Blood is thicker than water in the back-country of “Justified” — and it flows like water too in Tuesday night’s episode (10/9c on FX).
It’s the third-to-last episode of the season — the series’ third — and so many situations come to a head in this single hour that you have to wonder what on Earth executive producer Graham Yost and his team have left for the final two episodes.
One thing the episode on Tuesday (March 27) has that TV’s been lacking lately: Plenty of hard-boiled gunplay (and swordsmanship, believe it or not) — the kind of action sequences that gangster-movie-and-TV aficionados crave. In fact, though its hillbilly storylines play out in the rural regions of Kentucky, “Justified” is TV’s top gangster series — and its only one, now that HBO has run out of “Luck,” and until Starz premieres its Miami Beach-based gangster series “Magic City” April 6.
Who’s squaring off on “Justified”? Just about everybody, but at the center of this show’s complicated conflicts are U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) and an icy, archcriminal from out-of-town, Robert Quarles (Neal McDonough) who we’ve seen this season transform from icy and smooth to icy and downright psychotic.
Though they represent two different sides of the law, Givens and Quarles are in conflict with all of the same people (but for different reasons), among them: Country kingpin Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) and the backwoods “banker” Ellstin Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson).
And there’s something else about “Justified” that becomes more or less obvious as soon as you get into it: Just about everybody in it is doing some of the best work of their careers, including the above-mentioned Goggins, Williamson and McDonough, and also Jeremy Davies as a rival country criminal, Dickie Bennett.
And, of course, there’s Timothy Olyphant, who first distinguished himself as the laconic, shoot-first-ask-questions-later sheriff of HBO’s “Deadwood” and is now playing a more or less modern-day version of that same cool lawman.
He’s a charismatic figure, who steals every scene he’s in, even when he’s virtually motionless. He’s as good a reason as any to get caught up with “Justified.”
“Justified” has three episodes to go in its third season. The finale is titled “Slaughterhouse,” which probably refers to Limehouse’s actual slaughterhouse (he’s a hog butcher), but also to some sort of slaughter that seems inevitable. And there will be a fourth season: The show’s already been renewed.
“Justified” airs Tuesday nights at 10/9c on FX.