Justified: Season Three [Blu-Ray]

Justified: Season Three [Blu-Ray]
7
Season two's lyrical tale of the Bennett clan is a tough act to follow, but everyone involved in this top-notch series, based on razor-tongued author Elmore Leonard's no nonsense lawman, Raylan Givens (the ridiculously charming Timothy Olyphant), tries their damnedest to maintain those high standards of storytelling, albeit in a distinctly different direction. Having thoroughly explored the potent depths of sympathetic antagonists — between Givens' perpetual friendly nemesis, Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), and crime matriarch Mags Bennett (Margo Martindale) — the Justified team try out a full-blown villainous psychopath, in the form of the murderous, Oxycontin-dealing sexual predator Robert Quarles (a highly disturbing Neal McDonough). This tonal shift makes for some pretty damn thrilling television, though it does so at the expense of emotional resonance. It's hard to feel anything other than pure disgust in the actions of a big city albino drug addict running his rabid sense of entitlement all over Harlan County, and that's precisely what the writers intended, according to "Crossing the Line," an in-depth look behind the scenes of season three. Even without it being spelled out by showrunner Graham Yost, the season's theme of characters overstepping their moral boundaries is abundantly clear, especially in the actions of Ava Crowder, who becomes the madam of a prostitution ring, and Raylan himself, who lets his already short temper off the leash at the provocation of Quarles and partner Wynn Duffy's high-stakes villainy. Many of the show's regular side players, particularly the other members of the Marshal service and Raylan's flickering flame, Wynonna, have even less presence and bearing on the story than in previous seasons, with the majority of the action focused on Boyd's gang, the insular African American crime syndicate of Nobel's Holler, led by Ellstin Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson), and Raylan's pursuit of Dickie Bennett (Jeremy Davies), following his unintentional prison break and subsequent search for his dearly departed momma's hidden cash. This wonderfully acted and beautifully shot series — spend all you want, Boardwalk Empire, but great cinematography and impeccable lighting don't have to break the bank — may not have quite the dramatic impact of last season, but it's still wildly exhilarating and surprisingly funny. Spread over three discs, the special features this time out are the best yet, mostly thanks to a fantastic conversation between Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins that's equally hilarious and informative. With that type of chemistry, it's too bad they didn't have time to join forces for any of the nine commentary tracks included. Different configurations of creative staff and cast show up to say their piece, but the season premier commentary with Olyphant and Jere Burns (who plays Duffy) is the one that really crackles. Additionally there are a few deleted scenes, a collection of outtakes that include a few genuinely funny moments, a detailed run-through of how to safely simulate a car bomb and a research-heavy tour of the Nobel's Holler set with production designer Dave Blass. What more justification do you need to pick up a copy of one of the most entertaining shows on television? (Sony)