Justified: The Complete Second Season (Sony) confirms the FX original series as one of the best shows on TV.
U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) is still stuck in the Kentucky county he fled years before, this season reconnecting with his ex-wife (Natalie Zea) as he gets pulled into a complicated stand-off involving a family syndicate running the dope trade, meth, moonshine and other interests in Kentucky coal country. Margo Martindale won a well-deserved Emmy Award as the wily matriarch of the backwoods mafia taking on a corporate mining concern while her less disciplined sons (notably Jeremy Davies as a schemer with a grudge against Raylon) stir up trouble around the fringes of the business. What’s a mother to do?
The series, adapted from an Elmore Leonard short story, is an exceedingly smart piece of pulp fiction with the rough edges of fascinating characters and storylines with dramatic blowback. Case in point: the journey of Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), Raylon’s old friend turned criminal nemesis who begins the season trying to go straight with a job in the mines and finds himself drawn back to his strengths as the balance of power in the rural crime world shifts. Goggins’ measured performance and controlled intensity makes Crowder the most dangerous character in the series, and the conviction of his principles and loyalties makes him a marvelous complement to Raylon, whose own loyalties and ideas of justice continue to get him in trouble. Timothy Olyphant’s Raylon may be equal parts pulp cowboy and maverick TV cop, but he’s the real deal with lived in flaws that tell us as much about the past he’s trying to outrun as the man it turned him into.