Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant), healing from a gunshot wound, must decide how he wants to make a new go with it with his pregnant ex Winona (Natalie Zea), how to deal with an increasingly dangerous Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) and the arrival of a new danger, Detroit enforcer Quarles (Neal McDonough), a man with designs on taking the Harlan County oxy business to dangerous new heights.
To say that the third season of Justified doesn’t quite rise to the same tremendous heights as the second one did isn’t to call it disappointing or subpar. Not at all, this series proving to be easily one of the best episodic television has going for it. All I’m saying is that without Margo Martindale, without the focus on the Bennet clan and their intricate plans involving Black Pike Coal, a little of the energy and steam that fueled the past season has dissipated a tiny bit, the stuff Marshal Givens finds himself dealing with not having quite the same passion or power.
But boy, is it still entertaining. There is a smooth, intoxicating naturalism to the Elmore Leonard-inspired series that borders on hypnotic, the relationships between Givens, his chief Art Mullen (Nick Searcy), with Winona, with Boyd and Ava (Joelle Carter), even with nefarious newcomers the slithery Quarles and mysterious money broker cum launderer Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson), all of them have a dexterous complexity that feels unhurried, tense and, most of all, real. The dynamics affecting the Marshal this season are seemingly never-ending and cryptically complex, discovering who will come out on top and how Raylan will untangle the mess part of this season’s magnetically compelling fun.
The best bits are the bracing midsection, especially when Dickie Bennet (Jeremy Davies, in an Emmy-winning turn) returns for a few episodes (he also comes back again during the final couple of episodes, helping bring the season full circle) facing off against Limehouse, Boyd (who, understandably, wants to put a bullet in him for shooting Ava) and Raylan. It’s also interesting to watch Quarles transformation as the season progresses, McDonough never playing him as you expect him to while the man himself goes to some intriguing places I admit I never quite saw coming.
The relationship between Raylan and Winona doesn’t develop as well as it could this season, that kind of goes without saying, while the office dynamics between the Marshal and his coworkers is becoming a bit overly familiar at this point. Yet there is an easygoing grace to all of this that can’t be denied, and even when you know where Justified is going and how the conversations are going to turn out personally I still found myself enjoying them immensely all the same. This third season doesn’t do a lot new, doesn’t play with a formula that works, but it does entertain, most of the time brilliantly, and that’s one thing I’m not going to complain about or rail against one tiny little bit.
The third season of Justified is presented on three dual-layer 50GB MPEG-4 AVC Video Blu-ray discs with 1.78:1/1080p transfers.
These Blu-rays feature English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtracks and comes with optional English SDH and French subtitles.
Extras are spread out over all three discs and include:
· Audio Commentaries - "The Gunfighter" with Executive Producer Graham Yost, Actors Timothy Olyphant and Jere Burns, and Writer Fred Golan, "Cut Ties" with Writer Ben Cavell and Actor Nick Searcy; "Harlan Roulette" with Writer Dave Andron and Director Jon Avnet, "Thick as Mud" with Writers Jon Worley and Ben Cavell and Actors Damon Herriman and Joelle Carter.
· Deleted Scene – Episode “Cut Ties” (1:09)
· Crossing the Line: Making Season 3 (18:37)
· Audio Commentaries - "When the Guns Come Out" with Producers Dave Andron and Don Kurt, "Loose Ends" with Actress Joelle Carter and Writers Ingrid Escajeda and Benjamin Cavell
· Deleted Scenes – Episodes “The Man Behind the Curtain” (3:35) & “Loose Ends” (1:02)
· Ellstin's Joint: Noble's Holler Set Tour (12:51)
· Audio Commentaries - "Guy Walks Into a Bar" with Writers Dave Andron and VJ Boyd; "Coalition" with Writer Taylor Elmore, Editor Bill Johnson, and Actor Jere Burns, "Slaughterhouse" with Executive Producer Graham Yost, Actors Mykelti Williamson and Jere Burns, and Producer Fred Golan.
· Outtakes (3:18)
· Anatomy of a Stunt (9:23)
· In Conversation with Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins (26:28)
Haven’t had a chance to dig into all of the audio commentaries, but if they’re anything like the one for “The Gunfighter” I’m going to make the assumption that the majority are going to be excellent.
The rest is the typical mixed bag of featurettes and deleted scenes, the easygoing conversation piece with Olyphant and Goggins easily the standout as far as the remainder of the extras are concerned.
Justified is one of the best shows on television. While the third season doesn’t travel to same stratospheric heights as the second season did, the ongoing travails of Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens are every bit as entertaining as they have ever been. Sony’s Blu-ray presentation is excellent, and as such it gets pretty close to my highest recommendation.