‘Justified’ Season 3 Premiere Review & Discussion

Published 3 years ago by , Updated July 31st, 2013 at 10:35 am,

justified season 3 premiere review Justified Season 3 Premiere Review & Discussion

Fresh off an Emmy win for Margo Martindale’s portrayal as the violently altruistic Mags Bennett in season two, Justified spectacularly kicks off its third season by introducing two intriguing, yet completely terrifying, antagonists that serve to masterfully delve further into the criminal vein that runs through Kentucky’s infamous small town.

Picking up three weeks after the Justified season 2 finale, a visibly weakened Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) is forced to take a desk position at the U.S. Marshall’s while his two soon-to-be adversaries, Fletcher “The Ice Pick” Nix and Robert Quarle, make their way in to Harlan.

On loan from Dexter, the always wonderful Desmond Harrington portrays the eerily charming gunslinger Fletcher, who is brought in by the town magnate, Emmitt Arnett (Steven Flynn), to help secure funds that are owed to Justified season 3 baddy Robert Quarle.

Quarle, who is chillingly portrayed by Neal McDonough (Captain AmericaBand of Brothers), remains a mystery for the majority of the premiere (his name not even mentioned), though his wrath is certainly felt. Without ever revealing his clearly defined intentions for the town, Quarle not only usurps Arnett from his position of power in Harlan, but he also replaces Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns) as Harlan’s resident psychopath – something that Duffy will quickly attest to.

While much of the premiere focuses on Arnett’s storyline in order to set up this season’s intended story arc, the beauty in which the writers created these icy characters (one to stay and one to go) out of the already established mythos of the series serves to brilliantly expand upon the already rich storytelling that has engrossed television audiences for the past two years.

justified season 3 timothy walton Justified Season 3 Premiere Review & Discussion

Instead of simply crowbarring in a new resident to stand opposite of Givens each season, the producers made the decision to further develop many of the supplementary characters of the series to the point where it becomes perfectly logical for new dangers originate from. This notion, while sounding simplistic at its core, further conveys why Justified is one of the best shows on television.

Despite the possibility that fans of the loveably delinquent Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) will be unhappy with amount of screen time he and his ever-expanding group of intelligence-challenged cohorts – sans Ava (Joelle Carter) – received in the Justified season 3 premiere, it’s understandable that a truly enthralling character such as Boyd has his storylines limited to a certain extent.

With enough foreshadowing to intuit a future battle between Boyd and Quarle over dominance of Harlan, the producers made the wise decision to use Quarle as way to help lay the foundation for the seasonal storyline than to risk overusing one of Justified’s strongest characters.

Of course, the strongest character award on Justified goes to Olyphant. In a move to continuously remind all those watching why he is, in fact, considered one of the best actors on television, the manner in which Olyphant presents Givens’ newly presented weaknesses – something that was arguably mentioned a tad too often – is wonderfully realized in the ever subtle, nuance changes to the way Givens would typically hold himself.

Instead of simply favoring one side or alluding to an injury through his movements, the producers and Olyphant added another level of intrigue to the event. Besides being physically unable to take on someone (and win), there’s an interesting aspect of absentmindedness that was explored with the character being injured. So now not only is Givens unable to rely on his own body to protect himself, but now he’s unsure about the validity of the information that he’s obtaining.

Looking back on Justified season 1, there was an obvious learning curve that was present throughout. While many of the core elements were in place, the producers weren’t yet sure exactly how they wanted to format the series. A glaring jump from concurrent storylines to “prisoner of the week” in the first season is one of the few flaws the series has.

That being said, the manner in which the producers adapted, changed and evolved the series after experimenting with these varying iterations of storytelling clearly represents the earnest intentions of not only staying true to Elmore Leonard’s source material, but also giving their audience enough credit in being able to stay with a series that was an apparent work in progress. Perhaps this is the reason why Justified is the only adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s work that he’s proud of.

And proud of it he should be.


Justified airs Tuesdays @10pm on FX

Follow Anthony Ocasio on Twitter @anthonyocasio

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  1. I had been looking forward to this new season and was not disappointed at all. It really is ashame that Ilyphant doesn’t get more recognition for this roll. Walton has been an amazing television actor in his own right for the past decade ( Shane Vendrell on The Shield).

    Really looking forward to what is sure to be a great season!

  2. Last night’s episode was so awesome, the “draw” had me on my feet. Haha.

  3. Never watched this show, made it a point to watch this season for some reason and i gotta say it’s pretty cool. The ending was especially bad ass. My only gripe is that..i don’t see what all the fuss was about, good acting? yes. But there’s no..”hook” like most shows have, i.e breaking bad: Walter white, genius level chemist diagnosed with cancer wants to set his family up financially for life after he dies. That sounds great, i think most people would watch that. How do you sell justified? He’s a good U.S Marshall… and from what i think i saw/heard his father and brother are weed dealers? (someone who knows the show help me out please) that probably sounds like another version of Walker: texas ranger to most people. Again, love the show and not complaining i just don’t see how it’s lasted this long but i don’t mean it in a bad way. I do plan to keep watching and will probably buy the first two seasons and lock myself in to watch this weekend.

