Justified, which airs at 10 pm Tuesdays on FX, has given us many wonderful moments.
Here are just a few from the series, now in its third season:
A rock-solid script with terrific dialogue—none of which is surprising since it is based on the 2001 novella Fire in the Hole, published in the collection When the Women Come Out to Dance, by crime writer Elmore Leonard, a master of plot, characters and dialogue.
A real hero in US Marshall Raylan Givens, an old-fashioned Kentucky lawman who is a deeply flawed man with a damaged background. The wonderful Timothy Olyphant, at left, digs deep into this character.
Some of the most memorable villains on TV, such as last season's Mags Bennett, played by Margo Martindale, who richly deserved her Emmy.
A villain we love to hate and hate to love in Boyd Crowder, a Bible-quoting neo-Nazi (maybe reformed?) with a penchant for terrorist acts. Boyd and Raylan share a history and it is just luck that one ended up on the side of the law. Walt Goggins shows us the many sides of Boyd and, against our will, makes us root for him...sometimes.
And in this third season, Justified gives us a history lesson in the form of Ellstin Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson, below left), who rules the African American enclave of Nobles Holler.
Nobles Holler is based on Kentucky’s Coe Ridge Colony, which was a small area settled and maintained by emancipated slaves following the Civil War. Coe Ridge existed for nearly 100 years, in constant battle to defend itself against those who wanted to destroy it. According to the legends, Coe Ridge residents would use whatever was necessary to perserve its people and culture.
It also became a refuge for white women fleeing from abusive homes from all over the state. Even the most abusive, nastiest husbands weren't stupid enough to try to venture into Coe Ridge to find their wives.
Justifed uses all this background and more this season.
Coe Ridge's history isn't widely known but there are references to it in Kentucky archives and at least one book, Chronicles of the Coe Colony.
In Nobles Hollar, Justified gives a primer on race relations in this rural area.
A provocative scene in this season is when Limehouse asks Boyd what he knows about the African-American men sitting at his restaurant.
Boyd doesn't know anyone's name, yet each man knows who Boyd is, as well as who his parents were and other details about his life.
"It's always been our business to know you," says Limehouse. "Us knowing is the business of this Holler. Now as to why you don't know us is a question you are welcomed to ponder."
Photo: Timothy Olyphant; Mykelti Williamson; courtesy FX