Justified City Primeval Season Finale (Episode 8): As the headline states, I have a lot of thoughts, both about the finale of this City Primeval storyline, as well as the second finale which teased us with something completely different.

Justified City Primeval Season Finale, Episode 8 Recap:

Episode 8 – The Question

Finale 1

We pick up immediately after the cliffhanger of the last episode, “Smoking Gun,” with Toma transporting Raylan and Clement to, as we discover, Skender’s man cave/panic room, where we also see Carlyn waiting. Before Raylan could recover from the shock, Toma explained that Carolyn wanted Raylan and Clement to be “taken care” of. (A pretty fun use of the word and its different meanings) before taking Judge Guy’s diary from Clement and trapping him in Skender’s panic room in the darkness. And Raylan, more than happy to be out of the nuisance’s hair, helps to close the door, where Clement would starve and die. As Toma states, this is the only way Raylan could reasonably keep him out of everyone’s hair.

Clement Mansell is finally showing signs of panic in the panic room, while Carolyn goes to Michigan’s lieutenant-governor and makes a case for a judgeship. When the lieutenant-governor shows hesitation because of Carolyn’s checkered past, Carolyn reminds her how she can be a friend to the lieutenant governor and would be able to point out the fat purses driving the convictions because she isn’t dirtier than a “playboy jacuzzi”. Meanwhile, Raylan joins Wendell and Norbert in bringing Maureen in on charges of corruption, and as revealed under questioning by Internal Affairs, Judge Guy’s book has her name on it, with bribes being written to give guilty convictions. But Maureen petulantly throws it back at them, reminding them that they have nothing on her beyond that book. And while Wendell, Norbert, and eventually Raylan walk away exasperated and disgusted, the fact that Internal Affairs is still talking with Maureen kind of ties the knot on whether she would be convicted. Meanwhile, Wendell and Norbert are more worried about how to capture this “Jack-White wannabe jerk-off” (as far as insults go, pretty accurate).

Meanwhile, Skender regains his masculinity and honour and convinces Toma’s bodyguards to give him a gun so that he can go and kill Clement. As expected, upon opening the panic room door, Skender is overpowered by Clement, and his head is bashed in. That is what is discovered by Raylan after a long conversation with Carolyn regarding her definition of home and identity and how his moral code wouldn’t let him rest peacefully, and he drives off to the panic room and finds that mess. Realising that Clement is loose, he informs Norbert to go to the Albanians while asking Carolyn to get out of her house.

As Norbert would discover, it is all a bit too late, as Clement comes in like a force of nature and shoots every one of the Albanians down before emptying the rest of the slugs of his gun on Toma. When held at gunpoint by an old Albanian, he bravely walks up to the man, takes the gun, thanks him, and walks away.

He makes his way to Carolyn’s house and enters by breaking the glass plate window quite loudly, only to find Raylan waiting for him sitting there. As Clement begins by sharing a beer with Raylan and presumably goes inside his jacket to take out his cassette as a gift to Raylan, Raylan shoots him point blank. As Clement lies there in shock, Carolyn enters to find Raylan looking at Clement in what could only be described as confusion as the “Jack White wannabe” dies with his cassette containing his cover song and questions Raylan, “Shit man, what did you kill me for?”

Finale 2

Flash-forward six months later, and that death is still heavily weighing on Raylan’s mind as he is joined at the retirement party of his old boss Dan Grant (Matt Craven), with the party being hosted by Deputy Gregg Stutter (David Koechner). And at that party, when Dan, in a moment of sentiment, promises to recommend Raylan’s name for the Chief of Miami office, Raylan instead says that he quit, taking early retirement.

We then see, in a mirror to the end of Season 4 of Justified, Raylan painting the walls of his house when a parcel of Monkey Shoulder (great whisky) is delivered, and a letter from Carolyn, where she promises to come down when Detroit is too cold and they might have a talk about their relationship moving forward. Raylan is then visited by a literal yellow Hummer driving and parking on his lawn, with Willa getting out of the car gleeing and stating that she finally has her driving licence, which is confirmed by a returning Winona (Natalie Zea). As they look at Raylan painting the house and Winona looks at the gift on his porch and asks what it is, Raylan says “early retirement present”. Winona, true to her nature, thinks he is kidding and then is genuinely shocked to realise that he is not. As Willa goes inside to check her room, Winona asks the same question as Raylan and even the audience is asking, “Why now of all times to choose to retire”. She finally rationalises that Raylan chose to retire for Willa, but honestly, is that really the case? Narratively speaking, it makes sense, but perhaps it is the show’s fault as well that Raylan’s shock and overwhelmed nature at the “violence and darkness” of Detroit never really matches with what Givens has gone through in the last six years we have seen him in Justified.

