Justified: The Complete Fourth Season, the Kentucky-set cop show based on the writing of Elmore Leonard, is packed full of colorful characters, including loquacious hillbillies, pushy out-of-town gangsters, and the graveyard humor of law enforcement. There are shootouts and double-crosses and a fair share of sex and even a touch of romance. In other words, everything Justified fans love about the series. Move straight from Season 3 to Season 4, folks, there's plenty more to see here.
For those not in the know, Justified stars dreamy Deadwood lawman Timothy Olyphant as U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, an old-school cowboy with a quick draw and a complicated past. His childhood friend, Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins, Django Unchained) is part of one of Harland County's major criminal families, an organization that Raylan's father, Arlo (Raymond J. Barry), has worked for lo these many years. This makes for an interesting dynamic, particularly as Boyd is now with Raylan's ex-lover, Ava (Joelle Carter), and Raylan himself has a baby on the way with his on-again/off-again ex-wife (Natalie Zea).
The story hook for The Complete Fourth Season involves a D.B. Cooper-style disappearance from decades past and the money and drugs that went with the missing burglar. Word on the street is that the thief has poked his head up in Harland, where he's been living under an alias since his daring heist and subsequent escape, and Arlo Givens (currently incarcerated) may know where the goods are stashed and who stashed them. Woven into this is a traveling Pentecostal revivalist church cutting into Boyd's action by converting his best drug customers, and the introduction of a new character, Constable Bob. He is played by comedian Patton Oswalt (Young Adult), and is an excellent addition to the cast. Bob is a volunteer cop who gets little respect and is more the bitter for it. His interplay with Rayland makes for some great back-and-forth dialogue, and the character proves more formidable as the cycle of episodes wears on.
Adding to the other side of the team, Ron Eldard (Roadie) joins Boyd's team as Colton, one of Boyd's buddies from the army, a Veteran with combat time and a drug habit. He ends up being a bit of a wild card, more screw-up than asset. But then, what's the point of adding a bad guy who isn't?
Amidst the hunt for the missing fugitive, other little eruptions pepper the plot. There is tension within the Crowder organization, a missing hooker that worked for Ava, side jobs being run by Raylan that keep coming back to bite him on the ass, and complications surrounding Colton's habit that draw in Marshal Gutterson (Jacob Pitts), another veteran of the Iraq War. It's all nicely tied together, with the different subplots having ramifications in the larger story, making for another cycle that works as a self-contained unit while also building on the previous seasons and giving the regular characters new room to grow.
Unsurprisingly, the writing is uniformly strong and the acting exceptional. The entire recurring cast has settled into the roles after four years, and their chemistry makes for some of the most entertaining television currently going. Be it the friendly ribbing and rivalries in the Marshal service or the sharp-tongued posturing of the various bad guys, there is a real crackle to the dialogue that would make Justified entertaining even if the story itself wasn't so damn compelling. One special thing I liked about The Complete Fourth Season was there is really no singular big bad guy, no one forceful personality that overtakes the rest, but smaller characters that rise and fall within the long arc, giving a little more spotlight back to the ensemble.
As per usual, Justified: The Complete Fourth Season is put on Blu-ray as a high-definition 1080p transfer, shown at a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Image quality is fantastic, with strong detail and natural colors, as well as a good surface grain that adds to the artful cinematography.
You can choose to play all episodes at once, with or without recaps, or pick one show at a time.
The audio has been mastered as a 5.1 DTS-HD MA track with the expected punch, working through all the speakers to give the show a healthy aural atmosphere. Music has verve, dialogue is clear, and sound effects are nicely layered.
Three subtitle tracks are available: a standard English option, English for the Deaf and Hearing-Impaired, and French.
Justified: The Complete Fourth Season has thirteen episodes on three discs, housed in a thick Blu-ray case with an outer slipcover. A paper insert advertises the next season and also gives information on the Ultraviolet digital copies.
Each disc has separate bonus features. Disc 1 kicks off with "Becoming Boyd" (9:41), which looks at the evolution of the Boyd Crowder character and Walton Goggins' contributions as a performer. This is followed by "Deadly Serious: Constable Bob" (7:04), focusing on Patton Oswalt's character and where his particular story came from.
Disc 2 has "The Veterans' Experience" (7:08), examining how veterans are portrayed in the series and why, including the addition of Colton and the fact that Arlo and Gutterson are also vets. There are also just under 3 minutes of outtakes, your general blooper reel.
The "Anatomy of an Episode" (40:41) feature on Disc 3 dissects "Peace of Mind," the penultimate episode of the season, looking at how it was constructed and how it fits into the ongoing Justified narrative. "Script to Screen: The Finale" (14:23) similarly looks at the final episode of Season Four.
Disc 3 also has theatrical trailers for Captain Phillips, Monuments Men, American Hustle, Elysium, whichever one of those White House movies had Channing Tatum last year, and Bad Country.
Justified: The Complete Fourth Season is yet another quality entry in one of the best shows on television right now. It's a cop drama with a little something extra, full of great characters and sharp writing. The Bu-Ray presentation is excellent. Highly Recommended.
Jamie S. Rich is a novelist and comic book writer. He is best known for his collaborations with Joelle Jones, including the hardboiled crime comic book You Have Killed Me, the challenging romance 12 Reasons Why I Love Her, and the 2007 prose novel Have You Seen the Horizon Lately?, for which Jones did the cover. All three were published by Oni Press. His most recent projects include the futuristic romance A Boy and a Girl with Natalie Nourigat; Archer Coe and the Thousand Natural Shocks, a loopy crime tale drawn by Dan Christensen; and the horror miniseries Madame Frankenstein, a collaboration with Megan Levens. Follow Rich's blog at Confessions123.com.