We’re only a few weeks away from the Season 3 premiere of Justified and we’re excited to with all of those cool promos running on FX and Fox. Season 2 took the show to new heights and the show was recognized at this year’s Emmys. Like last season, we’re going to put our wish list of things we’d like to see more of and what would hurt to see more of. Here’s a link to last season’s list, which I believe were answered quite sufficiently except for Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) is still living in that motel. Let’s see how we do for season 3, shall we?
DO… Keep giving significance to Helen’s death.
Rest her soul, Raylan’s Aunt Helen (Linda Gehringer) was a one-of-a-kind. I always thought she was one of the more underrated characters in Justified–one I secretly rooted for despite her loyalty to Arlo (Raymond Berry). She was the linchpin in Arlo’s life. As much as they quarreled, Helen died protecting Arlo’s name and her widower should feel the weight on his shoulders for not protecting her at all costs (something tells me he won’t). Last year we learned about her history with Raylan and his upbringing. How Raylan kept from blasting a hole in Dickie Bennet’s (Jeremy Davies) head in the woods, I will never know. Helen’s death should also hang over Ava Crowder (Joelle Carter) about the risks in standing beside a troublesome man.
DON’T… Let Winona convince Raylan to leave Kentucky.
At Helen’s burial, Winona (Natalie Zea) saw Raylan’s headstone, which could lead to a future heart-to-heart conversation. Let’s recall that it was Arlo who traded stolen cows for those eerie headstones. I’m not entirely sure how much Raylan wants to be buried in the Givens plot and if there’s a southern obligation there. Winona’d like to think she could take Raylan away from this place. Maybe she’s successful but maybe not, but who else thrives in Harlan as well as Raylan? He didn’t belong in Miami and like some tractor beam, he was sucked back to Kentucky. Raylan understands the people, their plights, and their desperation. He can’t solve all their problems, but down deep inside, he knows he can make a difference here when most others just give up or do the minimum. Is Harlan putting his life at risk? That’s a good question. Winona and Raylan need to iron out his loyalty to his job and safety now that he is going to be a father. I just hope it doesn’t weigh down the season too much; last season’s capers with Winona went on about one episode too long.
DO… Continue finding ways to feature Marshals Rachel Brooks and Tim Gutterson and learn about their pasts.
After some early episodes that explored Rachel (Erica Tazel) dealing with the fallout of her deceased sister and Tim’s (Jacob Pitts) down time, both of Raylan’s co-workers were forgotten until they both had to babysit Raylan and Winona after they were attacked by a hit squad paid for by Winona’s current husband Gary (William Ragsdale). We’ve seen glimpses as to why Art treats Rachel as his eventual replacement but she admits that she doesn’t have the confidence dealing with the locals. She loves this work, just not this assignment. We know Tim is deadly with a gun but not much else. Hopefully we get to see both characters make an impact on Raylan’s life.
DON’T… Stop showing what U.S. Marshals do.
One of the subtle, yet essential elements I enjoy most on Justified is showing the various tasks U.S. Marshals must do. Catching fugitives is the most important part of the job but I enjoy seeing Raylan, Rachel, Tim and even Art groan over paperwork and reports. Then there’s the other tasks, like transferring and transporting inmates in season one. In season two it was photocopying each and every counterfeit bill that gets confiscated and moving office equipment around to hack into a computer. These tiny glimpses into the mundane tasks provide levity in the story. It also has our main cast interacting with some of the other workers in the building like the guy in charge of the evidence locker or the resident bitter computer specialist.
DO… Keep developing Ava Crowder.
I was captivated last season when Ava took Boyd into her home and gave him a short-list of conditions, only to break them when she developed a fondness for him. As Boyd re-established his branches of crime in Harlan with the help of his cousin Johnny (David Meunier), Ava not only stood by Boyd, she wanted to assist him as long as he didn’t extend his interests into prostitution. Assuming she survives the gunshot to her gut, is she capable of leading her own arm of corrupt business with Boyd? Or will she support him emotionally and turn a blind eye to his evil deeds like Helen did with Arlo? She’s already been shot once for Boyd; will that scare her away or give her a new reason to take charge? Is she the next Mags Bennett, or the next Helen Givens?
DON’T… Keep Gary in the picture
It was bad enough to see Raylan lose his focus at work by dealing with Winona’s problems with Gary, the house, and money but now that he is committed to her and their growing baby, the last thing they need to deal with is Gary. Hopefully he heeds Raylan’s advice and got in a car and didn’t stop driving until he saw the west coast. Winona is still technically married to him though and since he left so abruptly, I’m sure they’re not legally separated, so he may not be out of Raylan’s hat just yet.
DO… Keep the odds stacked against Raylan.
