In the first season of Justified, US Marshall Raylan Givens had his hands full with Bo and son Boyd Crowder. In the upcoming season of Justified, starting sometime in February of 2011, Raylan will be facing a new enemy.

Margo Martindale, the actress who has made a name for herself playing supporting but memorable roles in Dexter, Mercy, and The Riches, is reportedly on-board to play the season’s antagonist, Mags Bennett.

According to TV Guide, Martindale’s character is the matriarch of the Bennett clan, a menacing presence in the Harlan County criminal world. Apparently Raylan has had an adversarial relationship with the Bennett family – the biggest pot farmers in Eastern Kentucky for generations. Looks like Mags may be an even bigger thorn in Raylan’s side than the Crowder family.

In case you missed it, the addition of Martindale is not the first significant cast pickup. Jeremy Davies, who played Daniel Faraday on Lost, has been tapped to portray Mags’ eldest son, Dickie.

Providing a worthy opponent for Raylan is going to be crucial this season. One of the few faults of the first season was the lack of believability in the Crowders as legitimate threats to Raylan and the Marshall’s office. Any time Raylan crossed paths with Bo or his son Boyd there seemed to be a significant lack of danger present – one always knew that Timothy Olyphant’s Raylan would triumph. It was not unlike Olyphant’s Sherriff Bullock in Deadwood coming up against Ian McShane’s Al Swearengen… Bullock was consistently ineffective.

Hopefully this season will be less disjointed between episodes. Last season, it was as if the writers couldn’t decide whether to serialize the show, progressing the storylines week after week (much like Dexter or Breaking Bad) or to go the procedural route – having each episode stand on its own (much like CSI). Justified, at times, has been somewhat awkward to view –  with a few too many dangling storylines.

That said, the series was certainly one of the best new shows of 2010, but it could have been even better. It has a lot of potential – and much of that can be attributed to the wonderful work of Timothy Olyphant. He can make the most of any material and elevate it to another level (see The Crazies, A Perfect Getaway).

The addition of Martindale and Davies should step things up as well – my hopes are high for this season.

Are you as excited for the new season as I am? What did you think of the first season, and do you agree with my gripes?

The second season of Justified airs in February on FX.

Source: TV Guide