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Welcome Back, "Justified"

By admin Published: January 17, 2012

The FX series begins its third season tonight. I still love it . . .

The second season ended so remarkably, not least because of Margo Martindale's performance, that it would seem hard for the third to keep up the pace. But it certainly does in the early going (I have seen three episodes so far), with a splendid blend of violence, storytelling and comedy very much in keeping with Elmore Leonard, whose writing inspired the series.

As the new season begins, federal marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) is recovering from his wound in the second-season finale, but the business from the second season is not over. Mags may be dead, but pieces of her business remain, and plenty of guys, smart and dumb, are angling to make money off those pieces. (Among the show's cagier criminals are characters played by Neal McDonough, Mykelti Williamson and Pruitt Taylor Vince, and there does not appear to be a warm heart in the lot.)

Needless to say, the anglers also include Raylan's friend and sometime rival, Boyd Crowder (the superb Walton Goggins), and as always Boyd's presence puts the show on a higher, more interesting level. But the show is not just about crime; it's about trying to make a life in circumstances that challenge anyone with a moral code. One of Olyphant's great virtues is the way his Raylan so often seems puzzled by human behavior, and especially women's; he is never confused about what he has to do on the job, but life -- well, Raylan is rather less well suited to dealing with life.

Not that he is alone in trying to deal. For example, there's s an upcoming episode that's a nice showcase for Raylan's boss (Nick Searcy). And among the bad guys are countless numbskulls whose big dreams lead them into bloody messes. And even in those messes things can turn starkly, realistically funny, as when one lowlife says of another, "You know, he bled a whole lot more than I thought he would."
Such a good show, and so worth your watching.

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