Justified: City Primeval, Episode 3: It is definitely a bit of a change of pace to watch ‘Justified: City Primeval’ on current prestige television, especially considering how much the original six-season run of Justified had a rhythm of its own. Rewatching helps contextualise this comparison, but there is still a certain amount of dissonance. However, what is appreciated is how active Raylan is here because having been lifted from his hometown of Harlan County and his home state of Kentucky, there is less of the unruffled reaction to the peculiarities of the characters in the original show. He is still a fish out of water, though, and adaptable as well.

Justified: City Primeval, Episode 3 Recap:

 Episode 3 – Backstabbers

Carolyn Wilder, an attorney who is slowly losing her patience with the world around her, has the kind of crankiness one should expect apropos of the situation she is in. It is not enough that she has to go through another of her ex’s schemes (a feudal-tax lien notice from the IRS to the tune of $106,000), then she also has to deal with her out-of-control client Clement Mansell, who appears at her door, music blazing from his car, eyes bruised and bloodshot from the beating taken from one US Marshal, and how he wants a comeuppance. Credit to her, Carolyn does not accept his proposal to go after Givens for assault, reminding him that “chatting up” a US Marshal’s daughter is grounds for questioning Mansell’s purpose in sowing chaos. Mansell, though, is stubborn enough to make no promises about staying away from the Givens’s, instead going back to doing whatever his heart desires. At this point, it is robbing the Albanian mob.

Meanwhile, back at the hotel in the morning and later at the US Marshal’s office, Raylan is undoubtedly angry at Mansell for coming so close to Willa and getting under his skin, making him lose control. There is a possibility that he is doubly disappointed because Willa has seen him lose control. But that morning Willa is giving him the silent treatment, and later, having breakfast with Raylan (at her insistence, mind you), her commentary on the emotional spectrum and how Raylan can shift from blue to red very quickly is pretty telling. One of the good things City Primeval is doing is highlighting Raylan’s lack of loquaciousness by muttering his thoughts on “these kids and their labels”—showing the generation gap between the two of them via humour. Willa’s inquiring whether she is in Raylan’s life hits the emotional gut-punch for this scene, with Raylan being more shocked because she is asking him so openly, and how she threatened Raylan to not “backstab” her shows her as someone valuing the relationships in her life and holding on to them as tightly as she can.

In terms of the investigation of the murder of Judge Guy, the pressure of the crucifixion of the DPD by the media caused them to crack down on the suspects, arresting Sandy, Sweety, and Clement and choosing to interview them in separate rooms. The DPD tries to twist the tale to trip up the suspects, informing Sweety and Sandy that a gun had been recovered from the bar while telling Clement that Sandy had given him up. All of it to no avail, as none of the suspects budged. Instead, Clement takes the cassette recording device and starts recording another cover of “We’re Going to be Friends” by The White Stripes while pressing his cheek on the two-way mirror in the interrogation room, with Raylan looking through the other end with utter bemusement.

A revealing but perhaps expected conversation also occurs between Raylan and Carolyn, where Raylan angrily orders Carolyn to keep her client under control, as he is not a schoolboy and knows very well that he killed Judge Guy and Rosie. Carolyn vehemently agrees with that statement but reminds Raylan that he will have to prove it, not by conjecture but by evidence. Otherwise, she will still defend Clement to the best of her ability because it is her job. Because, as she points out, “You’re angry. I get it. I’d be angry too. But everybody doesn’t get to be angry the way you do.” It could be taken as a commentary on the privilege enjoyed by the white man, but it is also a much more pointed commentary on Givens’s brand of frontier justice, which had been out of place even in the original show.

Meanwhile, we finally meet “The Albanian” Skender Lujguraj, who is Clement and Sandy’s current mark, and as Raylan remarks to Maureen while on the phone after interrogating Skender, “he is not too bright and is in love with Sandy”, to the extent that he is going to propose to her. Before that, however, he will have to meet with her “brother” to earn his blessing. The same “brother” who asks Sandy “What is an Albanian?”

