On Tonight: ‘Justified’ Returns

The highly esteemed “Justified” (FX, 10 p.m.) returns for its third season at its highest profile yet. Timothy Olyphant’s portrayal of U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens is now poised to eclipse his portrayal as sheriff Seth Bullock on “Deadwood”; certainly his hat is bigger, even as his demeanor is cooler, more reserved and a perfect conduit for a character created by Elmore Leonard.

The new season from show creator Graham Yost is minus one great asset – the actress Margo Martindale, who won an Emmy playing crime matriarch Mags Bennett. But there is a new gang to worry about, with Neal McDonough joining the cast as a visitor to Harlan County, Kentucky, from the Detroit mob.

There’s some unfinished business from last season – Raylan is recovering from gunshot wounds in the second season and at first is confined to a desk; his ex Ava, played by Joelle Carter, is wearing a sling from her own wounds; and Walton Goggins’ Boyd is wearing prison orange.

“Justified” continues its slow burn approach to crime drama, with lowkey performances, colorful banter and a credible rural underbelly of crime. It’s really a pleasure to have back.

To mark its return, here’s a list I made for Salon on the 10 Greatest TV Westerns.

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