Judge David Johnson isn't going to leave Harlan County alive.
Our reviews of Justified: The Complete First Season (published January 18th, 2011), Justified: The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray) (published December 28th, 2011), and Justified: The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray) (published January 3rd, 2013) are also available.
Once again, Justified rides to the rescue and saves television from itself.
Facts of the Case
Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant, Live Free or Die Hard) finds himself embroiled in the biggest case of his career: a former associate of a legendary Detroit gangster has resurfaced and he carries with him enough information to keep him squarely in the mob's targets. As Raylan works every angle to reveal the mysterious man, Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins, Predators) tightens his grip on the local crime scene, while also seeking to reap the rewards of the Detroit manhunt. As the stakes rise, the body count builds, and Raylan will be forced to call upon the sum total of his lethality and aw-shucks-bad-assness to survive.
"What a great show."
I'm too lazy to check my reviews from previous seasons, but I'd be surprised if I didn't open those reviews with the same sentiment. Ever since I first encountered Justified, I was enamored; the Elmore Leonard-powered series blended dark (laugh-out-loud) humor with spaghetti western violence, all of it anchored by one of the great protagonists to have graced the small screen.
I speak of Raylan Givens, the drawling lawman with the wry wit and tendency to get himself into all manner sticky situations. Olyphant's alpha gunfighter continues to be a delight to watch (the second season aside, of course, when the writers opted to defang him for some reason) and the storylines he gets to tangle with tend to be wholly satisfying.
All that is an accurate description of Season 4, a dynamite installment that brings to the table everything that makes Justified one of the very best shows on TV, while also expanding the reach of its mythology and laying the groundwork for another gonzo season. Basically: it's everything I wanted and you'd be a damn fool to pass this up.
The thrust this year: all the major players in Harlan County and points north (i.e., Detroit and all of its mob affiliations) are honing in on a man called Drew Thompson who can provide damning info to the authorities. The season plays out as an extended chase movie, except the chase happens within the county's borders. Raylan sees in this cased the means to climb the ladder and provide for his incoming baby and Boyd is all over the opportunity to become a legit gamer in the criminal underworld. There are plenty of compelling secondary characters—Colt (Ron Eldard), Boyd's enforcer and sociopath; Constable Bob (Patton Oswalt), the affable in-over-his-head civilian crimefighter and a brother/sister pair of charismatic traveling preachers that provide the Crowders with more than a few headaches and snakebites—but the engine that drives Justified continues to be the relationship between Boyd and Raylan.
At this point, Goggins and Olyphant have honed their on-screen relationship to perfection and anytime the two intersect—which, thankfully, is frequent—yields electricity. They truly are men cut from the same cloth, whose psychoses have led them down different paths and the dynamic is a treat to watch.
Lots of surprises await in this season, so this is where I'll curtail the review. As pound-for-pound entertainment goes, I can think of no other show that's as much a blast to watch as Justified. I mainlined these episodes in clusters for the review and it's been awhile since I had a season of television in my clutches that kept me clamoring for more. Consider this the highest recommendation.
A nifty Blu-ray awaits, starting with an excellent 1.78:1 transfer (1080p, MPEG-4 AVC encoded), which paints the rural scenery with thick, sharp earthy colors and gives way to a twangy, rich DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround. These sets typically come with interesting extras and this one is no different: commentary on ten episodes, outtakes, deleted scenes and these Featurettes: "Becoming Boyd," "Script to Screen: The Finale," "Deadly Serious: Constable Bob," "The Veterans' Experience" and "Anatomy of an Episode."
Dark, funny, violent, complex and well-executed from top to bottom, Justified continues to make a strong case for "Best Show on TV." Season 4 is more evidence.
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