Tuesday, August 15, 2023

REVIEW: 'Justified: City Primeval' - Raylan and Carolyn Stage a Trap for Clement While Sweety Plots His Own Moves in 'Adios'

FX's Justified: City Primeval - Episode 1.06 "Adios"

A botched kerfuffle sends Raylan's pursuit of Mansell into chaos.

"Adios" was written by Taylor Elmore & V.J. Boyd and directed by Sylvain White

Clement is untouchable. He shouldn't be. And yet, he escapes justice no matter what he does. It's not from some clever maneuvering. Everyone views him as arrogant. He always gets lucky. He thrives on his ability to intimidate others. He's scary with how deadly he is with his manipulations. He has no patience for anyone else's games. He doesn't fear any threats that target him. He instinctively believes he'll be fine no matter what. Sandy is worried about the threats from the Albanian mob and the police. She feels the walls closing in. She feels the pressure to get as much money as possible to leave soon. That's all she's focusing on. Everyone is terrified by what Clement will do next. His sheer presence is enough to fear for their lives. That intimidation comes so naturally. He plays it off as his charming self. He doesn't view himself as an imposing figure. He just wants what is rightfully is. He won't allow people to rip him off of the true price of the information he has. He carries the book full of secrets. The truth of the city's corruption can be found in those pages. People are desperate to keep their actions hidden. Not everyone gets to operate with that luxury. Powerful people have made their names on the backs of innocent victims. Clement ends numerous lives. He's targeted by many people. None of them are successful in exacting justice. That word means different things to different people. Burt just wants his painting back. His thief is killed in the process. Sweety wants to kill Clement. Instead, Sweety is killed and his bar is burned to the ground. Raylan and Carolyn want Clement arrested. Their sting ends with him walking away once more. Clement is more than just lucky. He has the benefit of shaping the world to his will. He's not some naive criminal who can easily be manipulated. The pattern is broken when Sweety sends Clement to the latest shakedown by himself. Previously, the two were partners in that endeavor. Sweety could have picked up on the trap being set. He shared the information with Carolyn. Someone from her world is used to lure the criminals in. Instead, he's blinded by the possibility of finally escaping this life. That's what he wants. He still aims to flex how much power and influence he wields in this community. He's easily recognizable and respected. People doubt he is as relevant now as he once was. He doubts that himself. He makes a promise to Trennell. It was a futile gesture. Carolyn and Sweety try to keep each other in the loop. Those warnings come too late. Sweety can't save himself from the fate that's coming. Clement is dumbfounded by the idea his partner would turn against him. And yet, he was planning for this showdown. He's expecting it with Raylan too. That's the only way this story can end. It's all about the gunfight with one person prevailing while the other is killed. That's the brutal nature of this conflict. Clement can't be stopped any other way.

The narrative has lured the audience into a fairly simple understanding of Clement. He's skilled and observant. He's not easily deceived. And yet, the story requires the audience to believe as if one of these plots to take him out will actually succeed. It would be fascinating if one of them did. It would require one version of justice to prevail. That may not produce a satisfactory outcome for Clement in the end. It would at least go against the expected development of him always getting away. Raylan believes he is being played. He may very well be. Someone could be working against his best interests. However, he has grown obsessed with Clement. He needs to hold this particular criminal accountable. Clement isn't the most creative criminal Raylan has ever dealt with. He just lingers. Nothing anyone does manages to stop him. Part of Clement's arrogance comes from being a straight white male in a world that uplifts those qualities. Carolyn and Raylan know their actions aren't exactly legal. They are just though. As such, they can live with whatever the consequences will be. They are doing it all in service to something greater. Part of that is their own self-interests. They believe they are the best possible people to be in these roles issuing out justice in the legal system. They can't be corrupted. They have sacrificed too much getting to this point. Everyone has to bend the rules at some point to accomplish anything. Some were marked down in the judge's book for their actions getting to where they are now. That makes Diane vulnerable to blackmail. Carolyn recognizes that. Raylan and Maureen act on it. Diane offers Clement more money than any of the previous targets. He still knows not to bring the book to this meeting. The police close in simply because of the threatening comments he makes. They are spooked easily too. Everything has to be taken literally with this guy. Nothing can be written off as playful banter. He may earnestly want a singing career. He has great affection for cassette tapes and the players that deliver their contents. He's still a dangerous figure. One who knows how to survive. He's free for reasons beyond a brilliant lawyer getting him out of trouble. He removes Sweety's insurance policy. The gun behind the jukebox isn't available when Sweety needs it the most. Clement views his partner as disposable. He is no longer necessary. Clement always looked down on him. In his mind, that was the natural role for someone Black and queer. Sweety could never amount to anything in Clement's eyes. He had to settle for the petty crimes given to him. Sweety was a major player for a long time. He earned his respect. That didn't matter to Clement. He's a destructive element in this world who will burn down anything that threatens him. That leaves everyone devastated while he's basking in the glow of outsmarting them all when they discounted his abilities.