Justified, Reloaded: What's New for Season 3?

FX’s Southern-fried cop drama, Justified, pulls the trigger on its third season tonight at 10/9c. And while much about life in Harlan is as intense and incendiary as ever, some new faces and new dynamics portend to change things up.

For one, Mags Bennett is departed (and dearly so), but a pair of new bad guys are poised to fill the void. Also, dad-to-be Raylan (played by Timothy Olyphant) is due to get a blast from his past in the form of a not-unattractive former flame. Let us hit you with the highlights:

Justified Scoop: Jere Burns Previews Big-Time Villainy in Season 3

THE BIG BADS: Executive producer Graham Yost laments writing out Emmy nominee Margo Martindale, if not her Season 2 toughie. “We can’t just accumulate bad guys over the years and have them all sitting around in a room,” he argues. To keep Raylan on his toes moving forward, Yost corralled a pair of his Boomtown players, Neal McDonough and Mykelti Williamson (playing a nattily dressed Detroit crime boss and local drug runner, respectively).

For McDonough’s character, named Robert Quarles, Yost says, “We thought it would be cool to come up with someone who in the writers’ room we called a ‘carpetbagger’…. Initially, I thought [he'd be from] Boston because Neal is from that area. But then we thought, ‘No, let’s make him from Detroit to keep it as part of the Elmore [Leonard] world.’ We just thought it would be interesting to bring in a guy from the outside … who thinks he’s going to come down to Kentucky and show these backwoods hicks how crime is really done.” To that end, he’ll get help from local lowlife Wynn Duffy (played by Jere Burns).

Says McDonough himself, “To play a guy who is so villainous and so dastardly and so dashing, with the beautiful suits and the attitude and the Detroit lean that I’ve got, feels great. I’m having a blast.” And of working again with Williamson, he raves, “Our scenes just crackle. It’s like going back to Boomtown.”

THE BEAUTIFUL BAD-ASS: Assisting Raylan with an early case — and perhaps complicating his personal life some — is Carla Gugino, playing Karen Goodall, an old flame who’s now a Deputy Director for the U.S. Marshal service. Yet despite Gugino’s small-screen run as Leonard’s Karen Sisco and her characters’ identical first names, Yost maintains, “We didn’t want [this character] to be absolutely Karen Sisco. We just wanted it to be Carla Gugino playing a U.S. Marshal.”

THAT BEAUTIFUL, BITTER BROMANCE: One piece of Harlan life that has not changed one bit, thankfully, are the potentially explosive encounters between Raylan and Boyd Crowder, the perennial thorn in Kentucky law enforcement’s side. That dynamic, Walton Goggins assures fans, “is as contentious and lovely as it’s always been” — as evidenced by a glass-shattering, furniture-wrecking donnybrook the boys get into during the season premiere, right in the sheriff’s office. (It seems Boyd is still counting on getting a crack at Dickie Bennett and avenging Ava’s shooting, a face-off Raylan forced his foe to put a pin in when things started going sideways, fast, at the end of Season 2.)

Interestingly, Goggins suspects Boyd and Raylan really “like each other,” while Olyphant insists their relationship is based only in hate. “Never the twain shall meet,” Goggins allows. “And I hope that they never do, because I never really know what Tim is going to do [in a scene], and, hopefully, he never really knows what I’m going to do.”

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17 Comments
  1. lily says:

    Totally looking forward to the new season. Best show to come along in a LONG time.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    LOVE this show!
    So excited for season 3.

  3. steve says:

    yay!!! justified is back cant wait.

  4. Lisa says:

    I absolutely hate Neal McDonough. That’s the way to ruin Justified.

    • I have cookies! says:

      I hate people like you. Neal McDonough is great, look at his performance in Band of Brothers. Stop being so negative, and get some sunshine you old hag.

      • Ashley says:

        THIS. Also, win. And finally: seconded. just because I didn’t sound internet savvy enough with the first two.

        Seriously though, I completely agree with January. You don’t have to like everyone cast on a show, but jeez, if your like of said show is so easily swayed, perhaps you would do better just picking up a book. Then you’re in complete control of casting.

      • Ruby says:

        IAWTC. People who won’t even give something/someone a chance. So much negativity, it’s so irritating. Also, them casting an actor ONE PERSON doesn’t like doesn’t “ruin” the show, grow up “Lisa”.

  5. Barb says:

    Gotta say had no interest in the show when it first aired but watched season 2 and got hooked (wound up watching each repeat for the last two seasons). Looking forward to the new season.

  6. Lisa says:

    I partied with Walton Goggins at the Troubadour a few months back and he is a cool dude.

    • Ari says:

      Lucky! He seems like he’d be a cool guy! Boyd is my favorite character! So crazy yet authoritative. It’s very sexy. I love the bromance between Boyd and Raylan. I think that scene in the courtroom in the second season when the Black Pike rep asked Raylan if she could trust Boyd really summed up their relationship nicely. They’ll each gladly shoot the other but at the end of the day they have each-other’s backs when it really counts.

  7. Tyler says:

    I adore Neal and his ice-blue eyes, can’t wait. The only problem I have is setting up the template of killing the best villains (other than Boyd) at the end of every season. Why would we invest in the story if we know the outcome?

    • Jack Foley says:

      Because it’s about the journey, not the destination. You watch it for the ambience, the dialog, the kind of cool that Yost delivers in the classic Elmore Leonard style/tone.

      In short, you watch it because it’s just plain cool.

    • Dash says:

      They don’t all need to die they just need to not be there anymore. I’m sure that the writers can find other ways to get rid of villains (jail, fleeing the country, etc.)

  8. So look forward for the premiere tonight, especially with the mini-Boomtown reunion. Will miss Mags, but Neal should make a compelling villain (he always looks so evil!). Plus Carla coming in next week should be amazing – I miss Threshold so much!

  9. Mark says:

    What no Dewey Crowe played by Damon Herriman. He was brilliant in Justified!

  10. Amber says:

    Welcome back, cowboy, I have missed you!!! And I still think Carla Gugino will end up being Karen Cisco under a married name. Otherwise, why cast her specifically and name her Karen?

  11. aunt_deen says:

    I must say, I agree with Walton Goggins on the Boyd/Raylan relationship.

    Not only do I not see the relationship being based on hate, I don’t even think hate is any part of it. There’s very little trust and they both suspect that eventually they’ll end up killing the other one, but those two do NOT hate each other.

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