    • You should probably just catch up on the series on DVD, the show has allot of little things that have built up over the series that make up the overall theme of the show.

      What I can tell you is that his father is in business with the drug dealers, he has always been a criminal. Raylen was raised around criminals, which is part of his connection with the various criminal types in Tennessee.

      • I plan to, i did like what i saw. I read a synopsis where someone put that Raylen “Knows more about what he isn’t than what he is” from that i’m guessing THAT’S where his righteousness comes from/being estranged from his father. Which kind of makes me wonder where they came up with the title ‘Justified’. Initially on hearing that i thought he was a dirty cop who got results so his means where JUSTIFIED (kind of like walking tall meets training day). A little ticked i didn’t watch this until now.

        • It is a ruling for shootings, if it abides by the law then the shooting was “justified”. Raylan had a history of getting into shoot outs (pre-series, seasons 1 and 2), all of them ruled “justified”.

          • OHHH..that makes sense. Yeah i guess i’ll just buy the seasons.

            • Another meaning is that, coming from such a corrupt background, Raylan makes a point of being “justified” himself. He has an old-fashioned code and lives it. (Though things do get muddy from time to time.)

        • Yeah this show will kind of lose you if you missed season 1 and some of season 2. Raylen’s relationship with most of the characters in the show are so dis-functional that you need a scorecard. He really doesn’t want to be in his home state because of all the drama with these people he grew up with, but his self destructive nature has actually kept him stuck there.

  4. What a great premier. The only problem I had with Justified over the 1st 2 seasons were the “prisoner of the week” episodes. It felt just like every other cop show on the air. Granted season 2 had less of those episodes but it did happen. But if last nights episode is anything to go bye it seems like the writers have found one major arc that can run throughout that may be able to cut the “POW” episodes entirely. And IMO that can lead to Justified being placed in the top-tier of TV dramas along with Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, and Homeland.

  5. Good stuff! I like the set-up for putting Boyd back on the path of Dickie Bennett and it felt like a very strong episode for the actresses (minus Rachel, who rarely gets much to do). Each character had their moment, which was impressive with this size of an ensemble, but Desmond Harrington walked away with the episode in my opinion.

  6. Can’t stand Winona – wish she’d just disappear, but otherwise a great episode. The draw-down at the end was awesome. :-D

    • Not a fan of Winona, either. Why, why, why is she back with Raylan? AND pregnant? So predictable. Their relationship is the show’s one off note. I’d much rather see him with Ava.

    • I agree only real flaw in the show

  7. Man I love this show so glad it’s back. I will disagre the review and say that Boyd is not only the BEST character on the show but as good as Timothy is Walton is also the best actor on the show.

  8. This was an outstanding season premiere, with a really neat ending. We all figured Raylan would get the best of “the Icepick,” yet it was still a treat to watch how. I also enjoyed the introduction of Neal McDonough as the debonair yet icy bad guy, the return of the slimy Duffy, and the looks on the faces of Dickie and Dewey in the last minute of the show were just priceless. I really thought Dickie would be quickly dispatched by Boyd somehow in this premiere episode, so that the show could move on to new ground, but it looks like the last surviving Bennett brother will still be around for a while. Already looking forward to the appearances of Carla Gugino and Mykelti Williamson, probably in episode two. The one thing I’m wondering about, though, is if Rachel will once again be just window dressing on this show. Unless I missed it, I don’t think she even uttered a word in this episode. It’s too bad, because it seems like she could add a lot if her character is developed more. In any event, my fav show is back and already looking very, very good. Keep up the great work, Graham Yost, Tim Olyphant and company !

  9. Another great show with a great cast of strong characters. Walton and Olyphant are a joy to watch!

  10. This has definitely been my favorite show over the last 3 seasons (Breaking Bad a close second). I too (as others mentioned) thought the biggest flaw was the Prisoner of the Week episodes. I’m glad they have lightened up on that format. I like the fact that the show has a memory and I like dialogue and the blend of characters.

  11. like everything about the show, can’t wait for tomorrow night.awesome show

  12. Just noticed Fletcher and Raylan were doing the whole white hat/black hat thing, it’s the little things….

  13. me personally i love raylons attitude.hes so awesome i think timothy does a fantastic role.he was great on live free and die hard and screem 2 i love his character mickey.hes a great actor.i wish i could work with him that would be a dream come true.but i love justified and i think the person joelle carter is very beautiful.i love her and natalie zea they are beautiful.

  14. I like the show, but it seems a little of the edge at many times. In general these two families having a war, that’s fine but when you see them old faces looks not serious. Also how Crowder junior decides to build the empire back with a blonde woman and one veteran, and another in a wheelchair. Moreover, I thought that in the USA if you pull a gun or even only threat a police office you are in trouble. Pulling a gun- big trouble. Don’t know if this is because it is a redneck area, but in the series everyone pulls on the sheriff as if nothing happened. In most American gangsta’ movies and TV series, and especially in Justified they speak on the cell phones. The sheriff speaks from his ‘company’ cell phone about killing someone, dirty money, deals and more. Once again, I do like the show, but some moments are little impossible.