After a brief prologue, the third season of Justified begins three weeks after the Season Two finale. Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) is on limited desk duty after being shot in the stomach by a member of the Bennett clan in Harlan County, Kentucky. But he can still do some light work so he calls in childhood friend/recent nemesis Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) to the Marshall’s office in Lexington see if he knows anything about Meg Bennett’s missing marijuana and money, but Boyd has no information to help.
That’s likely in part because Boyd still holds a grudge over Raylan not staying true to his word regarding a deal they made over Dickie Bennett (Jeremy Davies). Thinking they are sitting on $100,000, Boyd’s associates Devil (Kevin Rankin) and Raylan’s father Arlo (Raymond J. Barry) decide they are going to sell the marijuana, even after being told it’s not worth anything. Boyd sends word to destroy it, but when Devil declines, Ava (Joelle Carter) emphatically lets them know who is in charge.
There’s also a new player on the scene in Lexington. Robert Quarles (Neal McDonough), a mobster from Detroit, arrives to collect money owed by Dixie Mafia boss Emmitt Arnett, giving him one day to get it together. Arnett sends ice-pick-wielding Fletcher Nix to rob a man whose alarm system Fletcher installed while working for Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns). When it’s discovered that the system was compromised before the robbery, Raylan, at the request of Tim Gutterson (Jacob Pitts), has to confront Wynn after previously threatening him that their next conversation wouldn’t be a conversation. When Emmitt doesn’t come through with the money, Robert makes him pay for his failure.
“The Gunfighter” does a good job of setting the players into position for the upcoming season while also offering an entertaining episode that can be enjoyed on its own. The best moment of the episode is a suspenseful scene towards the end of the episode where we get to see Raylan outsmart an opponent who has the upper hand.
Justified airs Tuesday at 10pm e/p on FX.