Season two started off slow but as the stress mounted on Raylan, that’s when Justified really clicked. Around the middle of the season, there were three to four episodes where Raylan juggled Winona stealing money from the evidence locker, the annoyance of Gary, protecting Loretta McCready and Ava, keeping track of the Bennett clan activity, the Dixie Mafia, maintaining Art’s confidence in him, understanding what Black Pike’s motives were in buying land from the locals, a bomb going off at the mines, and constantly keeping tabs on his Boyd and his father separately… Whew!
DON’T… Let Arlo off the hook.
When Raylan and his father share the screen it is great television, so when blocked, Justified writers, put Arlo into the scene. It’s one of the many characters Raymond Berry has splendidly brought to life. There’s no love lost between father and son and now with Helen no longer alive to shield Arlo from Raylan’s assault, we could see Arlo’s days on the outside numbered. We know that Arlo is going to work the angles and is running in Boyd’s crew. Raylan has never let his father off the hook, but will he find forgiveness now that he’s all that Arlo has? I’m looking forward to every one of their confrontations, but I fear there are a finite number of them left.
DO… Keep on giving us great villains.
I don’t envy Mykelti Williamson and Neal McDonough. They’re following Margo Martindale’s phenomenal Emmy-winning turn as Mags Bennett, Harlan’s departed crime matriarch. But it’s best we lay her to rest now and see which cockroach takes her place. Boyd Crowder has been bestowed a great deal of control from Mags, but that doesn’t mean he’s the only player in town. Williamson plays Ellstin Limehouse, a backcountry badman who is aiming to protect the sovereignty of his people while McDonough plays Robert Quarles, a Detroit Mob problem solver who comes to town seeing that the crime world is at unrest in eastern Kentucky. It wouldn’t be an Elmore Leonard story if there weren’t at least something or someone that ties back to the Motor City. And since some of these new characters have been around for awhile, we can’t wait to see how they fit in the fabric of Harlan lore and Raylan’s past.
DON’T… Forget how easy you have it with Boyd.
When in doubt, give us a great Boyd story. Who knows if he’ll be good or bad, or something twisted in between. We know he can’t be pure and we know he’s in position to strike at any time. But those FX promos with Boyd and Raylan shooting guns shoulder to shoulder at one common enemy makes us scratch our head. Walton Goggins is a TV gift that keeps on giving and while it’s best to never know what’s planned for Boyd Crowder, there’s never a bad moment when the story involves our favorite bad boy.
DO… Let us meet the Dixie Mafia.
We’ve heard rumblings and we know that Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns) has had dealings with them that led to Gary’s crooked investor in Season One. From all the rumors the Dixie Mafia seems like an epic-sized syndicate that could be saved for season four or five. Maybe some of these new characters are tied in, maybe they’re not but they sound like one of the major players who would try and take over areas that were once held by the Bennett clan.
DON’T… Forget about these scumbags.
With the new cast members stirring the pot there are a few old ones that will surely make a triumphant return. After the way season two ended, there’s no way we’ve seen the last of Dickie Bennett, and the same can be said about Wynn Duffy. What I really want to know though, is will we see Dewey Crowe (Damon Herriman) and Judge Mike Reardon (Stephen Root)? Okay, Judge Reardon might not be a scumbag but both he and Dewey provide a unique side of the world of Justified that we can’t help but love.
DO… Keep us updated on what little Loretta is up to.
Justified does a great job of circling back to past characters and since we’re talking about people we’d like to see again, the thought of Loretta McCready (Kaitlyn Dever) babysitting a bunch of kids is, well, a waste of talent. Once you go breaking bad, there’s no turning back, even though we’d like to think that young, drug-dealing entrepreneurs could rediscover dollhouses and the Babysitters Club. Dever is a fine young actress who was picked up by Tim Allen’s new hit show, Last Man Standing, but we hope she hasn’t left the FX stables for good that she couldn’t return and show us how really cute Harlan children can still be even when they’re tucked away in suburbia.
DON’T… Stop letting characters speak.
I was initially drawn into Justified by the idea that we were seeing a modern western set in crime stories, and while the gun fights are spectacular, nothing is better than seeing Raylan, Art, or even Boyd talk themselves out of a heated situation. The subtle nods and glances, play on words, or the slightest bit of sarcasm is some of the magic that’s created by the writers and carried out by the actors on the show. This show is one of the best on television because it’s intelligent scripts and the honest treatments of its characters. They show more by letting them speak than move and it’s so rare to find that quality in television today.
What do you want to see this season? Got something to add or comment, let’s hear it below! And don’t forget to vote for Justified in our Best of TV 2011. Justified Season 3 kicks off on Tuesdays, beginning January 17, 2012 on FX at 10PM ET/PT.