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Justified: The Complete Second Season(TV) (2011)
After U.S Marshal Raylan Givens finds himself in hot water over the shooting of a Miami crime boss, he is reassigned to the last place on Earth he'd rather be; Harlan County, Kentucky, where he was born and raised. There he must deal with his ex-wife, criminal father, an old friend turned white supremacist, and the latter's former sister-in-law who quickly rekindles her attraction to Givens. Kentucky won't be the same now that the cowboy marshal is home.
For more about Justified: The Complete Second Season and the Justified: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray release, see Justified: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on January 1, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Timothy Olyphant, Jeremy Davies, Margo Martindale, Raymond J. Barry, Walton Goggins, Nick Searcy
Directors: Jon Avnet, Peter Werner
» See full cast & crew
Justified: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray Review
Can fans justify a purchase of this TV show Blu-ray release?
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, January 1, 2012
My guns are always loaded.
First it was "Cowboys" versus "Indians," then "Cops" versus "Robbers," "D.E.A." versus "drug dealers," and now in Justified it's "Cowboy" versus "drug dealers." No matter who's on the opposing sides, no matter which shape or configuration the dynamic make take, or where the action may occur, the story of good versus evil has been, remains, and likely always will be the hallmark of both fictional entertainment and reality, continuing that whole symbiotic circle about art imitating life imitating art and so on. It's a terribly old device, good versus evil -- going back to that fateful day with a couple of naked people, a snake, a tree, and an apple -- so it's the degree to which the line between the two becomes blurred and the histories surrounding the sides that both bring them closer together and pull them further apart that now fills in the gaps and presents audiences with a greater dynamic, and therefore a reason to watch, than the old black-and-white basics are usually capable of achieving. That's exactly where the second season of Justified goes. Not only does it continue right where it left off with the roller coaster easing and warming of tensions between U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) and season one adversary Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), but it introduces a third party into the conflict, the Bennett Clan, a family engaged in a long standing feud with the Givens', both now on opposite sides of the law, the feud further defined and fueled by a more recent grudge between Raylan and Bennett family member Dickie (Jeremy Davies). That trifecta promises to come to a heated and deadly head as the season plays out in what is more of an arc-style presentation, as opposed to season one's more piecemeal approach to storytelling.
U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens has successfully escaped from a very sticky situation involving some of his former Miami nemeses and continues to work in and around Harlan with longtime partner Rachel Brooks (Erica Tazel) at his side. The violence may have died down and Boyd Crowder may be subdued, but that doesn't mean there's nothing left for Raylan to do around his little corner of Kentucky. Boyd is trying his hand at honest work, returning to the mine where he and Raylan worked together years ago, but surely a man like Boyd cannot resist the temptations for criminal activity the mine presents, can he? He's also becoming more involved with his dead brother's wife Ava (Joelle Carter), while Raylan's relationship with ex-wife Winona (Natalie Zea) heats back up, though she's still married to the real estate agent who once stole her from Raylan, Gary Hawkins (William Ragsdale). Raylan continues to be in conflict with his father Arlo (Raymond J. Barry), but the real surprise comes when Harlan's power vacuum is filled by the Bennett clan, local small-time moonshiners and weed pushers whose family history goes back with the Givens' for almost three-quarters of a century. Family matriarch Mags Bennett (Margo Martindale) is happy with her family's position and level of involvement in the drug business, but that doesn't stop her sons -- including Raylan's personal nemesis Dickie and local Sheriff Doyle (Joseph Lyle Taylor) -- from branching out. Meanwhile, Mags' hand has been forced in a sticky situation, leading to the murder of one of her employees, the father of a fourteen-year-old girl named Loretta (Kaitlyn Dever). Mags has promised to keep Loretta in her care, but can the young lady live without really knowing what happened to her father, and how will the Bennetts operate in Harlan with Raylan shadowing their every move?
Justified strengthens its position and claim to one of television's better shows with its superior second season. Season two is mostly its own entity, with recurring characters, themes, and arcs to be sure, but it quickly brushes off the remnants of season one's cliffhanger and jumps right into the season two arc that centers around the various criminal power plays around Harlan between the criminally-enterprising factions, with poor old Raylan in the middle, he with the itchy trigger finger and predisposition to violence, but an uncanny ability to talk his way through situations with as much verbal strength, intimidation, and no-nonsense approach as his trusty Glock provides him physically. In the middle of it all, though, is little Loretta; in many ways this season is her story, the show painting a picture of a life devastated by crime and the almost necessary descent towards the very negative influences -- whether they portray themselves as such or not -- that shape her life over the course of the season, a season which is bookended by her relationship with the Bennetts and its lasting and landscape-altering consequences. Additionally, this season offers viewers plenty more in the way of dramatic angles and personal insights into the characters. The various backstories and character interconnectedness come both welcomed and seamlessly, creating within the show a more complex and, by extension, far more entertaining series of events than may be achieved through incremental development via standalone episodes. While season two does indeed see its share of independent stories, it's far more involved in the Raylan-Boyd-Bennett triumvirate, and that lasting arc gives the show a weight it didn't desperately need in season one, but that does now give the show a more complete and satisfying feel.
