Justified Season Two [Blu-Ray]

Justified Season Two [Blu-Ray]
A massive injection of acting talent has greatly invigorated this second season of quick-witted, smooth talking lawmen and idealistic criminals squaring off in present day Kentucky. Joining the already fantastic primary cast of Timothy Olyphant, Walton Goggins, Nick Searcy and regular side players like Raymond J. Barry are heavyweights Margo Martindale, who understandably won an Emmy for her portrayal of criminal matriarch Mags Bennett, and Jeremy Davies, Brad William Henke and Joseph Lyle Taylor, as her sons. After last season's climactic showdown left the Crowder family in shambles and a giant hole in Harlan County's criminal power structure, we find Boyd Crowder (Goggins) literally seeking rock bottom, finding employment as a miner while trying to resist the constant temptation to return to his former illicit career. Filling that void of primary antagonists for U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Olyphant) is the Bennett clan, long-time weed dealers branching out into more violent territory, with the murder of a young girl's father and insidious dealings with a mining company. They also happen to have a longstanding feud with the Givens family, exacerbating tensions during Raylan's investigation, especially with the dopey human powder keg that is Coover (Henke) and the emotionally wounded and power hungry Dickie (Davies). On the home front, Raylan continues to reconcile with ex-wife Winona (Natalie Zea) between the sheets on a regular basis, getting drawn into some fairly senseless drama that while entertaining, does little to reinforce the season's themes, causing a little mid-season sagging by shifting the focus away from the central story. Otherwise, season two is expertly plotted and written with the razor-tongued wit befitting of author/producer Elmore Leonard, and impeccably acted nearly across the board – Erica Tazel fails to elevate the underwritten role of Deputy Marshal Rachel Brooks. Without significantly increasing the budget, the creators improved the look of the show, with greater attention to lighting and an increased focus on location scouting, which in turn creates more dynamic options for cinematography by playing more scenes outdoors. We get a good look at many of these locations and how they're altered to masquerade as alternate settings in disc one feature "On the Set of Justified." Each disc has a meaty feature, alongside a scattering of largely unnecessary deleted scenes, and "Clans, Feuds & Apple Pie" is the second disc's main course. Showrunner Graham Yost discusses the importance of getting to know the motivations and humanity of villainous characters, something Justified does better than any show since The Wire, and each actor portraying a member of the Bennett clan speaks a piece on their character, with Davies revealing his status as an Elmore Leonard super-fan who actively sought a role, Henke admitting the difficulty of finding terror in a rubber hammer and Margo Martindale very openly and knowledgably describing the creation of Mags. An amusing collection of outtakes supplement disc three's "Round Table Discussion," in which the show's producers, including Yost and Elmore Leonard, candidly share tales of the creative and business processes involved in making the show. The special features for this Blu-Ray collection, while solid, don't go above and beyond the call of duty, but the superbly written and acted show certainly does. (Sony)