This is such a boom time for TV drama two of the most entertaining hours around, TNT’s “Southland” and FX’s “Justified,” spent most of the season running opposite each other, and — despite plenty of admirers in media circles — often seem to generate less attention than the higher-profile fare on HBO, Showtime and AMC.
“Justified” will wrap up its third season April 10, with an episode (made available in advance) that seeks to resolve the dizzying number of conflicts and two new bad guys introduced in the current campaign, played by Neal McDonough (pictured, right) and Mykelti Williamson.
Although the show remains anchored by Timothy Olyphant’s charismatic portrayal of shoot-first, sort-it-out-later U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, roaming the modern wilds of Kentucky, showrunner Graham Yost and company have done a remarkable job of surrounding him with firstrate guest stars and crafting season-long arcs. In addition, those seasons tend to layer upon each other — hence, we get Jeremy Davies still in the mix this season, after playing a pivotal role in the second — while largely paying off the central plot.
Without giving anything away, the finale manages to address most of the loose ends, incorporating plenty of dark humor as well as action and violence. It’s also the closest thing to a successful western on television, even if the miscreants populate meth dens instead of saloons.
For my money (and with apologies to “Sons of Anarchy”), this is now FX’s signature drama — as smooth and bracing as a belt of Kentucky bourbon.
And in honor of the third season, I’ll make mine a double.