Tuesday, July 18, 2023

REVIEW: 'Justified: City Primeval' - A Violent Criminal Brings Raylan to Detroit for Longer Than He Wants in 'City Primeval'

FX's Justified: City Primeval - Episode 1.01 "City Primeval"

Fifteen years after Raylan Givens left the hollers of Kentucky, a chance encounter in the Florida swamps sends him to Detroit and places him on a collision course with a violent sociopath and a formidable defense attorney.

"City Primeval" was written by Dave Andron & Michael Dinner and directed by Michael Dinner

Fifteen years have passed since Raylan Givens left Harlan County after arresting criminal Boyd Crowder, with whom he once dug coal. Raylan is still a Deputy U.S. Marshal. He is working out of Florida again while trying his best to raise his daughter, Willa. She apparently takes after her father as she is being sent to a behavioral camp after punching a classmate in the face resulting in a broken nose. However, a different adventure befalls these two. It takes a wild set of circumstances for both of them to wind up in Detroit. It all starts with a failed carjacking. Trouble still follows Raylan wherever he goes. He is still more than capable of dealing with it with his signature wit. He still teeters on the edge of the law as well. The criminal's defense attorney, Carolyn Wilder, picks apart how Raylan handled her client while transporting him to the local police precinct. He got the job done. That should be good enough according to Raylan. And yet, his actions are called out for depriving this man of his rights. Sure, he's a foolish criminal who only got such a great attorney because she is friends with someone who cares about him. That's only good enough to get the charges from Florida dropped. Raylan and Willa endure all of this without it paying off in the slightest. After that, they want to hit the road. They get to spend the summer driving the country now. Those plans have been made. Of course, Willa is only really curious about the hollers of Kentucky. That may eventually provide this story with a reason to head back there and revisit the characters from the former series. However, that isn't going to happen anytime soon. Raylan doesn't see a reason to explore his family lineage again. He was already forced to confront that complicated legacy when he transferred to the local office all those years ago. He made his peace with everything that happened there. It would offer nothing but boredom for Willa. Her life has no attachments to that location. She's a teenager trying to find her place in the world. She's acting out. It's impulsive yet Raylan still looks at her with so much innocence that hasn't become jaded by the world just yet. That hope may be dwindling as a result of the time now spent in Detroit. The two seemingly can't escape. Judge Alvin Guy was the target of a car bombing. He and his clerk survived. He remains committed to the dysfunctional system he has operated within for two decades. However, Carolyn is the one who shows the most passion in the courtroom. The judge and Raylan are off having their own conversation. One that results in Raylan spending time in a holding cell alongside Willa and then being put in charge of the manhunt to find the criminal responsible for trying to kill a sitting judge.

Nothing suggests this investigation will take a lot of time out of Raylan's schedule. It's a delay of a day. That's it. That's all that he and Willa should expect. The local police department already has a very credible tip. Raylan may be operating in a new city. However, the aggressive nature of policing is still very much the same. Raylan leads the investigation even though he isn't technically in charge. He wants the suspect to be brought in alive. He doesn't have any problem with him being injured. That isn't relative to his pursuit of justice. This is the job. He happens to be very good at it. His background informs his investigative prowess. And then, it all seems as if the task force missed something. The judge still ends up dead. In fact, it's needless suffering and terror. He happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. He got in the way of Clement as he was trying to steal from an Armenian high roller at the casino his girlfriend Sandy works at. This was a big enough job to lure him back to Detroit. It offers a reunion with people and places that were once significant in his life. As such, some themes from the former show are still present here. It's just a completely new setting for Raylan. He's in a new era of being a lawman. Yes, he's older and a family man. The world has changed too. And yet, people still have the capacity to commit evil and heinous acts. It results in the murders of a sitting judge and his clerk who happened to be a criminal informant. The local police were already looking at this judge for corruption. That was the way he saw fit to issue justice from the bench. It wasn't noble or honorable. It was simply doing what was best for his own interests. That nearly got him killed. It wasn't the most dangerous threat on his life though. It wasn't some planned attack driven by vengeance or misplaced patriotism. It was just a chance encounter with a sociopath who had the misfortune of getting cut off in a parking garage. That was the extent of the slight. That one action was enough for Clement to pursue the judge in a car chase. He drives with such disregard for everyone around him. It's not his car or life on the line. It's all about exacting punishment for a minor inconvenience. It just so happens to conclude with bullets being shot from a gun he stored away at Sweety's bar. That and Sandy appear as the only things of sentimental value to him. That's significant at a time when Raylan's life is defined by the need to love and protect his daughter. They aren't targeted in the same way. They are simply destined to remain in Detroit. The task force failed to keep the judge safe. Instead, an even bigger scandal has emerged. One that promises to weave all these characters together. Raylan may deserve happiness and a life away from this constant danger. However, that didn't end the moment he completed his business in Kentucky. Life will always be complicated for him as he is devoted to this job. He's still good at it. He hasn't lost a step even though he sports much grayer hair now and has more to lose if he is ever beaten in a quickdraw shootout.