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Season Three - Slow Burn
on 1 January 2013
As you can see Amazon have mixed up all 'Justified's reviews. This is for season 3.
Season 2 set a very high bar, not just for 'Justified' but for television in general. US Marshal Raylan Givens found himself up against a family even tougher than season 1's Crowders in the shape of the holler dwellin', moonshine swiggin' drug running Bennets. As the truly terrifying matriarch Mags Bennet Margo Martindale gave a powerhouse performance that overshadowed all else and that elevated an enjoyable series into a great one.
Her demise meant that season three needed something pretty special to even begin to come close. Did it manage it? Well in truth no. A new family was introduced with Mykelti Williamson showing a nice line in menace as the leader of a group of misfits fighting their corner. Ellstin Limehouse, a pig farmer with a neat collection of blades of all sorts and an assorted collection of supporters, was a nice addition but it just felt that the menace he presented was held in check throughout until in the end his toothy grin and thousand yard stare wasn't enough to produce the same level of fear as the mere smile of the monstrous Mags.
Not so though for Neal McDonough as the increasingly unhinged Robert Quarles. A mob employee trying to buy his way back into his boss' favour after an earlier 'misdemeanour'. By the time we find out just what that misdemeanour was we are all to aware that Quarles is as mad as a sack of hungry squirrels.
McDonough, (Having done sterling work in Desperate housewives & band of brothers) does a nice line in snappy suit wearing, mad blue eyed fruitcakes but as this series advances his character descends into the realms of cartoon madness and threatens to undermine everything around him. Although he does get a real laugh out loud moment with a piggy bank joke.
If you've read Elmore Leonards 'Raylan' then you'll recognise a lot of the plots from that work have found their way here. In truth they've been altered quite a bit and rather than being allowed to spread out and expand have often been squeezed into a single episode and feel somewhat rushed.
Timothy Olyphant is now the executive producer. He underplays his character just a little too much this time around, he's looking older and has lost some of that edge he had in the previous two series.
Elmore Leonard is still heavily in with the writing team but his usual sharpness is often missing here too.
The one person who maintains his quality from series 1 & 2 is the truly superb Walton Goggins. Boyd Crowder remains a fascinating enigma and all but impossible not to like. Goggins steals every scene he's in and expresses emotion of every sort throughout.
The plots here are pretty thin and it seems some effort has been made to focus more on relationships & character but they had both been achieved previously without the need for sacrificing a good story and especially pace which has been near disastrously abandoned. There are times when this can drag.
Too much filler and waffle alongside weak plots, unbelievable or underused characters and an all too quiet Raylan mean that this is easily the weakest of the three series so far.
So don't bother? Not quite. A weak Justified still beats 90 per cent of whatever else TV has to offer and this still throws up some class moments. None more so than the final 30 seconds. What's been said sinks in on the face of Raylans pregnant girlfriend Wynona at the same time as it does upon the viewer. The look of shock and sadness on her face is the same as will be upon yours. A terrible truth is spoken that makes that the finest 30 seconds that TV has seen in some considerable time.
While we await season fours direction this will have to do. There are enough moments to make this worthwhile but if your a fan then you don't need me to convince you.
If you're not then please don't start here. Go to season 1 and see what all the fuss was about then relish the excellent second series.
It would seem that season four returns to the hollows of Harlan County with Boyd finding god once more and Raylans dad Arlo creating real mischief so here's hoping the plotline returns to its bluegrass roots and leaves the city folks behind.