Last night, FX gave us another thrilling episode of Justified, and I think this fourth season has been a joy to watch thus far. Is it possible that we're watching the best season yet of perhaps the finest show on television?
There are a number of things that make Justified special. The show's ability to tap into Elmore Leonard's world and deliver the riveting characters, the thrilling plots, and all the action and humor that make Leonard the foremost crime writer on the planet are a major asset to the program. Star Timothy Olyphant was made for the role of Raylan Givens, and Walton Goggins is also a perfect match for his part, that of Raylan's old pal/nemesis Boyd Crowder. Crowder was originally slated to perish in the series premiere (the character did meet his end in Leonard's short story "Fire in the Hole", which served as both the inspiration and the pilot for the series) and the decision to keep him around has paid dividends for FX. The way these characters relate to one another and the situations the show puts them in have cemented Justified as top-tier entertainment, but there's more to it than that.
The setting is critical, the supporting cast is outstanding, and the various guest stars (many of whom starred alongside Olyphant in HBO's supreme western series, Deadwood) always bring a lot to the equation. The show has the look of a feature film, the soundtrack is on point, and each season has done a splendid job of focusing on one big story while telling a multitude of smaller ones. In truth, each season has been a terrific success, and I don't know how I would rank them. Yet, at present, I'm tempted to say that this fourth season has been the finest. Where will it take us, and how it will measure up to its predecessors when all is said and done? Well, that remains to be seen, but I'll be sure to weigh in when we get there.
What I do know is this: Justified may just be the best show on TV, and this fourth season may be the best. If you're not watching it, you should be.