrounded by dirty politicians, drug cartels, murder frames, hidden fortunes and multiple criminal forces warring for control - including archenemies Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins, "The Shield") and Dickie Bennett (Jeremy Davies in his Emmy®-winning role), a mystery man named "Limehouse," a lethal mob enforcer newly arrived from the Motor City and in a final shocking showdown, his own father - Givens finds himself in everyone's cross hairs.
The third season of Graham Yost's stellar, Emmy-winning crime drama Justified trumps any concerns about besting the high-water mark of its second season with a pair of stellar new villains who neatly bookend the central conflict between the show's opposing leads and lethal frenemies, Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) and loose cannon Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins). Season three also shrewdly extends the storyline that not only anchored the previous season but boosted the series' popularity by retaining Dickie Bennett (Emmy winner Jeremy Davies), sole survivor of the murderous, drug-dealing clan that served as Givens's primary antagonists in season two; here, Dickie provides the pathway to season three's twin engines of mayhem, money launderer Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson), who holds the Bennett family fortune, and Quarles (Neal McDonough), a psychotic Detroit mob enforcer who upends the Dixie Mafia upon his arrival in the show's Harlan, Kentucky, setting. As in previous seasons, Boyd Crowder is the match that sets the whole powder keg to burning, ping-ponging between Limehouse and Quarles in his pursuit of the Bennett clan's money and laying out a trail of death and destruction that proves the greatest challenge to date for Givens, who's not only still recovering from a gunshot wound received in the conclusion of season two, but also experiencing renewed conflict with his ex-wife, Winona (Natalie Zea), who is understandably reluctant to reconnect with Givens while under such potential danger.
Season three of Justified continues its tradition of upholding the principles of author Elmore Leonard, who created the character of Raylan Givens, and whose taut, detailed examinations of lives on both sides of the criminal fence receive some of their best screen depictions in the series. Scripting and directing (by Michael Dinner, John Dahl, Jon Avnet, Tony Goldwyn, and Adam Arkin, who also turns up as a crime boss in episode 11) remain feature-quality, and the rock-solid lead turns by Olyphant and Goggins are well matched by the regular supporting cast, including Zea, Nick Searcy, and Joelle Carter as Boyd's livewire girlfriend turned crime partner Ava, and recurring players Davies, Jere Burns, Raymond J. Barry (as Givens's addled but still dangerous father), and William Ragsdale. Guest turns by Carla Gugino, who essentially reprises her turn as Leonard's tough deputy marshal Karen Sisco from the short-lived ABC series of the same name, as well as Michael Ironside and Jim Beaver are also fine, but it's Williamson and especially McDonough who deliver the biggest fireworks in season three, with the latter providing a compelling and repellant villain on par with Margo Martindale's Emmy-winning turn as Mags Bennett in season two. Extras on the three-disc DVD set are also top-notch and include commentary by Yost, Olyphant, and other key cast and production members on nine episodes, as well as a making-of featurette that rises above the usual encapsulation/electronic press kit approach to discuss the challenges of transitioning from season two and introducing the new antagonists; a tour of Limehouse's home turf and a look at a car explosion stunt, as well as a brief collection of deleted scenes (both of which improve the versions in the broadcast cut) and outtakes, round out the set. --Paul Gaita
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Top Customer Reviews
But where the show really seems to shine is with the casting of its villains. In Season Two, we had the extraordinary Margo Martindale as Mags Bennett, and the terrifically quirky Jeremy Davies as her son Dickie. Now in this season, we have another tremendously underappreciated actor, Neal McDonough as the eerie Robert Quarles and the great Mykelti Williamson as the quiet yet menacing Elstin Limehouse.
The season begins in the aftermath of Season Two's finale, with Raylan wounded from not only the beating he got from Dickie, but the bullet he got from another member of the Bennett clan. With Dickie the only surviving member of the Bennett family, he intends to claim his birthright of the over $3 million his mother got from selling out to Black Pike Mining. Unfortunately, after the beating of Givens, and his attempted murder of Ava Crowder, he's in prison. Boyd, Ava's current lover (post Raylan), has sworn vengeance on Dickie and intends to kill him no matter what. Meanwhile Raylan has rekindled things with Winona, and we soon discover she's pregnant with Raylan's child; a relationship and a pregnancy made even more complicated by Raylan's constant run-ins with the Dixie Mafia (represented previously by another terrific character actor Jere Burns as Wynn Duffy until Quarles comes to town in exile from the main business organization in Detroit) and the various schemes and plans of Dickie, the Crowders, and all the other colorful characters that inhabit his world.
From the season's very first episode involving a hitman who always gets the drop on his victims to Quarles' entrance as the smooth-talking, creepily charming and lethally efficient "carpet-bagger" and his eventual descent into addiction and madness to the endless machinations of Limehouse, as well as Boyd and Dickie in their pursuit of the hidden the $3 million will culminate in something explosive and life-changing (and probably life-ending) for the characters involved, JUSTIFIED keeps on delivering and delivering without fail.
Also a very special character is the strangely-lovable Dewey Crowe (played with such incredulity and skill by Damon Herriman), certainly the winner of Harlan County's "Criminal With The Least Guile" award.
With a crack creative team of talented writers and directors and an ever-expansive pool of great actors, Showrunner Graham Yost has put together the best show on FX right now. It never feels forced or manufactured. The plot points all seem to grow very organically as opposed to a series of chance occurences or deus ex machinas that a lesser show might employ. Despite all of the talent constantly surrounding him, it's a real shame that Olyphant himself hasn't gotten the attention or accolades he deserves. He may get out-shone by some other actors when he's not part of the scene, but when he's together with any one of them, he can match them moment for moment. The success of the show rests solely on how Olyphant's portrayal of Givens continues to be something of greatness, and he's owed more due than he gets.
However, that's not to say that the people he's surrounded with aren't great. I'd really like to see Art more personally involved in more episodes, because Searcy's portrayal of him is so keen-eyed. McDonough is currently in the running alongside THE WALKING DEAD's Jon Bernthal for the Emmy for Best Supporting Actor (obviously at this point, it's just a prediction), and it's also a race for Goggins and Williamson as well.
Since the finale is next week, and it's already been picked up for a fourth season, I guess those "long, hard times" will keep on coming for one of Elmore Leonard's best characters, and I'm beyond thrilled to continue to keep taking that ride alongside him.
In my opinion, Justified is one of the best TV series out there. I was sad to see it end. I am now watching the entire series, again, on Amazon Prime. The writing is superb! Elmore Leonard has a gift for creating the most interesting, fully developed, unique, deeply flawed, entertaining characters you can't help but love/hate. The language is rich and idiosyncratic, per character. The story line spans all 5 seasons and it's a duzzey! Set in Kentucky, this gaggle of mountain folk, hilbilies, skinheads and US Marshals are a hoot. Ruthless and vicious with this unexplainable 'code of the mountains' that everyone (good guys and bad guys) honor with a vengeance. It's like nothing I have ever watched before. Wonderful
The writers of the Justified tv series have done an excellent job bringing' Elmore Leonards distinct style to the show. Give Season 1 a try (Do it on a weekend and dont be surprised when it turns into fullon binge-watching ;-)
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