Tuesday, July 25, 2023

REVIEW: 'Justified: City Primeval' - Raylan Makes Plans to Protect the Investigation and His Daughter in 'Backstabbers'

FX's Justified: City Primeval - Episode 1.03 "Backstabbers"

Raylan and the Detroit Police round up some promising suspects, provoking Carolyn's ire. Mansell and Sandy move on the Albanian mark. Things with Willa reach a breaking point.

"Backstabbers" was written by Eisa Davis & Chris Provenzano and directed by Jon Avnet

Clement Mansell does whatever he wants. He doesn't care how his actions inconvenience or harm others. He doesn't seek to appease the norms of society. He is a brutal psychopath almost all the time. The only exception is when he must play a slightly longer con with Sandy. Even then, he gets bored because of how long it stretches out. He just wants the money. He wants to steal from people who have stockpiles of cash. His business model has been disrupted by digital transactions. That makes it more difficult for him to rob people. He still feels untouchable though. Nothing can be done to him. He has escaped punishment countless times over the years. He doesn't operate with some massive appreciation for his lawyer. Instead, he seeks to invade Carolyn's life just like he did Raylan's. He wants to show off the bruises he sustained from the Deputy U.S. Marshal. Raylan was warned to stay away from Clement unless he could make a solid case incriminating him for the murder of Judge Alvin Guy. Clement invaded Raylan's life though. He saw Willa as a female object that mattered to Raylan. It's so impersonal. Meanwhile, it's so explosive for Raylan and Willa's dynamic. Willa thinks her father also does whatever he wants. That means he actively chooses not to spend much time with her. She only matters to him for a few weekends every month. That's it. They had a plan to set out on a road trip for the summer. That has been disrupted by this hunt for Clement. Raylan doesn't trust the system to get the job done. He believes he is the only person who can arrest Clement on charges that will actually stick. Clement is similarly drawn to Raylan. He doesn't exactly view him as a worthy adversary just yet. He's simply a new figure in this investigation who presents as a new threat. It has to be acknowledged. Clement doesn't feel in danger yet. In fact, he unnerves others. Carolyn doesn't want him showing up at her house late at night. She wants to enjoy that peaceful time to herself even though she has plenty of stress too. A tax lien has been filed against her because of her ex-husband's actions. She has her eyes set on becoming a judge. That seems impossible now because of how people infect her life. She maintains her skills and poise. She doesn't have the luxury of responding any other way. She's angry at Clement too. Raylan has the ability to respond in a big way. He gets to assault her client and get away with it. Carolyn can't do that. She has to accept that Clement has already received punishment for his heinous actions. She sees the humanity in the life Raylan is trying to live. He's put out by having to stay in Detroit much longer than he planned. It's still an active choice on his part. One that he has to see through until the end.

Raylan believes he is genuinely trying his best to be a part of his daughter's life. Work has always been a priority for him. People have come into his personal life believing they can find the right balance eventually. That has never worked out. He is simply too committed to the job. That will never change. Other relationships do. Having Willa is a constant now. She will forever be connected to him. He became a father. That requires a new perspective. He has to view what he wants differently. He seeks advice from others facing the same struggles. Maureen doesn't have the perfect balance. In fact, she notes that it's impossible to achieve. Something is always going to suffer as a result of trying to maintain it all. Raylan thinks sending Willa away is the only way to keep her safe. He's ultimately pushing her away from his life. This is nothing new for him. The string of that betrayal hurts Willa. She refuses to acknowledge that she's mad. She wants to spend time with her father. However, she wants him to want to spend time with her. That just never happens. She should stop hoping for the best. She has been burned too many times. She can't endure it any longer. Those are universal themes apparent across the narrative. Sweety has no loyalty to Clement or Sandy. Just like the cops, he deduced that the murder weapon was stashed in his bar. He hopes to use the gun as leverage to secure a better deal for himself. People expect him to remain silent. He has a code that must be honored. He can't go against the criminal elements that employed his services. He's searching for a way out though. That's the path he wants. Carolyn is the only person he can confide in. She offers protection as his lawyer. It's not a guarantee. The system is still broken in many ways. The bar is destroyed because the local police are determined to make a big show of force. Nothing is collected from it. Moreover, Wendell and Norbert are made as they tail Clement. The criminal only cares about securing his own interests. He understands targeting a member of the Armenian mafia could very well trigger a massive war to exact revenge. That doesn't dissuade him from the job. He just wants the money. He believes it must exist. When it doesn't, he's furious. He loses control. That's simply who he is. He isn't a complex man. He possesses the skills to operate in this criminal life for a long time. He is struggling as the world changes. That's inevitable as people grow and mature. Raylan, Carolyn and Sweety have seen a lot. They have endured a lot. Some have more freedom to respond than others. Raylan is still just trying to do his best. Carolyn holds him accountable at trial. He can't break the rules in the name of justice. He also can't break the promises he makes to Willa. She feels backstabbed as a result which will have more lingering consequences than anything that may happen in Detroit as he pursues this investigation.