Three seasons in and Justified is still delivering some of the best material you’ll find on basic cable. In fact, the third season is, in my opinion, the best the show has produced thus far, and that’s after a five-star first season, and a second season that’s right up alongside it. Make no mistake about it, if you’re not watching Justified, you’re missing out on some of the most fun around, as leading man Timothy Olyphant delivers every episode in a smooth-talking, wise-cracking, cowboy hat-wearing way that make both male and female viewers alike swoon in his presence.
The third season of Justified starts up almost immediately where the events of season two left off, so if you’re not caught up yet, go pick these up and get to it before reading any further. As far as the plot for the third season goes, I’ll briefly touch upon it so that you know what’s going down when things begin, but spoilers will be avoided, and I won’t delve very far at that.
When we last left Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Olyphant), he had been shot by a member of the Bennett clan, and while this didn’t seem vital at the time, the writers decided to start this season off with Raylan in the hospital, recovering from his wound. There’s a bit of a Skyfall vibe that goes on in the first couple of episodes, where Raylan is recovering from his injury, trying to get back in shape so that he can shoot a target properly at the range, and just noticing his age in general. While it’s an interesting storyline, it doesn’t stick around too long, and Raylan is back to his badass self after just a few episodes in.
This is a plus though, as there are some fantastic moments this season that need Raylan to be at the top of his intimidation game – and boy is he ever. Again, I won’t go into detail, as this is stuff best watched at the breakneck speed this season chose to go, as opposed to the first two seasons, which both have a season-long story arch; however, they also both have a few episodes that play out as side stories, whereas almost everything this season plays into the bigger picture.
The main guest star this year is Neal McDonough (who some may recognize from Captain America, Minority Report, or as the thorn in the side of The Rock in Walking Tall) and he is flawless. In fact, his work here is award worthy, as his character Robert Quarles is just so unique and well portrayed that you can’t help but love to hate him. Right from the first moment we meet Quarles he makes a lasting impact, and McDonough just never drops the ball in any scene for the rest of the time he’s around.
Quarles is an enforcer from the Frankfort mafia we’ve heard about in past seasons, and that story starts arriving on Raylan’s doorstep this season with Quarles looking to make his mark in Harlan and take over the criminal enterprise there entirely. While this is the main arch of the season for the most part, there are so many ways it branches off into subplots that all flow together so well it’s just a joy to watch.
Also new to the show this season is Mykelti Williamson (who 24 fans will remember as Brian Hastings, and just about everyone will remember as Bubba from Forrest Gump). He plays Ellstin Limehouse, a man that characters in the series definitely won’t want to cross, but fans of the show will be happy to meet.
Returning to the supporting cast spotlight once again is Walton Goggins as Raylan’s childhood friend turned convict, turned…well, those who watch the show know Boyd Crowder is a complicated man. Jeremy Davies (LOST‘s Daniel Faraday) also returns after his Emmy award winning stint of the show during season two, as well as the rest of the cast that help make this show so great.
There are different ways to review TV shows, but when it comes to shows like this I find that the less you say, the better. Episodic breakdowns work throughout a season, for those following along, but in this case I find it works better to tease those curious about whether or not they should get into the show (you should), and to tell those wondering if the show keeps up the quality that the first two seasons delivered if it did or not (it does).
Justified is just great TV, with an addicting quality to it that has never been stronger than it is in season three. This is a season that will keep you watching well into the night, even though you know you should have stopped an episode ago. It’s just that good, and at this rate, I don’t see that fact changing any time soon.
The video quality for the Blu-ray is fantastic, with a wonderful crisp look, superb sharpness, and rich darks. The audio is also great, with spot-on dialogue and audio mixes, and a darker tone midway through the season that takes a page out of The Walking Dead book and has an ominous key lead perfectly into the theme song for a number of episodes.
There are various special features broken up between the three discs, though I’ll wrap them all together as one here to make it easier on those wanting to see what they’re in for.
Nine Episode Commentaries – These are broken up throughout various episodes on each disc, and the people giving the commentaries change up from time to time. Various actors, such as Olyphant and Joelle Carter will pop in; however, it’s mostly producers and writers that shed light on each particular episode being highlighted.
Outtakes – This only exists on disc three, and runs at just over three minutes in length. It’s definitely a quick, yet fun ride to take with the crew.
Deleted Scenes – These are spread out on the first two discs, with deleted scenes from particular episodes that were shown on that disc being highlighted. Overall it’s just under five minutes in deleted scenes, which shows how well timed and filmed each episode is.
Crossing the Line: Making Season 3 – This feature is found on disc one, and runs at just under 19 minutes in length. This sees the cast and crew talk about coming off a really strong second season, and how the tones of this season are darker than ever. They also touch upon performances, and character development as well. Definitely a must watch for fans of the show.
Ellstin’s Joint: Noble’s Holler Set Tour – This featurette is found on the second disc, and runs at just under 13 minutes in length. Production Designer Dave Blass is the one leading the tour of one of the most important locations in the third season.
In Conversation: Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins – This feature runs at almost half an hour in length, and sees the shows two biggest stars talk about the show in general. This is definitely worth checking out for fans of the show.
Sony Pictures presents Justified: The Complete Third Season. Starring: Timothy Olyphant, Walton Goggins, Joelle Carter, Natalie Zea, Nick Searcy, Jacob Pitts, Erica Tazel, Raymond J. Barry, David Meunier, Neal McDonough, Mykelti Williamson. Boxset Contents: 13 episodes on 3 Blu-ray discs. Released on Blu-ray: January 8, 2013. Running time: Approx. 541 minutes. Rating: PG. Available at Amazon.com.