A still from Justified: City Primeval Episode 3.
A still from Justified: City Primeval Episode 3.

What intrigues “brother” Clement more than the blood feud of Albanians (which sounds extremely complicated) is the supposed secret room in his man cave, which leads to Clement and Sandy getting Skender drunk and convincing him to show him the man cave and the gold bars at his house. Skender and Sandy depart in his sportscar, while Clement follows them in his SUV, keenly aware of being tailed by Norbert and Wendell. Stopping the car at a green light, he susses out the detectives, and when the light turns red, he drives away. Norbert tries that same trick, but his car is totalled by oncoming traffic.

Justified: City Primeval, Episode 3 Ending Explained:

Meanwhile, at his bar, Sweety recovers the gun that Clement had supposedly used in the original killings in 2017, and he is now planning to use it as leverage, even bringing in Carolyn to boost his confidence, which Carolyn is still hesitant about. Raylan had taken up the offer of staying at Maureen’s place with her family. He, along with Maureen, tries to figure out why Clement would murder Judge Guy, as well as the missing black book.

Back at Skender’s huge mansion-like apartment, he is trying to impress his girlfriend and her brother and shows them his “man cave”, with a 14-inch flat screen TV, PlayStation, a centralised music system, and, most importantly to Clement, a wall safe. On inquiring what had been in that safe, Skender reveals revolvers (Smith and Wesson, Walther, etc.).

It is clear that Skender has a hobby of collecting firearms, and we see that Clement has a moment of connection with the man, but that immediately breaks when he comes to know that there are not any gold bars or money in the safe. Tired and angry at the current situation as well as the music blaring in the background, Clement points his gun at Skender, and all pretences drop.

The Willa and Raylan plot finally comes to a head as Raylan decides to take Willa to the airport so that she can be back home and safe, as he would be unable to do his job while keeping her safe. What is interesting is how Raylan’s character is consistent from the original series to now: his obsession with catching criminals and pursuit of justice always get in the way of him loosening up or focusing on his family. It hits harder when Willa points out that her mother takes time to connect with her despite being busy.

As he drops her off at the airport, he reminds her to stay put at the Miami Airport until her mother and Richard arrive. Her stony reaction breaks Raylan’s heart, and he asks for a hug. In response, she just pleads with her father, promising that she will go to Memphis or Graceland only to spend time with him. Raylan asks her to stay there while picking up the phone, but it is too late because, in classic Givens fashion, he has chosen his work over family again. The result is his daughter boarding the plane while he goes back to the crime scene at Skender’s place, where some damage has supposedly occurred.

It is honestly surprising that Willa is taken off the board so early, as she is the emotional tether grounding Raylan. Who will take up that character in the story now, assuming there is going to be one? Maybe Carolyn, but her character also gets some interesting wrinkles, as we see her sitting in the deceased Judge Guy’s chair, perhaps reminiscing about her ambitions.

Final Thoughts 

‘Justified: City Primeval’ is at three episodes, better than ‘Justified’ Season 5. Understandably, this is not a high bar to clear; this is still a show where Kentucky, Harlan, and all its connections to Raylan are being sorely missed. It cannot be denied that this is still a very different show, but Olyphant’s portrayal is quintessentially Raylan Givens, just a more mellowed-down, older version.

It will be interesting to see how the show progresses, but so far, for a story that did not have Raylan Givens in it originally, this adaptation is doing a pretty good job of retroactively fitting in his sensibility in the moody blue hues of Detroit. I do wish that some of the Detroit connections of the old show come into focus here or are referenced, but considering how much the show is trying to be its own unique thing, that seems unlikely.

<< Previous Episodes

Justified: City Primeval, Episode 3 Links: IMDbRotten TomatoesWikipedia
Justified: City Primeval, Episode 3 Cast: Timothy Olyphant, Aunjanue Ellis, Vondie Curtis Hall, Adelaide Clemens, Marin Ireland, Victor Williams, Norbert Leo Butz, Boyd Holbrook
Where to watch Justified: City Primeval

Similar Posts