Justified City Primeval Season Finale, Episode 8 Ending Explained:

Where was this show?

And then in the finale, Justified City Primeval finally flashes over to the one character fans of Justified have wanted to see return along with Raylan Givens – Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), the manipulative sweet-talking thorn in Raylan’s side who becomes a chameleonic preacher, drug dealer, and bank robber when the winds suit him. Boyd finally has a plan, and after leaving his trusty Bible with his cellmate, he is handcuffed and put on prison transport to be transported from Tramble Penitentiary to elsewhere. However, as the prison truck crosses a very familiar bridge, Crowder raises a hullabaloo, which causes the chief guard to stop the truck and open the door, only to realise Crowder has teamed up with the besotted female prison guard and driver of the truck. Crowder then locks up the chief prison guard before the two of them escape via a Ford Mustang towards, I can only imagine, Harlan County. 

Meanwhile, Raylan has taken Willa to a boat owned by the US Government, seizes her from a drug lord, and now she can be commissioned by him to be taken out. As the two of them rest in the open sea, Willa asks why Raylan quit the job. Before he can answer, Raylan gets the message of a breakout from Tramble Penitentiary before getting a call from the Marshall’s Office as the show cuts to black.

Justified City Primeval Season Finale, Episode 8 Season Review:

As a continuation, Justified City Primeval was already a bit on shaky ground considering they were supplanting Raylan from Kentucky to Detroit. The USP of the original show had been the milieu and Raylan’s familiarity with the milieu and its criminal element; as a result, City Primeval inadvertently becomes a fish-out-of-water story for Raylan, and in an effort to emphasise that point, they almost tried to neuter Raylan.

It is a fascinating idea to present a counterpoint to Raylan’s outlaw ways, but that would mean forgetting that his methods weren’t exactly favourable ones even in the original show. As for the City Primeval story thread, too much time was spent on the Sweety, Clement, and Sandy trio without exactly elaborating on any of them. Neither was it explicitly elaborated on how the corruption of the DPD helped Clement, instead implicitly stating that the slippery nature of Detroit’s administration was responsible. While that is definitely a welcome addition in giving City Primeval a noir-ish tinge, Detroit as its own character is very much missing here due to the show taking place mostly indoors.

Where the show succeeds is in the performances. Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens truly hasn’t missed a beat. Boyd Holbrook as Clement Mansell plays out the unpredictability, but he never truly has moments to show how dangerous he actually is. Vondoe-Curtis Hall as Sweety elaborates and fleshes out a mostly-nothing character and gives it added weight. Similarly, Adelaide Clements as Sandy is absolutely fantastic, bringing to life the idiosyncratic humour of Justified, which this show mostly steered clear of. Aunjanue Ellis plays the morally ambiguous woman role well, but her chemistry with Olyphant’s Givens is harder to buy, even though the show explicitly shows it, and thus we have to buy into it. Paul Calderon as Raymond Cruz in a memorable cameo, connecting Stephen Soderbergh’s Out of Sight to canon, is fantastic; he portrays the slippery nature of Detroit far better than the show actually does, a much more extreme version of Raylan Givens, similar to the character of Alex Miller in Justified Season 5, but unlike Miller, with whom Raylan can actually have a conversation, Cruz has a light, dangerous energy that almost stupefies Raylan.

This all leads to the finale and Raylan’s choice to quit. It has been an inevitable choice ever since Justified Season 6, and the fact that he finally chose to retire isn’t the problem. The fact that this case jogs his mind enough that he chooses to retire doesn’t exactly sit right. Perhaps because Clement wasn’t reaching for his gun but a cassette tape Raylan shot him; thus, his moral code couldn’t compute. For him, it wasn’t justified, and thus he might think that he had lost his edge. That could possibly be the reason for Act II of Raylan Givens’s life, which, if that had been the case, could have been done much shorter and in a more streamlined fashion.

As for the final 10 minutes, it is irritating because it proves that the writers know what the audience actually wants—a Raylan-Boyd reunion—and teasing it basically leaves the bait open for a renewal, which honestly, any self-respecting Justified fan would be on board with. However, the mediocrity of Justified City Primeval might steer them away from a potential continuation. Nevertheless, it is always good seeing Raylan Givens back, but if asked, and considering the genie is already out of the bottle, a better conclusion featuring Boyd Crowder would be nice. This was the Spectre, and Givens needs a No Time to Die.

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Justified City Primeval Season Finale, Episode 8 Links: IMDbRotten TomatoesWikipedia
Justified City Primeval Season Finale, Episode 8 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

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