Justified's second season just wouldn't work -- no matter how juicy and involved the main storyline -- without superior acting to complete the illusion of small-town criminal enterprising going up against a complexly-constructed lawman who's city slick but country smart. Indeed, Justified's finest asset remains its cast, and even more so in season two. Timothy Olyphant delivers one of those rare efforts where he just is Raylan Givens; he's a natural fit -- the look, the mannerisms, the believable skill with a gun, the verbal cadence, the way the hat sits on his head, even -- and his performance carries the show even through its rare slower stretches and lesser story lines on stature and immersion into a completely rounded, wholly believable character alone. Walton Goggins continues to impress as the ever-evolving Boyd, the show's most interesting character to be sure. Goggins' ability to mesh small town characteristics with a scheming mind and a completely believable series of intense and intricate relationships as he tries his hand -- to varying degrees of success -- in both lawful and lawless pursuits, all complicated by a burgeoning relationship with Ava, make the character the show's most complex. But season two definitely belongs to the Bennetts; Jeremy Davies and Margo Martindale deliver the season's most dynamic, involved, and seamless efforts, in many ways topping even Olypahnt's impressive go as Raylan. Both actors easily mold themselves into small town Kentucky criminals both inwardly and outwardly. The dynamics they create and reinforce are the season's best asset, a criminal family that's finally not of the big city slick, suit-wearing variety but moonshiners and weed pushers who favor sweaty clothes, filthy ball caps, and backwoods living to the penthouses and other luxuries normally portrayed in Hollywood crime family sagas. Their ability to become a different sort of criminal family allows the show to both continue in its small-town storytelling tradition while bringing in some welcome larger-scale elements that enhance the season and the story through a unique combination that only Justified can seemingly achieve.
Justified: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, Video Quality
Season two of Justified arrives on Blu-ray with a quality 1080p, 1.78:1-framed transfer, albeit one that's not completely free of issues. Clarity is generally outstanding, particularly in brighter daylight and well-lit interior scenes. This allows the transfer to reveal some truly fantastic detailing. All sorts of natural, pristine textures -- denim, worn down caps and jackets, felt hats, wooden planks, chipped paint, and natural outdoor elements -- are evident throughout the season. Facial detail is often strong, too, though there are instances where it considerably lessens and smooths out under lower light. Colors are strong as well. The palette is bright and vibrant but not unnaturally so; it rarely drifts towards an unwanted warm shading, and never do colors appear on the other end of the spectrum, washed out or otherwise in any way appearing not as intended. The transfer does suffer in its darker scenes. Blacks turn murky, allowing shadows and darker surfaces to form one gigantic blob of darkness with little-to-no definition. Such scenes sometimes yield softer elements, too, and it's here where the transfer loses its crisp detailing. Intermittent noise in darker scenes is cause for concern, and banding across background surfaces in any condition occasionally causes problems. Despite a few issues, however, the majority of Justified's season two Blu-ray presentation looks quite good in high definition.
Justified: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Season two of Justified debuts on Blu-ray with a satisfying DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. The track's most consistent -- and dominant -- feature is the total immersion of small town Kentucky ambience that may be heard throughout. Natural woodland ambience is consistently strong. Buzzing insects may be heard in almost every episode, light breezes occasionally blow about the listening area, while general small town ambience -- barking dogs, distant train whistles, the rumbling of heavy machinery -- help to create a sonically faultless environment. The show's opening title music is wonderful, yielding superb energy, great clarity, and a potent low end, a fine mix that serves the show well. Bass can get a little off kilter; the beginning of "Reckoning" yields heavy, rattly bass that's little more than loud vibrations. Though the scene calls for such a sound, it seems as if it could have been tighter and more focused. Gunfire is consistently crisp and satisfying, notably as heard in a major multi-rifle shootout heard in "Bloody Harlan." Dialogue is always steady, though there are one or two instances where it becomes a bit lost under heavier effects and ambience. All told, however, this is a very satisfying, immersive, and clear track that listeners will enjoy a great deal.
Justified: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Unfortunately, Justified: The Complete Second Season doesn't contain many extras, certainly not proportional to the length of the season. Deleted Scenes are included for select episodes, but are not accessible through the "Special Features" tab; they must be chosen from the individual episode listing, and may be missed by viewers who select the menu's "Play All Episodes" option.
Justified: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Justified may not be the finest show currently running on television, but it's right up there -- and ascending -- thanks to season two's improvement on the first and the show's further development of the characters and dynamics, both new and old alike. Justified works so well because it's so very different; it's refreshing to see a show drift away from the comfortable big city locales and dynamics and introduce a small town, more personal, in ways more relatable, character roster and structure, even if the whole "drug" angle is getting a little long in the tooth as the scriptwriter's generic go-to crutch. Fortunately, Justified uses it only as a device of convenience, making the show about relationships and not just drug business-fuled action. That season two also follows a better-defined arc over season one is a great asset, and the final two episodes of this season are representative of the show's current peak of excellence, episodes that bring together everything that makes Justified such an addicting watch. Sony's Blu-ray release of Justified is good, but certainly not perfect. More supplements would have made this into a better set, but considering the quality of the show and the better-than-average technical presentations, it's definitely worth a buy. Recommended.
Justified: Other Seasons
Justified: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, News and Updates
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