Ah, summer. It's hot, it's humid, and there isn't even a lot of new programming to keep us excited. It's like the tv networks WANT me to spend all my time laying by the pool instead of glued to the couch. What are they thinking?
It's a good thing I plan ahead. The entire third season of FX's Justified has been on my DVR since it began airing in January. Not because I couldn't get around to watching it, or because I don't love it, but because I wanted to wait for the entire series to air so I could suck it down back to back in a multi-day orgy of television watching. And this past week I finally got to catch up.
Summer lovin, had me a blast...
In case you are utterly unfamiliar with Justified, the show centers around a US Deputy Marshall named Raylan Givens. He's originally from a small town in Kentucky called Harlan, and years after he "escapes" the area, he is reassigned to the Lexington field office. He's not exactly pleased with this turn of events, for you see, things in the country are not all they appear. Under the veneer of bible-thumping and clean living lies a mess of drugs, moonshine, and murder that would make people from the most dangerous inner city blush.
The third season of Justified centers around the power void left after the events of the second season's finale. Someone needs to take control of the drug business in Harlan, and there's some new and old players to contend with. New in town is the super blonde and utterly sociopathic Robert Quarles, who represents the interests of a Detroit drug kingpin. Also jockeying for power is Boyd Crowder, who has made his own crew and is moving in on the area oxy distributors. Rounding out the "bad guys" is Limehouse, a man who acts as a sort of bank for the criminal types in Harlan and has his finger in almost every pot...and pig, since he also owns a BBQ joint and is constantly shown with his hands elbow-deep in pork. Add to the mix Dicky Bennet who is trying to recover the 3.5 million dollars previously held by his mama--and well, things get dangerous fast.
Trust me when I say that Quarles is one crazy motherfucker.
But at the center of everything is Raylan Givens, played by the tall drink of water, Timothy Olyphant. He's kind of an updated (and less clenched) version of the character he played in Deadwood. Still a cowboy and still trying to do good, but not above dealing some good old fashioned pain when it's called for.
Justified's strength lies in its actors and characters--one of which is Kentucky itself. The show does such a great job of creating the world, from the language, accents, and locations, that you feel yourself totally immersed in the back-country of Harlan county. Each episode usually has a scene or two with such tense ambiance that I find myself peeking through my fingers. These people are capable of great violence and live by their own moral code. It's fascinating, frightening, and entertaining as hell.
The third season relies heavily on the first two, so I kind of wish I had taken the time to refresh my memory before watching. However, most things were explained by context, and it's kind of nice to watch a show that doesn't assume I am as dumb as a post. Any wonderings of "now who is that guy again?" were quickly made up for by the incredible plotting, acting, and twists. This show always keeps you guessing as to who is double-crossing who and what people's true motivations are. Well, it's a safe bet that most of the characters are motivated by money, but you know what I mean.
If you haven't made the trip to Harlan yet, I suggest starting at the beginning. The first two seasons are available on DVD and netflix (though not streaming), and the past third season episodes are currently available on Amazon instant video and iTunes.